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News 2015

MAPS Group's 10th Birthday Party

The ten year anniversary of the establishment of MAPS was celebrated on the evening of 10th November 2015 with a Commemorative Dinner at Eastlakes Football Club, Manuka.  


Over 40 MAPS members and partners attended together with key staff from ACT Emergency Services Agency.  VIP Guests including ESA Commissioner Dominic Lane, ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Joy Burch,  ACT Chief Police Officer Rudi Lammers and Inspector Greg Barras from Victoria Police Search and Rescue.


During the evening, Frank Blanchfield, one of the group founders back in 2005, gave a fascinating historical review of past MAPS deployments and activities.


Greg Barras went on to describe the major bushfires throught Victoria in early 2009 and the grim situation on 07 February that lead Victoria Police to seek help from MAPS Volunteers to prepare maps of several thousand impacted rural properties for the Victorian Coroner's Court.


Following brief addresses from ESA Commissioner Lane and  Minister Burch the formalities concluded with a presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation from MAPS Executives Heike Apps and Marcus Blake to Commissioner Lane.

                   click to enlarge


For an overview of the evening's program see '10 YEARS OF MAPS'.


Special thanks are due to ESA's Steve Forbes who acted as master of ceremonies for the evening, organized the continuous  "big screen" slide show of historic MAPS pix, and set up a representative gallery of MAPS output map sheets accumulated over the ten years.  Thanks too to Ian Batley for assembling the display of MAPS uniforms and the Medal. Thanks are also due to Melissa Peters from ESA who managed the bookings and the menu and to Heike,  Maree and Ian for room setup. 



Fire service ready for bushfire threat


ACT RFS Chief Officer Andrew Stark stated on-air that " bushfire preparations were being made well in advance due to the forecast of an El Nino summer".


For more details, see the ABC News report "Uriarra Village in ACT prepares for tough bushfire season as El Nino summer approaches" at MOBILE.ACT.NET.AU/NEWS/



2015 GISday,  NICTA House,  Canberra City:  18 November 2015


ACT Government invites MAPS Volunteers to 2015 GISday at NICTA House on Wednesday 18 November 2015 from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm.


The opening address for GISday will be presented by Minister Rattenbury.  A glimpse at the GISday Agenda shows a diverse and interesting collection of topics to be presented from industry vendors and specialist areas within the ACT Government.


The agenda has been designed to provide an overview of the exciting possibilities of utilising GIS technology.   The morning session is for everyone, with a peek at what is new, visually appealing and what is already being done within the ACT Government.  The afternoon session becomes more technical and features judging for the prize “Pitch your GIS Wish”.  You are welcome to stay for a session or stay all day.


You are welcome to come to either the morning or afternoon session or both, but please register first by emailing

Kind regards
2015 GISday Team


ACT Govt GISday Team  02NOV15

MAPS 10th Anniversary Dinner: 10 November 2015


Dear MAPS Members


The MAPS supervisors together with ACT Emergency Services Agency would like to invite you, and your partner, to a dinner celebrating the ten year anniversary of the establishment of the Mapping and Planning Support Group (MAPS).


The evening will be attended by the ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services,  Minister Joy Burch, and will include a historical review of past MAPS deployments and activities.


Date: 10th November 2015

Time: 6.00pm for 6.30pm

Location: Eastlakes Football Club, 3 Oxley Street, Griffith (Manuka) ACT 3603


Except for alcoholic drinks, there is no cost for the dinner, as it is kindly being sponsored by ACT Emergency Services Agency.  Dress code is smart casual.

There is a fixed 3 course menu with gluten free options available for each course. For members and/or partners with other dietary requirements could you please indicated by RSVP.

Marcus Blake

Joy Burch
Minister for Police and Emergency Services

Australian Labor Party, Brindabella Electorate  

MAPS Induction Training Session:  25 October 2015


A  MAPS Induction Training session was held Wednesday 28th October from 5:30pm to 8:30pm for fifteen new MAPS members.


This session was  held at the ACT Emergency Services Agency Headquarters, 9 Amberley Avenue, Fairbairn, and lead by ESA Spatial Services Manager Steve Forbes.


Pizza was provided for dinner, and a number of MAPS Supervisors were present to welcome the new members.


MAPS Executive 29OCT15

MAPS Supervisors Meeting 13 May 2015

Click for a Summary from the minutes of the last MAPS supervisors meeting.  These meetings take place approximately 4 times per year or as needed to discuss operations, plan training as well as give ESA an opportunity to liaise with the senior members of MAPS.


Of biggest note from the last meeting is a change to the MAPS executive membership. For background, it was agreed two years ago that the executive membership of MAPS will be two supervisors who will step up to the role. It was also agreed the appointment to exec. member will last two years. The exec. MAPS members perform the key communications and representation roles with ESA, including attendance at the ACT Minister for emergency services meetings with volunteer groups of ESA.


Till now, MAPS executive members have been Maree Wilson and Heike Apps. While Heike has only performed the role for one year and continues in the role, Maree has come to the end of her two years and will be handing over. Marcus Blake was appointed to the vacant exec. position unopposed.


Heike is overseas from 27 May to 17 Sept, so Maree agreed to stay on as an exec. member until Heike returns. Marcus Blake has stepped up to join the Exec. So effectively it is Maree and Marcus from now until 17 Sept 2015 at which time it will be Heike and Marcus.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank Maree for all her hard work, which continues through her wiliness to continue to help manage our MAPS volunteer membership database.


Steve Forbes, ESA   Fri 5/06/2015

Fire Mapping Master Classes  09-10 October 2015


In preparation for the coming bushfire seasons,  two sessions of the NSW Rural Fire Service's "Fire Mapping Master Class" were held at ESA HQ Fairbairn on Friday 09 and Saturday 10 October 2015.    


The Saturday class lasted all day and was for new users of MapDesk, the  Windows desktop GIS program developed and supported by NSW RFS  Fifteen students attended this class.  The Friday evening class was a refresher for MAPS volunteers who had completed the full master class previously and was attended by thirteen students.


These classes included intensive hands-on drill-and practice exercises using the NSW RFS MapDesk computer program, and were led by the well-respected trainer Rodney Stewart, from NSW RFS Wagga, with Jason McWhirter from ACT ESA providing tutorial assistance.


The Master Class exercises are described in the NSW RFS Best Practice blog website at GEONET.ESRI.COM 


MAPS Executive   10OCT15

10 Years Old


Can you believe its been 10 years since we first established MAPS! An idea seeded at ESA and enhanced by the engagement of two fantastic volunteer champions Ian Batley and Frank Blanchfield to help get it off the ground that has held the test of time. What a success this Australian first model of specialist volunteers has become! It’s been extremely rewarding for me working with all the good folk of MAPS and the benefits you have all given many communities across Australia in some of the worst disasters we have seen is to be commended.


An organising committee has been established and will be chaired by Ian Batley to coordinate the “MAPS 10 Year Anniversary Celebration”. Further details including the date and venue will be announced in the coming months.


We are actively seeking from you all photos (both from training and operations), mapping products you made that you kept a copy of and stories from deployments you have been involved with. These will be put on display during our 10 year calibration and select appropriate items may also be used on the website . Please let myself or Ian know of anything you have be it a single photo or gigabytes of maps and photos and we will organise getting it from you. For those of you who enjoy writing (even if its comedy) I would love a few stories too!


Steve Forbes, ESA   Fri 5/06/2015

ESA technology upgrades

While operations have been quiet, much has been going on project wise here at ESA. Many of these projects will have direct benefits to MAPS volunteers working at ESA during operations and training. I’m sure once it’s all working, you will be just as excited as we are about the upgrades. These upgrades to our technology have been in the pipeline for some time and will bring our ability to manage emergencies using high-end technology support in line with best practice;


  • Upgrade of our spatial server infrastructure to include;   

    • Brand new, high end, fully redundant and highly available servers

    • Rollout of the latest version of FME server

    • Installation of ArcGIS Server 10.3 including Portal and syncs to ArcGIS on-line

    • Full test environment for ArcGIS and FME server


Our new spatial server environment will not only harden our delivery of critical GIS services but also open the door to new solutions to the ESA and the community. Some of the aspirations for the new environment include the integration of the Collector app for data collection projects both during emergencies and for ESA projects, some new internal intranet web maps and better utilisation of FME server functionality.


  • Upgrade of various technologies in the ESA emergency management rooms

    • Three large LED video walls to display situational information in the Emergency Coordination Centre, Planning room and Incident Management room

    • Five 70” Link Media touch screens for self service by incident managers of applications like the Common Operating Picture and iCON

    • Multiple high speed wireless access points for ACT Government network and public internet hot spots (for your use) throughout the ESA HQ, Hume Heli base & training centre

    • 3 new Panasonic tough books loaded with mapping software and base data for field deployment or remote mapping activities

    • New wide format cold laminator to support ESA projects and laminating maps used on walls or needed for use in wet environments

    • 2 new A3 printers for mobile/remote map printing to replace the current 6 year old printers in our 4WD vehicles

    • Also, not too long ago we replaced our high end Oce Colorwave printer to the latest model.


Steve Forbes, ESA   Fri 5/06/2015

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