This project is not designed for handling any one type of climate impact but rather to improve the effectiveness of emergency response across all possible scenarios. Prior to this redevelopment, the system was one in which all manner of communication methods were utilized: phone, email, fax, social media, and more; it was largely recognized as being an inefficient system with too much information that was not streamlined in an easily-understood format. One particular concern in the area is flooding, with Perth Country experiencing flooding events in 2018 which gave the system its first real test in a wide-scale disaster situation. Flooding can hinder emergency services response time by inundating or washing out roads or even bridges, making them unusable and therefore causing responders to make last-minute course changes that can substantially increase response times. Ice storms are also an issue of concern, as the exemplified by the above-noted 2018 flooding events; the area was also under the threat of an ice storm occurring concurrently with the flooding, which would have only exacerbated the issue. Ice storms can affect emergency response times by downing trees and power lines, creating unsafe driving conditions and accidents, causing or exacerbating floods, and more. The municipal 511 system updates all known information regarding road conditions so that emergency responders can avoid these hazards as necessary.
In 2017, recognizing the need for prompt responses from emergency services to all manner of events, including major disasters, the Ontario municipalities of North Perth, Perth East, Perth South, West Perth, and St. Mary’s collectively created a 511 system that has substantially improved situation awareness and emergency services response times in the area. The previous system was far from streamlined, with faxes, phone calls, emails, and social media updates all being used separately in an attempt to get a clear picture of road conditions. The new system consolidates all manner of communication into a single website that is updated in real time and provides a quick and simple understanding of any potential routing issues. This has proved useful for emergency responders in at least two flooding events so far.