Lifelines utilities coordination during emergencies

Operational arrangements, LUC role map and national lifeline utility sector coordinating entities

Coordination: Response and Recovery

Coordination of lifeline utilities is necessary in both the response and recovery phases of a civil defence emergency in order to streamline activity and enable effective flow of information between lifelines and CDEM authorities. CDEM Groups are primarily responsible for the coordination of local lifeline utilities across affected regions; and the National Emergency Management Agency has responsibility for co-ordinating across lifeline utility sectors at the national level. Lifeline utilities are expected to co-ordinate at the national level as necessary to provide appropriate capacity during a state of national emergency or a civil defence emergency of national significance.

Emergency responses should be tailored according to the apparent needs arising from the event, so it is not necessary that a state of emergency is declared for lifeline utility coordination to be required.

As a general guide, lifeline utility and CDEM response and recovery coordination is initiated when:

  • a lifeline utility service is disrupted in more than one territorial authority area;
  • multiple lifeline utility services are disrupted by an event;
  • significant community impacts (either in scale or duration) are expected because of lifeline utility service disruption;
  • CDEM agencies and lifeline utilities need to co-ordinate; and
  • a CDEM EOC (local or CDEM Group) is activated.

Lifeline utility coordinators

The Lifeline Utility Co-ordinator position is a non-statutory appointment within an operations centre or recovery office. The operational role of the Lifeline Utility Co-ordinator at the national and regional level is to support the Controller during response and the Recovery Manager during recovery. Most CDEM Groups have a nominated LUC who will work in the Group Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC).

CDEM Group Lifeline utility coordinators lead the lifeline utility coordination operation in their own emergency operations or recovery centres; and act as a link between lifeline utility coordination at any emergency operation or recovery centres and NCMC. They may also assist lifeline utility coordination at any EOC; or assist lifeline utility coordination at NCMC.

During readiness activities, Lifeline Utility Co-ordinators at the national and regional level

  • participate in training and exercises with the NCMC and CDEM Group ECC and other designated lifeline coordination resources;
  • maintain relationships with key representatives of lifeline utilities and the National Emergency Management Agency or CDEM Groups, and have direct access to key emergency contact details and means of communication; and
  • provide advice to the National Emergency Management Agency or the CDEM Group emergency management office about lifeline utility response issues.

Lifeline utility coordinator role map

The National Emergency Management Agency’s development of the CDEM Competency Framework has included a role map for the position of LUC outlining skill, knowledge and attributes.

Download a copy of the LUC Competency Framework Role Map (pdf 505k).

Operational arrangements

Most CDEM Groups have specific agreed protocols detailing how regional lifelines coordination will occur. During emergencies lifeline utilities are generally expected to:

  • establish contact with the CDEM Group ECC and provide information on the status of their network
  • receive CDEM Group reports; action as appropriate – including requests for prioritisation of services to support the response effort.
  • Lifeline utilities are expected to be able to provide information, including, where possible:
    • the scale and extent of event impact on networks;
    • major disruptions experienced, including location and number of users affected;
    • estimated restoration times for known disruptions;
    • priority areas of response actions;
    • alternative solutions available to users (where appropriate);
    • precautions, and public information to be promulgated; and
    • requests for support or specific information.

The National Emergency Management Agency (for national lifeline utilities) and CDEM Groups are expected to provide the following lifeline utility coordination functions through the Lifeline Utility Co-ordinator at the NCMC or CDEM Group ECC:

  • analyse the information provided by lifeline utilities and supplying intelligence to operations centre personnel;
  • provide advice to the Controller, including on impacts, response priorities, available resources, strategic goals, tactical objectives and action plans;
  • provide information for media releases, situation reports and central government reports about the status of lifeline utilities;
  • co-ordinate requests for resources from lifeline utilities, keeping them informed of CDEM priorities, emerging issues and interdependence issues; and
  • provide for transition to the recovery phase.

National lifeline utility sector coordinating entities

The purpose of sector coordinating entities (SCE) is to provide for prearranged means of national level sector coordination through a point of contact for each lifeline sector in the event of a major civil defence emergency. Sector coordination also helps ensure clear reporting lines within sectors and to the Lifeline Utility Coordinator operating in the NCMC.

An SCE is the organisation, group of sector representatives, or individual agreed by the sector to undertake one or more of the following functions in an emergency:

  • facilitate solutions to issues that are sector specific and do not require Government assistance/support;
  • co-ordinate and provide sector situational information to the NCMC, as applicable to the emergency;
  • participate/contribute to NCMC planning activities as required;
  • distribute information from the NCMC to their sector;
  • co-ordinate requests for assistance with the NCMC or appropriate Government body/Lead Agency;
  • co-ordinate with other affected sectors, particularly where dependencies exist; and
  • other operational tasks as necessary.

The scale, impact and speed of on-set of an event will determine the need for sector coordination; however it is most likely that SCEs will be activated in large scale events where multiple providers from one or more sectors are affected.

Generally SCE readiness activities are limited to activities associated with establishing sector coordination mechanisms. However SCEs are encouraged to undertake readiness activities beyond this, for example facilitating sector emergency exercises and contingency planning.

For more information of lifeline utility coordination, see The Guide to the National CDEM Plan, Section 10. Lifeline utilities.