DISASTER: QIT CEO Chris Madsen spoke at the Annual Guardian User Conference.
DISASTER: QIT CEO Chris Madsen spoke at the Annual Guardian User Conference. Jacob Wilson

A Whitsunday success

A WHITSUNDAY company which began with just two people is now leading the way in disaster management across the state, has won a contract with the Commonwealth Games, and is celebrating its 10th anniversary in its hometown next week.

Guardian is an award-winning disaster management software, developed by QIT Plus, and founded by locals and former Whitsunday Regional Council IT department employees Phil Glindemann and Chris Madsen.

The duo were back in town this week for the QIT Plus Annual Guardian User Conference hosted by Whitsunday Regional Council, at which they also marked their 10th milestone since the now-popular software was founded.

More than 100 disaster stakeholders from across Queensland also travelled to Airlie Beach for the conference at the Coral Sea Resort.

CEO of QIT Plus, Chris Madsen, said Guardian - which now employs 14 people and has offices in Cannonvale, Cairns and Brisbane - was used throughout Queensland by Disaster Coordination Centres.

"We started out with nothing, so we've come a long way," she said.

Ms Madsen said the software had most recently been used to manage the response and recovery to Cyclone Debbie which devastated the Whitsundays in March.

She said the company had been conceived after Cyclone Larry hit Innisfail in 2006, and emergency teams involved in recovery efforts began discussing ways of better coordinating the overall reponse.

Based in the Whitsundays at the time, Ms Madsen said the response between the various members of emergency services crews had been brought together via "triplicate paper and pen". She said the paper-based system made it difficult to effectively position crews where they were required and target areas in need with the best response possible.

She said the first Guardian model was then developed, and quickly generated interest. A data base solution was written allowing phone calls to be logged in the system, and allowing teams to be competently deployed to where they were needed as part of a multi-agency response between SES, police, council workers, fire crews and ambulance workers.

Ms Masden said this week's conference presentation was about encouraging collaboration and information sharing between dam owners, local governments and disaster management groups to deliver better planning to keep the community safe during emergency events.

She said in 10 years the company, which was developing "cutting-edge" software, had won 12 awards, including an award from the UN for mobile app development.

While the QIT Plus system was being used during Cyclone Debbie, it was also chosen by the Department of Transport and Main Roads for use during next year's Commonwealth Games.

Phill Glindemann, now Chairman of the Board, said they were very proud to be recognised as leaders in technology and be chosen as the best provider in an international field of contenders.

Former Whitsunday Mayor, Mario De Martini, in whose tenure it all began, said the Guardian concept was "a wonderful plan" and he was glad it had received such wide acclaim.

The QIT Plus ceremony this week also recognised local SES controller Mark Connors, SES group leader Andrew Sander, Mr De Martini; Police Inspector Steve O'Connell, and former Local Disaster Coordinator Glenn Gatton, who were all part of the local disaster management team in the Whitsundays when the Guardian software was being developed.


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