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Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
INCSnap

Objective

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) are reliant on their owned media channels (website and social media channels) to communicate to the public during natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and bushfires. Done effectively, this content can be shared through earned media on other social platforms and via PR editorial delivered through mainstream media.

Whilst social media is a key channel for QFES to communicate to the public, it’s also an avenue the public use to share their own information and images during times of disaster.  However the public’s information, whilst fast, is too often incorrect.  And if people act on incorrect information, in the direst of situations they may evacuate when they shouldn’t or indeed not evacuate when they should. The consequences are grave including massive loss of property and lives.

Ansible was tasked by QFES to develop a solution that would enable a faster way to better inform the Queensland public through owned and earned media channels using verified information during the initial response to disasters such as floods, cyclones and bushfires. This information is critical for saving property and lives and should keep pace with public social media posts.

Solution

Every member of the QFES carries a mobile phone with them. Based on this Ansible created an app called INCSnap in only six week which enables every emergency service responder to become a content publisher.  This mobile solution is a digital ecosystem available to all staff via an intuitive user smartphone interface that enables QFES to efficiently capture, deliver, aggregate, manage and disseminate first-response data for emergency response situation management.

At the heart of the ecosystem is an Apple/iOS application and web-based administration interface. The iPhone camera is used to capture video, images and details of incidents in the application’s form fields. Each incident and the images/video attached to it are then geo-stamped with location coordinates and assigned to the specific user, aiding the corroboration of location information and powering the incident’s ‘heat map’ at the Control Centre.

The application works in a fully-offline mode in situations where response staff are outside mobile coverage areas – the application synchronises with the back-end data repository immediately when the device re-enters mobile phone coverage.

All information is sent over a secure encrypted link to the back-end administration console and digital storage solution. INCSnap also streamlines the information dissemination process, automatically categorising and distributing the reports to assigned stakeholders for analysis, review and subsequent public release on QFES website, PR releases/briefings and social media.

Result

The communication strategy was focused on owned and earned channels. Whilst there was zero paid media, the app delivered effective reach of 100% with every news outlet and media channel utilising this information. Where many campaigns boast an increase in “likes”, positive brand shift, or an increase in acquisitions, our communication strategy delivered none of these metrics.  It produced very different results – It has saved lives.

This technology broke new ground in the Emergency Services space in Australia. It’ is now used by 2100 professional Emergency Responders every day and scheduled to be rolled out to a further 37,000 volunteers. During Cyclone Ita in April 2014, one responder alone sent 40 reports in a single hour. Using INCSnap the amount of verified information communicated around the many disasters since 2014 has increased 10-fold.

Proof of its value is no best demonstrated by the immediate adoption by Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services and being reviewed by Police and Fire services both nationally and internationally. INCSnap makes a difference. This communication tool saves property and lives through the quick and accurate information distribution when cyclones, floods and bushfires occur.

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Ansible is an Interpublic Group company.