App helps Aussie households increase resilience against bushfires

26 February 2024 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

A new household fire safety app launched by the Resilient Building Council with support from technology partner Endava has shown a significant reduction in the risk of bush-fires to homes.

Global IT consultancy Endava has collaborated with the Resilient Building Council to develop a new, government-funded app aimed at reducing fire risk, allowing Australian residents to assess the potential resilience of their properties in the event of a bush-fire and receive tailored action plans to lessen the dangers.

Described as a world-first, the free app has since its launch been proven to reduce the risk of homes catching alight by an average of 67 percent.

App helps Aussie households increase resilience against bushfires

Over 5,000 householders from across the country downloaded the ‘Bushfire Resilience Rating Self-Assessment’ tool in just the first month following its launch, with the vast majority then going on to complete the recommended tasks. Simple, low-cost actions such as draught-sealing and moving surfboards away from the house can have an immediate impact, which when updated in the app improve the home’s ‘resilience’ star-rating.

“Bushfires exploit the weakest link in a home, old or new,” commented Resilient Building Council (RBC) civil safety engineer Ian Bennetts, who was the lead designer of the ratings system. “People can get started now and work through bigger retrofitting items with professionals over time. The more homes upgraded in a community, the less risk of house-to-house fire spread, which can then lead to the loss of entire townships.”

Prior to its national launch, the app was co-designed and tested with over 1,200 participants living in fire-prone regions, proving the effectiveness of engaging with the program and carrying out the customised tasks. As a key requirement, Endava had to ensure that the UX was intuitive, informative, practical and tailored to each home so that owners felt assured that implementing small changes could immediately enhance their home’s resilience.

“One of our biggest challenges was to build a tool that would be simultaneously precise and reflect all the knowledge behind our rating system, but that also would be easy to use and generate concrete results,” stated RBC chief executive Kate Cotter. “The app Endava helped us to create manages to do exactly that. It has proven to be highly successful in the trials, and we’re thrilled to put this innovation in the hands of every Australian for free.”

Developed in partnership with the government and Insurance Council of Australia, the rating system is intended as an incentive for private investment into risk reduction and financial services innovation, providing industry and market stakeholders with an independent scientific measure of a building’s resilience. Its success to date will soon see it extended to cover further climate-related risks, including from flooding, cyclones, storms and heatwaves.

“It was essential to build a robust product that could perform multiple calculations, but the challenge was how you designed something simple and engaging to use by non-experts whilst leveraging the power of the model,” stated Endava partner Shelley Beeston. “The app is a great example of how technology can be used to empower humans to solve complex environment and social issues. We’re immensely proud to partner on this transformative initiative.”