New Zealand Fire Service

Mobile Application

The New Zealand Fire Service is the last bastion of safety, tasked with protecting people & property in times of emergency.

Following the devastating earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2012, resulting in the loss of 185 lives, the Fire Service undertook a frank review of operating practices. This highlighted a number of key areas where improvements could be made to how it manages emergency incidents.

Prior to development, an interactive prototype was designed so the UX could be tested & validated. While in a moving vehicle, which is often a bumpy ride, the fire fighters use the tablet to access & display incident information so we needed to ensure that the proposed solution would meet these demands.

The app delivers live information in relation to an incident, responding appliances, communications, hydrant, water lines, building plans & any dangerous materials in surrounding areas or buildings, enabling the fire commander to prepare an incident plan & ensure the safety of crew, properties & the community.

Incidents managed by the Fire Service are very fluid. Every one of these incidents placed the first response team in potential risk.

The best solutions are achieved through a collaborative, user-centred design process. Talking to users & other stakeholders is the best way to ensure the final solution meets their needs, is easy to use & enables user adoption.

An example of a key finding early in this UX process was the fact that response teams often operate in harsh, dangerous & mobile unfriendly environments, leading to accessibility, availability & reliability challenges. In response, we proposed a night mode setting so the firefighter’s vision was not impaired by screen glare in low-light settings.

Saving lives with Design


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