Green Cross Australia’s Act First site helps ACT residents prepare for disasters via Zeroseven

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GCAsite.jpgFollowing the launch earlier this month, Green Cross Australia’s ‘ACT First’ website has seen visitors from across the state taking advantage of the resources available, resulting in a more disaster resilient ACT.

The website, built and created by Brisbane’s Zeroseven whose focus was to combine cutting edge design with seamless interactive functionality, has been designed to help ACT residents create comprehensive emergency preparedness plans by utilising innovative designs and technology to engage visitors.

Unique to the website is its ability to create custom printable PDF plans which households can update and keep as a vital blueprint to prepare for severe weather events.

Says Mara Bun, Green Cross Australia CEO: “What really separates ACT First from other preparedness sites it that it allows users to customise their tips and build a personalised PDF based on their district, home and family.”

Says Chris Thompson, technical director at Zeroseven: “One of the goals for the project was to create a site that led the user through the process of developing a plan and at the same time accessing a depth of information about their area, past weather events and what to do if disaster struck, all without the user feeling like they are completing a multi-step form.”

To achieve this, the Zeroseven team built a site which uses the Umbraco CMS.

Says Thompson: “Underneath the design, there is functionality to serve dynamic content and create customised PDFs based on users’ choices as well as gathering many forms of statistics to piece together the preparedness of the ACT.”

ACT First is not Green Cross Australia’s first experience developing interactive online portals. After Queensland’s Cyclone Yasi, the organisation launched ‘Harden Up’ in 2011; a website with a similar purpose for Queensland residents – and which won the 2012 Interactive Media Award, Advocacy Category. Across both websites, users are able to access specific weather archives, warnings and up-to-date information on how to be aware, prepare and help others.

Says Bun: “While Harden Up remains a huge success, it has also taught us that there is a huge gap between the information that is provided for residents and the frequency upon which it is acted upon.

“Residents know they should create a preparedness plan, but fail to do so when emergency services are purported to be readily available. The reality is, that in the case of a huge disaster these services will be infinitely more effective if residents can take some of the burden on their own.”

Says Thompson: “The ACT First website takes great design and the social aspect of the modern web to help encourage users to compare their plan with the wider community.

“We stripped away the constraints of the formal website structure and instead provided the user with a clear journey through contextual information, leading them towards their preparedness plan. By focussing on creating an engaging user journey through the site, we believe there will be greater interaction with the available functionality and the user will never consider the complex processes going on ‘under the hood’.”

ACT First will track the number of preparedness actions taken across the ACT, creating an incentive for people to get involved. The site will feature an involvement map, showing the location and number of users who have already taken action and developed their own plans, motivate residents to take their own actions to be prepared and get on the map.

The project has received funding from the Natural Disaster Resilience Program through the Attorney-General’s Department and the ACT Government, and is the result of a partnership between Green Cross Australia, the ACT Government’s Emergency Services Agency, Australian National University and CSIRO.

Says Bun: “This website is an incredible asset to the ACT and will help Green Cross Australia in its commitment to helping people prepare for natural disasters Australians have seen their fair share of extreme weather events, and we’re a tough mob. Through tools like ACT First we can band together and make ourselves even tougher and more resilient against emergency situations.”