Free world-first app increasing bushfire resilience

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Helping people reduce the risk of their homes catching fire by 67% 

Funded by the Australian government and industry sponsors, the Resilient Building Council (RBC) recently partnered with IT consultancy Endava to launch a new, world-first app that places decades of science and research into people’s hands so that they can take the actions that matter to protect their homes and their families from bushfires.  

 The free Bushfire Resilience Rating Self-Assessment app allows people to assess their home and measure how well it would perform in a bushfire event. In the first month since its launch, over 5000 Australians from 242 Local Government Areas (LGAs) signed up to use the app, with more than 4000 users completing their home assessments and receiving tailored action plans. The app has a completion rate of 80%, and an average of 1,000 users per week are completing assessments, showing high levels of engagement from households and ease of usability of the app. 

The digital tool rates the property’s risks and customises an action plan to improve the home based on the assessment and specific to their individual property and local risk. As the recommended actions are completed, the home’s Resilience Rating is updated. 

The app underwent rigorous testing and was co-designed with over 1,200 households across Australia, prior to its national launch. The trials revealed that following the app’s recommended actions led to an average 67% reduction in the likelihood of homes igniting during a bushfire.   

The science and support behind the app 

The app has been developed by the Resilient Building Council (RBC) in collaboration with Australia’s leading bushfire resilience experts, with Endava serving as the technology partner. 

The user experience needed to be intuitive, informative, practical and tailored to the home so that homeowners felt assured that implementing small changes could immediately enhance their home’s resilience. 

It is the first scientific system to measure the bushfire resilience of homes. It takes a best-practice and holistic approach to bushfire resilience that covers building construction methods and materials, landscaping and ongoing maintenance. 

The Resilience Ratings system was developed in response to calls from governments, insurers, banks, households, and the 2020 Australian Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, to understand which actions measurably increase the resilience of individual homes.  

Through a partnership with the Australian government, NSW government and Insurance Council of Australia, the RBC is expanding its Resilience Ratings program in Australia by mid-2024 to an integrated professional home assessment addressing multiple climate impacts, ranging from bushfires to floods, storms, cyclones, heatwaves, and energy efficiency.  

The Resilience Ratings provide industry, governments, property markets and financial markets with a trusted, scientific, independent measure of a building’s resilience and energy efficiency, creating a platform for incentives that support private investment in risk reduction, enabling innovation and opportunities in insurance and financial products. 

In addition to addressing the risk of bushfires in Australia, the application has the potential to be expanded globally and inspire other nations to tackle increasing wildfire risk in their jurisdictions. The impact of the application will resonate through insurance, finance, banking, and sustainability sectors and aids several of the seventeen goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) program, including Goal 13 Climate Action, to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts,” which includes formulating and implementing plans to enhance climate adaptation and resilience.   

Supporting information: 

·        To access the app: https://rating.rbcouncil.org/ 

·        To learn more about the Bushfire Resilience Rating: https://resiliencerating.org/ 

Kate Cotter, chief executive officer of Resilient Building Council 

“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 would be easy to use and generate concrete results. The app Endava helped us to create manages to do exactly that. It has proved to be highly successful in the trials, and we’re thrilled to put this innovation in the hands of every Australian, for free. 

“It’s taking users around 18 minutes to assess their home using the app, which includes a free report and a customised action plan to improve the resilience rating of their home. All they have to do is use the app and get started.” 

Shelley Beeston, partner at Endava and venture lead 

“It was essential to build a robust product that could perform multiple calculations and recommendations but was also easy to use. The path to resilience needs to be intuitive, informative, practical and customised to each home. Our aim was to assure homeowners that implementing small changes could immediately enhance their home’s resilience, and we’re immensely proud to be the technology partner for this transformative climate initiative. 

“The challenge was how you designed something simple and engaging to use by non-experts whilst leveraging the power and rigour of the model. The RBC app is a great example of how technology can be used to empower humans to solve complex environment and social issues.” 

Community members using the app 

“I have carried out an assessment using the Bushfire Resilience Rating app. I’m very impressed with the design, quality of questions and the tailored report I received. I have been promoting the app to my customers, family and friends,” – Greg M. 

“I am extremely impressed by the Bushfire Resilience Rating app and the customised report I received. Whilst I have some work to do to increase my Rating, now I know what improvements are needed and where to focus my energy. I am very confident that better results will be achieved with my time and money now, than with the general information I had before.” – Susan B. 

 “A community that’s better prepared is going to be a more cohesive community that’s going to bounce back from these big fire events more effectively. There’s nothing worse than people losing homes and the trauma and upheaval that causes. We’ve used the Bushfire Resilience Rating app to get ready, together.” – Val G 

“If we live near the bush, ocean or rivers, and there are additional risks, we have the responsibility to mitigate against those risks. Now we have a helping hand from experts to guide us through the process, thanks to the Resilience Rating app.” – Doug P 

 “A commitment to do things differently from all levels of government, industry and the community, will help us change how future catastrophes will impact us. RBC’s Resilience Ratings helps us take effective action to change the story for our communities.” – Amanda Findley, Mayor of Shoalhaven City Council, NSW 

Insurance Council of Australia CEO, Andrew Hall: 

“The Insurance Council of Australia congratulates the Resilient Building Council for the development of the Bushfire Rating App. This app is an important tool for homeowners in recognising and reducing bushfire risk. It seeks to make it easier for insurers to recognise and make reductions in insurance premiums based on retrofitting to high-risk households, informed by the App’s recommendations. 

“The ICA is also pleased to have partnered with the Resilient Building Council to deliver the Multi-Hazard Resilience Ratings program, which will help insurers, and other industries, recognise effective actions taken by households.” 

 

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