Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) has launched a new app to improve safety among boaters and paddlers on Victorian waterways, by helping them make informed safety decisions.
The app was developed in response to an increasing number of Victorian boaters and paddlers suffering injuries on the water. From 2005 — 06 to 2014 — 15 there were 1,094 hospital admissions relating to boating injuries, an average increase of 5.3% per year.
There are currently over 400,000 marine licence holders and over 350,000 paddlers in Victoria. MSV, a branch of Transport Safety Victoria, helps ensure safe use of waterways for all Victorians and visitors.
Research from MSV found most boaters and paddlers only check the weather before they head out on the water, with 50 per cent of boaters and 85 per cent of paddlers not checking the weather again during their trip.
To change safety behaviour, MSV required a more consistent way of engaging and communicating with their target audience. Specific requirements included providing valuable trip information based on people’s interests and locations and better influencing boaters and paddlers to proactively manage maritime safety risks.
Following a government tender, digital services company RXP Group was selected to develop and implement a digital platform for recreational boaters and paddlers. The platform was designed to aide trip planning and kept boaters and paddlers up-to-date while boating.
Using Human Centred Design methodology, RXP engaged boaters directly —including going out on the water and visiting boat ramps — to understand the information they wanted and how they would like it presented. This was supplemented by workshops and survey data that led to the creation of a prototype app tested with boaters.
Built on MSV’s existing Salesforce platform, RXP designed and built the mobile app and website that supports boaters and paddlers to be better prepared and stay abreast of changing weather conditions before and during a trip on the water.
Called ‘Boating Vic’, the app and website provides targeted information relating to more than 400 boat ramps and launching locations across Victoria, including ramp and car park vision (live at selected locations), to inform users if the ramp is busy or quiet. The app also has localised information such as marine weather forecasts fed directly from the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as warnings, notifications, facility information and safety advice from a range of government agencies.
Since launching in late 2019 there have been more than 10,000 app downloads, more than 4,000 accounts created, and in excess of 500,000-page views.
Cameron Toy, director maritime safety at Transport Safety Victoria said: “A boater or paddler’s decision-making process is so critical to their safety. We now have an app that can continue to inform the decision-making process. This has enabled us to encourage safer waterway use in a new way.
“Conditions on the water can change incredibly quickly. That’s why it’s important that waterway users don’t become complacent about checking the weather during their trip. Boating Vic provides waterway users access to localised marine weather that gives them information they need, when they need it.”
A survey module built into the app showed 87% of respondents indicated Boating Vic influenced their decision to head out on the water.
Jared Hill, group executive, southern region, RXP Group added: “Built on MSV’s existing Salesforce platform our team engaged with boaters and paddlers directly using Human Centered Design methodology to ensure what we built was exactly what they needed to return home safely after a day on the water. This was a great project to have worked on and even more pleasing it’s one that is delivering real behavioural change.”
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