EPA AirWatch receives Sitecore Award for bushfire service


Tuesday, 29 September, 2020


EPA AirWatch receives Sitecore Award for bushfire service

The fully rebuilt Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria website, with a mobile-friendly EPA AirWatch, has received the Sitecore Experience Award in the Most Impactful Human Connections in a Changing World Category for the Asia Pacific Japan region.

The newly commissioned website provides live air quality forecasts and health advice in easy-to-understand language.

As bushfire smoke affected air quality across Victoria, the rebuilt website provided forecasts and warnings to help the public to take measures to protect themselves. The modernised online presence also utilised the EPA’s expanding capacity in the field, with EPA personnel flown to East Gippsland by the Australian Defence Force to deploy incident air quality monitoring equipment that made live data available direct from the bushfire-affected areas.

In 2018, the Environmental Protection Amendment Act changed the focus of the EPA to preventing pollution and waste rather than reacting to it. EPA has been rebuilt with a new vision and strategy, new legislation and an overhaul of many services, systems and processes. The new website is a part of EPA’s Transformation, undertaken with assistance from Deloitte Australia.

Dr Cathy Wilkinson, CEO of EPA Victoria, acknowledged that the 2019/20 bushfire season was a test for EPA’s expanding role as an emergency support agency. The newly designed website helped provide air quality information, warnings and health advice to the community.

Using the website, members of the public can find current conditions, four-day forecasts and links to health advice for vulnerable groups including children, people over 65, pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Behind the easy-to-use public face, the new EPA website had heavy-duty online capacity to match the size of the emergency.

EPA’s previous record for traffic on the site was 97 users per minute, but during the peak of the bushfire season, the website and EPA AirWatch were serving nearly 5000 users per minute. The website achieved 3.9 million views, with AirWatch social media posts achieving 3.2 million impressions during the bushfires. Public feedback during the bushfires was positive, with users ranging from parents of asthmatic children to personal trainers looking out for the health of their customers.

“New capabilities like this show the practical value to the community of the way EPA is transforming its structure and methods, and using technology to proactively provide information that is easily accessed and understood by the people who need it,” Dr Wilkinson said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/amophoto.net

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