Digital services provider Arq Group has picked up gongs in two categories of the Good Design Awards for its work developing two mobile apps, including the highly popular Fires Near Me.
The app, which digitally broadcasts NSW fire warnings and emergency advice to smartphones in real time, delivered the former enterprise division of Melbourne-based Webcentral a win in the competition’s social impact category.
The company also took first prize in the competition’s digital design category for its work on superannuation fund First State Super’s customer smartphone app.
Developed for the NSW Rural Fire Service in anticipation of catastrophic bushfire conditions for the 2019-2020 bushfire season, the app was enormously popular and became a must-have for NSW residents and travellers in regional areas.
The judging panel said that the benefits of the app were “clearly evident” and it was revealed that it was required to reliably manage 20 million simultaneous connections. Arq also revealed that it downloaded three million times and pushed out 12 million during a single day in November.
Arq Group chief executive officer Tristan Sternson said Fires Near Me had “undoubtedly saved lives, making our brave firefighters and those impacted by bushfires safer and better informed in a potentially life-threatening situation”.
The recently released NSW Bushfire Inquiry recommended that the app be expanded to provide cross-border warning information. However, a similar inquiry conducted by the ACT recommended the development of a national app to improve consistency between Emergency Services Australia and state level platforms.