FireSmart Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of Canadian citizens to improve community resilience to wildfires. In the past, FireSmart’s home assessment program was completed manually by a local firefighter or emergency services rep, and the results emailed to the homeowner. Given the considerable effort to assess properties in this manner, FireSmart approached us to deliver a mobile app that allowed property owners to assess their own properties against wildfire risk.
We designed and built an award-winning cross-platform mobile application for FireSmart on React Native. Using custom API endpoints powered by Laravel, the app allows homeowners to quickly assess their residence and identify specific actions they can take to reduce wildfire risk. Given the emphasis required for the app to be as simple as it was informative for end users, we worked to decrease barriers with the UI so that it can be easily accessible for all user types.
FireSmart is a program that relies on engagement from citizens and their communities to really create change. The more people adopt the program, and apply the learnings from it to their communities, the more preventative their community can be against wildfire – because, realistically, it’s a lot easier for one person to assess their home, garage, and shed for threat from wildfire than it is to send out one or two emergency services representatives to tackle a whole community’s worth. That was the driving idea behind the FireSmart Begins at Home mobile app.
We worked with FireSmart to take their assessment protocol and translate it from curriculum and a paper checklist into an interactive digital experience for both iOS and Android. Users can easily sign up, create properties – like homes, sheds, garages and the like – to complete assessments in minutes, and receive helpful feedback on the state of their property when it comes to wildfire prevention. Further, users can save in-progress assessments, earn badges for activity within the app, download resources and view events in their area.
How We Worked
We started with a Discovery Phase. In that phase, we ran multiple workshops with stakeholders to identify:
- Key users of the application, along with their contexts, goals, and pain points
- Workflow maps
- Prioritized user stories and acceptance criteria
- Application architecture, and
- Key performance indicators of the application (then tracked in Firebase)
The outcomes of the Discovery Phase then led to an agile Design & Build phase, where our team worked with FireSmart in 2-week sprints, continuously delivering functional software from prototype through to polished end product. At the end of every sprint, we held progress review meetings with the client and retros with our team, allowing us to continually reprioritize the tasks for the upcoming week in order to deliver the most value within the budget.
The method in which we worked with FireSmart produced an app that not only led to a complete transformation of how communities assess their homes, but also to a series of unique deliverables within the app. Some notable elements include:
- Custom API endpoints built on Laravel
- User editable content via API using Voyager CMS
- JWT for authentication & access restriction purposes.
- Google’s FireBase for tracking app usage and KPIs
- User login/signup using Facebook or Google account
- Custom iconography and illustration
- The ability to save and continue in-progress assessments
- Gameification in the form of a badge system, to reward users and encourage key activities in the app
- API-powered event integration with the Events system on the FireSmart website
- User-controlled reminders for notifications to complete their post-assessment property recommendations
- Admin users can send seasonal reminders to subscribed users about FireSmart safety
Users are averaging one property assessed every 2 days – a huge increase from the velocity of property assessments in the past, wherein emergency services representatives needed to be scheduled to come out to a property. We expect to see that increase even further as the tool is rolled out nation-wide. We continue to work with FireSmart on not only the support and optimization of this product, but on a swath of new digital projects – from their website, to a central web application, to another mobile application – all as a part of their ongoing digital transformation as an organization.
People who work in the wildfire awareness industry have many disparate ideas and struggle to bring them together, but Paper Leaf took all the feedback and ideas generation into consideration when building the app. They are highly skilled at taking the time to understand a client’s business and needs.
President, Firesmart Canada
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