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Digital Transformation Social Impact

Preparing for Emergencies: The Role of Technology in Improving Data and System Connectivity

We recently collaborated with the NSW Rural Fire Service to automate the delivery of fire danger ratings. This articles shares 6 actionable insights on the importance of integrating digital solutions, change management, and establishing scalable and future-proof systems to create a lasting impact.

Written by Boer Xu, Director, Technology Consulting, Deloitte 

Emergency Services Organisations (ESO) face unprecedented pressures from population growth and demographic change, increasing the frequency and complexity of emergency events, and changing community expectations, behaviour and needs. These pressures have led to increasing and evolving technology demands for ESOs to become more integrated and effective in preparing and responding to emergency events. Improving data, system and organisation connectivity is essential for ESOs to coordinate their responses effectively and respond to large-scale, complex natural disasters and emergency events. The intended sharing of crucial information between first responders, emergency operations managers, and the community is also relatable to many other industries and sectors as our world becomes more interconnected.  

In an emergency, the right preparation could significantly increase your chances of staying safe and protecting your family. Public information such as weather forecasts, warnings and emergency alerts are critical to informing communities to prepare and respond to emergency events. Together with NSW Rural Fire Service, Deloitte designed and built a new integration platform that reduced manual input and automated the provision of Australian Fire Danger Ratings (AFDRS) from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to the community. A multi-staged rollout approach and backup business continuity process ensured that the provision of this vital information to the community would not be disrupted during the transition process. As a result of this new integrated technology solution, the Australian community will now benefit from 60 years of scientific research and receive more accurate fire danger warnings.   

'We couldn't have achieved such a critical transformation project without Deloitte's input and expertise. The work they undertook will assist in keeping the community safer in years to come."

Jess Thompson, Volunteer and Supervisor of Member and Community Portals, NSW Rural Fire Service

"We worked together with the NSW Rural Fire Service to automate the delivery of fire danger ratings to the community for the first time in 60 years. The Australian Fire Danger Rating System was a critical, transformational project that will improve the safety of our community for years to come."

Boer Xu, Director, Deloitte Technology Consulting

For organisations considering integrated digital and technology solutions at scale, it is essential to consider the following critical elements to realise the benefits of any technology-enabled transformation: 

1. Identifying And Agreeing On The Problem That You Are Trying To Solve 

Technology change should always align and follow business priorities. Understanding, interpreting and capturing user requirements was one of the critical factors that drove the successful delivery of the AFDRS project. By designing and prioritising the completion of user stories that focused on removing manual processes, Deloitte was able to fast-track the completion of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) integration solution within six months, automating fire danger ratings from the BoM to both the NSW RFS Website and the HazardsNearMe NSW mobile application.  

John Danson, Chief Information Officer at NSW Rural Fire Service, explains: “We automated the ingestion process of the danger rating from the Bureau of Meteorology into the RFS. And then from one place we're able to publish that automatically to our public systems, the public website, dedicated app and soon-to-be digital signs on the edge of the road and also our internal systems. And that means all of the preparedness and work we do to be ready for fires is synchronised with what the danger rating is and what we're telling the public”.  

2. Focus On Change, Stakeholder Communication And Training 

Integrating digital and technology solutions will often involve significant changes to existing business processes, workflows and organisational structures. Effective change management, stakeholder communication and training are required to minimise change resistance, increase adoption and enable greater benefits from the transformation. This includes assessing change impact themes, undertaking stakeholder assessments, developing communication strategies and plans, and designing training materials that match your organisation's change and training needs. By planning and managing stakeholder engagements with all stakeholders, including organisation leaders, staff and the public, Deloitte can help your organisation ease the process of integrating new digital and technology solutions. We can also work with your leaders to empower them to lead their teams through the change, and build capacity to ensure that the change is long-lasting. 

Deloitte designed and built a modern, modular integration platform that can scale and extend to accommodate future people, process and technology changes.

3. Enabling Seamless Scalability: Future-Proofing the Solution for Easy Extension 

Not all digital and technology integration solutions are created equal. Choosing the right solution that can scale and evolve to accommodate your organisation's current requirements and grow with the organisation’s future needs is important. Any proposed solution should integrate with existing systems and be flexible enough to adapt to new processes and procedures as required. As part of the AFDRS integration solution, Deloitte designed and built a modern, modular integration platform that can scale and extend to accommodate future people, process and technology changes. In addition to automating existing business processes and reducing manual input, the new integration will also play a key role in future plans to digitise the hundreds of roadside fire danger rating signs across NSW. 

4. Strengthening Internal Governance for Successful Tech Projects 

In the process of building an integrated solution, it's common to encounter changes in multiple systems and collaborate with several vendors. To ensure smooth progress, it is important to establish a strong internal governance framework right from the start. This involves clearly defining roles and responsibilities, allowing everyone involved to understand their specific contributions. Additionally, it's important to maintain transparent communication by tracking all decisions, dependencies, risks, and tasks using a tracking tool. This promotes accountability, enhances collaboration, and keeps everyone on the same page throughout the project. 

5. Establishing Consensus: Defining and Agreeing on an Integration Delivery Methodology

Establishing a unified delivery methodology is crucial for harmonising integration principles across engagements and methodologies. It ensures a consistent and reliable approach, regardless of the specific methodology employed. Varying methodologies based on client situations require ongoing efforts to align stakeholder expectations. The defined methodology should outline key activities, principles, roles, and responsibilities, providing a practical guide for the integration team. Clear guidance ensures smooth coordination and successful integration. 

6. Streamlining Release Process and Technical Standards

Many clients rely on multiple internal teams and vendors to handle their technology needs. To ensure a consistent and streamlined delivery experience, it is crucial to establish and enforce strong standards across the board. In addition, the technical release process plays a vital role. It should be well-developed, mature, and efficient, allowing for reliable and testable releases. Automation should be maximised to make the process smoother. By implementing these measures, changes and projects can be delivered swiftly while maintaining a high level of quality. It's all about finding the right balance between speed and excellence in delivery. 

John Danson, CIO, NSW Rural Fire Service details how important consistency is in large-scale transformation projects “As a CIO, I had a wonderful opportunity to bring the best of modern technology to the way we work. I always knew that this was going to be reasonably complex technology work - we are integrating something like ten different applications that all need to consume and make sense of the danger rating. And there's also a mix of public facing applications and internal applications. And it's critically important that the danger rating that goes to those applications is all the same”. 

"The Australian Fire Danger Rating System was a critical, transformational project that will improve the safety of our community for years to come."

Boer Xu, Director, Deloitte Technology Consulting

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Megan Maletic

Partner, Public Sector Workforce Transformation Leader

Ben Thwaites

Partner, Technology Strategy & Transformation