When digital services save lives: register an emergency beacon online
Helping the MCA build a quick and easy digital service for beacon owners to register and update their information.
A 406 MHz beacon supports people using boats and aircrafts to alert Coastguard rescue services in crisis situations. To help Search and Rescue in an emergency, it’s important that this beacon is registered with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
This vital service is essential in saving lives when emergencies happen on land, air or sea. So it’s important that beacons are registered, and that owners’ information is kept up to date.
The MCA decided to build a new online service to replace their beacons registration database. The registration information is important in resolving false alarms, which make up 95% of all beacon activations. These can be costly if rescue services are dispatched.
The aim was to provide a quick and easy way for beacon owners to register and update their information, improving data quality, decreasing the cost of false alarms, and ultimately saving lives.
Working as one team, MCA and Made Tech did extensive user research to understand the types of people that use this service and their different needs. This meant building and iterating a simple digital service that was quick and easy for beacon owners to use, in line with the government Service Standard.
It also meant understanding the needs of the back-of-house teams at MCA, including coastguard rescue services. Rescue services need to access essential information quickly, while having confidence it’s correct. It’s vital that details like a beacon’s unique ID number and its associated vehicle’s identifying information is readily accessible.
The project team migrated existing data into this new service. Through further research and iteration, we made sure all essential information was clear, accessible and searchable.
Now, beacon owners can self-serve entirely, whether registering a new beacon in minutes or updating their information. All registered information is now immediately available to search and rescue services.
Existing beacon owners can now register for the digital service to confirm that their existing information is correct and up-to-date.
Building a more convenient service improved the integrity of the data. This means the MCA and HM Coastguard are in the best position to help should a beacon owner need emergency support, or to quickly resolve a false alarm.
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