The Maritime and Coastguard (MCA) provide search and rescue(SAR) services for the UK. When an emergency locator beacon is triggered the MCA need to determine whether to send SAR to provide assistance. For Registrars and Coastguards, the challenges were heavy paperwork; backlogs up to 18 months; incomplete registrations; and risk and significant costs due to false alarms. Difficulties for users in registering beacons included limited access to technology; registration processes meaning that users were not confident that their Beacon was registered and they could be rescued in an emergency.
Through user research we determined that it was possible to create a fully automated self-service registration and management process. We delivered a service that was mobile-optimised, could work on any device and was available 24/7.
To improve data quality we validated data on input such as address lookup and beacon ID validation and included mandated data. Users were able to check their answers before submission. To prevent data decay, we integrated the service with GOV.notify to send reminders to people to update key data like next of kin. Rather than rely on registration staff to update and validate data our approach was to enable users to do this for themselves.
We introduced an agile, fail-fast, no-blame culture with sprints and frequent show-and-tells. We enabled better collaboration using tools such as Jira, Confluence, Teams and implemented a DevSecOps pipeline for continuous delivery. The service successfully met the alpha Service Standard.
The Beacons Registration service not only improved the customer experience for users, it also provided opportunity to realise efficiencies. The MCA were able to provide a robust assisted digital service by consolidating into a single contact centre for customers, while reducing the cost to serve by approximately £300,000 per annum. Improvements in data quality will allow the MCA to triage SAR incidents more effectively and potentially make savings by quickly identifying false alarms and not sending out expensive SAR teams.