Red Cross Hack Day

Using Emerging Technology to help people in need

As technology develops we see how it can help us solve problems and even save lives. VERSA facilitates “Hack Days” to help clients see how emerging technology can help solve challenges. The Australian Red Cross saw an opportunity to work with VERSA & Deepend in a co-design process to solve a dangerous problem; Australian’s aren’t prepared for emergencies.


Australia is well known to be a land of a land of extremes. From floods to bushfires, broken down cars in the bush, or extreme weather that stops you getting to work. For generations, the Australian Red Cross have dedicated their time and efforts to humanitarian aid across Australian and overseas. Their latest mission was to prepare 3 Million Australians for emergencies of all kinds, by 2020.

Emergency preparation is providing the tools and guidance required to mitigate the impact of loss and trauma to an individual or community in cases where prevention is simply not enough. Technology today has made it easier than ever to solve these problems, and even save lives.


Being prepared in the face of an emergency, be it natural disaster or personal trauma, is about protecting your life, livelihood and loved ones. The Australian Red Cross’ 2020 Strategy has led to a reinvigorated mobilisation of their mission to save lives and support everyday Australians. Driven by principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality, their communication requires consistent reflection and adaption as new waves of tech hit Australian shores.


In response to tragedies such as Black Saturday, the Australian Red Cross (ARC) wanted all Australian’s to be ready for an emergency. VERSA facilitated a Hack Day to help. Using cross-disciplinary design processes we saw how teams could design with different technological mediums to solve an issue. Teams from VERSA, Deepend and the Australian Red Cross joined to explore how IoT, Voice, Chat Bots, VR/AR, and applications could help get Australian’s ready for an emergency. 


At the end of the day, the teams would present their idea and prototype to a panel of judges. A Voice assistant was built to help quiz school kids on what to do before a bushfire. A facebook chatbot was created that can share valuable information during a bushfire and also mark your family members safe. An immersive VR experience was proposed to put people into the heart of a bushfire so they know how to react. An app was designed to take families on a road to readiness. Finally, a digital ecosystem was designed for a rural property with self-timing sprinklers, safety lights, and smoke detectors.

“ I’m astounded by the result of everyone’s hard work, high energy and creative genius. We are now in possession of some truly innovative prototypes and all from a day’s work! ”

Alex Krystev, National Innovation Lead, Australian Red Cross


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