‘Challenge the Channel’ for NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Australia

Changing the way we educate the community about maritime safety

Minimising trauma and promoting safety on our waterways is a key goal for our communities. While drowning fatalities have significantly declined in recent years, injuries caused by speed, alcohol, not maintaining a proper lookout and poor judgement continue to climb.

Tackling this issue head on is the NSW Government’s Maritime Safety Plan 2017-2021, which aims to reduce fatalities and serious injuries by 30 per cent and lay the foundation of a long-term target of zero fatalities on the water.

To support the implementation of this plan, NSW Roads and Maritime Services engaged Aurecon to design and produce an interactive, educational model. This was first shown at the NSW Roads and Maritime Services stand at the 2018 Sydney International Boat Show and has since been enhanced to be used at other events.

Aurecon’s global 3D visualisation and creative technology team, Unsigned Studio, and Communication and Stakeholder Engagement team designed and produced a game, called ‘Challenge the Channel’. It created an engaging experience that educated the boating community ‒ in a fun way ‒ on some of the key boating safety messages in the Maritime Safety Plan.

A live, interactive and informative gaming experience, it has been strategically designed with a short play time (60-90 seconds) to increase immersion for players and spectators. The game was built around a small selection of scenarios prompting players to carefully choose appropriate and approved sailing paraphernalia and obey waterway rules within a specific time frame. 

‘Challenge the Channel’ is an innovative educational experience, which not only informed the boating community, but drew visitors to the Roads and Maritime stand where it generated face-to-face engagement between Roads and Maritime representatives and boat owners, as well as boating enthusiasts. 

Reimagining game engine technology

One of the success factors in this model was Aurecon’s clever use of existing technology in new ways, underpinned by best practice stakeholder engagement to drive the interactive, educational game.

Through our exemplar stakeholder engagement, we created a user-friendly game, with the user experience and requirements always front-of-mind throughout all stages of the project from concept development to technology used and the analytics captured.

To achieve this, Aurecon facilitated multiple workshops with the Roads and Maritime project team, enabling Aurecon’s proposal and strategy for an interactive game to be explored and developed, and criteria to be set in combination with demographic data and visitor numbers at previous Roads and Maritime events.

Layers of innovative thinking

While the underlying technology used to produce the game is relatively standard, the levels of technical innovation rapidly increased with Aurecon’s approach to roll out the game together with user experience and community engagement. The use of multiple displays and detailed analytics also contributed to the level of difficulty.

The project team overcame these challenges to create an experience that was seamless and fun for the uninitiated user. A variety of strategies and technologies were employed including:

  • Custom technology to enable the use of multiple displays, which ensured the model was engaging and highly visible at the event
  • Development of analytics systems to understand how the audience was playing and what they were learning
  • The ability to package the technology in a way that enabled the model to be easily set up and dismantled at the major event

Capturing data to inform future campaigns

In addition to ‘Challenge the Channel’ being a unique and effective engagement experience for the community as a gamified educational model, it also demonstrates excellence in innovation through the ability to collect critical data to provide analytics to Roads and Maritime. 

Aurecon’s design ensured the game calculated the number of people playing, the ratio of winners and what safety considerations the community were commonly including and excluding as part of the game play. Roads and Maritime utilised this critical data in reports to senior stakeholders outlining the reach of the safety plan campaign. The data also provided insight into the safety considerations that were commonly missed, which is hugely valuable information for future safety campaigns.

Opening new doors for the future

'Challenge the Channel' combines the full gamut of Aurecon’s Communication and Stakeholder Engagement and Unsigned Studio teams’ technical skill in process and creative storytelling for game design and music composition.

Our unique application of technology resulted in a range of significant and valuable outcomes for Roads and Maritime and the boating community. With potential for replication and expansion to various story-driven apps or tools for simulation-based training and education, the game could be more widely accessible – a key piece of the jigsaw as we strive for the ultimate goal of zero fatalities on our waterways.

Aurecon combined a unique process of gamifying an educational experience with a rewards mechanism and incentivisation throughout the interactive activity. It has created a strong foundation and clear opportunity to implement this approach across a range of industries, and into other projects from simple interactive reporting, visualisations and animations through to complex virtual reality experiences.

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