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Adventures in Wagtail

30 Jan 2024

How we used Wagtail to streamline crisis response for Veiligheidsregio Utrecht

In today's interconnected world, ensuring efficient crisis management is imperative for first responders

Maarten Kling wearing a gray shirt that compliments his blue eyes.

Maarten Kling

Director of Four Digits

A firefighter in the Netherlands wearing full firefighting gear and standing next to a large, red firetruck.

Veiligheidsregio Utrecht (VRU) is a collaborative effort by and for all 26 Utrecht municipalities in the province of Utrecht, The Netherlands. For over 12.5 years they have ensured the safety of all people living and staying in our region. They do this with the dispatchers at the 112 emergency room, firefighters and our colleagues from risk management, crisis management and the region's medical assistance organization.

The big challenge facing our first responders

In this age of social media and rapid engagement, having control over communications is essential. When there is an incident, you want to share information quickly and unambiguously from the right source. VRU faced the challenge of optimizing their incident response procedures. Their goal was to streamline information dissemination during emergencies and strengthen their crisis management system.

What options were out there?

The VRU was looking for a solution that could make a major contribution to the crisis management processes their organization is responsible for (including sharing information before, during and after an incident). They wanted a solution based on proven technology that would be be reliable throughout an incident or crisis and provide one digital space for citizens, companies and press in the Utrecht region to find unambiguous and up-to-date information about risks, incidents, disasters and crises in their region.

Four Digits, a leading technology agency specializing in innovative digital solutions, was given the opportunity to develop this new platform. Collaborating closely with VRU, Four Digits proposed a tailored implementation of Wagtail CMS to address the organization's needs.

Wagtail provided an ideal solution

In creating this platform, the biggest challenge was figuring out how to help VRU organize, manage, and swiftly distribute critical information during various types of crises.

Wagtail CMS provided an ideal solution because it's a fast and elegant CMS to work with. Four Digits used Wagtail's unique capabilities to create a tailored content management system that suited VRU's specific requirements. This implementation of Wagtail CMS revolutionized VRU's approach to incident response by providing a centralized hub where VRU's teams can collaborate on content in real-time.

The user-friendly interface in Wagtail helped make content creation and updates more seamless for VRU, which ensures that emergency protocols, advisories, and other essential information could be managed efficiently during a crisis.

One of the key advantages of using Wagtail CMS was its flexibility in handling various multimedia formats. With Wagtail's multimedia capabilities, VRU can easily incorporate videos, infographics, and interactive maps into their communications, which significantly enhances the clarity and impact of their emergency messages.

Creating an incident management system

To meet VRU's specific needs, Four Digits developed a custom incident management system within Wagtail CMS. This tailored solution catered directly to VRU's requirements and provided them with a structured framework they can use to manage and categorize incidents efficiently. With the system, VRU can document incident details more quickly and thoroughly and analyze critical data more efficiently during emergencies.

Because this customized incident management system is integrated seamlessly into Wagtail CMS, this customised incident management system has become a pivotal part of VRU's crisis response strategy. This user-friendly system has helped VRU improve their incident documentation and improve their overall organizational responsiveness.

As a result of this collaborative effort between VRU and Four Digits, VRU's incident response system is now much more organised and responsive. With the streamlined information flow, VRU can react promptly to evolving situations and continuously improve their crisis management capabilities.

In an incident or crisis: Every second counts

When a crisis occurs, a spokesperson is typically on site and is responsible for communicating with others about the crisis or incident as it unfolds. By collaborating with several VRU spokespeople, Four Digits made sure the interface for spokespeople within the Wagtail CMS system worked was optimized for mobile devices, tablets and other devices that VRU spokespeople use on site. Important information about the incident, such as location, status and severity (GRIP level) can be added quickly. This information can also be published to X (formerly known as Twitter) directly from Wagtail. When they're on site, a VRU spokesperson can also provide live, blog-like updates about the incident.

You're looking an example screenshot of a crisis response page for the VRU organization with all of the alerts and tools needed to respond to a crisis.

In conclusion

The partnership between Veiligheidsregio Utrecht and Four Digits underscores how innovative technology can help fortify and streamline crisis management systems. By implementing Wagtail CMS and the customized incident management system, VRU not only enhanced their information dissemination but also increased their readiness to handle unforeseen challenges. This successful collaboration highlights the importance of adopting modern technological solutions to optimize processes in public organizations and ensure better preparation for critical situations.