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Maritime NZ’s ‘Virtual Coastwatch’ lifejacket campaign won a gold global award for best use of technology at the international Festival of Media Awards in New York.

Virtual Coastwatch is an advertising initiative that created a world-first, digital geo-fence around the whole of New Zealand’s coastline 2 years ago so that reminders to wear lifejackets were sent to boaties while they were on the water, via their mobile devices.

Virtual Coastwatch uses GPS to identify mobile devices within a mapped area — within 15 kilometres of the coast. It automatically sends a safety message about wearing lifejackets through Facebook, Instagram, Google and 24 different advert networks. More than 5 million messages were sent to boaties last summer to remind them to ‘Get your lifejacket on’.

Along with advertising on mobile apps, marketing and face-to-face compliance, the initiative has helped increase the number of male recreational boaties — the most resistant group — wearing lifejackets. Research carried out by Maritime NZ in 2017 showed more than three-quarters of boaties say that they wear their lifejackets all or most of the time.

Maritime NZ Acting Director Nigel Clifford says ‘It’s great that the campaign is still being recognised for increasing the number of Kiwi boaties who wear lifejackets by promoting the safety benefits. Five years after its launch the campaign is helping to save lives.’

The recreational boating fatality rate for 2016 was 13 and for 2017 it was 20.  Lifejacket wearing is becoming a more normal part of boating, Nigel says. ‘It also shows that Government are using innovative technology to get safety messages out to Kiwis.’

The gold award for Maritime NZ and advertising agency FCB Media was 1 of only 5 Best of 2017 Awards presented at the international Festival of Media and follows on from the 2 gold awards won at the 2017 Asia Pacific Festival of Media Awards.

Maritime NZ website

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