A developer team of students representing Melbourne’s Swinburne University has won the Motorola Solutions hackathon for the first time.

The team claimed top honours, presenting an app concept aimed at improving the quality and accuracy of public reports relating to landslides, fallen trees and a raft of other dangers.

The challenge was provided by the Victoria State Emergency Services, one of four public safety organisations taking part in the event. In 2016-2017, VICSES recorded its second busiest year on record, responding to more than 31,000 incidents and providing some 302,600 hours of operational support time to Victorians in need.

The prize-winning app concept allows citizens to use their smartphones to capture images of fallen trees and other obstacles, using a range of other software tools to accurately measure the size of hazards. It also enables real-time reporting of road conditions.

One of the strongest themes that emerged from this year’s hackathon was the growing need for technologies to enhance citizen engagement with public safety organisations.

“It is becoming increasingly important for emergency services to access more of the vital data that Australian citizens can capture using smart phones,” said Motorola Solutions ANZ VP and MD Steve Crutchfield.

“Citizens have an important role to play in protecting their communities, and by providing first responders with the right data at the right time, we can all have a profound impact on the future of public safety.