British Heart Foundation

When an app isn’t always the answer

How we built a UK-first platform with a life or death result

We created the British Heart Foundation’s online defibrillator locator tool as a PWA – making its vital information quicker and easier to access in emergencies. Over 15,000 users have requested directions to their nearest, life-saving defibrillator since launch.

The Challenge

Around 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside hospital every year. Their survival rate is just one in 10. Knowing where to locate the nearest defibrillator to kickstart a heart can literally mean the difference between life and death. There are tens of thousands of defibrillators placed in public locations all across the UK as part of ‘The Circuit’ network. But fewer than 5% are used, because most people don’t know where to find them. How could we help the British Heart Foundation solve this problem and increase the chances of someone surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest?

Indiespring Action

In the world of digital development, there can be a tendency to think that the nimble, seamless efficiency of an app is always the answer. Hey, we build industry-leading apps – we get it. But user experience, not assumption, should always be at the heart of any development.

When interrogating the audience personas and user journeys for the proposed digital tool to access the UK’s defibrillator network, we understood two things. Firstly, none of the audience personas would be likely to search the app store or even be encouraged to download an application from a website to satisfy their needs initially: they just need a simple answer to a simple question. Secondly, in an emergency situation, time is of essence. Forcing users to visit the app store, download an application, remember their password and so on, would ultimately slow down the process and put lives at risk.

The answer was a Progressive Web App (PWA). This would provide the seamless experience of an app without requiring the user to visit the app store and download software, and without the maintenance costs and time for the British Heart Foundation.

Our tool was built using geo-spatial software a combination of OpenStreetMap, Mapbox and Bing Maps in order to achieve all the required functionality. Secure and easy to use, the tool gives users live access to any defibrillator registered on The Circuit as well as other crucial information such as availability, access and directions.

The Result

Having a laser-focus on user needs has meant that this work has become a shining example of a consumer-focussed med-tech implementation that really works. has greatly improved the adoption and reach of the public defibrillator network, with 360,000 page loads and 15,200 requests for directions, and counting, since a soft launch.