Locatrix Insider Story - Helen Hall

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

Working at Locatrix is a pretty special thing but if you told me 5 years ago I’d be working as an Executive for a Software business I would have laughed in your face and I’m sure many of you who know me would also be laughing along with me now.

How did I get here?

Probably because anywhere I have ended up in my life has been strongly directed by purpose and very much directed by wanting to be associated with people and organisations that share my values.

The change in industry was coupled with great personal change.

In 2017 my husband and I took a very courageous step. We had a beautiful home and life we had created together in Sydney’s North West. We have three beautiful children all primary school age and we both had great jobs in very established organisations. Adrian was in the Construction industry as a site Foreman, I was working for an Aged Care Provider, heading up the capital works and development. Life was busy … too busy and having only moved 7km away from where we grew up, we felt we needed to do something drastic to begin to live our own lives, we discussed and recognised that we wanted a different outcome which actually required change. With great trepidation, we decided to back ourselves, not just talk about it. So, one long weekend we visited the Gold Coast and bought a house. The following week Adrian and I put our house on the market and resigned from our jobs. As you can imagine, our family, friends and work colleagues were shocked even angry, but with the three month turnaround to ensure we moved in line with school terms and putting our kids first, the important people in our lives had to realise we were serious about doing what was right for us and our family.

Adrian, with the help of a friend in Brisbane, had an interview with a prominent builder which quickly turned into an agreement that he'd start as soon as our move was complete. For the first time in my adult life I found myself unemployed and dependant on my husband’s income, which outside short stints of maternity leave, I have never done but strangely I didn’t mind. We both had made this decision and we did it for the ones we love the most – all five of us. So, I set to using my strengths for my family instead of my career and worked at settling the family into our new life.

I didn’t fall back into the busy lifestyle and habits we had left.

It was also a company that I knew would support my work life balance.

My “retirement” was short lived. Within three months, the opportunity to work at Locatrix presented itself. It was always in the back of my mind as I was a believer in PlanSafe and had used it before at my last place of employment. Before I was to commit, I had to investigate a few opportunities from associates I had worked with in the past, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t fall back into the busy lifestyle and habits we had left. What was different though, was that Locatrix showed real potential. I could see how the development of integrated floorplans and sharing data with emergency services could fill a huge void and it sorely needed to be addressed. I knew it would save lives and I wanted to help make it happen. It was also a company that I knew would support my work life balance, working from home was a clear option and the office wasn’t more than 15 minutes away either. Perfect.

Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualisation cannot be achieved without that base level of safety.

My time in the Aged Care sector had shown me how rewarding it was to create better homes for our elders to enjoy their final years. I always made time to sit with the Residents and hear about their lives and relish in the joy in their eyes at the fact that someone was listening. It gave me a purpose but even more rewarding, it kept their purpose alive too. That was a nice side benefit from the planning and implementing of safe built environments. It was in this project planning space that I was able to learn so much from the residents, the staff, construction industry experts. Like a sponge I listened to and learnt from everyone I met, every stakeholder in every project and in that experience, the one shining diamond from all points of view was that personal safety is key. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualisation cannot be achieved without that base level of safety.

I saw an opportunity to join something that was able to help so many by connecting the dots.

Moving on from that and heading into Locatrix which had shifted from the fire space and into the technology space, I saw an opportunity to join something that was able to help so many by connecting the dots: the building owner; the building auditor; and the first responder - all being able to see the same information. Together all digitally collecting and keeping up to date building information and ensuring that the right people see the right information for them. In my previous role it was impossible to find one source of truth. The council had one form, the owner had another and the last architect/builder had one too. Then the fire safety guys had their own. Nothing was the same. Each time we had to pay to get a new up to date floor plan created – then the changes would again be lost. Locatrix had found a way for all parties to “sing the same tune”, see the same notes from the same “music sheet”. I wanted to be part of what it took to deliver this solution.

To help you understand why else this is important to me, part of my remit at the time of the Quakers Hill fire happened was fire safety compliance for another aged care provider. It was a bit close to home, it was my community and we were all affected. I read through that entire coronial inquest report and needed to understand what changes we had to make in order to meet the new measures and what followed was a three year project to upgrade almost 700 aged care beds to meet the new safety standards. It was during this project that I learnt so much. I learnt that not many building owners have access to current plans. I knew that the Fire Service and Police often struggle to know where the front door is let alone the lay out of a building they are responding to. I learnt that many aged care buildings and healthcare buildings struggle to be fit for purpose, being older buildings that have had their use changed and not always the classification updated, I now understand that this is not only the case for aged care but other industries also have this challenge too. I learnt that not many building owners could manage to afford upgrades because of funding constraints. I learnt that fire safety training was very challenging to deliver, particularly when you are working with shift workers, workers with English as their second language and agency staff.

The main point of what I learnt was that the building owner, the emergency services and the fire safety company did not have one source of truth.

I knew of what Locatrix was working towards, truth is the CEO is my brother. John was always amazed at the challenges I was facing with coordinating projects and he listened and in true John fashion, worked at a solution. John arranged for me to meet Chairman Rick Anstey and it was he who convinced me that my skillset and experience in project management and construction was something that Locatrix could benefit from.

John has a great network and has always been so curious about everything. He loves to learn about how businesses operate or how they don’t and see what he can do about implementing a change. In listening to me and his friends at QFES, he soon realised that there was a huge disconnect and he wanted to find a solution. I don’t think, at that time, we realised just how many problems Locatrix was really addressing.

The technology team behind this invention have listen to the needs, acknowledged the issues and put their creative genius to its best use.

By listening and responding, the team at Locatrix invented this incredible input tool which was then deployed via a Channel Partner model to the fire industry, enabling these professionals with a way to draft and publish plans on the go, on site, immediately for distribution. It is all about currency, accuracy and with that information, then creating relevant training information to occupants, providing them the exact and relevant site-based lifesaving information they need to keep people safe. Their details (the warden structure) as well as the site critical building information is then shared with emergency services providing them all the detail that they need to save lives and protect that property. The technology team behind this invention have listened to the needs, acknowledged the issues and put their creative genius to its best use. They too believe in the purpose and wouldn’t be at Locatrix if they didn’t. Everyone in the company believe in the same thing and share this purpose and all feel responsible for saving people’s lives.

It has been just over a year since we launched the application PlanStudio at FPA conference and we have over 30 partners from the fire industry using it. We have gone from 5 million SQM under management to over 20m in just 6 months. Simultaneously we have used a $1,300,000 Federal Government Grant to build the Emergency Services Platform (ESP), a platform that delivers all these indoor floor plans and emergency building information into the hands of first responders for at no cost to them.

Protecting and better informing our First Responders is such a high priority – and this is our purpose.

The Lindt Café disaster outcome could have changed had Police had earlier knowledge of the inside layout of the building, they had no access to plans for over 5 hours. My husband’s bests friend was the Police Officer that offered emergency assistance to Tori Johnson (Lindt Café Manager) as he passed away from the fatal gunshot wound, not a day he will easily forget. Quakers Hill (NSW), Grenfell (UK)… every incident where First Responders are sent into harm’s way to manage emergency situations and help evacuate vulnerable people need digital floor plans. Protecting and better informing our First Responders is such a high priority – and this is our purpose, it is my purpose. Saving people’s lives.

I’m excited to be a part of this vision as it helps the industry I left and arms people like my friends who were first responders at Quakers Hill and Lindt Cafe. Better information, current digital emergency information is critical for active response and decision support for our First Responders.

Now that is a purpose that we are happy we relocated for. The balance is here for us, the job is fulfilling, the kids are proud, and they too want to work at Locatrix, but they know they have to finish their education first. It proves to me that following your values and purpose is exactly what you should always do.


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