Every second counts: applying technology to help veterans in crisis


10 Apr 2024
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Every second counts: applying technology to help veterans in crisis

The Rifles is the largest infantry regiment in the British Army and has a storied history. Its battalions and their antecedents carry battle honours that date to the 17th century, and modern-day Riflemen have been sustaining high operational tempos over the past two decades with regular deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond.  

It is a sobering fact that The Rifles experienced proportionally the highest casualty rate of any regiment during the conflict in Afghanistan, with 55 soldiers killed and 258 wounded. Many Riflemen struggle after leaving the army, with physical and mental health issues that stem from their service or due the challenge of adjusting to civilian life.    

To support RIFLES veterans and their families, the Always a Rifleman Programme (AARP), which is part of The Rifles Benevolent Trust, was established in August 2021 by RIFLES Regimental Headquarters.  

The programme has the sole purpose of creating a network of volunteers who can swiftly reach veterans and their dependants through a dedicated service that is available 24/7. This service aims to have a volunteer at the doorstep of a veteran in crisis within one hour of notification.

The AARP network can be contacted to provide an immediate response, mobilising volunteers to help a veteran. To determine who is best placed to respond to a crisis the AARP previously relied on manual processes and retained knowledge, with volunteers looking at various aspects of a veteran’s service history, such as rank, operational deployments, roles, and the units they served with. Based on this – and the location of the veteran – the most suitable members of the network were tasked to respond.     

This process, however, could be labour-intensive and slow, involving multiple phone calls, conversations, and manually searching and sharing files. Time is of critical importance and wasted seconds can lead to a tragic outcome, so to speed-up the process the AARP engaged with the Adarga Labs team to develop a solution that could automate and simplify much of the work.

“We worked with the AARP team to understand their existing manual processes and to identify where these can be streamlined and automated,” explains Peter Bradbury, a principal engineer at Adarga, “the web-based app we have developed is underpinned by the knowledge graph technology developed for Vantage, our cutting-edge AI-driven software. It is designed to be intuitive and to display structured data that was previously held in formats such as spreadsheets. The app enables the user to quickly filter information, visualise relationships, and identify who is best placed to respond to a veteran in crisis."

Thanks in part to the faster intervention supported by the Adarga-developed app, 31 lives have been saved to date

- Always a Rifleman Programme

“Through our rapid prototyping processes and in-house expertise, we were able to deploy the solution in around two weeks,” Bradbury notes, adding “when you learn how crucial it is for the AARP volunteers to respond quickly to calls for help and that every second counts, it brings home the importance of developing a solution that is easy to use and saves them time.”  

Simon Hazlitt, AARP coordinator said “We loved working with Adarga. From the start there was a rare desire to fix the problem, not go through a process. As a result we developed a cutting-edge app within a startlingly short time, whilst ensuring that important security and privacy issues were fully addressed. It is saving lives.”

“Delivering solutions that meet the exacting and mission-critical demands of the armed forces is in our DNA,” notes Charlie Maconochie, Adarga’s senior vice president and former commanding officer of 3 RIFLES, adding “that extends to veterans and the organisations that support them. Service personnel play a crucial role at Adarga and operate across all aspects of the business. We are proud signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant and were honoured to receive the prestigious Gold Award of the DRM Employer Recognition Scheme.” 

To Learn more about the Always a Rifleman Programme, including how to support its work please click here 

About Adarga Labs

Adarga has a dedicated Labs team that enables organisations to bring its world-class AI expertise in-house. Delivering rapid prototyping, the team develops innovative solutions to solve business-critical challenges, as well as supporting the adoption and scaling of AI capabilities. 

To learn more about Adarga Labs download the brochure here

Adarga's market-defining Vantage software is delivering information and decision advantage to organisations in the public and private sector, underpinned by a unique mix of natural language processing, machine learning, and knowledge graph technology. Find out more here

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