AshTag communications campaign from UEA wins Guardian Award

28th Feb 2014

The University of East Anglia Communications Office won a prestigious Guardian University Award on February 26 at a glittering ceremony in London.

The team fought off stiff competition from other high profile communication campaigns including the University of Leicester’s ‘King in a car park’ to be presented the award by writer and broadcaster Victoria Coren.

The award recognises the communications campaign launching the Ashtag mobile app. Media relations manager Lisa Horton, who collected the award with colleagues from UEA's Adapt Low Carbon Group, said “We are delighted to have won this award. The team worked around the clock on this project and it is fantastic to be recognised for all that hard work. 

The AshTag project, created by Adapt, allowed users to collect raw data by photographing and sending images of diseased trees to experts. The app includes a visual guide to help users recognise symptoms and uses geo-tagging software to provide a precise location. Reports were then mapped on the AshTag.org website with all likely cases passed to the Forestry Commission.

The UEA Communications team gained the support of the public by encouraging everyone from nature lovers to farmers to get snapping quickly – before autumn hit. There were only a couple weeks to spread the word before the leaves would fall, making identification more difficult. The team communicated quickly and effectively – and so launched a hard-hitting media campaign.

Ultimately, the campaign drove more than 1,000 people to submit photos with more than 70 being classed as ‘likely’ and relayed to the Forestry Commission. 12,000 people had downloaded the app, and at one stage AshTag became the fifth most downloaded iPhone app ahead of Wikipedia and the Holy Bible.

The Guardian University Awards showcase and celebrate the outstanding innovation, creativity and impact of UK universities across the higher education sector in delivering world-class teaching, research and engagement.

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