Floodaid: Flash-development Of An Emergency Social Platform

January 13, 2011

10:35 pm

While I was at a breakfast at CES, Intel Fellow and Australia native Genevieve Bell told me about the devastating floods happening in Australia. We talked about the natural cycles and the changes the land would go through, how snakes and crocodiles are seeking refuge in people’s homes, and the general upheaval it’s causing. At the time, it was just an interesting conversation over morning tea. But the terrible reality is that people’s lives are being affected right now by floods around the world.

  • 75% of Queensland is now covered in water, and as youth activist Ehon Chan pointed out, that’s 2x the size of Texas and almost 5x of that of UK. Many people are missing and others have been confirmed dead.
  • Devastating flood waters in Brazil have claimed almost 500 lives.
  • In the Philippines 40 lives have been lost and countless lives affected.
  • In Sri Lanka, over 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding and the death toll has risen to over 20.

There may not be much we can do about the floods, but as we’ve learned over the past few years, today’s connected technologies can significantly help the people who have lost so much. Australians Adam Penberthy, Graeme Caplen and Adrian Larsen have teamed with others from around the world to develop a social platform which connects those in need with those willing to help. The site, which should be live within the next 24 hours, is http://www.floodaid.com.au/. It is a community driven, peer to peer relief site, using crowdsourcing to enable victims of natural and man made disasters to connect with people who are able to help.

Only once the waters recede and it stops raining will the full extent of the already mind-blowing damage become clear. Floodaid is a social tool developed to connect people who are in need of assistance with people who are able to help. – Co-Founder Graeme Caplen

How did this project come together? I received this message from Penberthy:

Less than 48 hours ago we had an idea to create a site that connected those who needed help with those who could help.  A crowd-sourcing tool that allows for online collaboration aiding the clean up as the flood water dies down.

We put the word out on Twitter, Facebook and to some close friends around Australia, within 12 hours we had over 500 offers of help from developers, designers, producers, and a bunch of advertising folk.   From the 500, we narrowed it down to an amazing team of 30 people from 9 cities, across 5 continents, who’ve worked around the clock to get the site live.

All going to plan we’ll be going live tomorrow morning (11am-ish), 48 hours after we started throwing the idea around, it’s starting to get some strong viral traction, and with a few more pushes it will take off. Please share with your friends and colleagues @FloodAidAus on Twitter and Facebook.com/FloodAid.

The site works based on location and categories, linking people with resources with those without, within a specific geographic area.  Over the weekend a team in the US, a developer in Holland, a couple of guys in Sydney and my mobile team will start work on the accompanying iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile apps – which we’re aiming to have live next week.

I’ve attached some information about where we’ve come from with this, and where it’s headed.  We’re really keen to get the same site live in Brazil, if anyone can help there, please holla out.

Floodaid diagram

Given the nature of the emergency, the mobile apps may be most critical, but check out the site, and if you or someone you know can help with their expansion efforts for Brazil, Sri Lanka or the Philippines, contact the team via their Twitter handle: @FloodAidAus.

The team also provided an infographic which lays out the the story of the Floodaid project.


H/T to Ehon Chan for bringing this story to our attention and spreading the word.

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Jen Consalvo is the Cofounder and COO of Tech.Co. She previously worked in product development for almost 13 years at AOL for audiences of millions. Follow her on Twitter at: @noreaster.

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