Recently I was asked to help the Flooding Action Group Somerset (FLAG Somerset) with a problem they’d been surprised with. FLAG were originally set up as a campaigning group to lobby for better water management measures on the Somerset Levels. When they actually got flooded in January this year, not only were they invaded by water, but also media, politicians and even royalty in the form of Prince Charles. This suddenly gave them a data management problems.
Because of all the media coverage, they had a very heart-warming but troublesome influx of offers for help. People who wanted to help were finding FLAGSomerset’s Facebook and web page and given how unprepared everybody (including government agencies) were, felt FLAG were the best people to offer help to.
At that moment in time, there was nothing anybody could do. But it was obvious that when the waters ebbed, having access to a army of volunteers would be vital.
Marshalling all these electronic offers became an urgent need. When I got in touch with them, they bit my arm off! I’m quite proud of the solution I suggested.
Essentially, the brief was to automate the collection and collation of the offers of help, and make the data accessible for a collaborative group to work on.
The answer was simple. Take advantage of the resources that were freely available on the internet and that the majority of people already had access to. In short, Google’s cloud services, particularly, Google Drive.
The advantages of this were :
- Instant Deployment
- Complete Cross Platform Integration
- Cost Free
- Iteration & Collaboration Control