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I'm having difficulty turning this into a proper question, but here goes...

Some of you may have heard about the flooding happening in Queensland, Australia. Well, I'm in the inner suburbs of Brisbane right now; the river has been slowly creeping toward my house since Tuesday. When I left for work this morning it was twenty meters down the road when it is normally kilometers away.

Within hours of the distater striking, the government already had some pretty good web applications available for people to get information about what was happening and where the flood was predicted to rise. They also set up a database for people to search for the whereabouts of relatives or could register their location for others to see.

Has anyone been involved in the development of these kinds of projects before? It's interesting that they could churn out this software in what appeared to be less than a day when the average development house could take weeks at best. In what ways did it differ from a 'normal' project? Any other thoughts?

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I feel you, my mother is in the flooding on the NSW side... We're lucky though, we are use to extremely flooding. The house is on stilts and she always has around a month+ of supplies (just because she is so far from major shops) –  Dan McGrath Jan 13 '11 at 7:14

3 Answers 3

up vote 32 down vote accepted

My guess is that they didn't just churn this out in a few days.

Being a government, they would have extensive planning for the event of widespread disasters, including communication issues, etc.

To this end, they probably have a set of applications for these situations that are ready, tested and only waiting for appropriate 'branding' to launch them.

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+1 since I work at a place where this occurs. Applications providing relevant timely and localized data are in place but inactive until such time as they are needed. This can be cyclical or in response to a specific event. –  Gary Rowe Jan 13 '11 at 7:29
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Good to know planning for emergency actually works... somewhere. –  Mchl Jan 13 '11 at 13:29

Most governments have this kind of software (one of my prior tasks was working on just such an application). Usually it is not made public, but it seems that Australia did make an interface for people outside the government. In some contries privacy laws can restrict or prevent such disclosure.

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There is open source software like http://www.ushahidi.com/ that was developed because of other disastrous situations around the world. Haven't seen the websites you mentioned but could be something like that.

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