Life Saving use for a collaborative spreadsheet

Spreadsheets aren’t just for numbers and money, they can also be used to save lives when saved online and collaborating with other people.

Lismore is northern NSW, Australia has been struck with massive floods leaving many people stranded in their homes, some trapped against rising waters.

The emergency services were overwhelmed so it was left to individuals to help.  But how to co-ordinate everyone, send them to the right place and very quickly?

The answer: a spreadsheet.  A collaborative online worksheet that lists addresses of who needs help and can be checked by rescuers to see who is near them.  Addresses taken off the list when the residents are taken to safety.  The sheet also has links to online mapping to help rescuers.

That’s what Sally Flannery did when she saw many requests for help appearing on a Lismore small business Facebook page. Those pleas needed to be sorted out and dealt with … and quickly.

Using an online tool Clickup.com, Sally setup a spreadsheet to coordinate dozens of volunteers to save hundreds of people. Anyone could access the spreadsheet on a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

In theory, it would be better to have a custom database (with relations to save details of volunteers, people saved etc.) but a spreadsheet is a lot faster to setup and familiar to most folks.

Hopefully, you’ll never be caught in a flood or other natural disaster but it’s something to keep in mind for the unexpected.

Tip of the hat to the Aussie ABC (ABC Radio is invaluable in any disaster) How a spreadsheet became a lifesaver in Lismore’s flood crisis

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