Unmatched Openness, Flexibility and Speed in Deployment to Queensland Government During Epic State Disaster
In December 2010 a large part of Southern and Central Queensland, Australia was hit with a series of severe floods and Cyclone Yasi that caused an estimated $1 billion Australian dollars in damage and displaced over 200,000 residents, many of whom lost everything in the disaster. ThoughtWorks, a global IT consulting firm, assisted the recovery effort by rapidly developing and deploying the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal online donation web application to collect more than AU$2 million in donations from the Australian public during a three-day national relief telethon, Flood Relief Appeal: Australia Unites on January 9, 2011. Currently, the application has generated more than AU$38 million in donations to help the victims. A simple interface, low cost and virtually limitless scaling to meet heavy demand, all factored into the selection of award-winning Heroku for simple and fast web application development and deployment.
Government and private collaboration
Smart Service Queensland, an organization of the Queensland Government that focuses on making government services more accessible, efficient and convenient to the Queensland public, initially looked to use its existing donation web application for collecting aid. However, the application was intended for use on a smaller scale and officials were unsure of how well it would perform under the stress of a nationally broadcast telethon. Julian Oliver, ThoughtWorks Australia market principal, offered assistance to the SSQ and enlisted the help of 6 ThoughtWorkers in Brisbane and Sydney to develop the new, robust Heroku-based web application.
“The developers blew our minds. In two days we generated AU$3 million dollars. That’s money that could not, would not have been received for the benefit of flood victims without their help. It’s humbling what the right tools in the right hands can achieve.”
Much of the development work was done using Ruby-on-Rails, an open source web application framework, and deployed on Heroku which is known as the world’s leading Ruby platform-as-a-service provider. Thoughtworks development team needed to quickly address the technical challenges and requirements of this project, from strong security to easily addressing high traffic needs. By removing the need to focus on non value-add system administration chores, Heroku allowed developers to utilize the most agile development techniques available and led the ThoughtWorks team to successfully develop and deploy the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal web application within just 48 hours and scale to meet the heavy outpouring of help with an simple way to contribute to disaster relief organizations in Queensland.
“For us, this project was about helping people in need, but it was also a confirmation of what can be achieved with Ruby on Rails and the cloud. For SSQ, they now have a whole new view of how agile technologies can help them serve their public at a higher level.”