An innovative use of Salesforce.com to track disaster restoration

The biggest challenge after any calamity, esp. the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina is how to track, manage and report on what resources are needed and where. Generally all the resources pool at the very begining but due to poor management and miss-allocation the volunteers dwindle away.

Broadmoor a town in Parish county, Louisiana was was one such working community devastated by Hurricane Katrnia. For months the residents waited for federal help on reconstruction – the final straw came when the city decided to pass a legislation to bulldoze the remaining houses to build a park. This was a wake up call for the residents who decided to rebuild their community on their own terms.

The tipping point in their grassroot efforts came when they decided to experiment with Salesforce, an enterprise level customer-relationship-management software. With this tool, the Broadmoor Development Corp was able to better coordinate volunteer activities, funds, and bring a high level of visibility to the process. An interview on NPR notes:

Salesforce was built for salespeople, but Roark and his army of college interns have repurposed it so he can catalog the needs of Broadmoor’s 2,400 homes and the 7,000 residents who lived here before Katrina.

With this database, Roark can explain to donors what they’re getting for their money. Donors appreciate that. And, Roark says, it also helps him satisfy the human needs of volunteers, who want to do more than paint a stranger’s house.

Software allows us to build for efficiency, communicate better, and strengthen existing communities. This is an excellent example of where an innovative community leveraged an existing tool to meet their needs.

You can hear more about this on NPR at Database Key in Restoring New Orleans

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