IT community bands together to support Australian flood victims

Photo credit: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Cranes submerged under flood waters in an industrial area of Brisbane January 13, 2011. Australia's government is reportedly considering a taxpayer levy to help pay for massive flood rebuilding, while preserving the budget's path back to surplus in 2012-13, as one major bank warned the damage bill could reach A$20 billion. Photo taken January 13, 2011.

The Australian IT community has banded together, pledging to help schools and small to medium businesses (SMBs) affected by flooding in Queensland through the donation of IT supplies.

The Queensland IT Flood Relief program was established by Datacom employee Lewis Benge, who saw the potential for one company's IT trash to become treasure for Queenslanders who had lost everything.

"I was sitting in my office and staring at a whole bunch of computers that were just about to be chucked out," Benge said.

"I was thinking all of these guys in Queensland have had their computers literally washed down the river, and wouldn't it be helpful if we could help them out.

"From people I've spoken to, there are people that have turned up to their office after the flood waters have receded and there are no devices because the computers are in the river somewhere."

Benge put forward the idea to colleagues and friends, with the goal of transporting used hardware to Queensland.

"Our computers were only three years old and reusable, so we thought let's get them up to Queensland," he said. "I put the idea out to some friends at Microsoft and the wider IT community."

After the news of Benge's donations went viral on social networking site Twitter, he established a website to help streamline interest from the IT community and has so far received donations from Datacom, Knight Frank and Microsoft.

"We have been pledged primarily PCs, Macs, printers and multi-function devices, networking equipment, racks and data centres...and all of that type of equipment," he said.

The Queensland University of Technology has also provided assistance to the project, with staff and students pledging their time as volunteers.

When asked why the Queensland IT Flood Relief program was only being targeted to SMBs and schools, Benge said these groups were least likely to have a disaster recovery plan in place.

"At the moment, we're looking at small to medium enterprise, schools and community centres," he said.

"The justification behind that is firstly, they're the people that either didn't have a disaster recovery plan or the right insurances in place. They're the ones who are going to struggle to get computers up and running."

With donations streaming in, Benge said logistical supplies are needed to transport IT equipment to Brisbane.

"What we are still missing is the more logistical type stuff," he said. "We need things like palettes, even just to borrow, so we can transport equipment."

"We need cleaning equipment... we need [cleaning] alcohol, [and] distilled water so we can help wash down some of the hard drives so we can do some recovery exercises."

To find out more about the Queensland IT Flood Relief program, Benge recommends people head to their newly established website to find out more.

"The website has been updated every hour, so the donations come up online as they are made," he said.

The program comes as Brisbane-based IT, communications and technology company IntraPower (ASX:IPX) announced it had teamed up with Telstra Wholesale, Data Outsource and BigAir Group Limited to provide free and discounted IT assistance to businesses affected by the floods.

Chief Operating Officer, Darc Rasmussen, said he made the move after it became apparent how damaging the floods had been to Brisbane based businesses.

"Many Queensland businesses are struggling to resume operations after floods destroyed their IT systems and data or shut down offices and sub-standard data centres," he said.

"Organisations are losing productivity and their competitive advantage against local and interstate businesses that have continued to operate through this crisis."

For more information on IntraPower's emergency IT assistance, businesses can call 1300 136 741 or enter a quick inquiry at the IntraPower website.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

This story, "IT community bands together to support Australian flood victims" was originally published by Computerworld Australia.

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