Collabbit used by NYC Salvation Army to help serve 10,000 Thanksgiving dinners


On Thanksgiving day Eli and I were in New York city to observe the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner program, feeding more than 10,000 New Yorkers across the boroughs, Long Island, and Westchester – up from 800 meals in 2008 and one of the largest Thanksgiving Dinners in the Division’s 129-year history. (http://standtogethernewyork.org/10000-new-yorkers-join-us-for-thanksgiving-day-meal )

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services team coordinated the one-day event in a style similar to an emergency mass feeding. A work force of 500 volunteers and employees served food across the various sites. The Emergency disaster services team used an instance of Collabbit (http://collabbit.hfoss.org) to plan and track the event as it happened.

Zach posting an update at Harlam site

Zach posting an update at Harlem site

Representatives at each location posted incident updates via laptops connected to the internet with cellular wireless access cards, to keep command and control informed of the status at each site. How many people had gone through, if they had any issues or were in need of anything, etc..  As posts were made, alerts were sent around via SMS and email to individual user’s blackberry’s and cell phones.

The application ran without any major problem.  The biggest glitch was when Collabit’s email quota was reached for the day. The issue was attended to by Eli and Sam within about 10 minutes of the notification. We learned many things from a user perspective we hadn’t considered before. The onsite experience was a good learning opportunity for Eli and myself. The feedback is invaluable to improving the functionality of Collabbit.

One of the useful capabilities offered by Collabbit is its ability to maintain a streaming record of the event as it happened throughout the event that could be used for post-incident debriefings and hot-washes.  We look forward to the post-event analysis.

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