During and after Hurricane Harvey, people from all over the world mobilized to help, including many technology professionals. This talk will discuss challenges and lessons learned from the chaotic first week of participating and organizing Houston’s tech response. We had to create flexible structures that allowed us to rapidly respond to changing needs, unpredictable volunteer capacity, and knowledge bottlenecks.
We created ways of rapidly disseminating information, even when our point people were stuck in meetings all day. We made on-the-fly decisions about who to add to teams and who to give write access to and needed to trust each other to make good decisions. Teams had to work together with people they had never met, and we needed ways to help people quickly on-board and take ownership of problems. By telling our story, we hope to share our story and the lessons that are applicable to leadership and structures beyond disaster situations.