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Ten fold increase in demand on Student Volunteer Army

GeoOp a Hit [Social Innovation Trust]
26 February

Ten fold increase in demand on Student Volunteer Army

The newly developed software that allows Christchurch residents to access help via text message or the internet has meant a ten-fold increase in demand on the Student Volunteer Army (SVA).

Since the Christchurch City Council and Civil Defence started directing all their call centres to sva.org.nz and the SVA resources, nearly 1100 jobs are now logged in the system. SVA’s Louis Brown says “today was our first day, we deployed 50 squadrons and it works.”

Louis Brown says “the massive influx of requests has led to us tripling our technical staff numbers to deal with demand. The biggest issue we’re facing is prioritizing the most important jobs. We can now deal with welfare issues as well as send out the bulk teams to do more basic things like moving silt from lawns. But we do want to reassure everyone that every job is being logged, and every job will be done in time.”

Offers of assistance and resources are also pouring in, and vary from the simple offers of shovels and labour to an astonishing offer of the use of a private helicopter. Louis says “we’re completely blown away by the amount and variety of offers. From shipments of water from Taiwan to a 13 year old offering to bake, every offer is gratefully received and will be used when and where we can.”

A key area of improvement in conventional emergency response for the SVA is the ability to send out targeted squadrons to individual jobs that require specialist assistance. Louis Brown, who led the implementation of the new system says, “we’re doing more than removing tonnes of silt now; we’re providing targeted operations that residents can call on by a simple text or phone call to 021 082 35353.

Residents must be specific in their name, address for assistance and type of help needed. Blank text messages are almost useless. If there are jobs that come through that we don’t yet have the capacity to deal with, we will answer them and refer them to where they need to go.”

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