Improving our organisational resilience through two Brisbane floods

Last week’s major flooding and associated power outages battered much of Brisbane. We were saddened to see the lives lost and homes destroyed amongst our wider Australian community.

Here at Global-Roam, we count ourselves lucky that the homes of all of our employees were not directly hit by the rising waters and that we all remained safe during this period (though a number of family and friends were impacted in various suburbs).


Our main office through two Brisbane floods

For almost 15 years (over two locations), we have held our main office in Milton, a riverside inner suburb just a couple of kilometres west of the city’s CBD.  Because of this, we’ve seen the two flooding events ‘up close and personal’.


Brisbane Floods of 2022

Several parts of the suburb were significantly damaged in last week’s flood.

The image below shows the aftermath of the floods at Milton Ferry Terminal. It was taken by a member of our team on Wednesday 2nd of March 2022 – four days after water levels peaked the previous Sunday.

The image shows the extent of the damage – several astray boats, jet skis and other debris that were snagged by the structure. The terminal is roughly 100 meters from our current office, which hosts several key pieces of our company’s physical infrastructure (including desktop machines, heavy processing machines like our ‘BEAST’, etc.).

We were fortunate that peak water levels eventually stopped at the end of our street (bottom of the hill), but subsequent power outages meant that our building was without power for nine days – with it being restored only late yesterday afternoon (Monday 7th March 2022).

Through this entire period, our service to our customers continued seamlessly (and most clients would not have noticed any difference, despite our office & a number of home locations being without power).


Brisbane Floods of 2011

This wasn’t the first time that floods posed a significant risk to our business.

In 2011 our previous office was located close-by on Coronation Drive, along the river itself. At that time, water levels ended up reaching the steps of our building and we also lost power for a prolonged period even after they had fully receded.

The satellite image below from Nearmap shows the suburb of Milton and was taken on 13th Jan 2011 (we found this here) – close to the peak of the 2011 flood levels.

The location of our office at the time is out of shot but close to the bottom-left of the image above. The extent of that flood left a large amount of the suburb inundated, with several homes and buildings damaged significantly.

Even in 2011, our service to clients continued (mostly) seamlessly.


Improving the resilience of our company’s operations

The 2011 flooding event was a learning experience for us … as a result of which we made a number of enhancements over the 11 years that followed to further enhance our resiliency during unexpected events.

Some of the key changes we have made over the years are listed below:

  • Further migration, where possible, to cloud-hosted data severs (with added redundancy built into cloud locations – some of which were themselves affected in 2011).
  • Additional redundancy of key physical machines and servers.
  • Growth of our team, and spreading of skills, to reduce ‘bus risk’.
  • A more decentralised workforce, both across Brisbane and in Sydney and Melbourne.

While we were without power to most of our physical infrastructure for nine of the past ten days, our company has been able to operate at a high capacity with almost zero disruption to the service we deliver to our clients:

However behind the scenes there were a couple of things that did not go 100% smoothly.  In the weeks that follow, we’ll no doubt repeat the retrospective process for the floods of 2022 to identify other things we can do to further strengthen our resilience.



Wishing a speedy recovery to our city, and further afield

We know that others in our community have not been so lucky to come out of the floods as intact as we found ourselves – almost all of our Brisbane-based team members have neighbours, friends, and/or family members who were directly hit by the floodwaters (and not just in Brisbane).

We hope that the wider community in south-east Queensland and northern NSW will be able to recover quickly these current events.