Along with providing entertainment to millions of users, online services help people around the globe overcome natural disasters. In crisis, websites and social media channels are among the top destinations, where users search answers for vital questions (today, the Internet is the third most commonly used source of getting emergency-related information), and technology giants are supporting this trend. In September 2011, Google in cooperation with the American Red Cross launched its Google Crisis Preparedness website to help people find relevant information and tools, which can help them prepare for a disaster and overcome it by communicating and collaborating. Now, the Red Cross and Dell are taking the initiative further and unveil a Washington, D.C.-based Digital Operations Center, the first-of-a-kind social media-monitoring platform, aimed to provide humanitarian relief. In addition to that, the Red Cross also announced a Digital Volunteer program “to help respond to questions from and provide information to the public during disasters.”
“The use of social media during disasters has grown exponentially in recent years, and this partnership with Dell will enable us to better understand and anticipate disaster needs and help connect people with the resources they need during emergencies,” said Gail J. McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross. “Our goal is to become a social liaison for people, families and communities to support one another before, during and after disasters.”
The new Center, modeled after Dell’s Social Media Listening Command Center, will help Red Cross deliver faster, more effective responses to humanitarian crises across the U.S. by “sourcing additional information from affected areas during emergencies to better serve those who need help, spotting trends and better anticipate the public’s needs; and connecting people with the resources they need, like food, water, shelter or even emotional support,” says the press release. The Center has already helped Red Cross team in their recovery activities following tornadoes in the Midwest. It is also said that the Red Cross Digital Operations Center will be fully staffed in times of big disasters, but it doesn’t mean that it will stay inactive for the rest of time—social data visualizations will be available and updated 24/7.
“Social media is playing a growing role in how the public and non-profit sectors listen and respond to Americans in need,” said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell “Through Dell’s Social Media Command Center, we’ve been able to innovate and improve how we support and engage our customers. We’re excited to partner with the Red Cross to extend similar capabilities to their humanitarian relief efforts nationwide.”
As was mentioned above, the Red Cross also launches of a Digital Volunteer Program—its members will deliver informational support, responding people’s online calls for help, distributing critical information about disastersand more to help people in affected areas feel more comfortable and calm times of trouble.