Dell, Red Cross launch digital operations center to use social media in disaster response

Dell and the American Red Cross are launching a new digital operations center – the first social media based operation devoted to humanitarian relief. The Red Cross is also recruiting digital volunteers to help respond to questions and provide information to the public about disasters as they happen.

The center is modeled after Dell’s Social Media Listening Command Center which uses Dell technology to track communication and engagement on social networking sites. The Red Cross digital operations center will be located in their national disaster operations center in Washington D.C.

The Red Cross hopes to expand its reach to the public during emergencies in order to provide information and determine where to position workers on the ground during an event. They will also leverage tools like heat maps to visualize spikes and prevalent themes in social conversations.

“Our goal is to become a social liaison for people, families and communities to support one another before, during and after disasters,” said Gail J. McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross.

A Red Cross survey revealed that the Internet now is the third most commonly used way for people to get emergency-related information. The Red Cross Digital Operations Center will be staffed when the Red Cross Disaster Operation Center is activated during major disasters. The American Red Cross responds to more than 200 disasters on an average day, from house fires to major events.

Dell is providing funding for the project. Dell’s involvement is part of the company’s larger commitment to the Red Cross, which includes additional general funding, technology and employee engagement to support disaster relief programs.