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American Red Cross Builds Disaster Response Solution with Microsoft Expertise August 30, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Tech News.

KatrinaSafe.org provides a foundation for ‘Safe and Well’ Web site, a tool that will be the standard for exchanging welfare information in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

One year later the magnitude is still overwhelming: More than 1,800 dead, over 500,000 people displaced from their homes, and 90,000 square miles of country impacted by its force. Hurricane Katrina left an indelible image of nature’s fury upon the world, ranking it as the most costly hurricane in the history of the United States, and the second most deadly (the first being Hurricane San Felipe Segundo, which struck in 1928, killing 6,000 people). Katrina was also the first disaster in which an entire metropolitan area was evacuated and people could not return for several months. Microsoft and a consortium of other technology companies responded to urgent requests for assistance and have since met with the American Red Cross – one of the primary disaster relief organizations for Katrina – to lay out plans for how to partner more effectively, and discuss how ‘stop-gap’ measures implemented in the moment could increase the organization’s long-term disaster response capabilities.

When the hurricane struck, the Red Cross responded by meeting survivors’ basic needs including shelter, food and counseling. To this end, the Red Cross relied on the work of more than 225,000 volunteers – more than five times the size of its typical response team, and set up more than 1,400 shelters across 27 states. The logistics required for this relief effort were enormous, let alone what was needed to process the surge in donations: on a typical day the Red Cross handles about 1,000 individual donations; at one point following Katrina, that number reached 943,653.

A wide array of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies also moved quickly to offer assistance and donate hardware, software, technical expertise and human resources to support the Red Cross disaster response. Technology companies also provided online tools for people around the world to make a financial contribution to the relief effort, and to help families and friends displaced by the storm locate each other.

Steve Cooper, CIO of the Red Cross, says while his organization provides much of the infrastructure for response, volunteers’ expertise and the outpouring of humanity figure prominently in meeting a victim’s emotional and physical needs. “The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a perfect example of a partnership in action and how the expertise of partners and volunteers can help create the foundation for future improvements in disaster response capabilities,” Cooper says.


My Thoughts; Nice to see an IT company take such a active role in natural disaster response and recovery.



1. rey61 - August 30, 2006

I think Katrina’s mess will stay here for a long long time. It will really take sometime to be able to pick up ourselves and move on. The impact of this tragedy is too strong.

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