“From the time we’re notified to when we’re on the scene is less than 1 hour… One of the first steps we need to take is initiating our volunteers to get out into the field. How do we communicate that?”
– Al Mallamo – Disaster Services Chair, Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross
With this context in mind, we worked with the American Red Cross to develop a tool that would help them get their volunteers on the disaster response scene as quickly, smoothly and efficiently as possible. Since the clock is ticking, every moment counts. Watchfire is a simple and yet powerful system that initiates and tracks the process of building a volunteer response team with people who are geographically close to each other through phone calls and text message.
The below video is a short 3 minute overview of how Watchfire was developed and the impact the Red Cross believes it will have:
THE PROJECT OVERVIEW
In October of 2010, Cisco awarded a seed grant to InSTEDD for the development of technology designed to improve the resilience of community-level disaster response. This grant was for the development of a program to support shared safety, self reliance and situational awareness during a public crisis in the Bay Area.
In 2011, InSTEDD designed, developed, and pilot tested a tool, called Watchfire, to help the American Red Cross(ARC) improve their community level disaster response in the San Francisco Bay Area. Working closely with the ARC on a needs assessment, we learned that their highest priority was improving the speed and coordination of ARC’s Disaster Action Teams (DATs). Using an agile development process that involved the ARC in the cycle of building better and better technical solutions, we developed Watchfire, a simple and yet powerful system that initiates and tracks the process of building a volunteer response team with people who are geographically close to each other through phone calls and text messages.
For a more detailed look into the process, please read the blog post “Live recruiting of volunteers through phone calls and text messages”.