Improved Disaster Response Volunteer Coordination Tool

Watchfire was designed with the American Red Cross to deploy an improved mobile messaging system for volunteers responding to a local disaster

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In October of 2010, Cisco awarded a seed grant to InSTEDD for developing technology designed to improve the resilience of community-level disaster response. This grant was for developing 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 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, yet powerful, system that initiates and tracks building a volunteer response team with people geographically close to each other through phone calls and text messages.