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Red Cross Uses Digital Signage To Help Save Lives

Date: 2012-06-18
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Following the San Diego wildfires in 2007, millions of people in the area turned to the local chapter of their Red Cross for help – for food, clothing, shelter – and for information.

Using whiteboards, sticky notes and paper memo pads while communicating via face-to-face meetings, the efforts of the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross were negatively impacted. The low-tech approach delayed the delivery of relief services and the effectiveness of its response time, according to Dr. Richard Hinrichs, managing director of disaster services at the SDICC.  In fact, their own operations center wasn’t even fully staffed until four hours after evacuation notices began.

Firefighters protect a house during October 2007 wildfires.  9-1-1 magazine photo 0801.

Following the wildfires, Hinrichs and the SDICC knew it was time to update their facilities. Using private and public funding, the Red Cross created a state-of-the-art, video-based information management system to facilitate information flow, so that Chapter personnel could communicate more effectively with each other, the public and the media.

To start, the SDICC created a software program that uses cloud computing and industry standard geographical information system mapping technologies to track areas impacted by a disaster, along with the resources that are available to the Red Cross.  Now that this information was available, they needed a way to share it graphically with everyone involved, including local police, fire, military, government agencies, tribal governments and the media.

Local integration firm Fluid Sound installed eighteen 24” NEC monitors, so that information could be easily shared among staff and volunteers. They also brought in three 55” NEC displays as well as three NEC professional projectors that serve as the main information source at the Chapter, projecting critical news that is viewable to all staff. It is here that Hinrichs and his team evaluate available resources in order to make relevant decisions on how to deploy Red Cross resources and services for any given disaster.

Hinrichs says that NEC’s display and projection technology has helped to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to respond to a crisis. “In the past, it used to take four to six hours to prepare for a larger operation. Following the completion of our renovation project and the NEC installation, prep time is now at less than an hour.”

More details are available in a case study created for the Red Cross implementation, available as a downloadable PDF file here from the NEC website

- Corporate News/ (via NEC, 6/5/12)


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