George’s thoughts after the RC tour

February 18, 2010
By George_Bixby

During last Friday’s trip to the RC headquarters many interesting points were brought up. The following areas struck me as ones that could develop into interesting design problems:

1- Middle Band of Leadership (as Mathan already mentioned)- It was interesting to hear Scott’s insight, especially given his Military background, as to how the structure of the Red Cross did not promote sustained mid-level leadership, and may even be deterring it. I agree with Mathan that this was possibly the most interesting problem, because it obviously requires a range of interventions to address it at its various levels.

2- Public perception- Something I’ve noticed in the brief time since starting on this project was just how little I knew beforehand of the Red Cross’s history and the diversity of their outreach- both of which I think are important qualities that can help shape their image in the public eye. It’s possible I just haven’t encountered enough of their promotion to form a clear understanding of who they are and what they do. Either way, it makes me wonder how they have gone about shaping public perception in the past and how they want to be perceived moving forward. What outlets haven’t they explored? Can additional programming help in this area?

3- Early warning initiatives- I am also interested in hearing about the RC’s future plans for disaster warning/training programs, such as the early warning/early action game that Parsons worked on last semester. The challenge of figuring out how we can not only help communicate early warnings to populations at risk, but to motivate people to actively participate in shaping plans of action in disaster situations is a very interesting problem to me.

4- Process for recruiting and training volunteers- Scott mentioned this as another possible issue to address. I couldn’t find a link to myredcross.org, but it would be interesting to evaluate how they are using that social networking site as a tool for communicating to volunteers.  I’d like to know more about how they go about searching for, recruiting, retaining and promoting volunteers. I personally don’t know anyone who is a volunteer and I think it would be interesting to evaluate the demographics as well as the recruitment patterns (do they only get surges of volunteers after a disaster?) in order to understand how they can better reach the types of volunteers they need.

5- The issue of the design of the interior of the ERV (emergency response vehicles) raised some interesting questions. I think it was Bob who mentioned that the way that they transport the materials in emergency situations could be improved upon. In our brief tour of the vehicles, I did notice that the way they transported the crates of materials (all stacked on top of each other) seemed to be an inefficient use of space.

I’m sure after going through the training and going on a ride-a-long many other questions will be raised.

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