Communication becomes mobile for Red Cross

Communication becomes mobile for Red Cross

Charity launches in-vehicle communications centre to help in crisis situations

The British Red Cross is building a £100,000 bus to act as a mobile communications centre for the charity’s activities around the UK.

The vehicle, launched last week, features telephone and 3G connections, as well as the ability to relay information back to the organisation’s intranet.

It is designed for quick deployment in a crisis situation, said Miguel Fiallos, head of information services at the Red Cross.

“When a disaster such as the London 7/7 bombings takes place, we can get a centre up and running straightaway to cope with the need for emergency communications,” he said.

“It is a common situation for us to be cut off. During the floods in July last year, for example, we were lucky to find a suitable site for our comms base.

“If we had had the bus then, it would have been able to pick that up right away,” he said.

Apart from emergencies, the vehicle will support the work of the Red Cross at large public events in the UK.

The organisation has operated since 1870 and today has 3,000 employees and 30,000 volunteers working across 63 national branches and several international crisis sites.

Technology plays a key role. The “Red Room” intranet service is particularly vital, providing both a source of information and a supportive hub for users around the country and abroad.

“The Red Room is a case in point, where we rely heavily on technology to make our lives easier both in terms of managing processes and ensuring information gets to people who need it,” said Fiallos.

“The site also provides the documentation required for volunteer work,” he added.
The Red Room project was started soon after Fiallo was appointed in 2000.

And the dot com collapse soon after reinforced the charity’s need to balance cost and benefit.

“One of the best things about the investment in the intranet is that it has lasted a long time, and been refreshed on a regular basis,” said Fiallos.

“We are a not-for-profit organisation, so our technology projects are particularly important to us,” he said.

The Red Cross intranet uses software from Oracle.