American Red Cross Case Study

CLIENT: American Red Cross
PARTICIPANTS: National Disaster Relief Teams/Volunteers



In 2007, American Red Cross Disaster Services started a pilot project with GRT aimed at streamlining its on-site disaster assessment process. The goals of the project were to evolve from its paper-based “street sheet” system of collecting dwelling damage details, to an electronic system that would allow for more rapid, accurate and precise data collection.

The organization’s previous paper-based system was functional, but it also had its limitations. Assigned to specific routes, trained volunteers would drive, or in some cases, walk the disaster scene and collect relevant information about each dwelling via hand-written notes on a Red Cross form; information collected included: severity of the damage, dwelling type, addresses, location data, and more. Once complete, this information would be hand-keyed into the Red Cross Client Assistance System (CAS), but could be slowed by limited data-entry staff or computer access. From here, client case workers review collected information and make determinations on services needed such as, blankets, feeding, housing assistance, etc.

Looking to improve this process, Red Cross chose to team up with GRT to deploy GRT’s RDMS solution. RDMS was a validated technology specialized in providing disaster relief technologies to humanitarian organizations, emergency management professionals and other groups focused on aiding and reconstructing communities. Instituting the RDMS solution enabled ARC leaders to more quickly identify key operational trends and more flexibly adapt and calibrate their response efforts.

GRT’s RDMS solution for ARC includes pre-set menus and electronic forms, where volunteers select check boxes, radio buttons, and enter information in text boxes to record relevant damage details about impacted dwellings. Information collected includes everything from severity and location data, to information about the status of electricity, road closures, as well as inaccessible areas. They also take digital photos of dwelling damage. Once Red Cross disaster assessment volunteers collect and send data using their handheld PDAs and it is aggregated on the RDMS Collaborate site, it can quickly and simply be plotted on interactive maps powered by Google.

The system eliminates time-consuming data entry from paper sheets and possible errors that often arise from illegible handwriting or misread maps. Data is exported from the RDMS Collaborate system and imported into CAS. This gives Red Cross client case workers and others, including those at the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center (DOC) in Washington D.C., instant access to damage assessment data which supports their overall relief efforts, including their response to clients’ most pressing needs.


  • The American Red Cross employed a paper-based data collection model with manual data entry into backend systems for most of its field service data collection activities.
  • Data was handled at least twice (collection/data entry) allowing for transcription errors and inefficiencies in employee utilization. Additionally, much data never made it from field to home office.
  • Because the process is manual, there is a lag time between data collection and data visibility-preventing rapid and accurate disaster assessment and volunteer need, especially during storm emergencies.


  • The RDMS solution allows all emergency responders and relief workers to gather, transmit and analyze data in real-time during those chaotic hours and days following a disaster, with portable satellite uplinks sending the information on to a secure, Web-based command center.
  • The RDMS solution improved productivity and accuracy of information from the field as well as allowing for real time decision making by supervisory personnel.
  • Over 200,000 assessments have been taken by American Red Cross workers thru 2102.
  • Each of the assessments collected via RDMS is saved with geo-location information providing: visibility into geographic areas affected by a disaster , severity of the issue, asset location, and the location of volunteers and the paths they've travelled. Additionally, any number of map overlays can enhance the situational awareness displaying rights of way, access points, weather, etc.


  • Increases emergency responders’ and relief workers’ productivity
  • Increases operational efficiencies
  • Creates strategic visibility and reporting
  • Provides GIS capabilities
  • Provides connectivity 24x7


“Relying upon GRT’s RDMS technology, we are able to upload data and photos from the field straight into the central database and Red Cross staff and volunteers are able to better serve disaster victims in the affected regions with greater speed and efficiency.”

Armond Mascelli
Former Vice President, Disaster Operations
American Red Cross National

“We expect GRT’s RDMS solution to be the new standard for replacing pencil and paper in the field. Using RDMS has enabled us to expedite the process of servicing our audiences.”

Becky McCorry
Disaster Operations Director
American Red Cross National