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Someone's Watching...to Help: A Look at the Red Cross' Digital Operations Center
By: Christine Geraci
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It's no secret that your activity on social networks like Facebook is being watched in some form, either by the social network itself or third parties gathering various sorts of data. For instance, we recently discussed how the Department of Homeland Security paid major cash for a system to monitor social networks for government-related conversation.
 
But here's an example of one third-party monitoring what you're doing via social media in an effort to do good. 
 
On March 7, The American Red Cross unveiled its use of a digital operations center, developed in partnership with Dell, to discover, respond to, and monitor needs on the ground during emergencies and major crises, such as natural disasters. 
 
The digital operations center pulls data from various social networks and blogs, then aggregates the data into "visualizations" that let Red Cross personnel know what's happening during and after a disaster, then target its resources to the right people and areas.
 
For example, after last week's tornadeos in America's Heartland, The Red Cross used its digital operations center to determine areas and individuals in most need of assistance.
 
The Red Cross called it "the first social media-based operation devoted to humanitarian relief." 
 
To further increase engagement during times of need, the Red Cross has also launched a Digital Volunteer Program, through which "digital volunteers from across the country will be trained to respond online to questions from the public, distribute critical information and provide comfort and reassurance during emergencies."
 
These days, we're breaking news about crises via social media, often without even realizing it. I think this is one instance where we can take comfort in knowing that someone is keeping an eye on what we're doing.


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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