Since 1881, the American Red Cross has been the United State’s premier emergency response organization. In addition to offering neutral humanitarian care to the victims of war, the American Red Cross also distinguishes itself by aiding victims of devastating natural disasters, from floods to earthquakes to hurricanes. Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new—the more than half a million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross. Through over 700 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes and communities throughout the world.
In 2007, American Red Cross Disaster Services started a pilot project 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 was also looking to gain more flexibly to adapt and calibrate their response efforts in order to provide the best relief and disaster support services possible.