Open Source at the American Red Cross

Megan DeGruttola | Open Source Delivers | January 15, 2015

When local and national disasters happen, organizations like the American Red Cross are there to provide emergency relief. Quickly and effectively mobilizing over a million volunteers is a technological challenge that regional American Red Cross divisions are turning to open source to solve.

I spoke with Jim McGowan, Director of Planning and Situational Awareness for the North Central Division of the American Red Cross, after his recent Open Gov Hack Night presentation. We discussed how this non-profit organization is using open source to develop tools for dispatching, tracking, and managing local volunteer efforts.

Question: How did you and the American Red Cross get involved with Open Gov Hack Nights?

Jim McGowan: It all started when the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois was invited to participate in a weekend data dive at 1871, where Open Gov Hack Nights are held. After I saw the visualizations and tools the group had created using our basic data, I was absolutely fascinated by the potential we had to engage this community in a way we had never thought to before...