During this year’s SXSWi, Gloria Huang, Senior Social Media Engagement at American Red Cross (ARC) and I presented a case study on Dell’s collaboration with the ARC to create a social engagement center dedicated to humanitarian relief entitled What’s up Doc? Social Engagements in Disasters. We shared the strategies, best practices and challenges for companies when they commit to listening, connecting, digitally hugging and acting on social conversations during emergencies.

Dell has worked hard over the past six months to establish and implement industry best practices for social engagement. With our Social Media Listening and Command Center training program and philanthropic flair, Dell funded and guided the development of the Red Cross Digital Operations Center (DigiDOC). The Red Cross was looking for a way to scale up during disasters, to decipher the actionable data from everything else and to give the public a seat at the table of disaster operations. Together, we’ve taken our best practices and applied them to the Red Cross mission. Here’s how we did it and how you can do the same with for your own company.

  • Step 1 – Setting up the Social Media Listening and Command Center: There’s no one fit, each company will have a different set-up to suit your unique needs. The Red Cross Digital Operations Center was built in less than three months including the design, build and integration with other IT systems. It lives right in the middle of the disaster relief operations center in Washington D.C.
  • Step 2 – Staffing the DigiDOC: We have a combination of local teams, corporate team members and digital volunteers and disaster services who staff the DigiDOC. The ARC allows volunteers to be the human face of disaster recovery, giving “digital hugs” – tips for what to do, where to find Red Cross trucks, services, etc. to those who need them.
  • Step 3 – Execution: As an example, during Hurricane Sandy ARC monitored 2.5 million pieces of data, which amounted to 27,000 pieces of information an hour during landfall with the DigiDOC. You can view more examples of use cases here.

Our partnership with the American Red Cross is something we’re incredibly proud of. We were recently named a finalist in the Computerworld Honors Program 2013 and last year ARC was honored to be named co-winners of the 2012 Digital PR Team of the Year. Being able to provide the technology needed to support aid efforts is an honor and privilege.

If you’re a company that is considering setting up a Command Center, please reach out to SMServices@Dell.com. Also, check-out some of the top tweets from our session via @krisleighH’s Storify recap