July 16, 2013; Washington, DC
Contact: Washington Foreign Press Center Media Relations Officer Belinda Jackson-Farrier
Telephone: 202-504-6370; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 16, WFPC highlighted U.S. disaster preparedness and response at the local and national levels for a group of Chinese, German and Japanese journalists. Starting with Serve DC, the group learned about ways that the District of Columbia trains and uses community volunteers as first responders in times of crisis. The visit impressed participants with the ways that the program effectively attracts a diverse set of volunteers (often retirees) and harnesses their local knowledge and abilities to operate effectively in a crisis. The visit to the Red Cross was equally impressive, as the organization showcased both their main operations center and their innovative “Digidock” system. The “Digidock” monitors social media to help determine exactly what kind of assistance a community needs. Sponsored by Dell, the Center uses customized software to monitor and analyze social media in real-time, linking activity (such as tweets) to maps to identify and define disaster areas and the appropriate response.