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Disaster Operations Center

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This initiative will provide support for significant and impactful improvements to our DOC.

The American Red Cross of Massachusetts Headquarters has begun an initiative to rebuild the Disaster Operations Center, abbreviated as the DOC. The DOC is the heart of every disaster response where volunteers and staff work from a central command center for managing relief efforts with first responders and other agencies. The American Red Cross of Massachusetts is one of the largest regions in the Red Cross network, serving 6.6 million residents, yet we are also one of the few chapters without a true central hub for planning and coordination during a disaster.

The current center is poorly equipped, consisting of two separate rooms with antiquated communications equipment and extremely limited space for volunteers and staff. Technology is always improving and it is time we updated our technology to increase effectiveness. There is no dedicated reception area which makes it a challenge to coordinate staff. Additionally, valuable response time is lost setting up and converting the space to meet immediate needs. The time staff spends setting up chairs, tables, and laptops is time they could be responding to the immediate needs of the disaster or saving a life. 

Within the past three years, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts has responded to several large-scale disasters, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Superstorm Sandy, and Winter Storm Nemo. These responses demonstrated to us there is a critical need to build a permanent DOC at our state headquarters in Cambridge in order to quickly and effectively respond to the next major disaster. 

The Secure Our Future Initiative is a $3 million, two-year campaign to build a state-of-the-art Disaster Operations Center and expand our capacity to deliver disaster relief services locally, regionally, and nationally. The new Disaster Operations Center will include up to date equipment and a better use of space. Some of the updates will be a technologically advanced communications network, renovating the two emergency command rooms and creating 24 workstations, upgrading the security desk, constructing a conference room, and installing a shower facility for the staff working long hours.

The Disaster Communications Network is one of the most critical components of the initiative and will include a significant upgrade to our broadband and telecommunications capabilities, mobile communications, and computer systems. The new tools will provide redundant pathways for communication, ensuring that both situational awareness information and strategic directions can pass into and out of the facility without interruption. To ensure continuation of this capability, we will be upgrading our radio equipment located on the top of the Cambridge facility, as well as on the Hancock Tower and the Federal Reserve Building in Boston. 

The Digital Communications Hub, otherwise known as the DigiDoc, will display postings from social media outlets, which is now critical to our relief efforts as more people use social media to get updates, seek help, share information and connect with loved ones. With this technology we can also launch our new Digital Volunteers Program. 

The new Emergency Operations Center Software will enable us to coordinate emergency disaster relief services with partners at MEMA, FEMA, and other emergency disaster relief partners who use Web EOC to coordinate services. Eight digital screens will be installed in the new DOC allowing us to display situational information in real time allowing for quick updates and information transfer. 

The Secure Our Future Initiative will provide support for significant and impactful improvements to our Disaster Operations Center, enabling us to better serve the emergency needs of the Commonwealth. At the heart of every disaster response is a central command center for managing relief efforts. No one can predict when or where the next disaster will strike. This initiative will ensure that the Red Cross of Massachusetts is prepared to deliver critical services whenever and wherever the need arises. 

For more information or to make a gift contact Jill Ginsburg:  (617) 274-5364