IFRC amps up global communications platform

    A microphone. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has standardized its global communications platform. Photo by: Avijeet Sachdev / CC BY-ND

    The world’s largest humanitarian network has standardized its email platform through a Microsoft tool that bridges the digital divide between its staff and volunteers worldwide.

    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has adopted Microsoft Office 365 as the standard communications and collaboration platform for its national societies, which have more than a million staff members and volunteers across various regions. This initiative is a product of IFRC’s ongoing partnership with Microsoft, another prime example of the continuing alliance between nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

    IFRC seeks to build stronger links among all Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies by using one email service across its network. The end goal: to boost its efficiency, participation of volunteers and staffers, coordination with partners in the wider organization, and the ability to reach vulnerable communities.

    “Our organization has an internal digital divide where National Societies in poorer countries do not have the same technology tools and access as others,” said Edward Happ, IFRC’s global chief information officer, in a recent blog post. But now, with Microsoft Office 365, “technology will help us to better connect with our stakeholders no matter where they are and improve the process of delivering new programs.”

    Happs also highlighted the capacity of technology to improve IFRC’s emergency response work by enabling teams to assess an emergency situation faster, share updates easily with big audiences, and communicate better.

    “And now, for the first time in our history, all of our National Societies will have the ability to free up IT spending and time to focus more of their resources on the activities that are ultimately saving lives,” he added.

    Two of about 80 early-qualifying national societies, in Bangladesh and Namibia, have deployed the new platform and the rest will soon follow suit.

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    About the author

    • Johanna Morden

      Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.