Every second counts for first responders and emergency management coordinators—a delay or a missed message could cost lives. That's why businesses have developed reliable humanitarian crisis response software and tools that responders can trust.
Not sure how humanitarian crisis response software can help your nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO), humanitarian organization, or emergency response team? We've got you covered.
Below, we'll walk you through what crisis response software is, why it’s essential, what to look for in a tool, and the best solutions on the market.
What is humanitarian crisis response software?
Humanitarian crisis response software helps organizations respond to emergencies quickly and effectively. There are dozens of tools on the market, and each provides solutions for different use cases. Some might primarily deliver messaging functionality, while others focus on management and scheduling.
These tools provide a range of features, from crisis management tools that allow users to assess the situation quickly and coordinate teams in the field to analytics tools that offer insight into potential risks and how to address them.
You might need a handful of crisis response software solutions to accomplish your goals. Not sure what you need? Here are some features to consider:
- Emergency text notifications
- Mass email
- App notifications
- Dispatch management
- Task management
- Risk assessment
- Disaster recovery
Once you know what features and use cases you need, you can begin finding the right software solution.
Benefits of crisis response software
Crisis response software streamlines your work and makes you more efficient. Emergency response teams and humanitarian organizations can't get by without them.
Imagine trying to send a text message to all the residents of a town after an earthquake. Without software, are you going to do it contact by contact? Imagine trying to dispatch volunteers to the scene of a disaster without knowing their current status or geographic location—you might waste time coordinating with unavailable or overbooked staff.
Here are a few benefits of crisis response software:
- Accessibility: Put your plan of action onto your laptop or mobile phone with crisis response software. No rushing to the headquarters to hit the emergency button or sifting through a desk of papers—you have everything you need with you at all times.
- Automation: Take the minutiae out of planning and execution to focus on elements that software and technology can't.
- Tracking: Stay up to date on evolving circumstances and people with technology.
- Management: Organize everything, from projects to tasks to scheduling, with technology that keeps you on track.
- Data visualization: Create charts and graphs to understand your data better and extract actionable insights.
- Application programming interfaces (APIs): Integrate emergency response solutions into your website and applications with powerful APIs and third-party integrations.
8 best humanitarian crisis response software
Twilio.org provides nonprofits and humanitarian organizations with robust communication tools and APIs.
- Communication channels: Engage with the community and responders via text, voice, video, WhatsApp, email, and Facebook Messenger.
- Intelligent bots: Provide timely self-service 24/7 with smart bots to answer questions and escalate to a human agent if necessary.
- Automatic conversation routing: Route conversations to the right agent from the get-go to reduce forwarding and accelerate time to resolution.
“We were tired of monolithic systems that weren’t really flexible. They were hard to use, clunky, and volunteers didn’t want to use them…“Volunteers really like [Twilio]. They can schedule themselves, do what they need to do, and communicate effortlessly with our dispatchers,” - Jim McGowan, Director of Planning and Situational Awareness, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois
"We've saved over half a million hours people would have spent waiting to get emergency food assistance by moving our notification and reservation system to Twilio." - Bryan Moran, Director of DevOps at City Harvest
ArcGIS is a web-based emergency response platform designed for emergency management teams, humanitarian aid organizations, NGOs, and governments. The platform collects maps and applications to deploy location-based solutions.
Whether responding to a COVID-19 outbreak or monitoring hospital bed capacity, ArcGIS gives you visual data and insights to react quickly.
KoboToolbox is a free-to-use platform for data collection, management, and visualization. The business’ mission is to support open-source systems and technology designed for humanitarian initiatives. Over 14,000 social impact organizations use KoboToolbox for data collection.
The tool is easy to use and doesn’t require technical training or know-how. Humanitarian organizations can use it to collect data and survey feedback to better understand situations and take the most appropriate action.
RapidPro is an open-source platform that lets humanitarian organizations and nonprofits design, build, and scale mobile-based services. It’s designed so that nontechnical users can develop and share their mobile devices for various use cases, contexts, and sectors.
Use RapidPro to build complex voice and text applications that route users through the right flows. For example, you can build powerful chatbots that answer users’ texts and provides them with the right answers or routes them to a real agent in case of an emergency.
Airtable is a spreadsheet and project management application. Companies use it for various use cases and purposes, and many humanitarian organizations trust it to stay organized and perform rapid response.
For example, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) used Airtable to deliver more than 30 million meals to frontline workers and those in need.
D4H is an emergency management and incident response platform designed to help organizations respond to and manage disasters. It provides humanitarian organizations with the following:
- Real-time collaboration
- Equipment inventory
- Training scheduling
- Task management
- Visual reporting
- Dispatch management
The platform is cloud-based, mobile-centric, and customizable to different sectors, including healthcare, government, and NGOs. More than 100,000 first responders in over 35 countries use D4H, proving its reliability and scale.
7. ARCOS Incident Manager
ARCOS Incident Manager is a cloud-based platform designed to help organizations respond to humanitarian crises and disasters. It deploys response plans to remove human touch, error, and time during a crisis.
Here's how the ARCOS Incident Manager can help:
- Messaging: Send your recipients texts, emails, push notifications, or phone calls.
- Logs: Provide log events to document changes in the situation.
- Automation: Recognize and connect with eligible employees (with the right role qualifications) to assist.
BeSafe is a mobile incident management platform that helps responders learn about a situation and its circumstances quickly. For example, they can learn about the layout of a building or town with interactive digital floor plans, hazardous material locations, and utility shutoff points.
Let Twilio.org help your organization with crisis response
Twilio.org offers special discounts, grants, and deals for nonprofits. Plus, we'll even provide solution integrators to help your development team (or lack thereof) to build your digital communications strategy.
Interested? Learn more and get started.