Drupal helps Red Cross GDPC bring its teams together

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Drupal Case Study

Drupal helps Red Cross GDPC bring its teams together

PrepareCenter.org turns to Drupal for community enablement

Tsunamis, disease outbreaks, wildfires are all in a day’s work for the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC) and its 189 partners, including the American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The GDPC has been quickly evolving to strengthen global resilience to a rising tide of disasters, and it needed an equally evolved website to enable that response system. The new PrepareCenter.org site encourages greater collaboration among disaster preparedness practitioners at all levels--from community, to national, to global--in response to increasingly frequent need for preparation.

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Designed to build community

The GDPC needed its website to help members and volunteers share the Red Cross network’s vast collective experience with the wider communities working in humanitarian aid and development. Helping these groups talk to each other directly amplifies their impact and reach within the worldwide disaster preparedness community.

The ongoing goal of PrepareCenter.org was to crowdsource as much tangible information from as many real responders and actors in the field as possible. The GDPC wanted to enable community members to share their own resources and examples to the site with others, who could then comment, discuss, and add their experiences. This virtuous circle of sharing allows all responders to be better prepared for each new disaster that arises.

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Drupal to the rescue!

The Red Cross and its partners investigated a variety of CMS platforms to address this special use case. Their research revealed that many of them had limited functionality, more suited to internal communications and marketing than the planned collaboration space. The two existing Red Cross CMS platforms likewise lacked the features and support requisite to creating a vibrant global community.

To support its mission, the GDPC website needed to be as agile and resilient as its volunteers and disaster teams on the ground.

“Neither [existing] platform really had what we had in mind—moderation, collective content, crowd-sourcing, and robust multilingual support were all missing. We were interested in open source for maximum flexibility, licensing, and reuse, and building something off the wider open source communities. Those platforms weren’t going to meet our needs, and that’s where Drupal came into the conversation. ” – Ian O’Donnell, Senior Information Architect for the GDPC.

Building a global resource collective

After reviewing several proposals for development and hosting of the new site, the GDPC selected a Drupal solution developed by Acquia and partner ForumOne. With Drupal, the GDPC gets the features and flexibility to build a thriving online community and it joins a global, open source developer community that mirrors its own values: Drupal is crowdsourced and driven by global collaboration, resource sharing, and feedback.

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ForumOne designed the website to organize and present detailed information on hazards and topics related to disaster preparedness. The site, now live at PrepareCenter.org, allows users to comment, ask and answer questions from other users, and share resources about their own experiences working on disaster preparedness. More invested users can also opt to “own” entire disaster preparedness topics, building community archives to enable better, more informed responses over time.

A global resource collective

The new website has given members of the disaster preparedness community a place to submit their own information, assessments, and stories. Members can see how other communities around the globe are evaluating their own vulnerabilities. When visitors check into the resource library, they’re encouraged to contribute to the preparedness community right away. A community section lets users solicit answers from preparedness experts around the globe on questions ranging from the use of social media during natural disasters to defining community in an urban area.

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“One thing that struck us is how the Drupal community comes together around disaster events—people are interested in using Drupal as a platform for collaboration. We’re excited about the open source nature of it and the wider community. We’re excited as well about how it ties into what we do and what it could mean for how we can connect to the community,” Ian O’Donnell, Senior Information Architect for the GDPC

Since its launch, PrepareCenter.org has given thousands of disaster preparedness professionals from around the world a place to connect with each other and share resources that would never otherwise have been available.


ForumOne is a digital agency with two decades of close partnership with think tanks, foundations, charities, and issue advocates. Working hand in hand with public officials, communicators, marketers, and policy analysts, ForumOne combines policy and passion to address the world’s most pressing problems.

The Global Disaster Preparedness Center has built a knowledge- and experience-sharing platform on Drupal that is helping humanitarian groups form communities of practice and be better prepared for future emergencies.
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