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Red Cross Learns IT Lessons From Katrina

The relief organization is upgrading its infrastructure to help speed supplies and other types of aid to victims of future disasters.

The American Red Cross has learned some information technology lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Namely, it needs to upgrade its IT infrastructure to improve disaster relief.

The organization issued a statement this week saying that it plans to increase supplies, improve and expand partnerships and strengthen infrastructure for better responses to hurricanes and other disasters.

"We are significantly expanding our operating capacity to enable us to respond more effectively in the even t of a worst-case scenario, such as the one we experienced last year," Joseph C. Becker, the Red Cross' senior vice president of Preparedness and Response said through a prepared statement. "And even if we are not tested as we were then, we will be ready for the challenge."

Plans to move beyond shortcomings revealed after Hurricane Katrina should be in place by July 1, Becker said during the National Hurricane Conference last week.

The organization plans to upgrade IT infrastructure to speed financial assistance to 1 million families within 10 days and 2 million over a longer term.

During Katrina, the system strained after 100,000 victims sought help, though the Red Cross eventually served more than 1.2 million families in the Gulf Coast.

The organization also plans to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create a nationwide database to help officials track shelter locations and the number of people in them.

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