Red Cross First Aid and Hazard Smartphone Apps: Understanding the process and contexts impacting ICTs for disaster preparedness
This study is a process evaluation-based case study of the Universal App Program (UAP), a global disaster preparedness smartphone application program developed and managed by the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC). The rise of disaster risks worldwide and the rapid parallel adoption of mobile technology have created opportunities to empower communities to prepare and respond more effectively to disasters. The deployment of ICTs in the humanitarian sphere requires focused research to best understand how these opportunities can be harnessed more effectively. This study explores, describes, and analyzes the phases of design, delivery, and initial receipt of apps developed with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. It study also explores and describes the strategies, implementation and outcomes of these processes, focusing on the perspectives of the various actors working with and on the apps throughout these processes and at each site. The goal is to understand how these apps are conceived and planned, what contextual factors are significant, and within what organizational and country context, and under what assumptions, how the apps are adapted for the needs and contexts of each country involved and its citizenry, and what challenges are faced, with emphasis on the design and delivery phases. The study is both descriptive and prescriptive, utilizing methods of qualitative data collection, primarily in the form of questionnaires, interviews, and document reviews, with the support of some basic quantitative data analysis. The primary findings of this study show that there is a great deal of fidelity between the GDPC’s design of the UAP and that the demand-driven, shared responsibility model of the program has been key to its sustainability. Program designers were successful in incorporating key aspects of ICT4D best practice into the components of the program. Contextual factors, in particular the UAP situated within the GDPC and aligning with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has been a key underlying factor for program development and success, as it enabled GDPC to build on the experiences and apps of the British Red Cross and American Red Cross and uniquely connect and support national societies participating in the UAP.