Illustration: Pau Gasol Valls

Illustration: Pau Gasol Valls


The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent proposes digital transformation 2030, describing in one of its points the literacy of data with respect to National Societies (NS). It means that each NS is transformed to implement a culture of data that allows improving decision-making based on evidence. The Information Management (IM) project aims to implement and spread this culture in the initiatives it manages.


Since 2014, Spanish Red Cross (SRC) has committed to innovation in the information collection and analysis processes, creating in 2015 the first online course of the International Movement of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent for data collection on mobile devices. In 2016, during the Refugee Crisis in Greece, Spanish Red Cross led the first Information Management mission. During the assignment some Business Intelligence (BI) tools were developed in order to centralize the information generated by 6 National Societies.

Other missions like Bangladesh have helped improve the experience in Information Management (IM) by providing the necessary tools for the application of the IM work cycle in a large number of projects and intervention sectors. In 2018, technical assistance began to be carried out to improve the Information Management systems of projects with other NS: El Salvador, Panama and Colombia to improve the efficiency in monitoring and decision-making based on information, in contexts with needs of protection against violence or migration.

In addition to technical assistance, the IM component is being incorporated into Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid projects both nationally and internationally.

In 2017 SRC goes a step forward on this scenario by establishing an IM work team through the Emergency Unit of the International Area. This work improves decision-making by adjusting the response of the services with people in situations of special vulnerability or with other interest groups (volunteers or members) Thanks to the proper handling of the data, it is possible to make projections of risk situations or trend analysis. The accountability of actions with funders, collaborating entities and the general population can also be improved.

Technical details & Operations

The activity of the IM team is described in the following actions: 

  • Analysis of information needs and proposals for information management systems 
  • Data collection on mobile devices 
  • Data visualization: infographics, dashboards 
  • Design and layout 
  • Analysis of data 
  • Geographic information systems: Missing Maps, maps and geographic analysis
  • Platforms: management and maintenance of servers, databases, APIs

The tools deploy for the Information Management are mainly free and open source software. Being the most outstanding: 

  • Open Data Kit (ODK): a set of tools designed to be able to create, implement and manage solutions derived from the collection of data on mobile devices. ODK allows to carry out surveys or forms to obtain data from the desired source. Once created, the templates can be uploaded to a server and downloaded to mobile devices (Android).
  • Pentaho: Business Intelligence (BI) tool developed in Java that allows, from a set of information, to access, transform and mix any type of data, regardless of its size and where it is extracted from, be it from a database, a spreadsheet or a text file. Pentaho users can generate information, from basic reports to prediction models, very useful for decision-making from data generated with, among other applications, ODK. Pentaho offers the user the possibility to process large volumes of data obtained in the field and obtain clear and simple visualizations according to the needs.
  • QGIS: geographic information systems tool for the elaboration of map-related products: elaboration and analysis of maps, use of groups of geographic data to combine them and elaborate more complex analyzes. At the operational level, this tool allows, for example: to detect risk areas, to develop advanced route calculations to evaluate access to markets from communities, or access of the population to health centers or water sources.

Regarding private software tools, the IM team use those that facilitate graphic design such as Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, as well as the Microsoft Office 365 package with special application of the Power BI tool for the creation of dashboards.

It should be noted that this entire system is dimensioned with a structure of servers that house the databases and applications necessary to carry out the IM work.

Deployment & Impact

The Migration Crisis operation in Greece, financed by ECHO, push to manage a high volume of information collected by more than 6 National Societies, in 9 locations and 6 different sectors, by a single NS, SRC. The work was carried out mainly in mobile clinics and health posts, improving care for chronic patients and pregnant women.  The patients receive a code card to access the services.  The code is useful to ensure data protection and collect statistical information. In the operative context this code allowed monitoring of treatments and the evolution of visits without the need to use imprecise and manual methods.

The deployment used to be materialized using Tablets with Internet connection, achieving more efficient medical visits and more personalized attention. For example, between 2016 and 2018, 8,881 patient were provided of codes, 3,890 women (43.8%) and 4,991 men (56.2%), 1,970 (22.2%) were boys and girls between 0 and 4 years old, 3,477 (39 , 2%) children and young people between 5 and 17 years old and 384 (4.3%) over 50 years old. In total, 140,908 medical visits were registered, 67,957 were visits by women (48.2%), and 72,951 by men (51.8%). The information management system had a direct impact on the quality of care provided: quick and systematized access to patient information that provided efficiency and control in the monitoring tasks. 

This methodology of systematization of information, development of dashboards and applications, improved and increased the capacity of Information Management and the application of the IM work cycle. This methodology is already in practice and has been applied in different projects, among others, the Plan RESPONDS during the COVID 19 pandemic.