The American Red Cross helps people affected by disasters, big and small. Each year, the Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters. When there is a major ongoing disaster response, our call center receives over 1000 calls each day from those in need of shelter, financial assistance, food and water, and other support services. To ensure that assistance is reaching our communities when they need it most, we must enable seamless access to our support services and information on disaster response and recovery activities.
Clara, our Disaster Response chat bot, was created for this purpose. Clara serves as a 24 x 7 channel to equip those who need help and those who would like to give help with better access to essential information instantly.
Clara is placed conveniently in the Get Help section of redcross.org and our Spanish website, giving all our community members access to the bot’s cutting-edge self-service features including the ability to chat in both Spanish and English and to look up Red Cross shelters or chapters in their area.
Clara supports both English and Spanish speaking members of our communities. The bot can seamlessly switch between languages during a chat session for optimal user experience. Through integrations with FEMA, the bot enables users to search for an open shelter in their area in the case that they have lost their home or are being evacuated because of a natural disaster. The bot connects users to the assistance resources they need through complex and dynamic dialogs. Assistance resources include financial support, cleanup help, food and water, shelter, and more. When a large disaster, such as a major hurricane or wildfire, occurs, our disaster response staff add content to the chat bot at a moment’s notice to ensure that accurate and up to date information is available when it’s needed the most. For those who would like to give help in times of disaster, Clara can also answer frequently asked questions about volunteering and financial donations. Clara also answers generic questions about the Red Cross’ work, reducing the need for interaction with call center agents and speeding up our ability to provide key information. Questions range from information about Red Cross training courses such as CPR and First Aid to how the Red Cross supports military families and international disasters.
Clara, our disaster response chat bot, has served many users since its launch in December 2020. During extreme winter weather in Texas this year, the chat bot was able to direct thousands of people to assistance with food, utilities, and shelter. With a response accuracy of >95% and the ability to quickly add content for new disasters, Clara enables the Red Cross to provide timely information in rapidly changing disaster response situations. This new channel enables our staff to focus on efforts on the ground and the complexities of a disaster response. In addition, Clara spreads the message of the Red Cross by providing details about each aspect of our lifesaving work and encouraging those who are able to help those in need through volunteering and fundraising opportunities.
A key part of the American Red Cross’ vision is to ensure that all people affected by disaster across the country receive care, shelter, and hope. Our purpose is to meet the immediate disaster-caused needs of individuals, families, and communities. To achieve this goal, it is critical that we provide resources, assistance, and up-to-date information to all those in need.
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