The technology

The need for a custom-built application

Since starting this work in 2013, the assumption has been that technologies and tools are already out there, we just need to access and use them. But, after three implementation phases and extensive research, we have come to the conclusion that we need a custom-built application for the Red Cross Red Crescent CBS.

To reach communities with limited infrastructure we depend on using SMS as the main form of communication. Mobile internet access is often affected during an emergency, leaving many apps unaccessesible. SMS therefore becomes the most reliable reporting tool.

Red Cross volunteers report health risks

In simple terms, the Red Cross CBS platform allows for community volunteers to send SMS reports when they witness health risks and events. The reports are fed into a dashboard for early warning of potential outbreaks. The ability to send and receive text messages, parse and analyse the results, as well as visualize data, has been previously demonstrated through existing technological solutions. What truly makes the CBS platform special, is that it completes these existing functions, while also aiming to identify health risks and events which can potentially lead to outbreaks, directly alert health responders, and provide educational messages to volunteers for both to respond.

Open-source technology

CBS is a web application built with a React frontend and a dotnet core backend. It is based on an event-driven, microservices architecture, meaning it is developed as several separate applications (or bounded contexts), but appear as one application to the end user. The bounded contexts communicate with each other by publishing and subscribing to events. In production, CBS will run in Docker containers on a managed Kubernetes cluster in Azure Container Service (AKS). It is all open-source and all the technological information behind the software can be found on our GitHub page.

We wouldn’t want to build something as awesome as this without making it available to anyone who might need it and benefit from it. Furthermore, we’ve benefited a lot from using open source code in components of the software and we hope that others will benefit from what we are building. The CBS platform is built by a team of amazing contributors, who contribute with their time, their skills, their dedication and great questions, for a greater good. How could we not make this open source?