Disaster Preparedness

With the American Red Cross

Urban Disaster Preparedness Icon Collection

In honor of World Disaster Risk Reduction Day, we partnered with the Global Disaster Preparedness Center and the American Red Cross to collaboratively create a suite of symbols on the topic of Urban Disaster Preparedness. The icon set that was developed will be used for a number of applications including mapping, websites and publications. These icons will help the American Red Cross and the rest of the humanitarian community communicate important Disaster Preparedness ideas graphically.

The Iconathon was hosted on Saturday, October 13 at the historic American Red Cross National Headquarters to coincide with the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the official launch of the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC).

At the Iconathon, Omar Abou-Samra (Senior Technical Advisor for the Global Disaster Preparedness Center), Ian O’Donnell (Senior Information Architect for the Global Disaster Preparedness Center), and Robert Banick (GIS Coordinator for International Services) kicked us off with great presentations on how the Red Cross uses symbols to communicate complex concepts to populations that speak different languages, as well as on maps used internally to quickly organize and summarize important information in times of disaster response.

We worked on symbols for concepts like Evacuation Route, Food Shortage, High Ground and Earthquake.

At the end of the Iconathon, everyone shared their opinions and views on what designs best represented a given concept.

More photos from the event are on Flickr.

The concepts generated at the event were successfully turned into symbols and are available for download in the Urban Disaster Preparedness Iconathon Collection.

It was sobering to think of all the use cases while designing these symbols. Living in California, the symbol for Earthquake was particularly relevant to us. The group at the Iconathon thought the best way to communicate this concept was to show the earth cracking, and this crack extending into a building which has been damaged.

Earthquake Icon

The new symbol for Animal Shelter that we created during the Iconathon could have been helpful to organizations like the ASPCA during Hurricane Sandy. The animals displayed under the shelter roof can be swapped out or added to, depending on if the shelter allows farm or exotic animals, for example.

Animal Shelter Icon

As natural and human-made disasters continue to be more and more frequent, we look forward to working with the Red Cross again and with other relief organizations to create more disaster-specific symbols to help in the most urgent of times.

About the American Red Cross

Responding to the increased frequency of disasters, global climate change and urbanization, the American Red Cross works with communities to build resiliency to future disasters, from training local first responders to helping mitigate common hazards. In 2011, their disaster preparedness programs spanned more than 30 countries.

The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. Working together, they help respond to disasters, build safer communities, and educate future humanitarians. Each year, they reach millions across the globe.

About the Global Disaster Preparedness Center

The American Red Cross, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has established the Global Disaster Preparedness Center — a resource hub on disaster preparedness oriented toward the Red Cross network that will support learning and knowledge sharing for disaster preparedness practitioners worldwide.


Originally published at iconathon.org on December 11, 2012.