American Red Cross
TCS and the American Red Cross Align in Their Mission to Make Communities Safer
By offering support in the presence, and nurturing innovation for the future, TCS demonstrates a two-pronged approach to tackling disaster in its partnership with the American Red Cross.
When devastating wildfires tore through California it rendered thousands homeless, with AccuWeather estimating that total damage and economic loss due to wildfires in California alone could exceed $80 billion in 2019.
First on the scene of the disaster were the American Red Cross Disaster Action Teams (DAT) from the Desert to Sea Region, who offered aid and disaster relief to those in the Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties of California, which were some of the worst-affected.
The importance of this work demonstrates why Tata Consultancy Services was proud to continue providing the American Red Cross with support and sponsorship throughout 2019 – but last year, they also brought innovation to the organization’s doorstep.
Middle-schooler Ryan H., from Huntington Beach, California, was so moved by witnessing the devastating wildfires that he decided to do something about it – and the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge offered him the forum.
The Ignite Innovation Student Challenge supports the Ignite My Future in School (IMFIS) program – a one-of-a-kind initiative transforming the way students across America learn through computational thinking, a foundational skill for 21st century success.
Created in partnership between Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Discovery Education, Ignite my Future in School empowers teachers from across North America with training and resources to help them seamlessly integrate computational thinking into their classrooms.
Each year, the Ignite Innovation Student Challenge offers students from 6-8 grade a national forum to utilize these foundational skills – by identifying and approaching a problem in one the areas of Health, Our Planet, or Education, and then presenting their concept for a digital solution to improve it – plus the computational thinking strategies that were used to guide them to this solution.
In 2019, the Grand Winner was Ryan – and his winning concept was a low-cost wireless field module connected to existing cellular networks, which could help firefighters more easily detect and prevent the spread of wildfires like the ones that had devastated California the summer before.
“I realized the only way to minimize the devastation was to have an early detection system,” Ryan explained. I realized there were two parts to early detection – the first was to place many fire detectors in high risk areas, and the second was to allow connectivity with firefighters.”
The concept demonstrated such promise that the American Red Cross invited Ryan to the headquarters of their Desert to Sea region, to present his winning concept to them. Ryan presented his Wildfire Early Detection Network to a small gathering of staff, including Debbie Leahy, Regional Disaster Officer.
“We all connected to Ryan’s passion for just wanting to make a difference in his community,” Debbie explained. “His presentation demonstrated how forward-thinking this young man is. It’s amazing to think of this young man looking at the California wildfires on TV and just wanting to do something about them - to make a difference. Then, to think of his very smart mind putting one and two together and coming up with this product – which could potentially save lives.”
With his winning concept, Ryan demonstrated that TCS was approaching disaster relief from more than just one angle. In addition to supporting and sponsoring the American Red Cross directly, the signature STEM development programs offered to middle and high schoolers for free by TCS might one day be the birthplace of more innovative solutions that could help stamp out disasters like wildfires before they even start.
Learn more about the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/.