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Red Cross Community Based Surveillance 2018

Join the world’s largest humanitarian organisation and code for good!

Upcomming events

Codeathon 3.0   27th - 29th of September @OIW2018

Join us for the 3rd Community Based Surveillance Codeathon during Oslo Innovation Week! We are looking for engaged volunteers to contribute to the development of our community based surveillance platform. Whether you are a tech buff, a coding enthusiast, an advertising talent or a graphics aficionado – we need your help!

Read more about the programme here!

Sign up here!


The challenge:

Public health crises, such as disease outbreaks and famine most often occurs where health systems and public health surveillance is weak. Emergencies, whether sudden or slow onset, increase people’s vulnerabilities to health risks – and infectious disease can quickly spread and cause life threatening outbreaks.

Madagascar Red Corss volunteers registrating cbs events
Madagascar Red Cross undertaking volunteer registration for CBS.

The information needed during an emergency is  often complex, and required in real-time. Information is needed for a variety of reasons: to monitor and understand health risks, to allocate resources and ensure early and effectively action in dynamic contexts. This requires reliable data from a number of sources. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement consists of a network of 17 million active volunteers worldwide. They can and will report what is going on in their communities – if they are given the tools to do so.

Red Cross volunteer monitoring computerscreen with data about ebola outbreak
Sierra Leone Red Cross set up automatic data management for CEBS after the Ebola outbreak.

Due to distances, access difficulty and cost, it is clear we must use technology. We need real-time data, real-time analysis and real-time alerting and response to public health risks.

The problem is, we are lacking the tools and systems to do this.
Luckily, you can help!

The solution:

Community based surveillance (CBS) allows communities, volunteers and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to identify, alert and respond to emerging public health crisis before they spin out of control and cause excess death and illness.

Coding experience

We have a huge need for frontend developers (Angular), backend developers, UI/UX and graphic designers! This is a perfect opportunity to play with new technology: We are building an event-based microservice app with dotnet core, angular, Docker and Kubernetes.

Please familiarize yourself with the user stories on Trello and the technical issues on Github before we meet. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been part of the ride until now, we look forward to having you join us!

The story of CBS

The RCRC Movement is uniquely suited to contribute to CBS because 17 million volunteers are present in local communities across the world. They promote healthy life styles, teach disease prevention, improve food security, do first aid, prepare for disasters, and respond to emergencies. The volunteers are assessing, monitoring, and collecting health data from their communities in their normal volunteer work.

Two Haitian Red Cross volunteers talking and lokking at papers with data
Haitian Red Cross prepares for the roll out of the first CBS project in Haiti.

Volunteers in local communities can therefore be an important link between communities and the national health care system in emergencies. During outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Cholera or Ebola local volunteer networks can be utilized to extend public health surveillance beyond the health clinics, and to provide the links back to the health care system, thus saving more lives.


Sunday, July 1, 2012


Sierra Leone experienced their worst cholera outbreak in 15 years, with more than 22 000 people infected. Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that could kill within hours if left untreated.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Red cross 400 cholera first aid points

Sierra Leone Red Cross established 400 cholera first aid posts in rural communities, treating 95% of people with diarrhoea in their communities. Calling the volunteers provided daily data needed for the epidemic response. An idea was born: we need community based surveillance to inform operations and response.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Haiti Cholera outbreak persists

The Haiti Cholera outbreak persists. The Red Cross does cholera prevention and response in rural and urban communities, and starts planning for the first pilot of community based surveillance in hard-to-reach communities

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The first CBS pilot

The first CBS pilot in Petit Goave and Grand Goave, Haiti: Community based volunteers are trained to provide first aid (rehydration) to people with acute watery diarrhea, and equipped with basic mobile phones to detect and report acute watery diarrhea cases by SMS. Several cholera outbreaks where detected and responded to throughout the project period, thus strengthening our belief in the CBS methodology: we had a proof of concept.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ebola outbreak hit West Africa

When the Ebola outbreak hit West Africa in 2014 it became even more evident that a functional surveillance system that extended beyond health clinics, and that engaged communities to be part of the solution to stop the spread of disease was crucial. Since disease outbreaks start and stop in communities, the most acute need was to identify, isolate and treat sick people as early as possible.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Setting up an integrated CBS project in 3 districts

Sierra Leone Red Cross and the IFRC set up an integrated CBS project in 3 districts, aiming at early detection of suspected Ebola, Measles, and Cholera, in addition to floods and wild fire. Integrated programs may have bigger positive impact than only addressing one stand-alone risk. More than 2200 volunteers contributed to the CBS system - demonstrating the scale-up potential of the CBS system and the suitability of the method in addressing various community risks.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Detecting and stopping spread og Plague in Madagascar

Detecting and stopping spread of plague in Madagascar. Malagasy Red Cross volunteers are addressing risks related to poor hygiene and sanitation, as well as plague outbreaks. They work with communities to report suspected plague cases by SMS, which includes warning signs of animal die-offs and community deaths. The ongoing work on CBS in Madagascar has demonstrated the need for and possibilities of leveraging technology for streamlining data management processes and enabling decision making based on real-time data.

The prototyping and testing of the CBS system has demonstrated the importance of tools to ensure that CBS can be used in any setting where public health is threatened; to facilitate real-time communication between affected communities and response mechanisms, to ensure early warning and response. This is essential in an outbreak or emergency context, where prioritization of resources or risk of missing disease cases have big consequences for individuals and communities. Information can save lives. 

Contact info


Anine Kongelf
Community Based Surveillance Coordinator
Mobile phone
+47 415 47 913
Tonje Tingberg
Public Health in Emergencies Coordinator
Mobile phone
+47 951 15 684


Med støtte fra: Utenriksdepartementet  Innovasjon Norge