Strengthening Urban Resilience with Technology

June 26th, 2015

Encina Hall, Bechtel Conference Center

Launch of a Global Dialogue on Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs

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This exclusive leadership event will engage a diverse group of your peers—from private companies, technology startups, government agencies, humanitarian organizations, foundations, and academic and research institutions—to explore promising technologies and their potential to strengthen urban resilience in the U.S. and abroad.

In light of the 10 year anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami and 25 year anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, we will reflect on the past, dissect present conditions and forecast future trends and needs—all from the perspective of people living in the rapidly growing urban communities at risk of major natural disasters and health emergencies.

In addition to a keynote address from a notable futurist, dynamic experts, rich discussion, collective planning, creative problem solving and valuable networking will fill the day’s agenda. Before the event concludes, you will have an opportunity to express interest in multi-sector collaborations to define and advance the policy agenda, improve technology access and connectivity, inform and adapt emerging technology solutions for humanitarian action, and address critical issues related to information management, security and ethics.



The summit will frame and launch a two-year technology initiative to collaboratively inform and adapt emerging solutions that strengthen the resilience of vulnerable urban communities. Following the summit, the Red Cross will organize a series of tactical salons in technology hubs around the world to further explore the potential humanitarian applications and technical requirements for 3D printing, sensors, robots, drones, augmented reality, wearable technology, biometrics and other tools in development. The Red Cross and its collaborators will then pilot the most promising solutions, develop joint position statements and share their learning.

Emerging Needs

Without immediate and appropriate action, a dangerous mix of population growth, unplanned urbanization and climate change will magnify disasters and health risks and will have an exponential, catastrophic impact on people’s lives around the world.

We are currently experiencing a widespread demographic shift as the global population urbanizes. Today, more than 50 percent of the global population lives in urban areas. By 2050, the UN expects that number to increase to 70 percent. Many residents of these growing cities inhabit rapidly developed, unplanned and unregulated areas, such as “slums” that already host 1.5 billion people worldwide. Poor construction and urban planning, the spread of infectious diseases, poverty, and crime and violence pose significant risk to the residents living in these urban areas.

Disasters are also increasing in frequency, severity, unpredictability and economic cost. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was one of the most recent devastating urban disasters, killing more than 222,500 people mostly in and around its capital Port-au-Prince. And developed countries are not immune against the urban disaster risks. Some of most destructive urban disasters also recently occurred in highly developed countries, including in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in the densely populated Northeast coast of the United States in 2012.

But these trends, however intimidating, are not destiny. Multi-sector collaborations are helping communities find their own solutions, assert their rights and play a full role in the disaster cycle, all of which helps reduce vulnerability and risk. Strengthening resilience to these challenges is the responsibility of all governments, an essential bridge between humanitarian and development organizations, and an increasing imperative for businesses. Communities and households with access to accurate and timely information, good levels of health care, social support networks and economic opportunities are less susceptible to hazards and faster to recover from shocks and stressors.

Emerging Technology

Technology is a powerful enabler in strengthening these characteristics and empowering communities. Smart phones, social media and other tools are already helping to redesign emergency preparedness and response operations by facilitating community participation; spreading life-saving messages; and expediting service delivery even where power, connectivity, infrastructure and local training are lacking or limited.

Yet there is a great opportunity to harness further the power of technology-based solutions to improve and expand a community’s ability to prepare for emergencies, respond to increasing risks, and help people bounce back better and more quickly. The digital age offers the potential to turn the traditionally top-down model of humanitarian action on its head. The people on the receiving end of emergency aid, who until recently were far from where decisions are made, can now identify and voice their own needs directly. They can also improve their knowledge, design their own solutions and expand their coping strategies through technology by mobilizing local, national and sometimes global support.

Throughout the next two years, the Red Cross will collaborate with a diverse range of stakeholders to help ensure future solutions are accessible and affordable, appropriate to community needs and context, ethical, integrated with supportive policies and programs, scalable, and sustainable in order to address humanity’s most difficult challenges.


June 26, 2014

9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Breakfast and Lunch Provided

Reception to Follow


Stanford University, Bechtel Conference Center at Encina Hall

(616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305)

Co-sponsored by:


Facilities and location

Food and beverage

Hotel accommodation




Facilities and location

Bechtel Conference Center at Encina Hall (616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305) – view map.


Food and beverage

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for participants and will include vegetarian options. A reception following the event will offer light food and refreshments.

There are a number of dining options near Stanford University, some within walking distance. We recommend the following options:


Mandarin Gourmet Palo Alto (website)

Nola (website)

Reposado (website)


Joya (website)

Evvia (website)

Hotel accommodation

The Sheraton Palo Alto: You can call to reserve a room by dialing (800) 325-3535.

The Sheraton Palo Alto is conveniently located next to the Palo Alto Caltrain stop. The Bechtel Conference Center is a 20 minute walk or a short, free shuttle ride away by taking the Stanford Marguerite Shuttle “Y” from the Caltrain station to campus. We encourage you to book your room as soon as possible.

You can also view a list of other nearby lodging with a variety of price ranges.


Stanford is located between San Francisco and San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley. The campus’s 8,100 acres reach from the rural foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. Stanford is conveniently located between two major airports—25 miles south of San Francisco International Airport and 20 miles north of San Jose International Airport. Mass transit is available from both airports to the Stanford campus and area hotels:

Find information about CalTrain here.
Find information about Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) here.

Marguerite is Stanford’s free public shuttle service, which travels around campus and connects to nearby transit, shopping, dining, and entertainment. The Marguerite runs throughout the day and is a convenient way to travel between the hotel and the campus. Marguerite system map here.


The nearest visitor parking to the Bechtel conference center is in the underground Parking Structure 7 (655 Knight Way) at the Knight Management Center (view map). Please allow plenty of time for parking and travel from the garage to the meeting location. Visitors may park in any spots designated as “V” spots. You may purchase up to 8 hours of parking at any machine ($12.00 maximum/day). The machines accept Visa or MasterCard, bills, or coins; if you do not use your credit card, please bring cash in smaller denominations because these machines do not issue change.

Parking “A,” “C,” and “shared” resident/commuter lots are enforced Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. You are free to park in these areas after enforcement hours.

Complete Visitor Parking information is available here


The event organizers are able to provide an official invitation letter, but no help with visa application. Visa questions may be directed to abi.weaver@redcross.org.


Email Sam Spiewak about logistical matters (spiewak@stanford.edu) or Abi Weaver (abi.weaver@redcross.org) for more information.