From responding to the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, to supporting communities in Ukraine and neighboring countries. As 2023 is coming to an end, we want to celebrate and thank those who dedicated their precious time and efforts to voluntary service with 510 this year, providing remote support to emergency response operations, and accelerating our projects and providing skills which complement those we have in-house. In 2023, 55 enthusiastic volunteers were committed to 510. Our team massively appreciates their tireless dedication and contribution of their time and skills over this past year! 

Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. At 510, we value the contributions volunteers make to our work, from emergency response to disaster preparedness. Their expertise, innovative ideas and flexibility push the boundaries of what we can do. I cannot wait to see what we achieve together in 2024!”Lise Michiels, Volunteer Coordinator at 510 

Our volunteers are experts in different areas, covering data science, geographic information system (GIS) and modelling, human-centered design, data analytics, translations, surge information management support (SIMS), software development, literature study, and data and digital responsibility. Below are examples of what our volunteers have accomplished in some of these fields. 

Romanian Red Cross volunteers at the border crossing in Isacca help a refugee from Ukraine set up a Romanian SIM card with his phone to stay connected with friends and family at home, April 2022. (c) Angela Hill / IFRC

Data Science 

Data science comprises the base of tools one can use to extract meaningful insights from data. For example, 510’s Automated Damage Assessment tool can scan satellite images before and after a disaster to estimate the number of damaged buildings in a certain region. 

Two volunteers who advanced data science components of our projects this year are Timo van Dooremaal and Simon Riezebos, active with 510 since 2019 and 2020 respectively. While Timo has executed a reach analysis to identify the best pick-up points for emergency response teams in the Netherlands, Simon has worked on a python notebook peer review. 

“It’s great to apply my technical skills to support humanitarian aid. At 510, there are tons of interesting projects to work on in data science, close to home and in regions most in need.” – Timo Dooremaal (LinkedIn)

“Timo inspired me to join 510 in 2020. I love that we can spend our time together contributing to something great.” – Simon Riezebos (LinkedIn)

GIS and Modelling 

GIS is used to visualize data in a geographical context. For instance, our 510 GIS experts can map the extent to which a river will overflow in case of a flood. 

A GIS volunteer who has worked with 510 since 2021 is Rupsa Chakraborti. This year, Rupsa helped our team by administering a secondary data analysis for a project with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) working on multi-hazard analyses in climate-affected conflict settings, with a focus on Lebanon. 

“Volunteering allows me to make a social impact while working remotely. The team’s openness and support enhance this experience, and I am proud to be part of it.” – Rupsa Chakraborti (LinkedIn 

Data Analytics 

At 510, we use data analytics to examine data and draw conclusions from that information, often by visualizing data in a comprehensive way. 

Within this discipline, Sulaiman Mohammad, an active 510 volunteer since April of this year, has created a static report on expenditures as part of the cash and voucher assistance program in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. 

“For me, volunteering at 510 goes beyond the tasks at hand: it’s about fostering a global perspective, developing skills, and being part of a team that collaboratively makes a difference in the world.” – Sulaiman Mohammad(LinkedIn) 

Helena Viñas Gaza has been supporting the team since 2021. This year, Helena analysed data for our digital transformation portfolio which intends to help National Societies worldwide to implement digital platforms that can make their tasks easier. 

“Engaging with the team has been a nourishing experience. They always make you feel that your efforts as a volunteer matter. I aim to continue working with them to make my little contribution to empower communities.” – Helena Viñas Gaza (LinkedIn) 

Software development 

From developing dashboards showing the risk of a hazard to a country, to building websites and applications, software development is implemented in many of 510’s digital tools. 

Menno a software development volunteer with us since March, has developed the Reliefbox webapp, providing a system which facilitates the distribution to affected communities.

“It’s been quite rewarding to learn a new tech stack and deliver a valuable app whilst meeting such nice people.” – Menno 

Next to Menno, Ivona Milanova has also advanced one of our projects by pushing forward its software development components. Part of the team since 2022, Ivona grouped all the servers for the 510 cash information management program into one this year, optimising the process of providing cash and voucher assistance.

“Contributing my skills and knowledge to the Red Cross has been meaningful and enjoyable. It gives me a sense of fulfilment to know that I’m making a positive impact.” – Ivona Milanova (LinkedIn) 

Data and Digital Responsibility

Some of the tools that 510 develops involve the collection of private information to provide effective and personalized humanitarian aid. Our data responsibility team gives advice on how to build data protection measures into these tools. This helps 510 to treat data with ethical standards and avoid putting individuals at risk. 

Kamal Ahmed started volunteering with the data responsibility team in 2016. Since then, Kamal has contributed to a diverse range of projects for the advancement and enforcement of data and digital responsibility in our products and services. 

“Collectively contributing to 510’s purpose is incredibly inspiring and has helped me to continuously develop and apply new skill sets.” – Kamal Ahmed (LinkedIn)    

Literature study 

A literature study is the systematic review of available scientific and grey literature on a subject. It allows us to be in tune with the latest developments and cutting-edge knowledge.  

Jeewanthi Sirisena, a volunteer since 2022, helped to conduct a comprehensive literature review on Nature-Based Solutions for flood risk reduction as part of a project exploring the role of Nature-based Solutions in Zambia.  

“I derive great satisfaction from engaging in volunteer work, as it keeps me connected with others in different fields. I particularly appreciate the open communication within 510.” – Jeewanthi Sirisena (LinkedIn)

An incredibly big shout-out to our stellar volunteers! We hope to see many of you again in the new year. Happy holidays and best wishes for 2024! 

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For questions about volunteering with 510, please reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator Lise Michiels: