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The Netherlands Red Cross provides humanitarian aid to people in need. In their search to improve the humanitarian system, integration of innovation into the organisation is necessary. To research this, two ethnographic studies were conducted in the context of the headquarters of the Netherlands Red Cross and the Red Cross operation on Sint Maarten.

The research aim of the visit to Sint Maarten was to identify opportunities for innovative disaster preparation approaches for the Netherlands Red Cross by exploring, identifying and understanding the views of the different stakeholders involved on Sint Maarten.

From the field research was concluded that the Red Cross aims to help the most vulnerable people. Although many people did receive help during the relief operation of the Red Cross, many others, including the most vulnerable did not receive help. These people were often geographically and socially isolated. This means that there is a need for local knowledge in order to identify these vulnerable people prior to a disaster.

The concept, ‘Community Based Data Collection’, allows the Red Cross to gather data and knowledge about different communities. This data will serve different purposes in the three phases: preparation, quick response and long-term benefits.