Donorweb Draws On Red Hat to Promote Blood Donation

Red Hat today announced that Donorweb, the non-profit website and online central depository of the Singapore Red Cross Blood Donor Recruitment Programme (BDRP), has selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux to run its mission-critical applications and SMS messaging gateway critical to recruiting and retaining regular blood donors in Singapore and also important in meeting the national blood requirements.

Donorweb (www.donorweb.org) began as an IT project founded by a group of tertiary students from a local university in 1998. The project aimed to facilitate a real-time communication channel between blood donors and those in need of blood for regular transfusions, surgical procedures and transplants. Donorweb was subsequently re-launched by the Singapore Red Cross BDRP in 2001 as a public information system and central depository to provide useful information on topics related to blood and to encourage donor response and build a ready pool of blood donors in times of emergency or crisis. As an IT partner in the National Blood Programme, Donorweb is currently sponsored by the Singapore Red Cross and is maintained by a group of volunteers spearheaded by researchers from a local research institute.

As a not-for-profit unit, cost is a constant challenge for Donorweb. Knowing the cost-effective advantages that open source solutions deliver, Donorweb began rolling out Red Hat Enterprise Linux as its operating system of choice in 2002, the same year in which an SMS (short messaging service) system developed using Kannel open source gateway. Today, Donorweb servers run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 to handle an average of 800 SMS per day, hundreds of discussion threads and more than 2,000 data and image files posted online, as well as a hosted Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform to support its vast e-mail and information management systems on the backend.

Red Hat is proud to be involved in the Singapore National Blood Programme and is pleased to provide Donorweb with the infrastructure it needs to help ensure that there will always be an adequate blood supply to those in need, said Gery Messer, President, Asia Pacific/Japan at Red Hat Asia Pacific. An average of 350 units of blood is needed per day in Singapore to save lives, and the Red Hat infrastructure put in place is instrumental to providing timely, real-time information to the public and in recalling regular donors. We are extremely honored to be able to contribute to such a remarkable cause.

The content management system and more than 90 percent of the online applications on Donorweb are developed using open source software by a team of volunteers. The system and applications are hosted on two Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers located across Singapore and the US. S.P.T. Krishnan, a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), leads the voluntary team of developers and content editors and oversees the design of Donorweb's user interfaces and system architecture.

Donorweb was looking for a platform that is synonymous with robustness, security, scalability, flexibility and ease of implementation and maintenance that can afford us with the lowest TCO. Red Hat Enterprise Linux was singled out because it was capable of delivering all of these benefits without compromising performance and availability, unlike any other Linux option, said Krishnan. One hundred percent uptime is crucial for Donorweb to save lives as real-time data is disseminated online and broadcasted from the SMS gateway. A good example is the Blood Stock Indicator on Donorweb that displays the current stock level of different blood types in Singapore.

Currently, about 1.5 percent of the Singapore population is regular blood donors. The Singapore Red Cross aims to raise the targeted number of blood donors significantly over the next three years. The organization is also looking to assimilate a regional information sharing system on Donorweb to share knowledge and cross-pollinate ideas on blood donor recruitment and other humanitarian practices with other Red Cross centres in the neighboring ASEAN countries. Daily traffic to Donorweb is expected to soar over time as a result.

Donorweb hopes to leverage the virtualization capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 to expand capacity as well as host the regional information sharing system that it has planned to build on the same hardware servers.

The Singapore Red Cross and the other 11 Red Cross centres in the region will benefit tremendously from the sharing of donor recruitment experiences, especially in the event of emergencies relating to blood donors, said Cecilia Tan, Director of Blood Donor Recruitment Programme at the Singapore Red Cross. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Donorweb and Red Hat to make this vision a reality.

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