Introducing the Humanitarian Data Exchange: Why we believe humanitarian data can save lives

We are excited to launch a new humanitarian data platform – the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX). Creating a place for humanitarians to find and share data has been a long-standing goal of our community. The need has been referenced in many lessons learned and policy papers. Thanks to the engagement of early users, the commitment of our donors and the support of critical partners, we have made an initial step forward. Here’s why we believe that a managed system for sharing humanitarian data can help save lives.

1)   Increased efficiency: Having an infrastructure for sharing data across a network of actors will save time. Instead of going to many places to find data (or never finding it, as the case may be), users can go to one place and then quickly move on to the important work of analysing it to inform their decisions.

2)   Leveraging the crowd: The world is full of good people who want to help in times of need. Making data accessible with clear sourcing and terms of use enables digital humanitarians to add value through services such as data cleaning and visualization.

3)   Integrated analysis: Having good analysis of a specific sector or the needs of one affected community will only get us so far. Shared standards and interoperable systems will create the common operational picture we need to be truly effective.

4)   Preparing for the future: We know that real-time data from social media and mobile phones will increasingly be used to understand affected people’s needs. Creating a shared data infrastructure will ensure that we can combine these data streams with data from official sources to uncover new insights.

We have made a short (and very cool!) animation and interactive demo to introduce the platform. Take a look and tell us what you think. You can send feedback to hdx@un.org or follow us at @humdata. Use #HumanitarianData to tell us why you believe humanitarian data can save lives. And welcome to the HDX community!

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