New Features on HDX: Starting to make the data dance

We are excited to introduce new data visualization features to the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX). This includes visual summaries of indicators with the option to explore how the data changes from year to year and country to country. We have also enhanced a gallery feature so that it is easy to see visuals that other users have created.

HDX has always had two categories of data – curated indicators and user-contributed datasets – but until now it hasn’t been easy to distinguish between them.

Curated Indicators

The HDX team curates about 130 indicators, ensuring they are comparable across countries and have gone through a quality control process. We call this collection of indicators the Common Humanitarian Dataset (CHD). These are the indicators that are now available for interactive visualization in HDX.

The CHD currently includes a large set of pre-crisis, baseline data, such as the total number of reported malaria cases per country or GDP per capita. But it also includes some crisis-specific data from sources like CRED, ReliefWeb, and OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service.

If you search for ‘ReliefWeb’ in HDX, you will find two indicators – the number of reports and the number of disasters. For the number of reports, you can immediately see that for the latest year, there are more reports on South Sudan than anywhere else in the world.

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If you choose to explore this indicator, you can select a new year and also compare countries.

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We plan to add humanitarian planning indicators in the coming months (check out our research project for more details). And we will expand the CHD to include more sub-national and crisis-specific data as it becomes available. We will also be adding functionality for customizing visuals and for comparing indicators, as we explained in a recent blog).

 

User-Contributed Datasets

User-contributed datasets in HDX can include ad-hoc files such as who is doing what where in the Ebola response, links to google spreadsheets that are maintained outside of HDX, or connections to databases that provide automated updates to the files in HDX. The data from InterAction on member project activities in Liberia is a good example of an automated process.

The new gallery feature makes it easier to see the visuals that users have created with these datasets. The example below shows the visuals available for Ebola data using the Google Public Data Explorer.

We plan to create more data visualization capacity for user-contributed datasets soon. Specifically, we are exploring how to integrate the data standards work we are doing with the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) so that maps and graphs can be generated from spreadsheets using HXL hashtags.

You will find a few other changes throughout the site, most notably, the grouping of countries, organizations and topics into feature pages. We will release our new design for country pages next month and topic pages will follow soon after.

We hope that you like our latest enhancements. Let us know what you think by sending comments to hdx@un.org or reaching us on Twitter at @humdata.