Presented By O'Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
5–7 May, 2015 • London, UK

Sharing humanitarian data at the United Nations

Francis Irving (ScraperWiki Ltd.)
13:45–14:25 Thursday, 7/05/2015
Privacy, Law, & Ethics
Location: St. James / Regents
Average rating: ****.
(4.67, 3 ratings)
Slides:   1-PPT 

Prerequisite Knowledge

This is suitable for general strata attendees


OCHA (the UN’s Humanitarian Affairs body) allocates international funding when there is an emergency or natural disaster. This can include anything from the Syrian refugee crisis and the Haiti earthquake to the Ebola virus. This work is fundamentally about data—using information about refugee movements, the weather, and NGO capabilities to decide who can best use money to save the most lives.

OCHA has hundreds of country offices, and also works with many partners, such as the Red Cross. All these gather lots of data during a crisis. They tend to store it in spreadsheets on their own systems, or share it with the world in PDF reports. In the necessary rush of emergency work, it’s hard to find more time to put into data sharing.

The Humanitarian Data Exchange is a new project with a goal of increasing the reuse of data in the Humanitarian world. UN OCHA is building a data hub. It’s based on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s CKAN product. ScraperWiki is supporting the data collection process and providing technical project management.

The presentation will answer these questions:
- What motivates people to share data?
- What barriers must be overcome in data sharing during a crisis?
- What features in a data hub do on-ground workers need?
- How can a non-profit make best use of crowd sourcing from its volunteers?
- What metrics best measure how useful a data hub is?

Lessons from the front line of humanitarian aid are invaluable in industry too. Every business is saying today: “It needs to be easier for our staff to share data with each other."

Photo of Francis Irving

Francis Irving

ScraperWiki Ltd.

A technology leader, Francis created the original TortoiseCVS, which has improved version control for tens of millions of people. He was a founder of TheyWorkForYou and WhatDoTheyKnow, which show the world how to use scraping and good user experience to improve democracy. Irving has a BA in mathematics from Oxford.