Sunday, 31 May 2015

UN Deploys New Tech to Make Relief Faster in Nepal

Humanitarian aid is criticized for being disorganized, late, and inefficient. A new UN project, in partnership with San Francisco-based Frog, the global design firm, is changing that perception. The recent Nepal earthquakes on April 25th and May 12th are benefitting from this new technology -- HDX, or the Humanitarian Data Exchange. Last June, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) piloted HDX, a data-heavy Wikipedia for the humanitarian community. Its aim was straightforward: simplify and streamline access to important data in disaster relief situations. That is, rather than ploughing through Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, and Word Docs, create one source and one format for all the data. Frog’s Creative Director Michael DelGaudo realized that aid workers don’t have a “typical day” but they do need data at every point of their journey -- from understanding the history and context to the latest updates. That’s why HDX catalogues basic info on countries: its population, its poverty index, etc. But in cases of emergency, like the Nepal earthquake, it builds more time-sensitive data.

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