The Humanitarian Exchange Language Initiative
Organisation: United Nations OCHA
Partners: UNHCR, Nethope, UN agencies and other NGOs
Location: New York, Geneva, field locations
Type of grant: Core – development
Summary: UN OCHA aims to make it easier for responders to share critical operational data during humanitarian crises. The Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) initiative has two components: community agreement on data standards, and a technical infrastructure for automating simple peer-to-peer data exchange.
• Current data for planning and decision support is hard to find during a crisis.
• Data becomes fragmented and isolated in individual partners’ systems.
• Prior attempts that focused on building centralised databases or standardised forms have had limited success.
This is primarily a process innovation for relief coordination and support services, involving a new, decentralised, consensus-based approach for collecting and sharing data across a network of humanitarian partners.
Innovation Phases Description:
• Form a working group to lead the standards effort, with broader outreach to all members of the humanitarian community through mailing lists and other collaboration channels.
• Deploy a technical team to prototype and implement the agreed standards and technical infrastructure in up to two small-scale field pilots.
• Coordinate these groups (working group, technical team and broader community) as they work iteratively towards a consensus version 1.0 release of the HXL standards and recommendations.
Key Deliverables / Impact:
• Make better data available to support crisis-response planning and action.
• Improve efficiency by reducing the manual work of collecting crisis data.
• Allow each organisation to remain a custodian of its own data.
• Build a long-lasting open data ecosystem that bridges the disaster-management and development cycles.
• Open up humanitarian data to a wider group of actors, tapping into the potential of the crowd to support humanitarian response.