Information Management: Services

When an emergency occurs, OCHA’s information management officers immediately start working with key partners to produce standard information products to support coordination of all the humanitarian organizations. These products include:

Common Operational Datasets (CODs)

The CODs are critical datasets that are used to support the work of humanitarian actors across multiple sectors. They are considered a de facto standard for the humanitarian community and should represent the best-availble datasets for each theme.

HumanitarianResponse is a central website enabling operational responders to collaborate during an emergency. After a humanitarian crisis the site is activated as a centralizing portal for operational coordination information and Information Management tools/services.

Humanitarian Kiosk

The Humanitarian Kiosk (HKiosk) application provides a range of up-to-the-minute humanitarian related information from emergencies around the world. The application has multiple independant kiosks which reflect locations where UN-OCHA operates or there is an ongoing international humanitarian emergency. Once installed, you simply select the kiosks that you are interested in and they will be automatically downloaded and synchronized to your mobile device. Downloading the files enables offline abilities which is extremely important as we know that most responders do not have regular, consistent internet connection.


Most humanitarian information has a geographic component. Maps are a highly effective means of communicating large amounts of information in a simple form. GIS mapping can be extremely useful and is an effective presentation tool. However, it can also be resource and time intensive. Quick and simple maps are practical and effective for many types of data, particularly at the onset of an emergency when base data is often incomplete and/or changing rapidly. OCHA also gathers data using satellite imagery, other geospatial information, census data and other tools. It uses this data to create maps on demand.

Who What Where (3W) Data

The 3W database was designed to provide key information regarding which organizations (Who) are carrying out which activities (What) in which locations (Where). This information is essential if those organizations and activities are to be coordinated in a way that ensures humanitarian needs are met without gaps or duplication.

Contact lists

These provide the key contact information for actors working in a humanitarian operation, including rapid-onset and chronic emergencies. There can be hundreds of different organizations and individuals involved. Therefore, the ability to receive or sort contact information by cluster lead, thematic sector, location or other detail is invaluable.

Meeting schedules

Coordinating a large amount of actors in major humanitarian operations requires many meetings, whether for overall direction on the situation, or decision-making on a specific area with different sets of partners. Meeting schedules provide the time, location and function of all meetings in an operational environment. They are updated daily in the first weeks after a disaster.

Information Needs Assessment

An Information Needs Assessment identifies the types of information that organizations need to make decisions, and the sources and flow of that information. Where gaps are identified, the first and most important step is to secure the active participation of major agencies in the necessary data-collection activities, and agreement that the entire humanitarian community can access relevant information outputs. For more information, see