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OCHA’s new Centre for Humanitarian Data a signpost to the future

22 Dec 2017
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Credit: UNICEF/Minu Limbu

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, today in The Hague opened the Centre for Humanitarian Data which aims to significantly boost real-time exchange and use of data to better respond to humanitarian crises worldwide.

At the centre, data experts and humanitarians will work together to process and visualize data to rapidly gain insight into the needs of affected people and the response by humanitarian partners. Partners will develop and promote data policies, for example to ensure that sensitive data is protected, and offer training in data skills.

The centre is established and managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and is supported by the Government of the Netherlands. It is part of The Hague Humanity Hub, an open, collaborative work environment established by the city.

“OCHA’s new Centre for Humanitarian Data is a signpost to the future. It shows how the technologies that are revolutionizing every aspect of our lives can be harnessed to help and support vulnerable people all over the world,” said the Secretary-General. “This centre will help humanitarians to make informed and responsible decisions to meet people’s most urgent needs.”

The centre will manage the Humanitarian Data Exchange, OCHA’s open platform for accessing, sharing and using data from hundreds of organizations and dozens of humanitarian emergencies such as Yemen, Somalia and the Rohingya refugee crisis. The aim is to speed up the flow of data from collection to use so that aid groups will have access to timely information about often rapidly evolving situations.

"When people see suffering, in other places, the natural human reaction is to want to help", said ERC Lowcock in his remarks. "With today’s technology, we have the chance to identify problems as they appear, predict what will happen next and organize an effective response. The potential for saving lives and reducing suffering is literally enormous."

Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Sigrid Kaag, welcomed the opening of the Centre: “We want innovation to change and improve aid to people most heavily affected by conflicts or natural disasters. The innovative Centre for Humanitarian Data helps us achieve that change. Institutional data sharing agreements, data standards adoption and technical integration enables essential data to move faster across partner systems and accomplish a more efficient and, equally important, more inclusive aid system in which no one is left behind.”