About this Technical Support Package (TSP)

The technical support package acts as an annex to the 'Draft IASC Guidance on Common Operational Datasets (CODs) in Emergency Preparedness and Response' (to be endorsed by the IASC). The package provides detailed technical guidance on managing Common Operational Datasets (CODs). Whereas the IASC Guidance on CODs will remain static following endorsement by the IASC Working Group, this package will be continually updated based on evolving need, practice and technology.

The purpose of the COD -TSP is to support the COD strategy to: 
  • have accurate, up-to-date and accessible Core and Country-specific CODs available for all countries with ongoing humanitarian operations or that are at high risk of future hazards,
  • define a relevant list of Country-specific CODs in all countries with ongoing humanitarian operations or that are at high risk of future hazards, based on local risks and operational factors,
  • maintain a centralized repository (HDX) where CODs can be shared and found,
  • promote the use of data standards and metadata,
  • engage with national governments and civil society.
Support is provided by providing: Guidance, Standards, Processes/steps, and Tools

Common Operational Datasets 

Need visuals added (this will be come the home page in the future)

Common Operational Datasets (CODs) are authoritative datasets that are used as a shared standard and common reference for OCHA as well as the entire humanitarian community. CODs provide a common framework that enables the joining and analysis of data from different sources. CODs ensure that our analysis is accurate and our findings are consistent. The quality of our analysis and our products depends greatly on the accuracy of these datasets. Accurate datasets will enable better situational awareness and analysis. On the other hand, errors in these datasets will compound across products and process, and undermine our situational awareness and effectiveness.

Core CODs are: administrative boundaries, sex- and age-disaggregated population data (pre-crisis) and humanitarian profile (humanitarian caseload numbers). When available as a preparedness measure, we can use these datasets in the first hours of a sudden-onset emergency to estimate its scope and scale, identify affected populations, and make initial decisions on the response. In the hours, days and weeks that follow, the CODs can ensure that decisions are based on evidence, both from existing baseline data and the unfolding response. They also help connect the knowledge of affected communities, national authorities, international responders, and the world at large. All CODs are stored on the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) website, and are among the most used datasets on the platform.

OCHA’s role in maintaining the Core COD key datasets appears in numerous policy instructions and guidance, both internal and inter-agency. They are listed as a ‘minimum preparedness action’ under the IASC’s emergency response preparedness framework and are central to guidance on the humanitarian programme cycle. They are also in key OCHA policy instructions on response and the roles and responsibilities of country offices.

What are CODs?

A Common Operational Dataset is a referential dataset defined as being necessary to support coordinated humanitarian preparedness and response activities, based on identified risks, hazards, and operational requirements identified at the country-level. They are datasets for which it is essential that the humanitarian community use the same version of the data as a reference.  There are two types of Common Operational Datasets: Core and Country-specific.

Core Common Operational Datasets are required in all countries with ongoing humanitarian operations or in which emergency response preparedness (ERP) activities are underway. They provide a critical data standard and support initial analysis in the first 48 hours of a new emergency of impact, scope, and scale and thus inform decisions on any subsequent response. The administrative divisions for a country should include with their associated names, unique identifiers, and geographic boundaries as it provides a common way of referring to places in other humanitarian datasets, allowing such datasets to be aggregated and analysed more easily.

Country-specific Common Operational Datasets are a subset of the Common Operational Datasets that are specific to each country’s risk profile. They are datasets for which it is essential that the humanitarian community use the same version of the data as a reference. They complement the Core CODs and therefore contribute to completing the operational picture during ongoing or anticipated humanitarian operations. Examples include population statistics and datasets related to populations, geography, infrastructure (structures that could be impacted or used during relief operations such as schools, health facilities and refugee camps) and activities.

Why are CODs important?
  • CODs ensure consistency among all actors working on humanitarian preparedness and response, by providing a common, authoritative operational picture or data standard. 
  • CODs reduce duplication of work on baseline data by partnering organizations
  • CODs provide datasets that are referenced by all in operations

Structure of the Site

The structure of this site is based on the two types CODs and then their data themes. 

  • Core CODs (Administrative Boundaries, Population Statistics, Humanitarian Profile) 
  • Country-specific CODs (all other datasets identified in country or at the onset of an emergency)

The COD cycle is then discussed under each data theme allowing the user to access guidance for a particular COD in one chapter. Each phase consists of: 

1)   Overview  2) Steps, Step details, Tips table

3)  Resources (guidance, case studies, any material and tools to support the phase)
4)  Case studies


Methodology of TSP Development

A collaborative methodology was used to develop the COD-TSP. OCHA -FIS facilitated discussions and work with the global level via the Global Level IMWG Data sub-group and OCHA Information Management Officers (IMO). 

 Date   Location Topic
 28 Feb (Tues)  webex Introduce the COD-TSP and initiate collaboration (if unable to attend bilateral can be conducted) Meeting Notes
 8 Mar (Wed)   Palais D-107 / webex COD cycle discussion (e.g. governance, data sources, COD terms) Meeting Notes
 15 Mar  (Wed) Palais D-610 / webex Administrative Boundaries discussion and status check Meeting Notes
 22 Mar (Wed)  Palais D-610 / webex Population Statistics discussion and status check  Meeting Notes
 29 Mar (Wed)  TBD / webex Status check of the work
 1-5 April COD workshop Berlin Work shop preparations and AOB Meeting Notes
 11 April  (Tues)  
 TBD / webex Workshop review and COD services (TBC)  Report - 2017 Expert Workshop on CODs
 23 May (Tues) webex Post Berlin next steps and Partner Workshop agenda and details Meeting Notes
 21-23 June Partner workshop GenevaCOD Partner Workshop - Agenda and Output

For more information or feedback please contact Kristina MacKinnon (OCHA - FIS) mackinnonk@un.org