Guidance for Humanitarian Organizations

Engaging remote volunteer communities in supporting disaster response

Guidance on working with remote volunteer groups can be found here.  A catalogue of the types of services that can be provided by members of the Digital Humanitarian Network can be found here.

DHN Product Catalogue

Below is an example of how the volunteer groups GISCorps and the Tableau Service Corps assisted in the production of the Hurricane Matthew Map Filter project.

Facilitating access to maps based on known information needs of key Decision Makers

Situational mapping in the immediate aftermath of disasters is vital.  It can help to meet many information needs of humanitarian responders, including demonstrating the scale of impact, and the resulting humanitarian needs, as well as helping to build a common operational picture of the response.  

Two key challenges associated with situational mapping during emergencies are:

Decision Makers' Needs COI

a)      Making sure that key Decision Makers have access to the right maps, at the right time, in order to help inform key decisions that need to be made

b)      Monitoring and evaluating whether the right maps, showing the right information, are available at the right time to help inform these key decisions

The Map Filter project was established to help address these challenges.  It builds on the work of the Decision Makers’ Needs Community of Interest, and provides:

Hurricane Matthew Map Filter

·         An emergency-specific visualisation to enable decision makers to filter maps from ReliefWeb based on the key questions that they help answer, the datasets shown on the map, the map producer, and the date/date ranges of map production – see the Hurricane Matthew Map Filter

·         A related visualization showing which key datasets were available through maps during the response timeline, and which key questions could be informed by maps during the timeline.  This can be used by map producers to evaluate whether they are meeting the data and information needs specified in key guidance documents such as the MIRA.  See the Hurricane Matthew Map Analysis

Hurricane Matthew Map Filter Analysis

To build these visualisations, there was a need for:

a)      A team of people to review all maps as they were uploaded onto ReliefWeb and create additional metadata about each map including which questions the map could help answer, and specific datasets shown on the map

b)      A skilled data visualization person to design an appealing and user-friendly tool/visualization to enable decision makers to filter through all maps that were available, to find the specific ones that they need

To create the Map Metadata, GISCorps were contacted through their application form, and 11 volunteers made themselves available.  With a small amount of initial training, we then had 24hr support for a few weeks to continually monitor ReliefWeb and update the map metadata in a shared spreadsheet.

To create the Tableau-based Map Filter, the Tableau Service Corps website was searched for a suitable volunteer.  Again following a small amount of introductory explanation about the aims of the project, the Map Filter was produced and available for use during the response.