[ed. note: Data @ IFRC is a blog series to share highlights from the Red Cross Red Crescent Secretariat and National Societies. We will include learning opportunities and thought pieces on all things data from ethics to evidence.]

Information Management support for Data Literacy

For the past two weeks, we’ve had a steady stream of Information Management (IM) guests at IFRC, including IM leaders from various national societies, members of the Surge Information Management Support teams (SIMs) and IFRC regional office IMs. Information Managers create and disseminate information products like maps, data charts/graphs and curated datasets.  The IFRC Data Literacy approach is multi-pronged aimed at providing data basics to support the data curious, while providing more tailored support for those who are more ‘data ready’ like the IM teams.  The opportunity is that by matching those who want to learn with internal experts we can slowly move the organization forward.The IM input to the overall Data Literacy roadmap as well as planning for upcoming activities is invaluable.

To learn more about the role of IM’s in humanitarian work, see Tips for Humanitarian Information Managers created by Simon Johnson of the British Red Cross.

Learn by doing is our approach.

Dale Kunce at Missing Maps Geneva Feb. 2017

Missing Maps Workshop and Mapathons

“Buiding Maps is building trust,”  Under Secretary General for Partnerships, Jemilah Mahmoud opened the workshop discussion at the IFRC Missing Maps Workshop/ Mapathon. Trust and local engagement is key  to Missing Maps programs and to the Red Cross Red Crescent mission. Dale Kunce, Global Lead ICT & Analytics, International Services for the  American Red Cross shared details about the West Africa mapping project where 120 local mappers traveled 72000km to put 7000 communities on the map. The recently released Missing Maps report of the West Africa Project can be found here.  Additional impact examples were also shared by colleagues of the American Red Cross (Dale Kunce, Helen Welch), British Red Cross (Andrew Braye, Simon Johnson) and Netherlands Red Cross (Martin van der Veen, Raymond Nijssen). One of the goals of the session was to consider how Missing Maps techniques could be incorporated into upcoming IFRC projects.

We were also delighted to co-host the first Geneva Missing Maps event with ICRC and CartONG for 80 participants. Special thanks to the American Red Cross for sponsoring food. There are more plans in the works to co-host Geneva Missing Maps.

(Photo: Dale Kunce, Senior Geospatial Engineer and GIS Team Lead, International Services, American Red Cross demonstrating the impact of various mapping projects. Credit: Heather Leson CC-BY, Feb. 2017 )

Data Visualization Workshop

We started an Informal Data Working group at IFRC Geneva offices to share data literacy. This is a beta program aims to create draft session plans that could be reused by regional offices and national societies. The first session was held in December. We created a list of data learning opportunities.  One of the top requests was to get an introduction to Data Visualization. Guido Pizzini, Senior Officer, Information Management and Data Analysis, IFRC provided an overview session last week which involved hands-on drawing of visualizations after discussing the key concepts. Here are some of the resources he shared to help you learn:

Andy Kirk. Separating Myth from Truth in Data Visualisation (Slides)

The 38 Best tools for Data Visualization (article)

Choose Tools to tell your Data Story (website)

Reports on Messaging and Community Engagement

There are many data types used in humanitarian response. Colleagues at ICRC with researchers at the Engine Room and  Block Party released a new report: Humanitarian Futures for Messaging apps. It reviewed the opportunities and risks in communicating with communities. Mobile services like SMS and humanitarian messaging apps play a big part in emergency response. There are varying degrees of incorporation of these methods. The data speaks volumes on the growth and use of mobile across the world. Take a look at the GSMA Mobile data reports by country.

Our mission at IFRC is to involve and listen to local communities. Ombretta Baggio, Senior Office, Community Engagement/Accountability participated in the both the messaging report as well as the joint ICRC -IFRC work on Community Engagement and Accountability. (includes case studies) As we consider data programs, there are really multiple layers of data. Quantitative data is more valuable with context and community stories. As such, data literacy improves when we include community input and when we let it guide our efforts.

Get the full Humanitarian Futures for Messaging Apps report here.  Also, see the Community Engagement and Accountability approach.

Considering local data in the Ebola Response

Efficiency comes when we open up our data, when we start collaborating more and when we put the beneficiary into the driver’s seat of providing us with data. We must focus on what factors are limiting our ability to respond in an efficient manner. We must improve collaboration. We must increase sharing of information.Gisli Rafn Olafsson (Source: The Guardian)

Fighting Ebola with Information: Learning from the Use of Data, Information, and Digital Technologies in the West Africa Ebola Outbreak Response is a recent report from USAID. The sheer volume of learning from various organizations and communities continues to inform data-driven projects. A number of IFRC colleagues provided input to this report including Amanda McClelland, Senior Officer, Public Health in Emergencies.  Amanda led a number of data-driven programs during the ebola response including Community Event-Based Surveillance. This program connected local communities to responders via SMS surveys.

“The majority of cases in the world’s largest outbreak of Ebola were caused by a tiny handful of patients, research suggests. The analysis, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows nearly two thirds of cases (61%) were caused by 3% of infected people.” (Source: BBC news)

The cited research report, Spatial and temporal dynamics of superspreading events in the 2014–2015 West Africa Ebola epidemic, is one of a number of reports that the Global Public Health team is publishing about their learnings from the ebola response. The analysis cited above is based on data modeling by the researchers.

As we consider how to shape data-driven programs incorporating all the various data types with community stories, it is always good to consider how to better plan with local communities. A recent article by Noel Dickover encourages a focus on local awareness with suggestions on how to improve our data-driven approaches.