[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.]

Open Data @ IFRC


Over 180 events connected humanitarians, civil society groups, technologists, governments, and organizations for Open Data Day. IFRC hosted our first ever Open Data Day / Responsible Data Day event on March 3, 2017.  We provided information and demonstrations about how open data is used for humanitarian action. Two data-driven projects at IFRC demonstrated how their data is shared along with some lessons learned: Federation-Wide Databank and Reporting System (FDRS) and Go Project Lab (Go).  FDRS visualizes key indicator data from all the Red Cross Red Crescent national societies. The Go Project aims to share emergency data across the Federation. As well, the GO project connects IFRC’s Information Management systems and practices to the larger Humanitarian community, including the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX).  IFRC has firm data protection guidelines as outlined by ICRC, thus the road to opening data begins with responsible data and data sharing planning.

Responsible Data

Responsible data is: The duty to ensure people’s rights to consent, privacy, security and ownership around the information processes of collection, analysis, storage, presentation and reuse of data, while respecting the values of transparency and openness.  (Responsible Data Forum, working definition, September 2014)

Responsible Data Wheel #2 (march 2017)


We created the Responsible Data Wheel of Misfortune to spark conversation about responsible data. Colleagues at IFRC added the key topics to the wheel in advance. During the session, we added more concepts including “data ownership”, “access to the internet”, “poor/old infrastructure” and more. Every organization is likely to have diverse responsible data questions/priorities. Data literacy is key to the success of any data-driven project. This dynamic discussion kicked off our plans to include responsible data practices in our data literacy training and consider what policies, guidelines, and practices we need to tackle as an organization. The wheel continues to strike up conversations, even post-event. To make your own wheel, collect the supplies, craft time (recipe), and then consult your community.

Our next steps include planning our Responsible Data activities based on all the excellent input, including how we can have similar activities across the globe.


Across the Federation

The Tanzania Red Cross provided some Lessons on Climate Change. This is a series of monitoring and evaluation done by our colleagues. Without the narrative about impact on communities, the data around climate change is not truly activated. Take a listen:

In other climate change news, the Togolese and German Red Cross, the Climate Centre and other partners yesterday shared in the ‘Edge of Government Award’ made to Togo’s Ministry of the Environment at the World Government Summit in Dubai for joint groundbreaking work on forecast-based financing (FbF).  Congratulations to all the teams.  As a recent Guardian article noted, being forewarned helps resilience and preparedness. 

Guides and thought pieces on Data-Driven Innovation

The Pim Guide collaborates on Protection Information Management. See all the updated guidance and training opportunities on their website.

Considering local data, community engagement, and accountability, this means reshaping our practices. The IFRC and ICRC created Community Engagement and Accountability guidelines to help us improve. This article also gives some thoughts on how we can be more engaged with communities: Stop saying you want to give voice to the voiceless. 

And lastly, an interview breaking down some of key topics in data from Data Pop Alliance‘s Emmanuel Letouze.

On Open Data, Big Data, Data Science, and Algorithms – an Interview with Emmanuel Letouzé