[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.]

In this edition, we have data stories across the Federation including items from Malawi/Netherlands, Philippines and Panama/Brazil.

Palm vein recognition

Palm Vein research

IFRC is investigating many types of data to support our humanitarian efforts. The Community and Emergency Health Team is carrying out a feasibility study on palm vein pattern recognition technology and its application in healthcare settings, crisis management or any other situation were rapid, reliable but revocable identification of living or dead persons will be needed.  The IFRC Geneva offices participated in this study for the past few weeks. Participants provided data to help prototype the solutions. Doctor Christophe Bron, CEO of the Swiss company called Veintree, has been collaborating with the IFRC and the ICRC Data Protection team to ensure responsible data practices are embedded throughout the whole process. The technique is quite simple: non-invasive scans of your hands and face accompanied by unique identifiers. The health team is advancing many data projects in partnership with National Societies. Stay tuned for more examples of data-driven activities in Health.

Data collaborative takes aim at SDGs

510 Global with Malawi Red Cross


How can a data collaborative support the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Health and Wash (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene)? The 510 Global, an initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross, in partnership with Malawi Red Cross and CartONG will tackle this question with recently acquired funding from the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (Data4SDGs). They have a multistep approach: conduct a gap analysis and convene a data collaborative (a semiformal, long term collaboration, that brings VTCs, humanitarian and development organizations together with National Statistics Offices (NSOs), businesses, and civil society organizations.) Sustainability is important to success of local data-driven projects.

 “The objective is to make better health and WASH decisions and interventions using data collaboration between development and humanitarian actors, academia, government and digital volunteers. To start building and strengthening information bridges between all these organisations, collaborative digital tools and dashboards will be used. The project builds on open data and open source technologies, to facilitate interaction among involved parties.” (via IFRC Innovation team)

See more about the other winning Data-Driven Innovations.  (Photo Credit: Maartin van der Veen, 510 Global)

Learn by Doing

IFRC Americas’s regional information management (IM) team are building repeatable processes for data-driven innovation. Over the past months, they have been creating dashboards using a tool called Klipfolio. It is one place for all the data, resources, and information products to serve emergency response IM needs. The data shared is obtained from National Societies, IFRC, and various applicable ministries. The IM Americas’ strategy expands use beyond the regional office reaching and co-creating with the National Societies.

Health professionals are monitoring instances of Yellow Fever in Brazil. The IM team created a dashboard which also includes population and vaccination data obtained from the Ministry of Health. The Brazil Red Cross advised the team that they are happy with the tool and are even updating it to serve more local needs. With each iteration, the team adds more functionality.  The goal is to improve the quality of data, including more operational use.

Peru Floods - IM dashboard IFRC Americas

For the Peru floods response, the IM dashboard was delivered in 24 hours, plus they were able to include more granular data including crop loss and damages.

Previous IFRC Americas work:  Hurricane Matthew (Haiti)  and Zika Operation
Thanks to the America’s IM team (Alberto Cabrera, Laurent Fernandez, Fanor Camacho, and Luis Fanovich) for sharing their work.


Data Literacy Impact

The IFRC Asia Pacific team Information Manager, Charles Ranby, recently participated in a workshop in the Philippines sharing knowledge about data literacy.  One of our goals this year is to have sessions across the globe, both online and in person, about data literacy and responsible data.

What does data literacy success look like for organizations and individuals? We are beginning our work on measurement for data readiness and data literacy assessment.  The University of Chicago, Center for Data Science and Public Policy, and DataKind created the Data Maturity Model. We are looking to prototype this method in the coming months.

Useful Data – are we there yet?

Creating data for data’s sake is a dangerous pitfall on the data journey.  Whether is it creating interactive data visualizations that people don’t use or even building data graveyards (data portals) that don’t get used, there are many lessons learned.

This article tackles data collection methodologies citing the following pitfalls for paper-based surveys – accuracy, speed, feedback, inevitability, and planning. In ideal situations, it is better to default to digital. Humanitarians in conflict zones have mentioned that using paper for data collection is sometimes necessary to minimize threats and to be more inclusive. For these special cases, having data helpers to digitize the details ensures that the data can be obtained.

If You Are Still Collecting Data on Paper, You Are Wasting Everyone’s Time



Do you have a data story? Please drop me a note so that we can feature your work – heather.leson AT IFRC dot ORG.