A look at the ideas and projects we're working on as we strive to grow and improve ReliefWeb.
16 Jan 2019
blog By Melissa Elliott

Nine years ago, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, and I was among many looking for meaningful ways to help, albeit from far away. That's how I became involved in the world of digital humanitarianism, once unknown to me, which revolves around one thing only: information management.

From that experience to the more recent one of working with content management on ReliefWeb, a common thread is that disaster response suffers from severe information overload. Sometimes, the right information isn’t easily accessible. And with a variety of aid actors deploying to the field, it’s critical for organizations to provide safe and sustainable communication streams in order for them to make quick decisions and work efficiently.

Digital humanitarianism can take many forms

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17 Dec 2018
blog By Véronique Durroux-Malpartida

As 2018 is drawing to a close, the release of a new set of humanitarian icons may well be OCHA’s end-of-year gift to all of us working in digital communications.

From disaster types to clusters to affected people, humanitarian icons come in handy for inclusion in websites, reports, maps, and any other kind of publications such as humanitarian snapshots. “At first the icons were developed because we needed them in our day-to-day work. Then the demand kept growing and we added many more,” says Paolo Palmero, the head of OCHA’s Design and Multimedia Unit (DMU).

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23 Oct 2018
blog By Yuan-Kwan Chan Tags: training, data

110 participants.

20 minutes to prepare.

3 judges.

1.5 minutes to convince a donor on how to aid polio vaccination efforts in Syria.

That was the challenge posed to student delegates representing 27 nationalities and 56 higher education institutions recently in Bangkok, Thailand. The participants, selected to attend the 2018 University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS), learned about ReliefWeb and technological developments in the humanitarian sector, then divided themselves into groups to tackle our Syria polio challenge.

Birat Lekhak of ReliefWeb / OCHA talks about the use of drone and satellite imagery in the humanitarian sector. © Yuan-Kwan Chan / ReliefWeb / OCHA

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14 Aug 2018
blog By Véronique Durroux-Malpartida Tags: mobile, Survey

We have just rebuilt the mobile version of our website. You may remember that a while back we launched ReliefWeb Lite in a bid to better meet the needs of users in low-bandwidth countries. Our Labs research ultimately proved to us that an enhanced mobile version would be more sustainable and stable.

Our mobile version 2 has combined the speed and simplicity of version 1 with the best features of ReliefWeb Lite:

  • It’s fast, even in areas with low connectivity
  • It allows users to visit pages when they are offline
  • It doesn’t require extra space or a brand new phone
  • It takes up less space than apps
  • It’s more accessible for users with disabilities

The most obvious change from the previous mobile version is the design, which is now sleeker and more responsive.

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09 Jul 2018
blog By Andrew Footner Tags: mobile, labs, API

As another ReliefWeb Labs project - ReliefWeb Lite - is 'decommissioned', this post explains why that can happen, even with successful projects, and the benefits of abandoning prototypes that don't quite fit.

Since 1996, ReliefWeb has seen a lot of changes and for the past six years, Labs has been the place for trying out new ideas. It is also used to inform the humanitarian community about other services, such as the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) and the Events Service.

For any technical changes to ReliefWeb, the priority is to keep the site usable and useful. A large part of usability is performance. For all users, the time it takes for ReliefWeb servers to answer a request is important, but for those on low-bandwidth connections, the size of the response can be decisive.

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