API update: Two new features to make humanitarian tools more useful

Earlier this year we officially launched the ReliefWeb API (v.1.0). The API allows web developers and tech-savvy humanitarians access to over 17 years’ worth of carefully selected and curated humanitarian content stored in the ReliefWeb database.

For all our non-technical humanitarian users, API is short for “application programming interface”, and it enables websites, software, and apps to talk directly with the ReliefWeb database, allowing them to retrieve, republish or reuse the content offered by ReliefWeb.

We’ve received some great feedback from many tech-savvy humanitarians who are planning and developing new information tools. In future, we hope to showcase the exciting projects being developed using the ReliefWeb API.

We are continually striving to improve our API in order to make it easier to develop online tools useful to humanitarians. So today we are announcing ReliefWeb API version1.1 with some small but significant updates that incorporate two new useful features.

  1. “Facets” for data analysis

    One of the reasons why we built the API is to make 17 years’ of humanitarian content available for analysis. Now, with facets,developers will be able to create new search interfaces that make it easier to retrieve content statistics and build applications like our Content Trends. Even better, you can dig further into ReliefWeb by combining rich metadata and leveraging full-text search, allowing you to really “crunch the numbers”.

  2. Disaster alerts through “status”

    We recently introduced a new feature on ReliefWeb - Disaster Alerts. Alerts are now also available via the API. You can now filter Disasters for the field “status” and value “alert”, like this:


The values you can filter for are “current”, “alert” and “past”. They are defined as follows:

  • “Current”: A disaster with significant humanitarian impact and and ongoing response and/or recovery and reconstruction operations. By filtering for “current” disasters, you can retrieve disasters that are actively being covered by ReliefWeb and receiving frequent updates.

  • “Alert”: A developing disaster situation that has the potential for significant humanitarian impact. By filtering for “alert”, you can retrieve hazard events that may cause damage in near future, such as approaching tropical storms.

  • “Past”: A disaster with significant humanitarian impact for which there haven’t been any substantive updates in over four weeks or for which there is evidence that the main response activities have been completed.

In addition to these, v1.1 adds POST support for complex queries. Be sure to check out the release notes on the API Developers group, and sign up to receive future updates. For complete documentation on what fields and values you can use in the API, please see the API Field Definitions and Taxonomy Descriptions.

If you have any feedback or questions about the new API features, we would love to hear from you. Simply contact us or leave a comment below.