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How we inform on humanitarian crises 24/7

By Véronique Durroux-Malpartida

Because humanitarian response isn’t only active from 9 to 5, neither is ReliefWeb. We actually monitor crisis situations non-stop. In reply to the question: “How do you make it work?”, here’s the answer to why and how we transitioned to the 24/7 operating model to ensure the timely delivery of crucial information.

Team members strategically located

For many years our editorial work was divvied up between three teams working from UN headquarter locations. Time gaps existed here and there and weekends were not fully covered, except during acute sudden-onset emergencies. A couple of months after a devastating earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, we extended our time coverage and moved on to a consistently seamless workflow, implementing the 24/7 operation model.

Currently, the editorial teams are run from three strategic places - Bangkok, Nairobi, New York - and closely follow the activities of the humanitarian sector, paying particular attention to the evolution of acute and emerging crises. Our team members can handle ReliefWeb’s content around the clock because they are based all over the globe. They are not only selected for their knowledge and skills, but also for their capacity to work remotely.

Using key tools for remote work

Over the years, web-based tools have enabled us to rethink the way we monitor key information and work as a virtual team. Services and applications such as Inoreader and Desk now support information monitoring and interactions with partners, while Trello and Flowdock provide cloud-based collaboration tools for online discussions between team members, editorial decision-making, and overall project management.

For Melissa Elliott, a contractor based in Canada, "The key to being able to feel confident in providing consistent coverage is having tools that help filter the firehose of information found on hundreds of channels. Our editorial team is constantly fine-tuning our filters to ensure we are receiving relevant content immediately, allowing us to stay on top of daily events in real-time."

Thanks to this working model, ReliefWeb can filter thousands of content sources throughout the day and provide crucial and reliable information around the clock via the website and mobile apps, and simultaneously power the content of sister platforms such as unocha.org and RedHum.

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