Interactive visuals on ReliefWeb: Another way to view data

Yuan-Kwan Chan
IRIN and Humanitarian Outcomes track 15 years of aid worker attacks © 2015 IRIN / Humanitarian Outcomes

Since 1996, more than 54,000 maps and infographics have been posted on our site and through our mobile apps as static images and PDF files. Our information partners are, however, increasingly taking advantage of interactive visualization tools to more effectively communicate their analysis, overlaying data and narratives on time scales, geographical layers, and so on. From water sources in Somalia to the agricultural livelihood impact on communities following the 2015 Nepal earthquakes, these products do more than enable users to take a deep dive into granular statistics and real-time data: they provide a visually compelling view into specific issues.

As part of our daily content management, we have come across noteworthy examples of interactive maps and other visualizations, and decided that it would be highly useful to aggregate these as part of ReliefWeb content. Now you can find these products in our Maps & Infographics sections or by using the Format: Interactive Filter.

One example is a joint project by IRIN and Humanitarian Outcomes that tracks 15 years of aid worker attacks. This project functions as a digital storytelling tool – with text connecting current events to attacks between 2000 to 2015 – as well as an infographic (showing quarterly casualties) and an interactive map (focusing on major geographical areas of concern during that timeline). As the user scrolls through, the numbers, graph and map change.

Another example is a monthly stockpile interactive map for the Pacific region that plots the locations of non-food items, WASH and telecommunications products, and much more. A Logistics Cluster flagship product, currently 21 partners – including World Vision, IFRC, Save the Children and Oxfam – regularly provide data. These inventories for items such as mosquito nets and water purification tablets are subsequently tracked on Google Maps to assist in coordination efforts across 15 countries.

"The Pacific is both a challenge due to its size but also a coordination opportunity due to the limited number of actors involved in such matters as humanitarian logistics," said Florent Chané, the Head of the Pacific Office for the World Food Programme (WFP), which serves as the Logistics Cluster lead. "This Pacific regional stockpile mapping is a good illustration of that."

"The challenges around such mapping is twofold," Chané added. "First, to gather accurate and regular data from many regional partners, and second, to develop the tool that will be reflecting the needs of the users at a high-quality standard. We hope to get the private sector experience and partnership to support the second."

These are just two examples of how our partner organizations are finding innovative ways to provide data to disaster responders and humanitarians. To discover more, check out our Maps/Infographics sections on our country and disaster pages.