Transforming humanitarian data into knowledge: Introducing the ReliefWeb API

Andrew Kobylinski

Are you developing innovative online products for humanitarians? Do you want to incorporate ReliefWeb content and data in your website or online application? Then the new ReliefWeb API may be just what you’re looking for.

It’s been eight months since we released the initial version of the API to a small number of interested developers. We were encouraged by the interest and feedback, but we also quickly realized that there was a lot more to APIs than just making it work - we needed to turn it into a real product.

So, we have been working with Development Seed and Phase2 to refine our API and developers’ resources. The result is ReliefWeb API version 1.0, which we are releasing to the public today.

For all our non-techie humanitarian users, API is short for “application programming interface”, and it allows applications to talk directly to the ReliefWeb database and retrieve information.

As many humanitarians know, ReliefWeb represents one of the most detailed sources of crises and disaster updates. With over 17 years’ worth of carefully selected and curated content, ReliefWeb is globally known as one of the most comprehensive, well-maintained and reliable sources of humanitarian information. We’ve already used our API to develop humanitarian information products such as the ReliefWeb Mobile site and our new Content Trends feature.

Now, it is now possible for our users to build effective humanitarian tools, like applications that analyze historical humanitarian data or websites that pull ReliefWeb content in real-time.

If you are a developer, we think you’ll find our new API to be full-featured, yet fast and easy to use. It requires minimal effort for common tasks and adheres to HTTP API standards and practices, and we’ve fully revamped the documentation. We hope that the API v.1.0 is developer-friendly and sustainable, and that it will inspire you to create useful information analysis tools for humanitarians.

Our new API features: The entire ReliefWeb database A developer portal with all information in one location Interactive documentation of major API features via Swagger.

We will be introducing our API to the developer community at this year’s Drupal NYC Camp at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Saturday 12 April. If you're attending the conference, make sure you catch our session.

Of course, this is only really the beginning. We are excited to see what new applications you, the humanitarian community, will create. If you’re interested in utilising ReliefWeb’s API, then check out the ReliefWeb API developer portal. All the information you need is there to get your project started.

If you have any technical questions or are seeking some API support, you can leave a message on our ReliefWeb API Google group. Our tech support team, along with the ReliefWeb API community, will endeavour to answer any queries you might have.

We’re also keen to hear your ideas and suggestions for innovative web applications for the humanitarian community and how you will use the new ReliefWeb API. Either leave a comment below or get in touch.