The Year of the Hub: Introducing the ReliefWeb roadmap

It may be the Year of the Snake in the Chinese Horoscope, but for the team at ReliefWeb this was always going to be the “Year of the Hub”. This is the year that we take ReliefWeb from its current state and develop it into a one-stop-shop – or Hub – for humanitarian information.

Our aim remains the same – to provide those engaged in humanitarian work with quick access to relevant and reliable information, so that they can keep up-to-date on situations and take more informed decisions. The approach is two-fold – first, we will build out the ReliefWeb service to offer a portfolio of useful products and services (see our roadmap below). Second, we will make ReliefWeb interoperable with essential information services (see our Labs projects), to include a tighter integration with Humanitarian Response, the new field information service developed by OCHA.

It’s an ambitious plan. It’s going to be more of a marathon than a sprint, as we work through how to pull together the diverse content and deliver all this seamlessly to our users. But we are confident – and here are a few reasons why:

  • We have a clear strategy and roadmap in place. Having spent a few months last year working closely with two excellent consultants – Ian Cairns and Ed Mullen – we have developed this plan for the next two years. This has mapped out a clear direction for us, while at the same time it enables us to retain the flexibility to respond to innovation and evolving client demand. This report is worth a read. If you’re short on time (aren’t we all?) then take a look at the Executive Summary (p7), the roadmap for 2013 (p39), our approach to innovation (ReliefWeb Labs, p51), and a preview of what the future site might look like (Ed’s wireframes, p54-76).
  • We have a strong foundation in place. Following our 2011 re-launch, we have a proven business model, a modern technology platform and a great team in place. We are also refining our product development approach this year. Our product team is going to spend more time listening to users and updating them on our service as it evolves.
  • We will be working closely with a technology company this year. From May onwards, we will be working with a contracted digital technology company that will help us to build out the service over the next two years. This is an unprecedented opportunity, which gives us the technology expertise and capacity we need to build out the hub.
  • Finally – we are really motivated to make this work. We know we have a unique opportunity to add value to the important work our humanitarian users do – and that keeps us focused on the job in hand.

I should add that we have already started too. The design improvements that we rolled out in November were taken directly from this roadmap. These are the first of many improvements planned this year. Take a look at the wireframes for what else is planned.

So I hope that you find the direction we are taking of interest – and of use. We are always interested in your thoughts. When you have a chance, let us know what you think about our plan and priorities.