The Centre’s data policy work is focused on developing a framework and guidelines for how OCHA processes data in humanitarian crises. The Centre also provides advice to OCHA staff and partners on data sharing agreements and data security.

Humanitarian organizations collect, process, and use increasingly large volumes of data. This data can include personal, community or demographic information about affected people which enables the identification and tracking of individuals or groups. The disclosure of sensitive data in humanitarian response can lead to already vulnerable people and communities being further harmed or exploited.

OCHA’s data policy framework will define the principles, processes and practices by which the organization handles data as the coordinator of humanitarian response. In turn, practical tools will be developed and shared to promote more consistent and responsible data practice within OCHA and the broader humanitarian community.

Research is underway to better understand how sensitive data is shared and used by OCHA staff and humanitarian partners in conflict environments. The research is focused on different types of risks and threats related to humanitarian data and how to mitigate potential harms to affected people and aid workers.  

The data policy and guidance documents are undergoing review by internal and external experts. If you would like to get involved, send an email to centrehumdata@un.org.

 

Data Security

As part of its role in managing HDX, the Centre is aware of the various types of sensitive data that are collected and used by our partners. Partners are not allowed to share data with personal attributes such as names and phone numbers on HDX. All publicly-shared data must be sufficiently aggregated or anonymized in order to prevent the identification of people.

We also do not allow data to be shared on HDX that includes community or demographically identifiable information with a high-risk of re-identification. However, this type data is more challenging to identify within datasets without deeper analysis.

For these cases, the Centre uses an open source software package for statistical disclosure control called sdcMicro. This World Bank tool allows us to determine the sensitivity of survey data and helps contributors prepare datasets for appropriate public or private sharing.

The Centre is exploring the potential value of designing and developing secure infrastructure to facilitate the exchange of sensitive data between OCHA and its operational partners. If you have ideas on how best to do this or want to work with us, please contact us.

Related Links