The data services workstream is the engine room of the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform, a critical component of the Centre’s value proposition. The goal of the HDX is to make humanitarian data easy to find and use for analysis. Launched in July 2014 with just 800 datasets shared by a dozen organizations, HDX is now an anchor in the open data ecosystem, bringing together over 20,000 datasets from hundreds of partners. In 2023, HDX was accessed by 1.4 million people in 230 countries and territories. 

The platform includes a number of useful features, such as visualizing and standardizing data. In addition, the HDX Data Grids provide a comparable way to assess data availability across locations and categories for priority humanitarian operations. The Data Grids place the most important crisis data into six categories; relevant data is included if it is sub-national, in a common format, and timely. We provide deeper analysis on data gaps in our report, The State of Open Humanitarian Data, released in February each year.

“HDX is the Google of humanitarian data.”
-Saira Khan, Researcher and Analyst, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

HDX Roadmap

In 2024, HDX will reach its 10th anniversary. To ensure the next ten years are as productive as the last, we have developed a product roadmap that creates new opportunities for faster access to reliable data and insight about humanitarian crises.

Over the years, the organizations on HDX have become increasingly sophisticated in how they contribute data, with more of them using automated data sharing methods rather than manually uploading files. The same can be said for HDX users who increasingly want to access data through frictionless services rather than by going to the site to download files. At the same time, while our team has been able to manage ever greater quantities of data passing through the platform, a lot of our maintenance work still relies on manual processes, which slows things down considerably. 

With the twin goals of sophistication and automation, the HDX roadmap will improve the platform in a number of ways, allowing our team and our users to handle data at scale. Based on extensive user research, we have coalesced on five critical opportunity areas: 

  • Data as a service – Advancing programmatic access to reliable and relevant humanitarian data
  • Geographic data services – Expanding HDX’s geo-specific features 
  • Onboarding – Providing contextual help and content for an enhanced user experience
  • Notifications – Delivering automated smart notifications tailored to user preferences
  • Workflow management – Centralizing and automating operations for better workflow efficiency

If you have ideas on how to improve HDX or would like to be interviewed, fill in this form and we will be in touch. You can read more about HDX in this one pager.