Information Management and Aggregation

I am looking at humanitarian information management for a client at the moment. What intrigues me is the variety of systems that are around – from “home-grown” (i.e. internal) developments to open source and even crowdsourcing systems (Ushahidi being the most prominent of the latter). Great to see such variety and drive to really make information management more efficient and streamlined.

What I am missing, however, is THE aggregator. I am a big fan of feedly for my rss feeds (and thanks – with hindsight – to Google for burying Google Reader – feedly is so much better). What I miss is an aggregator for humanitarian and development information. A colleague and friend just pointed me to AidData (http://aiddata.org/). Hadn’t heard of it before – and it is such an aggregator. And at first glance it looks impressive and worthy of support.

There is a lot, however, to be done on aggregation at a lower level. Say, there is a crisis in Country X and Ushahidi deploys, UN OCHA runs an IM, various other organisations set up their information systems. Some feed into the OCHA systems, some remain distinct, and most likely not all use the same baseline or situation data, or even the same indicators. All “real life”, non-IT problems, but they affect the IT systems as much as they did affect the pre-IT work.

So how can we aggregate humanitarian data better? How do we really know how many people we have reached across all organisations across all sectors? There remains a lot of work to be done, and while IT will help, we need to fix a lot of intrinsic non-IT information management problems first.

AidData is a promising development. Let’s hope there will be more.

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