Information Management (IM) enables situational understanding, coordination, strategic and operational decision making, accountability, advocacy, and fundraising. The focus of the information management workshop was on redefining humanitarian information management, identifying key services and features of an enhanced modus operandi and outlining an action plan for improving humanitarian information management. A number of broad conclusions were drawn from the workshop, which are summarized in an overarching statement, along with specific recommendations for action:
The current model for the delivery of information management in humanitarian crises as reflected in the IASC operational guidance note, can and should be improved. 1) Increased understanding, recognition and political support at the highest levels are required 2) Efforts should be undertaken to collaborate at the inter-agency level on expanding and improving the existing human resources available 3) Increasing the financial resources of information management in humanitarian crises is of critical priority 4) The need for accountability to beneficiary communities has been recognised, as has the value of involving beneficiaries in the design and delivery of humanitarian action 5) Information management responsibilities and services should be reflected in a more detailed manner 6) Support the standardization of information management services and products delivered at the Cluster/Sector and inter-Cluster/Sector level 7) Detailed guidance and standards should be developed 8) The identification and codification of Common Operational Datasets and the work being undertaken on the Fundamental Operational Datasets are important steps in ensuring stronger, more efficient, and more predictable information management in humanitarian crises 9) Improving the predictability of information requests made by OCHA to Clusters/Sectors is of critical importance to producing quality information products 10) Opportunities exist to draw useful information from social media 11) The key humanitarian indicators were noted as a valuable contribution to supporting standard collection of data
Numerous challenges in information management arise during a major disaster or conflict. An example of such a challenge is the accuracy of data collection for recording damage to housing, infrastructure, and services or tracking displaced populations, distributing massive influx of humanitarian supplies, and coordinating the work in and between clusters as well as dozens of agencies outside the cluster approach. Baseline and post disaster information is collected and controlled by many autonomous actors, including national authorities, many of whom may be working together for the first time. Developing and implementing a basic framework that improve the interoperability of data collected before, during and after an emergency are essential to building better response capacities.
These guidelines outline the common datasets needed to respond to humanitarian emergencies, as well as the governance model for the management of the data (i.e. accountabilities and responsibilities). Key terms are defined to gain an understanding of the guidelines, including technical standards that support data quality and interoperability.
The guidance is intended for use at the country level to help Cluster/Sector leads, OCHA and humanitarian partners to ensure that relevant information in a humanitarian emergency is provided to the right person at the right time. It is also to ensure that the information is presented in a useful format to facilitate situational understanding and decision-making.
The product presents who is responsible for information management in emergencies. It further describes how information management supports effective humanitarian response, and provides the information management responsibilities of OCHA and Cluster/Sector leads at country level. The product includes the role of the Information Management Network at country level, such as what is expected of Cluster/Sector partners at the country level, the role of Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC), how information management can support needs assessment activities and monitoring, and the principles of humanitarian information management and exchange in emergencies.
In 2011, the definition of Provider of Last Resort (POLR) was modified to become “Where necessary, and depending on access, security and availability of funding, the cluster lead, as POLR, must be ready to ensure the provision of services required to fulfil critical gaps identified by the cluster and reflected in the HC‐led HCT Strategic Response Plan.”