Information saves lives — scaling data analytics in the IFRC network

by IFRC GO | Apr 21, 2021 | Insights and Inspirations

Data is now the world’s most valuable resource.

What does that mean for the IFRC, a century-old membership organisation, consisting of the world’s 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies?

How can we tap the vast amounts of data exchanged across the IFRC network to help us serve those who need us most?

Read on to find out how we plan to digitally transform disaster management at the IFRC.

The IFRC’s Strategy 2030 recognised the tremendous opportunities to enhance our work through digital transformation. It also foresaw the new challenges, threats and vulnerabilities that will need to be addressed in the coming decade.

We are currently hosting the first IFRC Data and Digital week, convening over 150 sessions and thousands of participants, demonstrating an impressive range of initiatives, resources and expertise across the Movement. One of the key investments we have made at the IFRC is improving our data analytics capacity to support emergency decision-making, referred to as Information Management (IM).

Information Management for the IFRC is the collection, management, analysis and dissemination of data and information to support decision-making

IM is now recognised as an essential component of an effective emergency operation, often helping to “bring order to chaos”. A progress review of IM in 2020 demonstrated widespread recognition of the impact enhanced data skills, approaches and solutions can offer, but also identified the capacity gaps and needs that remain.

To transform the IFRC into a fully data-enabled network, there are three areas which require concerted action:

  1. Coordination of IM resources

  2. Development and use of systems and frameworks to enable enhanced data collection, analysis and management

  3. Application of these capacities to improve the evidence and analysis used to direct life-saving services before, during and after disasters.

  1. To coordinate IM effectively, we will establish clear IM learning pathways that reflect the need for widespread improvement in the accessibility of training resources as well as their adaptation and specialisation. We will also establish common approaches to situational awareness which reduce duplication and make best use of our National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, acting through their 14 million community-based volunteers. Where the capacity of our National Societies is stretched, we aim to provide surge expertise both deployed and through the Surge IM Support (SIMS) network.

  2. The GO platform has shown that the IFRC can launch and scale emergency operational systemswhich connect the world’s largest and most effective humanitarian network. Further enhancements in our approach to data collection, ensuring best practices in survey design and community engagement are planned. To make sense of this scale-up in data volumes, we will also invest in systematic analytical methods and products as well as rollout of technologies which store data responsibly and enable enhanced collaboration across the humanitarian sector.

  3. The value tapped in the IFRC network’s data will enable us to predict, act in anticipation and respond in a timely fashion to emergencies, as well as ensure needs assessments are informed by appropriate data collection and analysis methodologies. We will also seek to expand on our use of data and evidence to underpin our humanitarian diplomacy and influence.

Please find more detail in the IFRC IM Strategic Direction 2021–24 here and the 2021 workplan here. Taken together, successful delivery of these three objectives will enable transformative change, as illustrated below:

In this way, the IFRC network will help to ensure information save lives, enabling people to anticipate, respond to and quickly recover from crises. To find out more, get in touch: [email protected]

The IFRC IM Strategic Direction 2021–24 and IM Review 2020 were drafted by the IFRC Secretariat IM team, in consultation with the IFRC network, to help support, coordinate and represent Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide.


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