ReliefWeb Opens 20 Years of Humanitarian Data

By Nate Smith on Apr 10 2014

Today, ReliefWeb released a public REST API that provides access to over 545,000 reports, maps, and job listings relating to humanitarian crises and response. This data, previously only available on the ReliefWeb.int website, is now open for easy use in other websites, apps, and research projects.

ReliefWeb is the go-to source for humanitarian information within the United Nations. We worked with ReliefWeb and the team at Phase2 on the API that will make decades of humanitarian data open in machine-readable formats.

Data when it matters

In a crisis, speed and accessibility of information are critical. The ReliefWeb API allows responders, journalists, and policymakers to access vetted, authoritative data when they need it, in a standard format (JSON). It's built on an Elasticsearch datastore and has put a focus on speed. Providing open, fast, and programmatic access to humanitarian content can lead to better understanding of crises and can drive innovation.

Open data will allow the development of tools that make official reports on disaster response more useful. The API already powers ReliefWeb’s mobile app and it will make it easier to combine official data with data from other sources.

What’s to come

As we blogged last week, we are building an application that utilizes the ReliefWeb API to combine official disaster reports with other data sources. A simple Twitter server provides filtered disaster-related tweets in combination with ReliefWeb reports and data.

We’re excited to launch with ReliefWeb and Phase2 today. To get started building on this data, explore the developer docs and check out Phase2's post on the API application details. For an example of the new API in action, look for a public repo with live tracking the ebola epidemic in Guinea.

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