Whenever there is an emergency in the Philippines, various organisations and institutions organise themselves into emergency clusters and working groups to increase the effectiveness of the response. One of the crucial elements of disaster response is information management. In various emergency contexts, an Information Management Working Group (IMWG) is established by different cluster organisations to support information management in emergencies.
After Typhoon Haiyan, the IMWG Philippines facilitated data collection, exchange and analysis across all sectors. Almost 100 individuals – from information managers to monitoring and evaluation officers, IT experts and mapping gurus – were involved in the IMWG Philippines. As well as acute emergency response, the IMWG advocates Open Data in all large-scale emergencies, pushing institutions and agencies to open up key datasets such as the number of damaged schools, affected population data, number of evacuation camps, etc.: all crucial factors in coordinating an effective emergency response.
During my fellowship, I have considered the importance of engaging with the IMWG, here in the Philippines, to further the School of Data network. On July 3rd I met with the IMWG to introduce School of Data. I outlined the ways in which the School of Data network can support the IMWG’s data management, as well as promote data literacy during emergencies. At the onset of an emergency, organizations urgently look for data and information managers and source them out from international rosters, and by engaging with the School of Data network, the IMWG can already address this gap by immediately having a local network who can support in data management. There are also very limited learning and training opportunities locally on data skills and through School of Data, the IMWG can engage with other actors on improving their data management skills in the context of emergencies.
I highlighted the courses available via the School of Data website and I encouraged the IMWG members collaborate in producing new ones. We also discussed involving the School of Data Philippines Facebook group in future IMWG meetings, to explore possible collaboration regarding emergency response. This would hopefully address the personnel shortages that often occur post-emergency, wherein the supply of information/data managers goes down as the demand for data goes up. We discussed how important it is to form partnerships with local organisations and institutions that can support data management, especially in conducting rapid needs assessment and analysis, the use of innovative tools for data collection and analysis such as Kobo Toolbox, RapidSMS, and crowd-sourcing to identify needs and gaps e.g.Crisis Mappers, Twitter.
In network building, it is very important to focus on a niche in which you are skilled and familiar. I hope to combine the data management skills already present in the Phillipines with the enormous networking potential of School of Data to provide increased personnel at times of disaster – both in terms of individuals and collaborations between IMWG and similar organisations.
Got fresh ideas or interested to know more about this collaboration? Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.