The Digital Agency for International Development

Health Information System for Ebola outbreaks

By Mark Skipper on 11 November 2015

USAID 3 day workshop

I'm excited to be travelling to Washington DC today to take part in a 3 day co-creation workshop. This is a USAID event which aims to improve Health Information Systems in West Africa to effectively detect, prevent, and address future Ebola outbreaks. It is also an opportunity to build partnerships between developers, donors and implementers. I'm looking forward to talking about how the Humanitarian Information Dashboard (HID) project could help.

What is the Internews Humanitarian Information Dashboard (HID)?

In humanitarian disasters people affected by the unfolding tragedy need more than physical necessities, they also have an urgent need for information. The Humanitarian Information Dashboard (HID) helps meet that need by providing information, management and analysis tools for use by Internews field teams and their local partners.

The HID supports Internews’ belief that information is an essential part of humanitarian relief and helps them respond to issues of information overload during a time of crisis. It also increases the effectiveness of field interventions and improves the impact of the work that Internews does.

The platform aggregates feedback from affected communities giving humanitarian responders unprecedented insight into community information needs and allowing them to make informed decisions that save lives. After spending 7 months creating this service with Aptivate, Anahi from Internews shared her insights on the project.

This project is open source and the code is available for anyone to use on Github.

Why are we involved?

Aptivate worked closely with Internews to understand their grand vision for the HID and turn it into an actionable digital project, which we successfully implemented. They're currently testing this and looking to move to the next phase with new learnings. Part of the HID's function is to interface with other information systems such as SMS text services and IVR voice platforms. Ultimately its purpose is to publish timely, relevant data and responses that communities and organisations working in disaster areas need. So, we have a lot to bring to the interoperability debate and much to gain from emerging standards, protocols and other initiatives.

I was the lead developer on the HID project and I have a combination of knowledge about internews' vision, technical knowledge about the architecture of the HID and expertise in successful digital projects. This broad understanding will help me find innovative ways to improve interoperability.

What next?

After the workshop, USAID hope to have created a space for a shared understanding of the challenges as well as existing efforts and activities. From here the aim is to identify key areas for collaborative action, to reduce duplication and agree upon basic framework(s) for action with the required next steps. I will be sharing updates this week on Twitter @aptivateuk.