Overview of the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU)
Track: Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Relief
Author(s): William Wood, PhD
The Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is a State Department-led interagency collaboration that aims to improve planning and response to overseas complex emergencies through improved information collection, management, and dissemination. The HIU will promote the use of unclassified data for overseas humanitarian crises in which US government civilian and/or military agencies are engaged directly or indirectly. It will serve as the nucleus for value-added information that can be used by national- and field-level decision-makers to assess conditions and factors affecting humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. It also will be tasked with rapid assimilation of standardized "core" data sets that are unclassified, geo-referenced, and packaged with portable information management tools for US-supported field missions. In addition, the HIU will help coordinate US government responses to requests for unclassified information from non-USG agencies and foreign governments during complex emergencies.
The HIU will be organized initially as an interagency division within the US Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), but will assist all military and civilian agencies seeking unclassified and georeferenced data for areas experiencing humanitarian emergencies. It will have an interagency staff engaged representing a range of expertise to address specific information requirements of humanitarian assistance efforts, such as food security, demining, infectious diseases, and conflict prevention. Participating agencies will be able to work through liaison officers to request mission support.
Under the direction of an interagency steering group, the HIU will focus on developing scientific and operational networks, instituting data sharing agreements, standardizing reporting and dissemination processes, and undertaking real world demonstrative projects that will focus on several high-profile crisis areas. Additionally, the HIU will be using GIS-enabled information management for improving interagency responses to complex emergencies.
William Wood, PhD
US Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington , DC 20520-6510