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One-Size-Fits-All Toolkit For Gathering Information In A Crisis

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 4 2013

The thing about crises is that they can take you by surprise. Although governments and humanitarian organizations do their best to prepare, it's nice to have something to fall back on in any situation, something like an emergency first aid kit for NGOs. The nonprofit media support organization Internews thought so too, which is why they partnered with Columbia University's Modi Research Group and Captricity to create the Humanitarian Data Toolkit.

The toolkit is designed to get a research project up and running quickly in any environment. It has all the equipment necessary for implementing paper or mobile phone surveys, or both: paper surveys, laptop, usb hubs, wifi router, cables, scanner (for the paper surveys), smartphones, power strips and a solar panel, as well as data collection and analysis software.

It also includes training materials for interviewers and “an established research methodology for use in the midst of a crisis,” according to an Internews brief.

The Toolkit was recently tested in Dadaab, Kenya. According to the full report on the pilot:

The system worked! The toolkit enables the quick execution of an information needs assessment, keeping user error to a minimum during the data collection.

The HDT provides backup measures in case of equipment failure, lack of internet access, or insufficient electricity.

Internews plans to conduct additional pilot tests to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Toolkit in different emergency situations, but the organization also hopes other NGOs will implement it and share what they have learned.

For more functionality in a pinch, check out Ushahidi's Internet-in-a-suitcase BRCK.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.