Please see the guidance notes for information management considerations.
As advancements in the field are made, tools, examples and links will be added here.
17.1 Overview and Function
The UNHCR web portal provides a unified platform for emergency information coordination and dissemination. The portal features the latest display of emergency data, maps, population statistics, demographic graphs, UNHCR and partner reports and factsheets, operational highlights and situation reports, in addition to quick links to a variety of partner web sites. It centralizes all operational data and information products about an emergency that should be broadly disseminated to partners, donors and governments, which comprise its intended audience.
A coordinated and well-maintained web portal is a key tool in information management. It is also an excellent example of the ways in which technology is being used to sharpen emergency response, coordination and service delivery.
17.2 How-to Guide: Portal Deployment
Here are a few key matters to consider before requesting a portal:
- Is/will appropriate staffing be available to sustain a web portal?
- What will be the scope of the portal – is it for an emergency or to provide a snapshot of the entire refugee situation?
- Are there any existing regional portals already in place?
- Are the administrative unit structures and names clear and in accordance with ProGres?
- If regions are to be used, how to define what qualifies as a “region”, as an arbitrary area of operation or as a geographic district or region?
- What is the frequency of the new figures and how will those figures be consolidated at the country and regional levels?
- What population figures do you want to display and how do you want to aggregate them into totals?
To initiate the deployment of a new web portal, the country Information Manager should first seek approval from his or her Country Representative. For a regional web portal, the Country Representative should then complete the Portal Deployment Request Form (included as an annex in this section) and submit the proposal to the Regional Representative, who, in consultation with relevant Country Representatives and Information Managers in the region, submits the proposal to the Bureau and FICSS chief of section.
For a country-level portal, consultations with the Regional Representative are not required, and the Country Representative may submit the Portal Pre-deployment form directly to the Bureau and FICSS. During a Level 3 emergency, the initiation request for a web portal might originate quickly from the HQ Emergency Task Force.
The figure above illustrates the steps for the deployment of a new portal
Responsibility for the management of web portal content ultimately falls to the UNHCR Representative, with the support of the emergency team leader and the Information Manager, who will be creating many of the products displayed on the portal. The Information Manager will also be responsible for gathering, managing and coordinating the content on the portal with partners and other stakeholders on the ground.
It is important to reiterate that each country or region needs to have a full Content Management Strategy in place that clearly defines focal points that are responsible for updating content on the Portal. The Information Manager per country or region is responsible for keeping the site up-to-date. In cases where there is limited resources or band-width issues exist regional Information Managers can be asked to support content management for a limited period of time. Headquarter support is limited to configuration, maintenance and enhancement to the functionality of the Portal and does not include content management.
The tasks that an Information Manager will need to do to initiate and configure a new web portal are detailed on the web portal Wiki site:
Web portal related information, such as the API interface is available as a wiki that may be found here: http://data.unhcr.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
17.2.1 Structure, content and information management responsibility
The responsibility and level of web portal content has been set as per the following areas of delineation:
Regional level (e.g. Horn of Africa)
- Total refugee population per country (Information Manager working with the registration officer);
- Appeal and financial information (Information Manager working with the Representative, sectoral leads and public information officer).
Country level (e.g. Kenya)
- Overall aggregate population profile, arrival trends (Information Manager working with the registration officer);
- Highlights, news (Information Manager working with the Representative, sectoral leads and public information officer);
- Documents: Statistics spreadsheets, maps, updates, reports, meeting notes (Information Manager working with, collecting and analyzing information from the sectoral leads); and
- Calendar and events (Information Manager);
- Working groups: a dedicated page for coordination purposes: Contact information, highlights, calendar and documents to facilitate the work of the working groups (Information Manager with sectoral leads) Sub-office level (e.g. Dadaab);
- Population profile, arrival trends (Information Manager working with the registration officer);
- Highlights, news (Information Manager working with the Representative, sectoral leads and public information officer);
- Documents: Statistics, maps, updates, reports (Information Manager working with, collecting and analyzing information from sectoral leads); and
- Calendar and events (Information Manager).
Settlement or camp level (e.g. Ifo)
- Population profile (Information Manager working with, collecting and analyzing information from the sectoral leads);
- Basic indicators (Information Manager working with, collecting and analyzing information from the sectoral leads);
- Who’s Doing What, Where (Information Manager working with, collecting and analyzing information from the sectoral leads); and
- CRI distribution report (Information Manager working with, collecting and analyzing information from the sectoral leads).
Note: Population figures and 3W information are added at the settlement level and aggregated upwards to formulate data and total figures at the country and regional level.
17.2.2 Web portal clearance standard operating procedures
Information on the web portal is publicly available because maintaining logins for thousands of partner and donor staff members is impractical. This means that the information posted on the portal is available to everyone on the Internet, not just its intended target of humanitarian actors. The broad availability of this information makes it especially important to ensure that the data is of sufficient quality and that it has been cleared through a formal process.
To facilitate the formal process of clearing information for posting on the portal, the Information Manager should customize the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for clearing web portal data, endorsed by the Representative. Some information products and data will have different clearance procedures than others. Some information may be given blanket clearance by the Representative or emergency coordinator, meaning that as soon as a sectoral lead or sectoral working group approves it, that information can be posted. Meanwhile, other types of information might need personal clearance by the Representative or Deputy Representative. Clearance procedures will vary according to local circumstances, as well as the reliability and sensitivity of the information.
Types of information that should not be posted on the web portal include the following:
- Personally identifiable information about persons of concern;
- Information that could compromise the security of either populations of concern or humanitarian actors;
- Information that is in draft format;
- Information for which the original source of the information has not agreed to its publication;
- Information that hasn’t been cleared according to the process defined in the clearance SOPs;
- Information that the Representative does not want posted; and
- Other types of information that will be locally defined.
17.2.3 Importance of metadata
When posting data on the web portal, the following metadata should be included:
- The date of the data’s validity;
- The source organization(s) for the data; and
- Information on the method of data collection or other notes or comments.
17.2.4 Sector-specific portal clearance
Recommendations for posting sector-specific assessments will originate with sectoral groups, both at the branch office and field levels, based on group consensus gained by the Information Manager in the RIM WG.
Highlights are “bite-sized” newsflash-type pieces. In order to remain relevant, a highlight should not be confused with “news”. Highlights uploaded on the web portal are limited to 160 characters, without exception.
Highlights may be suggested directly by sectoral working groups. The chairperson of the sectoral working group may e-mail text for a highlight to the Information Manager, to be cleared according to the process defined in the clearance SOPs.
17.2.6 News clearance
The senior public information officer or the Information Manager may suggest news items to be considered by the Representative for publication. As delegated by the Representative, news items on the UNHCR public website may be directly uploaded to the website by the Information Manager upon request by the senior public information officer. For news items from non-UNHCR websites, the senior public information officer must first clear the request with the Representative before the Information Manager uploads the news item to the website.
17.2.7 Interactive map
An interactive map displayed on the emergency web portal is designed to show population figures by country, region and settlement. In addition, infrastructure such as schools, border-crossing points, warehouses, etc. can be added and linked to specific partners. Linking infrastructure by partner is optional, but if applied it is important to ensure that points are correctly attributed to all partners associated with a particular piece or type of infrastructure. The Information Manager can decide which points he or she wants to make visible and to display on the map, using a checkbox within the admin interface.
Documents can be tagged with unlimited options (sector, partners, document type and category, language, location) for ease of finding information in the document repository. As such, it is recommended that as many tags as possible are added.
17.2.9 Who’s Doing What, Where (3W)
The 3W information is created and maintained by the Information Manager. This information needs to be manually updated in the portal, based on the reports from a 3W information system. On the web portal, each partner will have a page that can be updated with logo and organization information. The Information Manager can use the RIM WG as a forum in which to provide up-to-date information for their partner pages.
17.2.10 Assessment Registry
The Assessment Registry information is created and maintained by the Information Manager. This information needs to be manually updated in the portal, based on the assessment reports provided by partners, governments or UNHCR. Core metadata or information describing the assessment needs to be added per assessment. If the assessment document is available for circulation this can be added to the registry.
17.3.11 Reporting web portal bugs
When reporting a bug, be sure to be as detailed as possible, clearly indicating the circumstances of the bug and the problem’s occurrence. Describe what happened, step by step, so the development team can reproduce the bug, including information on the following:
- What is the result of the above steps? (e.g. “I edited the title of a news article and it did not change or save.”)
- What is the expected result? (e.g. “The new title I added to this news article should have been saved.”)
At all times, be detailed. For instance, with the above example of a news article, clearly indicate the steps taken, which news article was being edited, and what should be the new title of the file to be saved. Providing screenshots will also help the development team to identify the problem. In addition, please indicate which browser you are using and its version number.
Bugs can be reported either using the generic email address firstname.lastname@example.org or using the online feedback form that can be found in the administration section.
17.4.12 Portal features
Sectoral working group pages: Offer the ability to display information by ‘Working Groups’, which allows information to be grouped by a combination of sectors, themes and geographic areas. Sectors may centralise their working documents, contact information, events calendar, highlights or even pictures on this feature of the webportal.
Key Response Figures: highlight specific figures relevant in an operation. The numbers help tell the story of the response in a succinct, easily comprehensible way.
Raw data export: raw data is available for download from the different location levels (regional, country, etc…) and from selected modules like the timelines, ‘Who’s doing what where?’ or the funding chart.
Funding module: visualizes the financial requirements of the response, including the gap, disaggregated by country.
Image gallery: upload photos to settlement country or regional, pages, as well as working group pages.
Links: offers direct links to related operational websites and partner information surrounding a refugee emergency.
RSS Feeds: features news stories related to the refugee emergency.
Storyline page (optional): the Storyline module is administered by UNHCR and works to illustrate the refugee stories behind an emergency both from the perspective of UNHCR, our partners and the refugees themselves. The Storyline module may also feature news stories, videos and photos highlighting the human-side of a refugee emergency. Note that the Portal’s target is to facilitate operations and is not a public relations site. Before adding this page to your site you should clear it with PI/PR focal points locally and have a clear strategy to keep it updated with content that should not be on UNHCR.org or related sites. Please see the Syria Storyline, available here: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/syria.php as an example.
Needs Assessment Registry:
An example of the assessment registry module available on the UNHCR web portal, may be found at: