Humanitarian IDHumanitarian ID

Frequently Asked Questions

Humanitarian ID is a new approach to contact management in humanitarian situations. We know that new ideas raise questions so we have answered many of the common ones below. If you have a question not answered below, do not hesitate to send us a quick email:

Questions about contacts

Can I invite people to join?

Yes, of course. Obviously we ask that they are involved in humanitarian response or would be during a humanitarian crises. Simply send them an message with a link to our website – – and encourage them to register and check in.

Can anyone find my information?

Your global profile is publicly discoverable, but you control what information you share.  The availability of your crisis-specific details depends on the given situation. Some emergencies will have a public contact list. Others will be “secured” where only verified users can access the contact lists.  We take security seriously and will err on the cautious side. Also see: What is verification and how do I get verified?

What is the difference between a Global and Local profile?

Each time you check into a crisis, you will need to create a local profile that is specific to that crisis. To help make this process easier, we provide you with the opportunity to create a “Global Profile”  which serves as a template when creating a  local profile. This feature  makes it faster for you to populate your local profile when you have to quickly check into a crisis.

Can I check into multiple emergencies?

Yes, H.ID has been designed to allow you to do just that. We recognize that people can respond to multiple emergencies at one time. However, we encourage you to only check into crisis that you are actively responding to. The Humanitarian ID contact lists are currently aimed at supporting operational coordination in-crisis.

Is there a way to create my own contact lists?

We recognize that you will want to create your own contact lists and not only filter a country list by for example an organization or location. ‘My Contact Lists’ let you create any list you want from contacts in Humanitarian ID. Create a list, give it whatever name you want, and start adding contacts. You can then share the list (URL) enabling others to Follow the list (which adds it to their dashboard for easy future access) or save or print it as a PDF.

What is verification and how do I get verified?

Given that many humanitarian crisis unfortunately involve serious security concerns for responders, we knew that ensuring only trusted individuals could find your information in those situations. Therefore, in Humanitarian ID a given crisis can be “locked” thereby only allowing verfied users to find anyone inside the respective contact list.

Verification happens through a distributed model including three groups: UN-OCHA global information management officers, emergency-level UN-OCHA information management officers, and humanitarian cluster information management and cluster officers.  Members of these groups can mark you as verified on H.ID thus giving you access to see contacts within “locked” crisis. Determining if a person is verified can happen through multiple approaches: personal acquaintance, work acquaintance, organization confirmation, etc.

What measures has HID put in place for insecure environments?

You can find five security-related questions and their answers in this downloadable flyer.

My organization is missing. How can it be added?

Humanitarian ID works closely with the project including leveraging their list of organizations. In order to get a new organization added, submit a simple form on their website. Additions will be available within 24-48 hours.

Can the system check me out automatically?

We will send you unobtrusive notifications of when we think that you may have left the emergency. You can also add your departure date to your local profile. This way you will receive a notification reminding you to check out.

We have conducted an early investigation of the use of automatic geolocation, but found that up to 30% of UN-OCHA offices appear in the wrong geographic location given their use of satellite connectivity for Internet. Therefore, we want to make sure we get our approach right and do not make your ever feel that we are pestering you.

How are my contact details on Humanitarian ID if I did not register?

Since Humanitarian ID is used to manage contact lists, managers and editors are able to manually add unregistered users to a specific contact list. This action sends an email (if provided) to you suggesting you register for Humanitarian ID and thereby manage your own contact details on lists.

Can I change my login email address?

At the moment, you are not able to change your login detail. However, we know that this ability is a requirement and we will work to add that ability. By joining our mailing list, you can receive regular project updates including when we introduce this feature

How do I remove my information from Humanitarian ID?

There are different scenarios which we expect that you may want to remove information from Humanitarian ID.

  1. You want to be removed from a contact list and  have a registered Humanitarian ID account.  In this scenario, log into Humanitarian ID and ‘Check out’ of the respective contact list. This action removes your details from that contact list.
  2. You were added to a contact list, but do not have a Humanitarian ID account. In this scenario, you were added to the contact list by a trusted administrator as they believed that it was imperative you be part of the list.  The best approach here is to accept the invitation that you received by email, claim your general Humanitarian ID account, setup your Global profile and then modify your details on the respective contact list (or check-out to remove yourself).  By claiming your account, you will forever be able to control your details on humanitarian contact lists.
  3. You have a registered Humanitarian ID account that you would like completely removed from the system.  In that case, we ask that you submit a simple form to notify us.  We will take action and confirm when the removal is complete. Form:

Will this mean even more email?

During a crisis, we know that you already receive what feels like too many emails. Although you will continue to receive emails, we expect that when people use Humanitarian ID, they will be able to find the right people to contact thereby reducing the times you receive unnecessary emails.

We also intend to find a way to allow you to subscribe and unsubscribe from crises-related email groups.

Do I still use Virtual OSOCC?

The Virtual OSOCC is intended to help early responders to collaborate and share information. Teams can specify if they plan or actually deploy. It is not intended to manage contact lists or give you control over your details in the contact list. Therefore, if you are responding to a humanitarian crisis, we encourage you to check-in on Humanitarian ID and make use of the Virtual OSOCC to share and find relevant response information (e.g. UNDAC activities, links to key documents, etc.)

Phone numbers are mixed up in the CSV export after saving in Excel

We have found that Microsoft Excel changes the format of cells automatically when a long number is found (upon opening the CSV contacts export). The data remains valid until you save the file back into CSV. When re-opening the file,  you will notice that Microsoft has replaced the last 5 digits of the phone number with 0s.

Our recommendation is to open original CSV file in Excel and immediately save the file in .xls format.  No data is lost and you can continue editing as you would normally.

Of course, you could always switch to something like Libre Office which does not face these problems.

I have trouble adding my mobile phone number to my profile. Why?

We are using Google’s common Java, C++ and JavaScript library for parsing, formatting, storing and validating international phone numbers.

In many countries with a high increase of mobile phone users, new prefixes are being introduced by mobile phone operators. Whenever this happens, the above mentioned library needs to be updated. Unfortunately, this does not happen automatically.

If you are having trouble adding your phone number, please contact us immediately at so that we can look into it.

How do I add a picture to my profile?

There are three ways to add a profile picture:

  1. Use the image type ‘Google+’. The Social Media ID should start with ‘+’, followed by the name that appears in your Google+ profile (example:[use_this_name]/posts) .
  2. Use the image type ‘Facebook’. You can link it by using the name that appear at the end of your Face book URL (e.g.[use_this_name]) . If your Facebook profile is not set to ‘public’, linking it on Humanitarian ID will not work. In this case, see option 3.
  3. Use the image type ‘URL’. You can link to a photo you’ve already uploaded to the internet. The URL must end in .JPG, .PNG, or .GIF. If you want to use your Facebook profile, you can do the following:
  • On Facebook navigate to the picture you want to use.
  • Onto the picture, right-click (or control-click on a Mac), and select “copy image URL” from the menu. Depending on your browser, this text may be slightly different.
  • On Humanitarian ID, navigate to your global profile.
  • For the image field, set the form field to “URL”.
  • Paste the copied value from Facebook into the field Image URL.

Questions about the system (more technical)

Who owns and runs Humanitarian ID?

The Humanitarian ID solution has been created and is maintained by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA freely provides the solution to the humanitarian community.

Who manages Humanitarian ID everwhere?

The system currently has three levels of management:

  1. Global administration which is managed by UN-OCHA in Geneva, Switzerland.
  2. Country-level administration which is managed by UN-OCHA in the respective country. If UN-OCHA is not present, trusted partners can take on this roll.
  3. Country-level editors are key, trusted members within humanitarian clusters/sectors who have the ability to edit user profile and check-out responders who have left (but not checked-out themselves)

We also provide an Organization-level management role where focal points can modify any checked-in responders related to their respective organization.

Is there an app in the Apple App store or Google Play store?

We are currently focusing on creating the light-weight, mobile responsive web version. Given that there are many features and changes to make, this approach gives us a lot of flexibility including the ability to release multiple versions within a week. Once we are comfortable that the solution will not change on a high-frequency basis, we will build out native applications for a variety of mobile operating systems.

What will you do with my data?

We promise that we will:

  1. take all precautions and actions possible to ensure that your data forever remains safe and secure. In more dangerous crises, we will apply additional security and only allow users who are verified by an administrator to access contact information;
  2. never share your data with people who are not checked into your crisis. When authorized, all profile information (including name, group, phone number, email address, photo, and any location or additional information that you provide) is visible to other people who are checked into the same crisis;
  3. never share your password;
  4. never publish any data that you do not explicitly provide;
  5. never sell your data;
  6. encrypt all connections through the use of SSL. This security will apply to User-to-service, user-to-client application, client application-to-service, and service-to-service connections;
  7. require your authorization to third-party websites to access H.ID on your behalf to enable authentication on their website;

Is my information secure?

More technical security measures we have taken:

  • User authentication takes place via OpenID Connect, which provides a secure way for an authentication service to confirm a successful user sign in action to client applications.
  • Client applications (e.g. sign all requests to the Node.js web services (using an API key and secret issued by service).
  • User-to-service, user-to-client application, client application-to-service, and service-to-service connections are encrypted using SSL.
  • API keys and secrets can be expired and reissued.
  • Users are protected against CSRF attacks on the authentication service using the Node.js express-csurf middleware.
  • Users are protected against CSRF attacks on the site and Humanitarian ID app using Drupal’s form system and AngularJS’s XSRF-TOKEN approach.

This information is also downloadable in pdf.

Why not just use Google, Facebook or Twitter for central authentication?

We saw two major problems with using the major (privately-owned) authentication services:

1) they are privately owned and we had no control over the data you would provide them, and

2) not everyone uses one of these given platforms.  We wanted to provide a completely independent, non-commercial solution that has you at the heart – not a private company.

Plus, we are concerned about how your data is used.

Can I sign into other sites with my Humanitarian ID?

The Humanitarian ID authentication mechanism is already the single authentication mechanism for, the IASC website, ReliefWeb, JIPS/DART, ACAPS, FactR, HXL and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.  We will be adding other websites in 2017. Join our mailing list to be notified as websites are added.

How do I integrate Humanitarian ID into my website?

Send us an email and we will be in touch. . Equally check out the documentation we provided so far for the H.ID authentication and the API key.

Can I build a feature for Humanitarian ID?

Yes! Humanitarian ID has been “open” from the very beginning. If you would like to contribute a feature (or extend) the solution, feel free to get in touch at We are planning to soon move everything to GitHub and start to outline ideas that the community can work on.