Coordinating words

It may sound scary at first - coordinating words. Did we get inspired by the novel 1984 or have we spent too much time with OCHA colleagues who want to coordinate everything? Possibly, but unlikely. Are Humanitarian ID and speaking the same language? And why is it that we are so keen to share the same words among different humanitarian tools?

Just like in ‘real life’ we want to have the same meaning for the same thing. Let’s go with an easy example first: When we want to bake an apple pie, we’ll need apples. So we may send our kids to the market and say: ‘Get some apples!’. We wouldn’t say ‘Go and buy the round red or green fruit.’. Instead we are very specific about what we want and luckily we do have a name for that exact fruit! Otherwise we might end up with a lime, pear, kiwi or melon pie… Well, the same applies when we are using fancy online tools, such as Humanitarian ID or Though, to make things even harder, it is also really important how we spell words. A computer will not get that a ‘Cluster Coordinator’ is a ‘Cluster Co-ordinator’ or simply a ‘CC’. And then it’ll get really messy.

Let us give you a concrete example: We are in the Philippines and the Philippine Red Cross together with the ICRC is working hard on the ground. As news spread they know what to do, we would try and reach them. So we are filtering the contacts in Humanitarian ID by the organization Philippine Red Cross and ICRC. If we’ve done a good job, there will only be one value to select when filtering for Philippine Red Cross. If we had done a bad job, you might find yourself with a multitude of different values to choose from, for example ‘Philippine Red Cross’, ‘Red Cross Philippines’ or ‘Phillippines Red Cross’. You see the challenge. But, rather than creating our own list, we decided to make our lives much easier and leverage the words (taxonomies) from who already manage several lists of standard word.

Not only does it ensure that our system is using standards and is more predictable in its use, it means that we can more easily combine with information from other platforms. In the chart below you will see all the types that we automatically pull into Humanitarian ID from . This way we avoid creating new names or misspelling existing words.


The Humanitarian ID team

P.S. Thanks to the IFRC website, we were able to import all the official names of the The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.