Updated Jan 16, 2018

Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL)

Part of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

http://hxlstandard.org

The innovation has no owner

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Snapshot

Stage 4: Transition to Scale

Version 1.0 (final) of the HXL standard was released on 2016-03-18. HXL 1.1 is under development as of this writing (8 September 2017). For the latest information and updates, please visit http://hxlstandard.org.
Almost two dozen humanitarian organizations are actively publishing data sets using the HXL standard; another dozen organizations are periodically publishing or have published data in the past. Another twenty-three organizations are currently in discussion or planning to adopt HXL in the near future.
Several independent case studies have demonstrated the impact of HXL. For links to these studies, see "In the News", below.

Focus Areas:

Humanitarian Assistance, Digital Development, Human Centered Design and 2 MoreSEE MORE

Humanitarian Assistance, Digital Development, Human Centered Design, Data/Analytics and TechnologySEE LESS

Mission and Vision

Our intended result is to improve information sharing during a humanitarian crisis by:
  • reducing duplicate reporting burdens;
  • providing instant feedback to data providers;
  • semi-automating data preparation tasks;
  • cutting time from data collection to data delivery;
  • improving interoperability; and
  • using existing software, skills, and templates.
We also hope to add at least twenty more organizations publishing HXL data over the next year.

Innovation Description

"A simple standard for messy data" Inspired by social-media hashtags, the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) fits in with the way you work and helps you add value to the data you’re already creating, rather than trying to force you to do things differently. HXL is a different kind of data standard, designed to improve information sharing during a humanitarian crisis without adding extra reporting burdens.
How does your innovation work?
  1. Grab aspreadsheetof humanitarian data.
  2. Insert anew rowbetween the headers and the data.
  3. Add someHXLhashtags.
It's that simple. For more information, including our hashtag dictionary, check out the guides available online at http://hxlstandard.org.

Competitive Advantage

Data standards improve interoperability, reduce manual effort, and improve data quality. Unlike most data standards, HXL iscooperativerather thancompetitive. Acompetitivestandard typically considers the way you currently work to be a problem, and starts with a set of demands:
  • Switch to a different data format (and acquire and learn new software tools).
  • Change the information you share (and the way your organisation collects and uses that information).
  • Abandon what is valuable and unique about your organisation’s data (and conform to the common denominator).
For HXL, we reversed the process and started by asking how you’re working right now, then thought about how we can build acooperativestandard to enhance it:
  • You told us that most humanitarian organisations use spreadsheets for data sharing, so HXLworks with your existing spreadsheets.
  • You told us that every crisis and activity has different data requirements, so HXL offers aselection of hashtagsthat you can mix and match to suityourreporting needs.
  • You told us that sometimes your organisation collects types of information that no one else has, so HXL allows you to leave columns untagged, or to invent your own hashtags when you still want to share.
With HXL, there’sno new reporting channelandno new skills requirements. We know that you have more important things to do than reporting, so we’ve designed HXL to minimise the work and maximize the value of sharing information.

Planned Goals and Milestones

We intend to expand use of HXL to as many humanitarian organizations as possible by continuing to work with our strategic partners such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), Action Against Hunger (ACF), the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Danish Church Aid, and members of the HXL Working Group. In addition, the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is working to build a suite of tools and structures for HXL data automation.
Working with a wide range of partners, we intend to continue updating the HXL standard and hashtag library and promote adoption of HXL across the humanitarian community. We also intend to release the beta version of HXL 1.1 in Fall 2017.

Milestones

Sep 2017
Recognition ReceivedVERIFIED
Featured Innovator
Date Unknown
Created
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