Surge Information Management Support

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What is SIMS?

The Surge Information Management Support (SIMS) project is a network of trained specialists who develop, coordinate and implement information management systems for global Red Cross and Red Crescent disaster response operations.

SIMS specialists—who include staff and volunteers from Red Cross national societies and the IFRC—help operations leverage the power of mapping, data management and visualization tools to support decision making and enhance reporting.

When a disaster occurs, SIMS is activated through the IFRC Disaster Crisis Management Surge Desk to provide either remote or field-based support to operations, according to disaster scale, complexity and impact of the event. In addition to direct operational support, SIMS also serves as a network for information management coordination and capacity building, helping improve information management standards, tools, and expertise across response operations.

Internal Resources

SIMS one pager  gives a concise overview of SIMS activites, products and services.

Activation flow  describing the steps of SIMS support: activation, response and transition.

Tips and recommendations  for better information management.
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Disaster information cycle  explained in an infographic.

Menu of services  detailing different types of SIMS products and services.

Monitoring and learning process  documentating how SIMS reviews support activities and implements changes based on lessons learned.

Cash in Emergencies Toolkit  by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to make cash transfer based programming (CTP) tools, practical guidance and minimum standards easily accessible.

External Resources

SIMS makes a real effort to stay connected into the wider information management community both within and beyond the humanitarian sector. These networks are essential for building skills, accessing data and sharing experiences. You can find below a collection of the external groups that we engage with on a regular basis. Some of them are mainly used for simply downloading and using data, whereas others are actors with which we actively work and collaborate.

OpenStreetMap (OSM)  is an open-source equivalent of Google Maps which allows anyone to edit and extract data. SIMS uses and contributes to this data in the majority of responses.  

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT)  is a charitable organisation that works to enhance OpenStreetMap for locations of humanitarian interest.  

Missing Maps  is a collaboration between HOT and several humanitarian agencies including the American, British and Netherlands Red Cross which aims to map the most vulnerable populations around the world in preparation of future emergencies.  

HumanitarianResponse  is a central website for information management tools and services managed by UNOCHA. We have attended the IMWG and it is a key reference point for our work.  

Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX)  is an open platform for sharing data between humanitarian actors and is a primary source of external secondary data.  

The Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN)  is a consortium of volunteer and tech communities that can be engaged with by traditional humanitarian agencies to solve specified problems. SIMS coordinates with the DHN and has worked with its member groups.  

The NetHope Crisis Informatics Program  provides information management and data visualisation to improve coordination in a humanitarian emergencies and is in close contact with SIMS.  

Humanitarian ID  is an online app for simple and up-to-date contact lists that is both used and endorsed within SIMS. It hinges on the principle of staff checking in and out for each disaster.  

ReliefWeb  is a web service for all humanitarian news and updates and is used heavily in our compiling of secondary data. Our maps and products have also featured on the site in the past.  

Shelter Cluster  is the standing coordination mechanism for shelter in response and is co-chaired by IFRC and UNHCR. SIMS works in close contact with the cluster sharing data and expertise.  

ACAPS  is a non-profit set up to support the humanitarian community with needs assessments. SIMS also works in close contact with their teams exchanging both information and resources.  

The World Bank  has a wealth of data openly available on its online data portal. We regularly use this source in the development of our maps and other products.  

Field Assessment and Coordination Team Toolkit

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SIMS Activations

Information Management has been part of disaster response operations (deployed and remote) since 2011. An interactive map of all activations is available when viewing the website on a larger screen.

You can download a table for all activations below.

Summary of Activations

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