United Nations and GatherIQ Launch Humanitarian Crowdsourcing Campaign


United Nations and GatherIQ Launch Humanitarian Crowdsourcing Campaign

By Michael Contreras

The United Nations Migration Agency is leveraging big data and crowdsourcing tactics to help solve the global humanitarian crises. In particular, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is teaming up with big data analytics company SAS and its crowdsourcing community called GatherIQ™ to help solve two complex humanitarian problems: rebuilding Nepal, a country recently decimated by earthquakes, and improving global migration patterns.

In the past two years, Nepal has suffered from two debilitating earthquakes. These events not only took the lives of roughly 9,000 people, but they have also crippled the country’s infrastructure and economy. An estimated 824,000 homes were destroyed due to these two earthquakes alone. Despite the billions of dollars that have poured into the country to revitalize the country and provide homes to the thousands who have been displaced, roughly only 5% of homes have been rebuilt, according to Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority. However, the IOM and SAS are working together to more efficiently provide shelter to those who lost their homes during these quakes.

By creating GatherIQ™, an open source data platform, individuals who download this mobile application have access to the myriad of data collected and provided by SAS. By crowdsourcing this data, the IOM, in tandem with SAS, is calling upon the public to provide interpretations on demographic makeups, camp conditions, and resettlement patterns. By offering these insights that the IOM simply does not have the man hours to develop, the organization will have a better sense of how to allocate its resources by accommodating those most in need.

In addition to helping rebuild Nepal, the IOM will further utilize the GatherIQ™ platform to better understand the dangers of many popular migration routes. Thousands of migrants have died or gone missing while en route to seeking better opportunities and the IOM wants to tap into big data to carve out safer paths. By incorporating this technology into the organization’s Missing Migrant Project, the IOM is crowdsourcing data for individuals to sift through and discover key insights and trends regarding the hazards along these migration journeys. Since the IOM does not have the resources to extensively comb through so much data, it is relying on the crowd to shed light on where, when, and how many migrants perish and/or disappear.

The GatherIQ™ is not only a valuable tool as an open source data technology, but its mobile-friendliness is inherently designed to spread awareness about these humanitarian crises. By offering these repositories of data in a mobile app that can be accessed anywhere, the IOM hopes its users will share their findings to their social communities in networks. The app links to many social media platforms, allowing users to easily share their insights. If you want to participate in this crowdsourced humanitarian effort, download the app and join the community!