The Sitrep Project was an academic research initiative with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to improve information sharing in emergency response.
Situation reports, or “sitreps,” are a type of document used by non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, and other actors involved in international disaster response to share information about the situation on the ground. The public sitrep produced by OCHA plays an important role in bringing together information from disparate sources to offer a concise overview of the needs, response, and gaps in a given emergency.
I worked with Ph.D. students Elisa Oreglia and Megan Finn at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information on a project to explore the use of sitreps in humanitarian response. From April 2008 to May 2009, we collaborated with OCHA’s Information Management Branch to research the current practices and perceptions around sitreps and information sharing within the organization. We conducted over 90 interviews and group discussions with OCHA staff and other stakeholders in New York, Geneva, and Nairobi.
We delivered a report on our findings and recommendations in May 2008 and presented the results of our work at an all-day workshop at OCHA’s New York headquarters in early October 2008. My capstone project for my Master’s program, a paper based on this research, received the James R. Chen Award for innovative applications in the area of information management.