Battling Ebola in Sierra Leone: Data Sharing to Improve Crisis Response

In 2014, the largest Ebola outbreak in history occurred in West Africa. Information on Ebola cases and response efforts was dispersed across a diversity of data collectors, and there was little ability to get relevant data into the hands of those who could leverage it. A number of data-driven initiatives sought to improve the quality of information available to humanitarians working to address the crisis.

The result of a collaboration with the Red Cross, World Bank, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), UNMEER and the US Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU), Ebola GeoNode is an open source geospatial platform that lets users build maps and conduct geospatial analysis on Ebola’s impacts in West Africa.


This case study, by Andrew Young and Stefaan Verhulst, examines three initiatives in particular – Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), the United Nation’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) and the Ebola GeoNode – and shows both the potential and challenges of open data projects in combating Ebola specifically, and more generally in addressing humanitarian crises.