Information Management – Lessons Learned from Syria
The information management function for Action Against Hunger Syria was established in 2017. The purpose of this article is to share the key elements to consider while establishing an innovative and meaningful information management department, based on lessons learned in the past year.
Principles of information management: from data to information, knowledge and beyond
Information management in Syria has been built on the principle that “information is the foundation on which decision-making for a coordinated response is based”. In order to produce meaningful information we need to collect and analyse data, which is then contextualised.
Contextualising information is critical. It involves taking our data and examining if and how it is significantly connected to other known information (from other departments, experts or International NGOs). By framing our information with a wider lens, the information acquires a new utility value.
When we produce meaningful, contextualised information from data, we produce knowledge. However, knowledge is only useful if it can be used. By structuring the knowledge in a way that can be easily utilised by those leading the humanitarian response, we can influence the decision-making process. Thus, we should use our knowledge to define the questions that will answer the known unknowns, and more importantly, the unknown unknowns. This opens the door to humanitarian intelligence.
Finally, this information can only be capitalised upon if we store it in appropriate repositories. Easy to use libraries (such as the Library Search Tool) to efficiently find the relevant documents, and interactive dashboards (such as the Vulnerability Profile Tool) with visually summarised and extractable information sets, are good examples of information and knowledge management repositories.
Author: Mikel Belausteguigoitia