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Imagery to the Crowd
About Us

Welcome to the HIU 

Humanitarian Information Unit

The mission of the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is to serve as a U.S. Government interagency center to identify, collect, analyze, and disseminate all-source information critical to U.S. Government decision-makers and partners in preparation for and response to humanitarian emergencies worldwide, and to promote innovative technologies and best practices for humanitarian information management. For more information about the HIU, contact information, directions and careers consult the About Us.

MapGive and Imagery to the Crowd
MapGive is a State Department initiative designed to increase the number of online mapping volunteers. This educational and outreach campaign teaches potential volunteers about why open data and humanitarian mapping are important, provides detailed instructions on how to map in OpenStreetMap, and connects them with mapping tasks that will support the provision of humanitarian assistance. Watch the "Why Map" video on the MapGive site here.

MapGive builds upon the Imagery to the Crowd (IttC) initiative in which we share commercial high resolution satellite imagery with the volunteer mapping community to produce baseline geographic data in OpenStreetMap. In November 2013, IttC was awarded a NextGov Bold Award for innovation in federal information technology.

Ebola GeoNode
The Humanitarian Information Unit is partnering with the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and others to support the Ebola GeoNode.  The Ebola GeoNode is a partnership platform for sharing open geospatial data to support the Ebola response.  The Ebola GeoNode is accessible at

Commercial Satellite Imagery Requests
The U.S. State Department can share U.S. government (USG) purchased commercial satellite imagery with approved recipients under certain conditions and Departmental clearance on an individual case-by-case basis.   The Department’s ability to facilitate commercial imagery requests is subject to Departmental determination that it is in the interest of the USG to share the requested imagery, as well as staffing and resource constraints.

For more information, review the Commercial Satellite Imagery Request document, available in Adobe .pdf, Microsoft Word .docx, and text .txt formats.

In Focus: Syria
Since April 2012 the HIU has published a map series entitled Numbers and Locations of Refugees & IDPs. The complete list of these and other Syria map products can be found on our Middle East Products page.

In Focus: HIU Data Download Page
We publish some of the geographic datasets used to produce these analytic maps. All datasets are available on the HIU Data Download Page. We have attempted to make all data available in commonly used formats, both proprietary and open when possible.

Geographic dataset: Large Scale International Boundary Polygons
We combined the linework from the Large Scale International Boundaries (LSIB) dataset with the World Vector Shorelines dataset to produce a GIS-ready polygon dataset that we believe is the most detailed set of international boundaries available. Additionally, we created a second set of polygons that have been cartographically generalized, making them more useful for global scale mapping projects.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Border Crossings, released 20 October 2014.

Geographic dataset: Syria: IDP Locations, released 20 October 2014.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Refugee Camp Locations, released 20 October 2014.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Cultural Sites, released 22 May 2013.

Image Catalog: Syria Regional Crisis: Refugee Camp Image Catalog, released 28 June 2013.

 Featured Products


Syria Conflict Without Borders: 2014 in Review

“Syria Conflict Without Borders: 2014 in Review” is intended as a reference product and provides a summary visualization of key events, locations, and final humanitarian data for the Syrian regional crisis during 2014. Page 1 is a map of the conflict situation for Syria, Iraq, and other neighboring countries; Page 2 visualizes the humanitarian situation for the region as a whole; and Page 3 provides data and charts describing the displaced populations in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Region: Middle East

Published Date: 2/2/2015

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Disease Without Borders: Ebola in West Africa

The map illustrates the extent and severity of the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and highlights the number of cases and fatalities in all countries reporting Ebola cases. Ebola Treatment Units (both existing and under construction) are shown, and total population figures are for Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, and Nigeria are also included.

Region: Africa

Published Date: 12/12/2014

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Population Displacement in Iraq

This map identifies the locations and types of IDP sites and refugee sites in Iraq, as well as the estimated number of currently displaced persons inside of Iraq identified by governorate. The number of IDPs by governorate is current as of November 25, 2014; the number and location of refugee sites is current as of November 26, 2014; and the number and location of IDP sites is current as of December 6, 2014.

Region: Middle East

Published Date: 12/9/2014

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Kenya: Estimated HIV Prevalence and Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) HIV-Positivity, 2014

In Kenya, HIV positivity from PMTCT sites is highly correlated with estimates that are modeled using data from population-based survey and antenatal care-based HIV surveillance. These maps compare the two sources of HIV data to suggest how program planners might use geographic data to inform where HIV/AIDS programs should focus.

Region: PEPFAR Products

Published Date: 10/29/2014

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Malawi: Health Facility Distance to HIV Viral Load (VL)/Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) Laboratories, 2013

Accurately diagnosing HIV in infants and children is a major challenge. Malawi has eight laboratories capable of measuring HIV viral load as part of early infant diagnosis. This map displays those sites as well as health facilities that send high volumes of samples to the eight sites for viral load testing.

Region: PEPFAR Products

Published Date: 10/17/2014

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