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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.

Secondary Cities
Mapping Secondary Cities for Resiliency, Human Security, and Emergency Preparedness is the flagship, field-based initiative of the Office of the Geographer.

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) licensed 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 11 June 2015.

Geographic dataset: Syria: IDP Sites, released Late June 2015.

Geographic dataset: Syria: Refugee Sites, released 11 June 2015.

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

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

 Featured Products


Ukraine: Winter Approaches

Internally displaced persons and residents of conflict-affected areas in Ukraine face worsening humanitarian conditions as winter weather arrives, due to shortfalls in international humanitarian aid funding and lack of access to non-government controlled areas.

Region: Global & Transnational Products

Published Date: 11/19/2015

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World Food Day 2015: Small Farms Feed the Developing World

This map depicts the current porportion of small farms throughout the world, as well as income level by country.

Region: Global & Transnational Products

Published Date: 10/15/2015

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Syria: Conflict Without Borders – Numbers and Locations of Refugees and IDPs

Syrians fleeing conflict and violence are being internally and externally displaced. This map identifies IDP sites in Syria, official refugee camp locations in Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as areas in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq where sizable concentrations of Syrians are living in urban areas. The map also identifies official Iraqi IDP camps that are open and under construction. It shows numbers of externally displaced Syrians reported in the four neighboring countries, as well as in Egypt and North Africa. Charts illustrate numbers of Syrians who are registered or awaiting registration for humanitarian assistance in neighboring countries and living in camps or outside camps. Text box describes the upsurge of Syrians seeking asylum in European countries. The situation is changing rapidly, and the data is updated as of August 27, 2015.

Region: Middle East

Published Date: 8/27/2015

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The Arctic Region

Countries in the Arctic Region are highlighted in this map. The minimum extent of sea ice in 2012 is identified as well as major water and undersea features.

Region: Global & Transnational Products

Published Date: 8/21/2015

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World Humanitarian Day 2015: Limited Aid Access/Security Due to Conflict

This map, prepared for World Humanitarian Day 2015, shows the generalized subnational areas around the world of limited humanitarian access and security due to conflict in 2014 – 2015, as well as a bar chart showing the trend of increased attacks on humanitarian aid workers since 2000.

Region: Global & Transnational Products

Published Date: 8/18/2015

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