Humanitarian Information Unit
The U.S. Department of State's Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is an inter-agency office providing U.S. Government officials and other aid organizations with geographic data and analysis to prepare for and respond to complex humanitarian emergencies worldwide. For more information about the HIU, contact information, directions and careers consult the About Us.
MapGive and Imagery to the Crowd
We have just launched MapGive, a new 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.
Commercial Satellite Imagery Requests
As originally documented on HumanRights.gov, 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 Requst 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 Number and Locations of Syrian Refugees. 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
In addition to maps, we are publishing the geographic datasets used to produce these products. 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 what 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 21 October 2013.
Geographic dataset: Syria: IDP Locations, released 23 September 2013.
Geographic dataset: Syria: Refugee Camp Locations, released 21 October 2013.
Geographic dataset: Syria: Cultural Sites, released 22 May 2013.
Image Catalog: Syria Regional Crisis: Refugee Camp Image Catalog, released 28 June 2013.