Ewan at DFS headquarter in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

What was your role in the data sector before you embraced the humanitarian sector?

Before making my way to the humanitarian sector, I worked in the US as an academic researcher and in the private tech sector. As a researcher, I studied how student retention could be optimized based on results of various surveys given to students. Later, I worked as a Data Scientist and Data Engineer for Teradata Aster and Stitch Fix which provided me experience in both established corporations and startup environments.

You landed in Kathmandu to lend a helping hand during the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. You started…


Creating a Humanitarian Data Ecosystem

Today, there is more data produced in a year than the rest of human history combined. The humanitarian sector, which once struggled with data scarcity, is now overwhelmed with the amount of data collected for a single project.

A massive amount of primary and secondary data plus media-based data sources generate information on a scale that organizations and analysts cannot handle independently. There are many advantages of making proper use of the massively available data — the analysts get access to real-time information and make better-informed decisions.

Secondary Data Review (SDR)

Read: What is secondary…


Mitigating data collection challenges in humanitarian contexts during COVID-19 pandemic through United Nations (UN) partnerships and other actors

The WHO Director General has characterized the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic since March 2020, creating harm to peoples and economies in all countries.

Access to quality structured information in humanitarian contexts will be elusive for the foreseeable future. Most humanitarian responses will be made on the basis of remote techniques, secondary data, social media, expert judgement or journalism. The least developed countries — which are most vulnerable to the pandemic — are the most impacted by this lack access to direct data, and organizing remote data collection was a necessity.

To address this challenge, Data Friendly Space is…


Six years ago, on April 25th 2015, at 11.56 am local time, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 Mw hit Nepal. The news spread like a ripple around the world. The shocked humanitarian community lept into action without losing a minute.

Nearly 9,000 people were killed, many thousands more were injured, and more than 600,000 structures in Kathmandu and nearby towns were damaged or destroyed. Millions had become homeless.

Ewan Oglethorpe, then a data science engineer in Silicon Valley, arrived in Kathmandu to lend a hand as the post-quake humanitarian crisis was unfolding. The United Nations compound had countless tents set…


Not too long ago, humanitarian organizations working in crisis zones could only access telephone or fax, limiting their ability to communicate and supply data to their headquarters.

Digital Humanitarian Space

In recent years, the public and private sectors have been embracing a complete digital transformation. Humanitarian organizations have invested heavily in information management to improve their response to a crisis. Predictive and situational analyses can be done much faster now, and Disaster Risk Reduction benefits from quick and easy access to data within an organization’s digital infrastructure.

Vulnerability & Sensitive Data

Humanitarian organizations have been increasingly using and storing large…

Data Friendly Space

Improved humanitarian response through better data

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store