Last week I learned about HXL, a “data markup” standard to help humanitarian orgs more easily share and combine datasets. Datasets from different producers or agencies may actually contain the same type of data — admin boundary codes, population counts, geolocations — but with nonstandard column headings. Merging and combining datasets like this means breaking out the metadata documents (if they exist), renaming columns, and ETLing the data into a usable form. The HXL standard means an agency can insert an extra row with a hashtag-like identifier for what’s in that column. So things like:
- #adm1 +code
- #loc +name
Each of these has a consistent definition, so authorities providing data can make sure their stuff aligns with a preexisting standard for interoperability. Agencies like the IOM, USAID, and Red Cross are already supporting it. I’m interested to see what we can do here with Fulcrum Community.