AM07 START Conference Manager    

Revising Place-Code Schemes for Humanitarian Relief

Randall B. Kemp

(Submission #29)


When humanitarian actors respond to an emergency such as a natural disaster, they require information about the context and situation of specific locations. Much of this information has spatial attributes, such as location coordinates or place name.

Clear communication of an event using place names can prove to be challenging, however, and may lead to confusion and lack of understanding among humanitarian actors. Variables such as multiple languages, different spellings within the same language for the same city, and political factions using different names increase confusion and lack of understanding.

A place code (p-code) system is one possible way forward to reduce ambiguity and increase clear communication. A p-code system utilizes a combination of letters and numbers to identify a location rather than a traditional place name system, a technique of traditional gazetteers.

I will perform an analysis and evaluation of current p-code and related schemes, and conduct semi-structured interviews with practitioners, users, and beneficiaries of p-code schemes for spatial data organization.

If warranted, I propose a participatory research protocol investing weeks on-site at a Humanitarian Information Center, working alongside practitioners dealing on a day-to-day basis with spatial data in humanitarian crises.

I will also address the more theoretical aspects of the p-code issues by covering the political ramifications of coding/naming.

An impact of this research will be a thoughtful look at p-codes and the possibility of a universal scheme. Increased spatial data sharing and reduction in duplicated data gathering are two additional implications of this research.


[Paper (PDF)]  

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