19 January 2005

UN Humanitarian Chief Unveils Redesigned ReliefWeb Site

(Reissued as received.)

KOBE, Japan, 18 January (OCHA) -- ReliefWeb, the world’s leading information portal on humanitarian emergencies, today launches an improved site design that can help the aid community improve the speed and effectiveness of relief efforts such as in the tsunami disaster and other emergencies around the globe.  ReliefWeb’s new design makes it easier for decision-makers to access critically needed information on global emergencies and natural disasters on a 24/7 basis.

ReliefWeb is an indispensable tool for instant, worldwide communication and coordination in disaster response”, said Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs.  Today, Yvette Stevens, Deputy Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), launches the site at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe.  “The tsunami disaster has demonstrated yet again just how much we rely on ReliefWeb for powerful information management that can help us get aid to those who most need it, and thus save countless lives.”

ReliefWeb is used by humanitarian workers, journalists and decision-makers as a one-stop shop for information on humanitarian emergencies, which is updated around the clock by a team of 16 staff spread across the globe.  In the days following the tsunami disaster, for example, the ReliefWeb site, www.ReliefWeb.int, posted 1,600 documents from 142 non-governmental organizations, 50 governments, 31 UN and international organizations, and received an average of 3 million hits each day, thrice its normal usage.

ReliefWeb’s site redesign follows two years of extensive, customer-driven research, and includes new features, such as constantly updated maps that depict key information, and new filter and search tools that make it easier for users to pinpoint information by geographic location or sector.  The new site is designed to speed up relief response times by helping users get the specific information they need at a moment’s notice without wading through hundreds of documents. 

In addition to a crisp new graphic look, the site has also been restructured with new technology allowing relief workers, policy makers, senior decision makers and journalists to quickly download information to desktops and CDs and to swiftly navigate the rich database of information that backs up the site.

For more information, please contact: Helga Leifsdottir, ReliefWeb New York, tel: (1-917) 367-3582, e-mail: leifsdottir@un.org; Craig Duncan, ReliefWeb Geneva, tel: (41 22) 917-2232, e-mail: duncanc@un.org.  For more information on the ReliefWeb project, see About ReliefWeb.

Note to editors: ReliefWeb, a project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has served the needs of the international humanitarian relief community since it was launched in 1996.  Its aim is to strengthen the response capacity of the international humanitarian community through the timely provision of reliable information.

ReliefWeb fosters cooperation among members of the humanitarian community and strives for an integrated approach to information management to help move information along as quickly and easily as possible.

The redesign has been accomplished with the help of the following outside contractors:

Information Architecture:  Adaptive Path, San Francisco, United States, www.adaptivepath.com

Visual Design:  Mule Design, San Francisco, United States, www.muledesign.com

Programming:  Coris S.A., Geneva, Switzerland, www.coris.ch

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA New York,  tel: 917 367 5126, mobile: 917 892 1679; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA Geneva, tel: 41 22 917 2653, mobile: 41(0) 79 473 4570.

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