Data Readiness Toolkit


An overview of data readiness

In the Red Cross Red and Crescent Movement context, data readiness is the ability of National Societies to use quality and timely information in humanitarian operations and programs. This toolkit provides some guidance on how National Societies can improve data readiness for humanitarian operations and programs, structured around the Data Readiness Theory of Change.

You will also find examples of creative ways that National Societies have applied this guidance and learn how it impacted their organizational data readiness.

Do you want to share your National Society’s experience with data readiness? Email!

Intro video

Why does data readiness matter?

The IFRC and National Societies are thinking critically about how to become more data ready. Improving staff and volunteers’ skills with and understanding of data will equip National Societies to respond to, recover from, and prepare for disasters more effectively.

Click the links below to learn more about how data readiness has been applied in National Societies and projects:

How to get there

There are many paths to becoming a data ready organization. This toolkit outlines an easy-to-follow roadmap to data readiness. Whether you are learning about data readiness for the first time, developing a strategy for your team, or putting together a project proposal, follow the steps below and get started!

Data readiness one-pager

Need a short one-pager on the roadmap to data readiness? Print this.

Learn the basics

What should be considered when we talk about data readiness?

Data readiness is comprised of three main components: 1) data literacy, 2) data preparedness, and data-driven decision making. Keep reading to learn more about each of these components.

Data literacy

Data Literacy is the basic skills, knowledge, attitudes, and social structures required for different populations to use data.

To understand the status of your National Society's data literary, start by asking these questions:

  1. Does my National Society recognize the value and importance of data in their work and actively promote data skills and use?
  2. Does my National Society have the skills and capacity to collect, clean, store, and interpret data?
  3. Is my National Society part of a collaborative network with local, national, and international entities to share and access data? In other words, is my National Society part of a larger data eco-system?

Data preparedness

Data Preparedness is the ability to responsibly and effectively use and manage data-related tools, methods, and strategies.

To understand the status of your National Society’s data preparedness, start by asking these questions:

  1. Does your National Society have policies, procedures, and standards for the effective use of structured or unstructured information assets?
  2. Does your National Society have a system of collecting and storing secondary data (e.g. basemaps and demographic data) where it can be easily accessed when needed?
  3. Is the National Society able to collect primary data using the appropriate tools, survey design, and methods?
  4. Can the National Society ensure high data quality and format the data effectively for correct interpretation and analysis?
  5. Is the National Society able to store and archive data as needed for the organization and in accordance to data governance standards?
  6. Does your National Society have a system for active exchange of information, including: internally, between organizations, and in the public domain?

Data-driven decision making

Data-driven decision making is the ability to use data for decisions, having reliably integrated analytic thinking into both design and implementation.

To understand the status of your National Society’s data-driven decision making, start by asking these questions:

  1. Does your National Society have the capacity to collect additional information needed for an operation (e.g. rapid assessments) to complement existing secondary data?
  2. Can your National Society manage the process of systematically applying statistical and/or logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data?
  3. Does your National Society have and use clear, well-understood reporting tools for response operations (e.g. a SitRep)?
  4. Does your National Society make response operations decisions that are backed up by hard data rather than making decisions that are intuitive or based on observation alone, including when data is incomplete?
  5. Is your National Society able to make generalizations based on evaluation experiences with projects, programs, or policies that abstract from the specific circumstances to broader situations?

Theory of change

All the components and related competencies are part of a broader Theory of Change (ToC) on data readiness for operations and programs. If you're interested, go ahead and review the ToC. You can use it as a reference for learning more about data readiness, strategy development, project proposals, or other data needs.

Assess your priorities


The Data Readiness Framework describes the competencies related to data literacy, data preparedness, and data-driven decision making. It uses a four-tiered system to help National Societies understand where their current data readiness competencies, gaps, and priorities are. Foundational level, or Tier 0, is the beginner level, or the entry point to a given competency. Tier 3 is the most advanced level, or the point in which a National Society is fully data ready and can potentially even train other National Societies on that competency. View the Data Readiness Framework and associated guide to learn more about these competencies.


The assessment phase aims to help you identify your data readiness goals. The Data Readiness Framework guides you through the data readiness competencies in humanitarian response and programs alongside a maturity matrix. Using this resource, you can identify where your team falls in terms of data readiness and learn what it means to increase your capacity in those domains.

However, a formal assessment process is not the only way for a National Society to assess their current data readiness competencies and gaps. While this may be an appropriate format for some National Societies, others may find it burdensome. Formal assessments require time and buy-in from individuals and teams across an organization, which can be lengthy and challenging to facilitate on top of existing work. A National Society may also participate in other regular assessments common across the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, causing “assessment fatigue”, which could lower their motivation for conducting a formal assessment on data readiness.


There is no “right” way to identify your teams’ priorities. There are many considerations, including broader strategic initiatives, project needs, time limitations, and funding opportunities. Here are some suggestions of ways to review the Data Readiness Framework with your team and discuss your current strengths and gaps.

Plan your learning experience

Set your goals

Now that you’ve considered your priorities from both a programmatic and diagnostic perspective, the next phase is to plan your learning experience. To do so, consider your audience, prioritized competencies, and minimum standards you want to achieve.

Review the learning objectives

Under each competency are several sub-competencies and indicators. These may can be considered the “learning objectives” as you create your road map. To move up in your competency rating, all sub-competencies should be considered.

Write your curriculum

The next step is to consider how your team will learn and practice the competencies. You will need to consider a number of factors (time, number of people, synchronous vs. asynchronous learning, remote vs. in-class sessions, etc.) to plan how your team will learn. In particular, consider, which resources, teaching tools, activities, and assessments you will need.

Find the resources you need

There are plenty of existing resources across all data readiness competencies. As a starting point, the toolkit has identified resources from the IFRC, National Societies, and external organizations to help you get started. Take a look on the resources tab of the framework and a complementary toolkit, the Data Playbook.

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