Domain Standards

Emergency Management Disaster Standards


Person Finder Interchange Format (PFIF)

PFIF is designed for the exchange of information about missing and found persons among web-based registries set up for a particular disaster. The information is provided by the general public, and is publically searchable. [PFIF] PFIF was created by Ka-Ping Yee in 2006, in response to the impact of hurricane Katrina along the US Gulf Coast, and the resulting proliferation of pop-up, incompatible web sites for missing-person reports. Through version 1.1, its repository was hosted by Salesforce, Inc. Version 1.2 addressed the Haitian earthquake of January, 2010, by including improvements to make the format more international. This was done in association with Google, which became the main data aggregator with its “Google Person Finder” (PF) repository. This version was also deployed during the Chile and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes. Version 1.3 was defined in early 2011, and deployed towards the end of reporting about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region of Japan. Traditionally considered a de facto standard, PFIF (now up to version 1.4) has been incorporated as a component of the new “Tracking Emergency Clients” specification, now under formal standardization consideration by OASIS.

Sahana's Krakatoa incorporated early PFIF code, with the first production fetch from Google PF during the Haiti earthquake. Krakatoa's successor, Vesuvius, and its US National Library of Medicine “People Locator” (PL) instance, continue to incorporate PFIF as it evolves, and participate in active exchange (e.g., during the Japanese tsunami). Currently, interchange of data between PL and PF supports PFIF 1.4 in both directions, but some elements of the Vesuvius user interface need to evolve during 2013 to reflect changes between PFIF 1.3 and 1.4.


Sahana Eden's module for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) was intended to support the identification of dead bodies by matching post-mortem (PM) data of dead bodies against ante-mortem (AM) data of missing persons.

Originally, Eden used INTERPOL's AM/PM forms as data standard for DVI data capture. However, later this was simplified/reduced to the recommendations of the Red Cross Disaster Management Handbook.

Not providing a public missing persons registry of its own, Sahana Eden supported the import of missing persons data from PFIF repositories (up to PFIF-1.2).

PFIF does though not provide any structure to capture AM data (neither INTERPOL nor Red Cross recommendations) - instead, the DVI module provided AM data forms for interview-based data capture by trained personnel. These forms could be added manually to the missing persons data after import (using the contact information from the PFIF data to identify relatives), and then be used in the DVI module for matching.

However, this effort has since proved fairly pointless since both legal and political aspects in this regard, as well as the expertise and resources needed for it go far beyond what Sahana can currently provide.

But more importantly, INTERPOL (together with the German Federal Police and the Danish PlassData) have begun to implement an international database for AM/PM data management (FastID) under the seventh framework programme, which provides both international coordination, stakeholder support, sufficient funding and the required expertise, so this seems far more appropriate for the matter than a distributed open source effort.

For these reasons, the DVI module is currently not actively being developed or maintained, nor has it ever seen any real-world deployment - and the current discussion is rather about abandoning the module completely, or to reduce it to the mere logistics of dead body management (probably including on-scene data capture). In either case, PFIF support would no longer be in scope of Sahana Eden.


Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) is an OASIS advocated and managed collection of data standards

Sahana modules that are EDXL compliant

Hospital Availability Exchange

Common Alerting Protocol

Tracking of Emergency Clients

  • For PFIF (part of proposed EDXL TEC standard): Vesuvius PFIF module, as well as UI mapping, admin tools, & Google Person Finder sychronization deamon.


An Incident Command System (ICS) is an organizational structure and vocabulary for event management and response that can be applied across jurisdictional boundaries.

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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has been supporting the definition of “Common Operational Data Sets” (e.g., in the Pacific and Asia). The effectiveness of this ambitious effort is as yet unclear.


OpenStreetMap Humanitarian Geo-tagging work with the Humanitarian Data Model

Humanitarian OpenStreetMaps Team (HOT) work on HDM this applies only to the Humanitarian OSM tags. It is just a subset of the whole HDM. Current initiatives - there are two active/funded HOT projects that are related to it directly, the HOT Export Tool and the development of a field campaigning app as part of the project in Turkey/Uganda. Next step would be the creation of a tagging model that is comprehensive and up-to-date, a middle way between key lifeline infrastructure and features that are relevant in humanitarian response for both responders and affected population. It looks as if most updates will occur in the field of intra- and transnational migration, mobile financial services and access to digital services (old model is from 2013). Then it will have to be integrated as preset into platforms such as Java OSM, and mobile data collection tools.




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