CODs in the First 48 Hours

Need to review


Sudden-onset emergencies are normally caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis.  In the event of a sudden-onset emergency, current guidance calls for CODs to be shared within 48 hours.[1]  This provides a brief period to check the CODs that cover the affected area and correct any errors.  If the CODs have been kept up-to-date through preparedness, these changes will be minimal.  If preparedness has not been done well, however, the CODs may require a lot of work.  This guidance will walk you through a simplified version of the COD cycle so that a ‘best available’ version of the CODs can be shared within the 48 hour window.


Priorities: Core CODs

 Data theme



Administrative Boundaries (COD-AB)

A correct gazetteer (names, P-codes and hierarchy of administrative boundaries) will allow actors to immediately begin managing data in a consistent way.  

The COD-AB should be able to be linked to the COD-PS via the P-codes.

Errors in the spatial data can be corrected later without affecting the underlying data.  

The priority is to provide useful coherent information quickly.

  • Maps

  • Spatial analysis (to get Humanitarian Profile)

  • Assessment process (location identification, survey design etc.)

  • Logistical operational decisions

  • Frameworks (3W, etc.) 

Population Statistics (COD-PS)

An Excel file with P-codes and feature names.

The COD-PS should be able to be linked to the COD-AB via the P-codes.

  • Analysis (to get Humanitarian Profile)

  • Identification of vulnerable groups (elderly, children, etc.)

 Humanitarian Profile

  • Number of affected in products (snapshot, etc.)

Other CODs: See lists of suggested datasets for Country Specific CODs


 Step details



Focus on Core CODs before COD-CS datasets.

Coordinate: One cluster's information resources may fit another cluster's information requirements.  For instance, the Nutrition cluster may have data  the Health cluster requires. Use meetings/Skype etc. to communicate data needs and availability.

Listen to stakeholders at coordination meetings - they may have unpredictable requirements or unanticipated resources.


Reach out to partners to see what is already in use or data sources from past disasters

Select the best COD source and commit to it.  


Verify and correct data 
Core CODs:  the P-code logic and completeness of COD-AB and COD-PS, then look at the spatial side of COD-AB



 Let FIS know about datasets so they can review Core CODs



 Share data on HDX (include metadata and identify any issues with data and the estimated time it will be corrected) 

Share information about the dataset available through existing networks:
 your IM network, OCHA - FIS,  HQ agency,  Emergency coordinator, HCT, Cluster coordinators, Head of Office,  checked-in responders on

Share data ASAP even if not in perfect condition, include metadata. If there is nothing on HDX then people will start using what they can find which can lead to significant mistakes.

Consider creating 'CODs to GO' to hand out to people leaving going into the deep field, 

Advocate immediately and firmly for the use of P-codes throughout the humanitarian response.  

Some responders may not know about CODs, share basic information about CODs, their purpose, value, and where to find them.




Case Studies

  • Haiti earthquake....

  • Nepal earthquake....

  • Ebola ...

It is hoped that this page will serve as a warning or inspiration that preparation before an emergency 

1.  At this writing, the most recent (2010) official guidance for sudden-onset emergencies is the IASC Guidelines - Common Operational Datasets (CODs) in - Disaster Preparedness and Response which specifies 48 hours.

More to come: INFORM is doing work on rapid analysis and will be able to provide more details about this.