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Human Security Taxomony v2.4







The Human Security Taxonomy is a list designed for data collection in preparation for a disaster. The focus is infrastructure awareness in support of people serviced by that infrastructure, with special attention to intersecting nodes with extended influence. The goal is locally accessible knowledge about risks and strategies related to hazards in many forms: natural, industrial, political, and social. 


Background: The Human Security Taxonomy has been designed to meet requirements discovered by staff from IHS while responding to more than a dozen natural and technical disasters over the past fifteen years. Those events have included Banda Aceh, Katrina, Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, China, and Hurricane Sandy, plus deploying to combat zones in three wars.


Based on our experience, IHS was asked by the US government in October of 2010 to design a data preparedness effort dedicated to community-based disaster risk reduction. After several international meetings in December 2010, Mexico was chosen as the pilot site and sourcing research began in February 2011 with support from multiple agencies in Mexico, while simultaneously working on the development of a systems-based collection framework. That effort, active inside Mexico throughout 2012, was known as the GeoClaro Project. “GeoClaro” can be translated as “Transparent Land”.


Sourcing Shortfalls: We noted early in our assessments that, despite multiple inquiries in both the public and private sectors, we could not find an overarching national information analysis goal designed to ensure the safety and security of Mexican citizens in the event of a disaster. While there were many data sources discovered throughout Mexico, most seemed to be collecting against a mandate for a specific organization.


Needs Discovery: After reviewing many advisory sources (the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, UN-OCHA Disaster Response 2.0, CrisisMappers ICCM 2010, 2011, and 2012, UN Global Assessment Report 2009 and 2011, the World Bank’s Development Indicators for 2011-12, the 2009 Humanitarian Action Summit Policy Compendium, and others) it became clear that a taxonomy defining information requirements for nation-based human security was not readily available and seemed to be needed for disaster preparedness, response and recovery.


Taxonomy Design Research: To begin the taxonomy design we researched past global Lessons Learned archives and studied existing humanitarian data models from CiMAG, UN-ISDR, CrisisMappers, UN-OCHA and others. We also evaluated other GIS data structures and internal reports on disaster evaluations. With a draft taxonomy in hand during a readiness assessment in Mexico, we found that data elements were missing that international professionals considered critical, and that that the economic and social cost of that lack of data might be high.


First Release: The first draft was sent to expert colleagues across the civil-military boundaries of several nations and international agencies and went through six or so iterations before the current stable version. Now with 13 Base layers, 28 GIS layers, and more than 890 data elements, the Human Security Taxonomy v2.0 from IHS is considered a fundamental tool within the Worldwide Human Geography Data Working Group ( and is maintained there publicly for the professional response community. It’s a living document, freely available on a Creative Commons license and designed to change with the profession.


Methods for enhancement, refinement, and error-correction are built into the current version available at

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