Helping our client generate and publish information in crisis

The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) is an initiative of a consortium of three NGOs (HelpAge International, Merlin and the Norwegian Refugee Council) and is dedicated to improving the assessment of needs in complex emergencies and crises. It was established in December 2009, and since that time they have been working with a number of humanitarian organizations to alleviate the impact of natural disasters and complex emergencies through the supply of effective humanitarian responses.

A mobile platform to support decision makers

Coordinated assessment is one of the biggest outstanding challenges to the humanitarian community. ACAPS intended to develop a Global Emergency Overview (GEO) system which would enable generating and publishing documents featuring information about disaster-stricken territories and, thus, help to highlight the needs arising in connection with particular disasters. Selleo’s task was to create a software solution which would allow consultants / officers to aggregate the information from a wide range of sources (e.g. Reliefweb, AlertNet, UN Situation Reports, IRIN, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, International Crisis Group, FEWS NET, The Humanitarian Early Warning Service) and display such information for convenient comparison of different humanitarian crises. The system was meant to support the decision makers in humanitarian organizations. ACAPS needed a software solution consisting of a web service as well as native mobile apps integrated with an existing Disaster Needs Analysis system. The GEO was to enable the users involved in the process to quickly browse through the different countries included in the overview as well as provide easy access to more in-depth sectoral analyses and baseline

ACAPS and Selleo decided to use an agile / iterative approach to the web and mobile app development. We started the collaboration with the client by gathering requirements and drafting a proposal including the architecture of the proposed solution. Together with the client, we created a technical specification, drawing on the ACAPS’s expertise in developing innovative needs assessments tools and methodologies. Based on the specs, we developed a minimum viable solution which was deployed in a test environment to gather client feedback and refine the project scope accordingly. We implemented both the front-end and the RoR back-end concurrently in order to shorten the implementation cycle. The Android app (for both smartphones and tablets) was developed during the first project milestone, which was in turn divided into weekly internal releases for tests and client feedback processing. Next, we moved on to implement the iOS app for both iPhone and iPad. In the last stage, all the apps were deployed and published to the app store and google play.


Humanitarian aid needs to be based on a fair understanding of the needs of the affected population. Helping ACAPS to improve and share best-practices and innovative approaches to needs assessments, Selleo developed The Global Emergency Overview (GEO) – a SaaS system which facilitates the decision making processes in the organizations which attempt to alleviate the impact of natural disasters and complex emergencies. The system is available for free to all such organizations.

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