This is an informal website that is being used to test ways to develop, visualise and communicate controlled vocabularies and taxonomies for the humanitarian community. It is not currently endorsed. For more information and to share ideas and thoughts, please contact Helen Campbell.

Why Controlled vocabularies and Taxonomies

Words Matter! Using mutually understandable terminology is vital to humanitarian collaboration.

Taxonomies allow terms to be understood in both human and machine readable ways.

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The difference between Controlled Vocabularies and Taxonomies

Defining standardized Taxonomical relationships between terms allows humans and computers to more easily integrate and explore information. This will be further explained later.

The Humanitarian eXchange Language (HXL) and Vocabularies/Taxonomies

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Types of Taxonomical Relationships

The are three main types of taxonomical relationships – two are ‘hierarchical’ relationships, and the other is ‘associative’ relationships.

Hierarchical Relationships (indicate that a term has a range of other terms that are broader or narrower in meaning):

Associative Relationships (indicate that a term has a range of other terms that typically relate to it, or participate in it):


Hierarchical Relationships – Disaster Types

Hierarchical and Associative Relationships – Cash and Voucher Programming