Free Signs of Humanitarian Life
The Noun Project, cofounded by the designer and developer Scott Thomas, is a collection of universal symbols (like the one for child soldiers, top row, far left) that allow for quick comprehension across a wide audience (see categories here). The U.N. humanitarian symbol suite is available for free on The Noun Project, whose mission is to “share, celebrate and enhance the world’s visual language.” (It can be supported here.) It’s Otto Neurath’s dream coming true again.
“By releasing these symbols into the public domain and allowing anyone to access and use them,” Thomas says, “The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA is helping bring awareness to humanitarian issues. Symbols strip the concept they represent to its bare essence, allowing for a new way to articulate the idea so that anyone can understand it. This in turn creates new ways to express and share that idea and enables it to spread virally and create change in the world.” Here’s more from the U.N. press release:
OCHA has released into the public domain its collection of over two hundred humanitarian symbols by uploading them to The Noun Project — a rapidly growing crowd-sourced collection of symbols that make visual communication easy and efficient. The humanitarian community, citizens, non-profits, NGO’s, governments and anyone anywhere in the world can now quickly and easily find and utilize the symbols used in the field by the United Nations. When a disaster strikes, it is vital that the humanitarian community can gather reliable data on the locations and needs of affected people and who is best placed to assist them. This often involves the need to present complex information in a way that everyone can understand. “Symbols are some of the best communication tools we have to overcome many language and cultural barriers. By making them easily accessible the U.N. is helping peacekeepers, human rights activists, disaster responders, and everyone around the world quickly and easily communicate important concepts, no matter where they are.” said Sofya Polyakov, co-founder & CEO of The Noun Project. The symbols in the collection are universal and thus allow for quick comprehension across a wide audience. By releasing these symbols into the public domain and allowing anyone to access and use them, OCHA is bringing awareness to these humanitarian issues. Symbols strip the concept they represent to its bare essence, allowing for a new way to articulate the idea so that anyone can understand it. This in turn creates new ways to express and share that idea and enables it to spread virally and create change in the world.
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