Human Development in Your Pocket

17 May 2017
By Admir Jahic (Production and Web Manager, UNDP/HDRO) and Dharshani Seneviratne (Web Analyst, UNDP/HDRO)

Wouldn’t it be great to have access a treasure trove of development research and thinking wherever and whenever you want it? Well the wait is over with the new Human Development App.

When UNDP Administrator Helen Clark launched the Human Development App in March this year she explained the app provides: “everything you ever wanted to know about over 700 human development reports that have been produced in the last 27 years from more than 130 countries. It is all there, in one place, an incredible body of knowledge for people researching and interested in human development area”.

The idea for the app came in early 2016, while we worked on HDRO’s high traffic public website. The goal was to develop an easy to use application for smartphones and tablets featuring essential human development content. In June 2016, we started designing the user interface and by December we had a fully functional beta version, which was later tested before release in March. All project development phases, from concept planning to implementation, deployment and marketing, were completed in-house.

We ran into several challenges while developing the app. Trying to achieve the same look, feel and performance on a variety of different mobile devices and screen sizes was not easy. Nor was maintaining the app’s performance while it manipulates large statistical datasets. But we overcame this by fine tuning algorithms, databases and web services. The app uses the most up-to-date data stored in HDRO’s massive data and publication repository and is kept updated automatically (for instance when new human development reports are published).

With the new app users can:

(1) read more and learn about human development and HDRO;

(2) instantly access the latest, 2016 Human Development Report in a full range of digital formats (e-book, PDF, interactive web microsite and video animation);

(3) easily explore human development data, including the most recent Human Development Index (HDI) global rankings, see customized country profiles with HDI trend visualization since 1990 and retrieve 125 other human development indicators on demography, education, health, environmental sustainability, and more.;

and (4) access and read from the library of over 700 human development reports, including global, regional, sub-regional, national and sub-national HDRs.



The initial feedback and analytics results have been encouraging. In 45 days after the launch, analytics show over 2,000 unique installations, with the most downloads in China, U.S., Japan, Sweden and South Africa.

Looking forward we plan to add additional functionality including news items, push-notifications for new content and an interactive data tool for HDI. The users will receive push notifications when a global, regional or national report is available or when a news item is published. And the new interactive version of the HDI trend visualization will allow users to compare HDI trends in two or more countries.

The App is available for free download on Apple App Store and Google Play

We encourage you to download it, investigate human development around the world and send us your feedback.