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UN CiMAG Retreat October 2010

UN CiMAG Retreat October 2010

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Published by Sanjana Hattotuwa
UN CiMAG Retreat October 2010
UN CiMAG Retreat October 2010

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Published by: Sanjana Hattotuwa on Oct 16, 2010
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10/16/2010

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DraftReportofWorkingSessiononCrisisInformationManagementSystems©ICT4PeaceFoundation,October2010
1
NotesfromCiMAGretreat
4October2010IBMPalisadesNewYork
Overview
 
TheOfficeofInformationandCommunicationsTechnology(OICT),AssistantSecretaryandGeneralandChiefInformationTechnologyOfficerChoiSoon-hongalongwiththeICT4PeaceFoundationorganisedtheUNCrisisInformationManagementAdvisoryGroup(CiMAG)retreaton4October2010.
 
ParticipantsincludedrepresentativesfromGlobalPulse,GAID,OCHA,UNDP,UNHCR,UNICEF,UshahidiandOpenGeo.
Keyobservations
 
ParticipantsnotedattheoutsetthatfragmentationofCiMsystemscontinuesandflaggedthepossibilityofnewtechnologiesironicallyacceleratingthisfragmentation.Itwasalsonotedhoweverthatnewactors,suchasthecrisismappingcommunity,werekeentoworkwiththeUN.Theimportanceofinteroperabilitywasrestated.
 
Itwasobservedthatsomesortofstructurewasrequiredtointerfacewiththecrisismappingcommunity,andthatthisnewcommunityalsoneededguidancefromthemoreexperiencedhumanitariansintheUN.
 
Someraisedconcernsoverwhattheysawasthe‘privatisation’ofinformationinprivateentities,butotherssaidthatthecrisismappingcommunityandtheirapproachtotechnologyandreliefworkwasakintothegrowthofnewmediaandcitizenjournalisminthetraditionalmainstreammedialandscape.Participantsnotedthatthecrisismappingcommunitydidn’treporttotheUN,werenotanswerabletotheUN,didn’tworkwiththeUNandyetwillincreasinglybepresentandinfact,leadingsomeinformationneedsincrisisresponse.
 
Accordingly,someinterface–somecalleditan‘API’–wasneeded,andonethatwasnotjusttechnicalbutorganisationalaswell.
 
Regardingthecrisismappingwork,somesaidthatitwaseasytocreatemaps,buthardtocreategoodmaps.Othersvoicesconcernsoveropensourcebasedtools,andsaidthatthebusinesscaseforcrisismappingwasstillunclear,andstatedobviousconcernsovertheveracityandverifiabilityofcrowdsourcedinformation.
 
Itwasnotedthatinformationdidn’tnecessarilymeanthatthosehandlingitwereresponsibleforresponse–inthefield,manyrecalled,itwasonlytheUNthatoftenhadthepowertoactwithpeopleontheground.
 
Somesaidthattechnologycouldbeusedtogetasenseofwhatiswrong–thatthestatistical,semanticandotheranalyticaltoolsandtechnologieswerealreadythere,andwhatwasneededinfactwastotransforminformationintoknowledge.
 
ManyrecalledtheroleoftheUNasonethatconferredlegitimacytoaidandreliefwork.AccordinglytheyfelttheUNwaswellplacedtoactasabridgebetweentraditionalhumanitarianrolesandthecrisismappingwork.

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