Better Information Management in Peacekeeping Operations through ICTs – Training at UN RSCE Entebbe

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More photos from the training programme here.

The ICT4Peace Foundation in cooperation with its partners, the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF), Berlin and the Folke Bernadotte Accademy, (FBA), Stockholm carried out its fourth Crisis Information Management (CiM) Training Course from 2 to 5 December 2014.

The training course for staff of the UN Peace-Keeping Missions in the Eastern African Region was hosted by the UN Department for Peace Keeping Operations/ UN Department for Field Support at the United Nations Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE), Uganda.

The course was aimed at a wide spectrum of operational UN personnel profiles and multi‐stakeholder UN peacekeeping missions:

  1. To introduce participants to evolving information technology capabilities being employed by a wide range of actors in the field, and how to best exploit the new tools and sources from within the UN Crisis Information Management Strategy -­‐-­‐-­‐ CiMS (A/65/491) to strengthen Peace-Keeping mission mandates. The balancing of information security considerations was also central to this course.
  2. To train UN personnel on first principles of field information analysis and management within a crisis scenario; skills that are also applicable to lower tempo standard day to day use.
  3. The interactive course combined lecture and workshop based training approaches that lead to a concluding desk-­‐-­‐-­‐based exercise ‘Criseland’, which has been customized to simulate key skills learnt during the week.

Course Description

Efficient and timely provision of Shared Situational Awareness (SSA) and Crisis Information Management (CIM) are essential to enable effective decision-making in Multi-dimensional Peace Operations and are a prerequisite for effects-based operations and the comprehensive approach, founding principles of the United Nations and African Union integrated mission planning processes.

Ultimately, successful integration and coordination requires a high degree of sensitivity to the interest and operating cultures of a broad set of actors, and efficient and appropriate Information Management (IM).

The role of CIM in Peace and Humanitarian Operations is the provision of SSA and Crisis Information Management, allowing decision-makers to make accurate and appropriate decisions in crisis situations – whether humanitarian or conflict based – using information collected from a variety of military, police and civilian sources.

CIM is performed by civilian, military and police peacekeeping personnel, which requires increased cooperation and coordination amongst hese institutions. In addition, modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) including social media (Twitter, Facebook) and crisis mapping and crowd sourcing have become essential tools to support CIM.

This course provides an overview of CIM. The course will look at the process of CIM itself, from data collection, through data processing and analysis to information dissemination and look at the cutting-edge platforms and tools now in use, within and outside the UN system.

An interactive simulation exercise will accompany the entire course and will allow participants to practice and apply the theories discussed in the different modules.

Although this course is centered on the UN system, the role that CIM can play in the process of informed decision-making and the activities that an information manager undertakes can apply to a much wider context. The course language is English.

For an overview of the ICT4Peace Training and curricula development work please see here.

ICT4Peace, with the financial support by the Swiss Government, had launched the idea of developing a Crisis Information Management Training Course in 2009 at the 16th Annual Conference of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centers in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The first two courses were held in Cairo in cooperation with the Cairo Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa (CCCPA) in in May 2008 and November 2008 respectively. After this intial phase CCCPA, ZIF, FBA and APSTA joined forces to develop a full fledged CiM Training course, which were held at CCCPA Cairo, IAPTC, Nairobi, ZIF, Berlin and now at the UN RSCE in Entebbe. ICT4Peace has also cooperated with the Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Training Center in Ghana, which is also offering a Crisis Information Management (CIM) Training Course.

ICT4Peace and OAS co-organize workshop on International Security and Diplomacy in Cyberspace

The ICT4Peace Foundation and the Organisation of American States (OAS) conducted a first of its kind  “Workshop on International Security and Diplomacy in Cyberspace”  with over 50 participants (Diplomats, Security and Technical Staff) from 26 Latin American countries in Bogota, Colombia, from 18 to 20 November 2014. The workshop was organized with the support of the Ministry of Information Communication and Technologies (MinTIC) of Colombia.

This new cyber security capacity building programme was developed by the ICT4Peace Foundation as a direct follow-up to some of the recommendations tabled in the 2013 Report of the “UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” embed and the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace, held in October 2013 with the support of the Governments of the UK, Germany and Switzerland. The next workshop will be conducted in Africa and the Asia and the Pacific in 2015. The workshop in Colombia was also supported by the Governments of the US and Canada.

The opening ceremony of the event was presided over by Diego Molano Vega, the Minister of Information Communication and Technologies of Colombia; Neil Klopfenstein, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the OAS; and Daniel Stauffacher, President of the ICT4Peace Foundation. Carmen Sylvain, Ambassador of Canada to Colombia, Ian Gill, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Colombia, and Michele Markoff, Deputy Coordinator for Cyber Issues of the US State Department also participated in the opening ceremony. Lecturers included: Olivia Preston, FCO, UK,  Michele Markoff, US State Department, Amb. (ret.) Paul Meyer, Canada, Dr. Eneken Tikk, IISS,  both Senior Advisors of ICT4Peace Foundation, Belisario Contreras, OAS, Ben Hiller, OSCE, Gary Brown, ICRC.

  1. Long Term Objectives of the Workshop Course are: Mitigating risks to both rights and security in the cyber-sphere through the promotion of international norms of responsible state behaviour, confidence-building measures (CBMs), and international cooperation. The expected long-term impact will be: More inclusive and knowledge-based debates, consultations or negotiations with and by all regions on norms and CBMs, with all stake-holders: governments, industry, civil society, and academia; More agreements at bilateral, regional at global level on norms, CBMs and international cooperation; Progress towards a sustained open, prosperous, trustworthy, safe and secure cyberspace;
  1. Short Term Objectives: 1.) A better and more detailed understanding by public officials, diplomats, industry, civil society representatives from all regions of the world of international norms, CBMs and international cooperation in cyberspace, to broaden the participation in the international debates and regional and global negotiations in fora such as the London Process, UN GGE, OSCE, ASEAN, OAS, in the EU, the AU and AP-CERT; 2.) A better understanding of the concerns, best practices, policies and institutional arrangements in the field of cyber security at the regional level;
  1. Course Content:The course provided an introduction to the subject of international cyber security  consultation and negotiation efforts at the global and regional level. Participants were exposed to the context in which cyber security is being addressed in global fora, such as the UN GGE, OSCE, ARF. A simulation exercise provided an active learning opportunity. The course  provided an opportunity for participants and lecturers to discuss and learn of cyber security-related concerns, best practices and policies at the regional level.

Please find also selected updates and  publications by ICT4Peace on rights and security in a resilient cyberspace since 2011 here:

ICT CBMs: Promoting implementation, supporting negotiations

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Ambassador (ret.) Paul Meyer (Moderator) and Dr. Eneken Tikk (on the far right)

ICT4Peace, along with a number of representatives from think-tanks, academia, civil society organisations and the private sector participated in the OSCE Swiss Government Chairmanship Event on ICT CBMs: Promoting implementation, supporting negotiations, held in Vienna, Austria on 7 November 2014.

Paul Meyer, Ambassador (Ret.), Simon Fraser University, Canada, and Dr. Eneken Tikk, Senior Fellow for  Cybersecurity, IISS, Camino Kavanagh, all Senior Advisors to the ICT4Peace Foundation as well  Daniel Stauffacher, President, participated in the event.

ICT4Peace commends the OSCE for engaging non-government actors on ICT CBMs and looks forward to future collaboration as the organization moves towards implementing the existing set of CBMS agreed on in December 2013, and in shaping a new set.
 
The ICT4Peace Foundation has for several years called for  an increased role of civil society in ICT’s, Norms and Confidence Building Measures in the context of international Security. See its latest publications on these issues here.
Through its own work, including its policy briefs and training courses for diplomats across regions, ICT4Peace will continue to support this process as well as other international and regional processes relating to the development and implementation of CBMs, norms and capacity building currently underway. For further information on this work, see here.
 
In particular, ICT4Peace President Daniel Stauffacher informed about the launching of the first ever Training course on Cybersecurity Diplomacy in Colombia in cooperation with the Organisation of American States (OAS) on 18 to 20 November in Bogota. More information can be found here.

UAV Experts Meeting at the United Nations

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Co-sponsored by the ICT4Peace Foundation, the UAViators.org Experts Meeting on Humanitarian UAVs was held at the UN Secretariat in New York on Thursday, 6th November 2014.

A full report by the organisers around the closed door meeting, which was held under the Chatham House rule, will be made public soon.

The ICT4Peace Foundation is a founding member of the advisory board of UAViators.org, focussing in particular on the use of UAVs in conflict zones and the ethics around the use of UAVs for even humanitarian aid.

As noted by Patrick Meier,

The Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are co-organizing the first ever “Experts Meeting on Humanitarian UAVs” on November 6th at UN Head-quarters in New York. This full-day strategy meeting, which is co-sponsored by the ICT for Peace Foundation (ICT4Peace) and QCRI, will bring together leading UAV experts (including several members of the UAV Network’s Advisory Board, such as DJI) with seasoned humanitarian professionals from OCHA, WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDAC, IOM, American Red Cross, European Commission and several other groups that are also starting to use civilian UAVs or have a strong interest in leveraging this technology.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, who represented the Foundation and has been engaged with UAViators.org since its inception, articulated a number of points during the meeting, which included, inter alia,

  • How “safe and mature” UAVs really were, in light of the fact that mid-air collision detection technology across the spectrum of UAVs in operation just today wasn’t present.
  • Issues around sovereignty in the use of UAVs, in contradistinction to satellite imagery.
  • The ethics of working in the Global South as the testing ground for UAV operations.
  • Eschewing the usual marketing spiel, evidence based case studies around the use of UAVs to actually save lives, and deliver aid in a more timely and effective manner.
  • The need to focus less on manufacturer or international NGO claims around the utility of UAVs and get more voices from affected communities to speak out around how have used, and intend to use UAVs.
  • The need to have a rights based approach to community engagement regarding the use of UAVs, ensuring they have access to the imagery gathered.
  • The danger of weaponisation, not just of the UAVs themselves, but of downstream imagery acquisition, used by some actors, long after a disaster, to harm local populations.
  • The need to problematise “community engagement”, noting that in violent conflict, communities are often rent asunder, making it very difficult to engage them meaningfully without exacerbating drivers of violent conflict.

The Foundation will be involved in the publication of the final report on this meeting, and will publish it on this website when it is ready for release.

International Conference of Crisis Mappers 2014: New York

The ICCM 2014 conference in New York, which the ICT4Peace co-funded and co-curated, concluded successfully. The Foundation’s support of ICCM extends a number of years. In 2011, the Foundation organised ICCM in Geneva, the first time it was held outside the United States. Since then the Foundation has been part of the core team of organisers and as was the case in Nairobi in 2013, helped in the selection of sponsored fellowships for well over half a dozen individuals from around the world to attend ICCM.

Working with Google, the Foundation also led key revisions around the ICCM’s format for New York, allowing for more audience interaction and feedback during the conference, especially around the Ignite Talks and keynotes also through the use of the web based Google Moderator tool. These changes were extremely well received by the participants, making the Q&A sessions one of the most probative and lively they have been since the launch of ICCM.

The Foundation also helped select this year’s Ignite Talks. The speakers covered a number of important issues including gender, the importance of addressing PTSD and mental health (which the Foundation has flagged for a number of years), mapping initiatives and the use of UAV’s in crises. Hearteningly, this year’s ICCM also saw a specific rights focus dealing with political violence and crises anchored to ethno-political violence. A number of the Ignite Talks dealt with how crisis mapping, writ large, could help in human rights documentation and bearing witness.

The agenda of ICCM New York reflected the theme of the conference, which focussed on affected communities.

The Foundation facilitated the keynote of the UN’s Chief Information Technology Officer Ms. Atefeh Riazi, who joined Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Chief of the World Humanitarian Summit and Rt. Hon. David Milliband, the Head of the International Rescue Committee in delivering some very thought provoking speeches around the use of technology in crises and to combat the abuse of rights.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, who took the lead on behalf of the Foundation in supporting ICCM, asked a number of questions from the keynote speakers, including,

  • What the role could and should be for the UN in embracing innovation? What challenges there were in increasing engagements with the private sector around crisis information mapping?
  • Despite early warning and increasing prevalence of technology, what really had changed regarding the political will to address violence?
  • Whether institutions were really ready for accountability and public scrutiny afforded by increasing use of technology and the transparency resulting thereof. In moving from merely reactive to truly responsive institutions, whether the policymaking still lagged behind innovation and technological developments.

All of the tweets published during ICCM New York by the Foundation can be accessed here. These include retweets and conversations over Twitter around the issues debated at ICCM.

Archived videos of the keynotes and Ignite Talks, as they were streamed live, can be accessed here. Tweets around ICCM in New York were published under #iccmnyc. The Foundation’s Facebook page has some photos taken during ICCM.

IDB and OAS Workshop on Regional Cybersecurity Policies, Washington DC

ICT4Peace Foundation was invited to contribute to the Workshop on Regional Cybersecurity Policies organised by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) and Organisation of American States (OAS) on 22 to 24 October in Washington, DC. The detailed agenda can be found here and the related press release here.

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In 2012, the governments of the Americas signed the declaration on “Strengthening Cyber Security in the Americas,” in which they expressed concern about the growing threats to cyber security and reiterated their support of the Comprehensive Inter-American Cyber Security Strategy, previously adopted in 2004.  Given the importance of cyber security for the socio-economic progress of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, the IDB and the Organization of American States (OAS) are joining efforts to support governments in the region in the design and implementation of strategies to successfully address the cyber security challenges.  This workshop brought together officials at the management level responsible for the design and implementation of national cyber security policies in the region, along with experts from academia and the private sector. It aimed to: 1) promote the exchange of experiences and technical knowledge of Member States on cyber policy issues; 2) define the elements of a cyber security policy agenda for the region; and 3) prepare for the 2015 meeting of cyber security authorities.

Dr. Eneken Tikk, Senior Fellow for Cyber Security at IISS, London and Senior Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation was invited to Chair a Panel on Multiple Approaches to a Cyber Security Strategy and Daniel Stauffacher, President, ICT4Peace Foundation made a presentation on the Role of Non-Governmental Organisations in Improving Cybersecurity. His presentation can be found here.

ICT4Peace entered a cooperation with the OAS to hold a first of its kind workshop and training course on Cyber Security Diplomacy in Colombia in November 2014.

Please find also the selected publications and updates of ICT4Peace Program on Rights and Security  since 2011 here.

Supporting ICRC’s Global Partnerships for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation

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Photo courtesy ICRC

Daniel Stauffacher and Sanjana Hattotuwa from the ICT4Peace Foundation were invited to attend the inaugural Global Partnerships for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation conference held on October 16th 2014 at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The mandate of the Global Partnership for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation (GPHI2) is to promote the development of innovative solutions to humanitarian challenges by harnessing the creative capacity of ICRC partners to respond to the needs of conflict victims. The GPHI2 brings together partners from the corporate sector, academia, research institutes, and leading humanitarian actors from the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and beyond.

The ICT4Peace Foundation has engaged with the ICRC since 2010 around the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to strengthen its operations and mandate. Over 2010 and 2011, the Foundation met several times with representatives of the ICRC, under the Chatham House Rule, to discuss how new technologies could help strengthen the ICRC’s situational awareness, communications with disaster affected communities, stakeholders and beneficiaries, visualise complex operations and processes and the verification of information on social media.

In August 2012, the ICT4Peace Foundation, together with a diverse group of human rights and humanitarian actors, was invited by the International Red Cross to comment on the revised draft of their “Professional standards for protection work” from 2009. The standards were developed to ensure that protection work by humanitarian and human rights actors meets commonly agreed minimum professional standards, a baseline to be respected by all.

The ICT4Peace Foundation sent in detailed comments about the substance of the revised standards and suggested re-structuring the chapters from “Information Collection”, to “Data Analysis”, to “Information-Sharing”. Since the standards have so far only been used at the organizational level, the ICT4Peace Foundation stressed the need to make the standards more “user-friendly” for field personnel with an online tutorial and/or a shorter version of the standards. Currently, they are only used at the organizational level.

More details here and here.

At the conference in Lausanne, the Foundation took part in the working groups dealing with Engaging with beneficiaries in a hyper-connected world, moderated by journalist Nik Gowing and Defining and testing new partnership paradigms moderated by Daina D. Mazutis, IMD. Daniel Stauffacher in Working Group 2 underscored the importance of an institutional approach and robust policies around information management for the ICRC, mirroring the UN’s Crisis Information Management Strategy which is supported by the ICT4Peace Foundation.

Throughout the day, the Foundation updated over Twitter (with the official hashtag #gphi2) ideas around and responses to key issues, opportunities and challenges discussed at the conference. The tweets dealt with, inter alia, the use of UAVs, the need to address issues related to gender and identity when speaking about connectivity and the use of technology, the need to democratise models of DRR that used super-computing and related to this, the need to support the use of computing centres for humanitarian research, ideas related to the use of mobiles in disasters, the role of telcos in crises and ethical concerns around the use of information. The Foundation’s updates were widely shared and a bundle of all the tweets can be accessed here.

Supporting and engaging with the work and thought-leadership of Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yves Daccord, the Director-General of ICRC, Tarun Sarwal (Innovation Adviser, ICRC), Juan Luis Coderque Galligo (Head of Corporate Partnerships) and others, the ICT4Peace Foundation will continue to support the ICRC in its unique mandate to protect human lives and dignity through strategic input and advice on how to more fully grasp the potential of technology in humanitarian aid.

Registration open: ICCM 2014 in New York

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The International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) is the leading humanitarian technology event of the year, bringing together the most important humanitarian, human rights, development and media organizations with the world’s best technology companies, software developers and academics. As thus one of the few neutral spaces where such important conversations can take place, the annual ICCM conference brings together a wide range of diverse actors for important conversations that lead to concrete new projects and deliverables across a variety of diverse domains. As a community of practice, the ICCM thus helps facilitate new projects and catalyzes innovation in the area of humanitarian technology.

The theme for this year’s event, Affected Communities in Spotlight, will focus on better engaging and understanding populations as the primary referent during a disaster.

Ms. Atefah Riazi, Chief Information Technology Officer & Assistant Secretary General, United Nations and Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Chief, World Humanitarian Summit, United Nations will deliver the keynote addresses.

In addition to these two keynotes, there’s a whole raft of compelling ignite talks by some of the most interesting voices in the global crisis mapping community today.

The full agenda can be accessed here, and more details of the conference here.

In addition to co-curating and co-organising this year’s conference, the ICT4Peace Foundation hosted the 3rd International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM) in Geneva, and over the years, has consistently supported the critical work of this unique community.

Please register early by clicking here.

Improving Information Management in Myanmar: Workshop with MIMU

In crisis areas, quick and informed decision-making can protect and save lives. Good and reliable data can improve decision-making in development cooperation and aid efficiency.  New web, mobile and Internet-based media and information dissemination platforms are constantly evolving, producing increasing amounts of content. The speed with which information is created, published and disseminated on the web, especially with the growth of mobiles and tablets, keeps increasing. This allows for a multiplicity of perspectives to surface. The challenge for experts working in civilian crisis management and development is finding a way to filter the information and determine what is relevant with the overload of information, and further, to communicate that effectively to the right people in an efficient manner. Additionally, new tools are being developed to help experts visualise data in a clear way, so that it can be easily shared, interpreted, and understood by different users.

In light of these developments, a workshop was held in Yangon, Myanmar on 2nd and 3rd October around using new and social media on the web for crisis information management. Facilitated by Sanjana Hattotuwa from the ICT4Peace Foundation in cooperation with the MIMU, Myanmar and supported by UNESCO, the workshop offered a forum to discuss big data’s volume, velocity and variety, web based social media verification basics as well as practical ways to keep abreast of social media production (through personal and institutional filters). The workshop also introduced participants to new technology tools and platforms used in the collection, verification, and dissemination of information to improve situational awareness. With the working definition of Information Management as the collection, analysis, verification, presentation and sharing of information for decision making and reporting, the workshop was geared towards Information Management (IM) experts working in humanitarian operations, crisis management and development planning, management, monitoring and evaluation.

The workshop’s format, though planned to be highly interactive, had to be changed on account of the significant challenges around connectivity in Yangon. All aspects of the agenda were covered, with training focussing on what was possible using the web, mobiles, social media and information in the public domain, rather than hands-on training on each of the platform. High Definition videos featuring walkthroughs of key platforms were provided to all participants, so that even without Internet access during the workshop, they were able to see what clearly what each was capable of.

The workshop was timely, with new telecos just entering the country, promising upwards of 80% countrywide coverage in the next couple of years. SIM card prices had plummeted from just a month ago, and there was a decent 3G network for mobiles in the city, expanding to other parts of the country in the months and years to come. Because of this nascent revolution in communications, there was a lot of interest around hate speech using social media, and the module on verification was perhaps the best received. Discussions on both days were anchored to how these tools could be used by participants in the country to strengthen their institutional mandates around early warning and crisis responses as well as team or individual bases interests in keeping abreast with information published on social media. Discussions also focussed on the use of some of the services and tools around the elections next year, for voter education and election violence monitoring.

The learning objectives for the workshop were fourfold: to be able to use new media tools to collect, analyse, present, verify and disseminate information; to understand the impact new and web-based social media have on information management and situational awareness; to be aware of the added complexities that have arisen and are arising through the increased use of new media; to understand the nature of big and open data on the web and Internet, and how this information can be useful in crisis response and mitigation. Despite the significant challenges around Internet connectivity over the two days, these objectives were met.

All of the presentations by the trainer were handed over to all the participants as high quality, print ready PDFs, in addition to the high definition videos / screencasts noted above. After the workshop, a feedback form was circulated amongst the participants. The responses demonstrate how valuable the workshop was and what is a strong interest in taking key aspects of the training forward through more trainings and focussed discussions.

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