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Call for papers: Improving ICT use in Crisis Management and Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) for ISCRAM 2009

For more details and instructions on submissions, please click here.

Inter-operability, and the meaningful use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all aspects of crisis management and response, is about saving lives and resources. Information management mechanisms and frameworks that are closed and inaccessible to key stakeholders in crisis response severely undermine the ability of local and international agencies to save lives. Interoperability is not just a set of technical standards that guarantees that systems, tools and mechanisms can exchange information seamlessly, securely and sustainably. It is also about the commitment and political will at all levels of agencies, including senior management, to share information that strengthens humanitarian and relief efforts leading up to, during and after a crisis. Ad hoc solutions can create or exacerbate many challenges to effective crisis response and management. The challenges faced at present through the unstructured growth and haphazard development of information management systems and mechanisms are significant.

Research Area
ICTs can only help in crisis management and peace-building if they are based on open standards based and interoperable, facilitating use even in austere conditions and engendering staff buy-in. Interoperability at its simplest is the availability of baseline information accessible on demand to stakeholders involved in crisis management. Open standards mean the use of information containers able to transverse various information management architectures reliably, effectively and sustainably without any data loss. Both support an approach to crisis management that leverages the potential of ICTs to help gather, disseminate and analyze information as well archive lessons identified and learnt across agencies so as to contribute to institutional memory.

The ICT4Peace initiative and its partners worked in 2005 to get the use of ICTs in preventing and responding to conflict and in supporting and promoting peace included on the World Summit on the Information Society agenda. As a direct result of this concerted effort, the following Paragraph was integrated into the final declaration of the WSIS Tunis Commitment:

“Paragraph 36. We value the potential of ICTs to promote peace and to prevent conflict which, inter alia, negatively affects achieving development goals. ICTs can be used for identifying conflict situations through early-warning systems preventing conflicts, promoting their peaceful resolution, supporting humanitarian action, including protection of civilians in armed conflicts, facilitating peacekeeping missions, and assisting post conflict peace-building and reconstruction.”

The ICT4Peace Foundation is anchored to this text and was set up to implement this commitment globally, in particular through international policy making. A key dimension of its work is to facilitate a better approach to, and understanding of, information management during crises. This involves preparing for, warning against as well as supporting and rebuilding societies when natural or man made disasters occur. There is an increasing recognition amongst the international community, including governments, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations agencies that the timely collection and exchange of accurate and impartial information during humanitarian crises requires major improvements. Such improvements could contribute to save thousands of lives and requires the sustained commitment of the international community to effective management of information and knowledge, by using appropriate technologies, including Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). Used appropriately, ICTs can support all aspects and sectors of humanitarian work. While initiatives have been launched to mainstream ICTs in humanitarian aid and peace-building, none have been able to gain traction at the United Nations, intergovernmental and inter-agency level. What ICT4Peace Foundation through the International Process for Crisis Management (http://ict4peace.org/ict4peace-1.html) proposes is to harvest existing best practices and facilitate an international recognition of the use of ICTs as a means to strengthen crisis information management, response and mitigation as well as humanitarian relief and aid.

Topics

  • raising awareness on the use and contribution of ICT to peace-building and crisis management
  • best practices of ICT use in peace-building and crisis management
  • the importance of open standards and interoperability in the application of ICT in peace-building and crisis management
  • the integration of ICT in UN operations
  • training in ICT for peacebuilders and peacekeepers
  • improved cooperation, collaboration and leadership amongst all relevant stakeholders
  • ICT mechanisms to foster trust between civilian groups and the military, and to improve cooperation between business, humanitarian and peacekeeping groups
  • partnerships with business to ensure secure, sustainable and current ICT solutions based on open standards and commercially available solutions (and not tied to a certain provider / manufacturer.)

For more details and instructions on submissions, please click here.