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Improving Situational Awareness Workshop and Training at MONUSCO, Goma DRC, 13 – 16 May

Improved situational awareness is critical to effective operations and informed decision-making to protect civilians, save lives as well as the safety and security of mission personnel. Hosted by MONUSCO, the UN Peace-keeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in cooperation with Suzanne Shanahan of the UN Department of Field Support, ICT4Peace Foundation’s Sanjana Hattotuwa and Daniel Stauffacher were invited to facilitate a workshop and training course on improving situational awareness in May 2014. The workshop and course offered an open, collaborative forum to discuss information sharing principles, strategies and technologies with MONUSCO personnel and UN partners.

The three-day intensive workshop also introduced participants to new technology tools and platforms used in the collection, verification, and dissemination of information to improve situational awareness. Opportunities for information sharing within the mission and between UN partners were identified and discussed with the objective of developing a practical roadmap.

A group review of the current state of information management with participants was followed by a 1.5 day hands-on training course delivered by Sanjana Hattotuwa, which presented and got participants to actually use leading web based tools and techniques, using a scenario-based approach, with the core idea being to enhance situational awareness through stronger crisis information management skills. The training was targeted to substantive units involved in monitoring, analyzing and preparing operational and situational awareness information.

The collaborative discussion also allowed to examine mutually beneficial information-sharing opportunities between the mission and country team/partners. The discussion was aimed at identifying current institutional and technical barriers and explored, with the input of Suzanne Shanahan, possible solutions including improving, through very practical steps, field and HQ level information security.

The three-day workshop also explored practical steps to take the dialogue forward including a process for establishing information governance frameworks, addressing policy gaps and strengthening operational guidance. DFS-DPKO information systems currently in use were also presented for discussion and feedback.

After the workshop, the Foundation provided some detailed feedback to the UN Department of Field Support anchored to technical and processual challenges articulated by participants during the workshop, referencing some of the world leading big data analytics, semantic analysis, data visualization, mobile and content management platforms.

For photos from the MONUSCO workshop and Goma, click here.