UNHCR Innovation & ICT

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					                   UNHCR Innovation & ICT
                                 Overview January 2011
                                    Jenny Bredin (Consultant)

Terracotta mobile phones made by children in Darfur

              Innovation ≠ Invention (Innovation convert ideas into resources, while
               invention convert resources into ideas)
                  Invention or discovery is the introduction of something new.
                  Innovation is the process that renews something that exists.
                  Innovations can be seen as effective, useful applications of discoveries or
              Innovation is about allowing transgression! Standards help the
               organization to be efficient but they also prevent it from change:
                  How encouraging experimentation without compromising consistency?
                  How experimentation can be capitalized at the organization level?
              Innovation is about management. In terms of ICT, innovation is very linked
               with the development dilemma: “standardized and integrated solutions”
               versus “Best-of-breed specific applications”.
                  Innovation management is mitigating initiatives and ideas with the need of an
                   organization-wide consistency
                  Innovation must be focused on goals (meeting needs) and not on means

                                                            Stock-taking         Findings        Conclusions      Next steps

                                    Initiatives with a direct impact for PoC
                          Emergency               Care & maintenance                            Durable solutions

                                                              Mobile “Supply and demand”
PoC & the World

                                                               -Souktel (Job offers, Aid request) , Middle East
                                                                 -ITC Aragon (Business opportunities) , Benin

                                                Information Sharing
                                                       - VozMob, USA
                                                   Social Network
                                                 - Refugees United, Uganda

                     Reporting/Aid request             Call center

                          - Ayiti SMS SOS               - Jordan, Syria
                           infoasaid                  Info by Web
                                                        - Turkey, Syria
                                                      Info by SMS
                                                        - Jordan, Syria

                                                  Distance learning
Improving the life

                                                  - CTA 32 sites, 13 countries
     of PoC

                                                        mBanking                                 UNHCR initiatives exist
                                               - UNHCR, Jordan, Syria - M-PESA                   External initiatives exist

                                                                                                 Non implemented concept

                                                  - UNHCR Kenya (Dadaab?)
                                                                                Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions      Next steps

                                           Initiatives with an indirect impact for PoC
                                      Emergency                        Care & maintenance                 Durable solutions

                                                                  Mobile Data Collection
                                                                 -Smartphone Needs Assessment, DRC
             Data Collection

                                                                   - Health Information System, DRC
                                                                       -Mosquito Bed net, Kenya

                                                                 Mobile Data Collection
                                                                            -Open Data Kit
                                                                            -Frontline SMS

                                             Collaborative platforms
             Information Management

                                                            - GeoPortal
                                                   -Health Information System
                                              - IDP Project Tracking Database ,Iraq                        UNHCR initiatives exist
                                        - Refugee Assistance Information System, Jordan
                                                                                                           External initiatives exist
                                             Collaborative platforms                                       Implementation status
                                                           - Sahana                                        unknown
                                                          - Ushahidi

                                             Vehicle tracking system
                                            HUMA-NAV pilot : Uganda, Chad, Sudan

                                          Digital Radio communication
                                                  Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps

                                      Innovation at UNICEF

              UNICEF uses innovation & ICT in multiple sectors:
               Education, Health, Protection, Supply Management etc.
              UNICEF has an “Innovation Unit” (that started its first
               activities four years ago) and two field based “innovation
              UNICEF collaborates with private sector and academia
              Example of activities/tools
                   Mobile data collection tools
                   Track and trace applications for Supply Management
                   Collaborative and communication tools
                   Training and capacity building
                                            Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps


              ICT and innovation is not only a “gadget” within humanitarian
               operations, but widely used and at the point to be
               mainstreamed (that the United Nations Foundation has a
               solution “mobile technology” speaks for itself!).
              ICT is constantly evolving and its role in the humanitarian
               space is rapidly changing!
              UNHCR is quite behind some other humanitarian actors in
               using ICT. The stock-taking is not organizational wide
               (bureaus, to BO, to FO). The current focal point organization
               with current constraints could not assure this.
              Many recent ICT initiatives have been triggered more by a
               provider pushing for a certain solution rather than UNHCR
               proactively having identified a clear need. Instead of being
               handled as a "contractor deal", those initiatives have been

               processed as donors’ grants.
                                            Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps


             Some of the main challenges for an organization like UNHCR
               when implementing “innovative solutions” are to:
              Assure that solutions correspond to needs identified by
               PoC’s and/or “the field”;
              Assure that field initiatives/experiments are capitalized at
               HQ level ; the goal being to support future implementations
               in similar contexts having similar needs;
              Avoid that HQ standards or technology push becomes an
               obstructive factor when implementing “innovative
               solutions”; the overall goal, meeting identified needs, but
               also data models and open formats are more important than
               technological standards.
                                                      Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps


              Define a strategy:
                  ICT should be integrated with and not isolated from the overall development
                   strategy and policy.
                  ICT should be used and supported as a tool to achieve the objectives for
                   different focal areas and cross-cutting themes and not as a priority sector in
                  A UNHCR strategy for the use of innovative technology should be developed.
                  Innovation being a field of constant development implies that a strategy
                   should include adaptation mechanism to constantly include new technologies
                   and applications.
              Future design and implementation:
                  High level and functional definition of ICT applications should be done by
                   “Operations Support” with a close link to the operations needing them.
                  Design and implementation should be done by “functional” and “technical”
                   experts in cooperation.
                  The term “innovation” is quite “hype”; a more neutral and all-encompassing
                   term like “new technologies” could be used.
                                                     Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps


              UNHCR should be the driving force for its own innovative solutions.
               In parallel with defining (or as a part of) an Innovation strategy:
                  UNHCR needs to take the lead in proposing innovative solutions based on
                   PoCs’ and operational needs.
                  UNHCR should review the current relationships with external ICT partners; a
                   change from seeing these partners as donors to consider them as technology
                   partners is necessary.
                  Adding a group “Technology partners” to currently existing groups Donors, IPs
                   and OPs would develop a better balance in the relationships between UNHCR
                   and these actors in the field of ICT.
              Activities supporting implementation of “innovative” solutions:
                  Constant monitoring of emerging technologies and new projects necessary!
                  UNHCR should participate actively in “innovation and ICT” forums.
                  UNHCR would benefit from cooperation with other UN agencies and other
                   humanitarian actors to rapidly get up to speed.
                  Having resources working on “Innovation” would be beneficiary.
                                                 Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps

                                      Proposed next steps

              Define objectives
                   Led by “operations support” with support from field operations and
                    other units
              Formulate a strategy
                   Embracing the evaluative nature of innovation
                   Clarifying how innovation will help the organization
                   Identifying how the organization needs to adapt to make sure the
                    use of innovative solutions will be successful.
              Define priorities
                   Chose a few projects with high impact
                   Based on already existing and implemented solutions
                   Underline the importance of resolving already identified needs
                   Initiatives with a direct impact for PoC
                   Use mobile phone based technologies (SMS for PoC & Smartphone

                    for Operations)
                                                 Stock-taking   Findings   Conclusions   Next steps

                                      Proposed next steps

              Put “Technology watch” (based on operational needs and not
               pushed by technology) in place.
                   Continuous monitoring of UNHCR “innovative” field projects
                   Continue external “technology and initiative watch”
              Identify possible funding sources
              Partnerships
                   Participation in working groups and other networks ( UNICEF’s
                    innovation Unit)
                   Establish balanced agreement with “technology partners”
              Network: find “innovation champions” to establish Focal
               Points for new technologies in every major operations
              Support: HQ may specifically identify field projects proposal
               with potential for deployment of new technologies

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