Part II

Information Technology Section

OCHA’s Information Technology Section (ITS) provides the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, applications and support for effective information management at headquarters, in the field and in support of emergency operations. ITS is also responsible for leading the coordination of Inter-Agency emergency telecommunications, and for acting as Chair and Secretariat of the IASC Sub-Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET) and Process Owner of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).

The major ICT challenge in 2006 was to support OCHA operations in difficult situations such as Sudan and the Lebanon crisis. ICT infrastructure and services, as well as information management facilities, are essential to these operations, and rapid and effective deployment of ICT solutions is becoming increasingly important.


Activities and Accomplishments

In 2006 ITS focused on field support: missions were deployed to OCHA offices in Colombia, Chad, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Zimbabwe, while the usual support to OCHA field offices and to emergencies was also provided. Personal ICT Kits that allow OCHA staff to work independently of any existing ICT infrastructure were developed and deployed, which strengthened ICT surge capacity.

Field connectivity was enhanced in many cases: by increasing bandwidth in a number of field offices, and by implementing a virtual network between headquarters and five field locations (all in Sudan) through satellite connections. OCHA also played a leading role in an interagency initiative to procure satellite services.

The essential information systems that support OCHA’s internal communications, administration and public websites were maintained, and in many cases enhanced, in 2006. A new system for tracking donor contributions was developed and the CERF website was enhanced to provide up-to-date information on contributions and allocations. The Financial Tracking System (FTS) was fully integrated into ReliefWeb. An OCHA staff and contact management system was developed and implemented to support administrative processes at headquarters and in the field. OCHA’s Intranet, a core tool for internal communications, grew rapidly both in available content and in usage – but more work needs to be done.

ITS was active as Chair of both WGET and the ETC, and coordinated inter-agency emergency telecommunications responses in the Lebanon crisis and the Yogyakarta earthquake in Indonesia (while also providing ongoing support for the response to the South Asia earthquake). ITS made key contributions to the 2006 International Conference on Emergency Communications on the Tampere Convention, and advocated for ratification by additional Member States in other important international forums. As ETC Process Owner, ITS participated in emergency simulations in Norway and at TRIPLEX 2006, Finland. Enhanced collaboration was initiated with the private sector and NGOs through the development of standby partnership agreements with Télécoms sans Frontières, Ericsson and the Global VSAT Forum (an independent association of key companies involved in satellite communications).

Performance Evaluation