The Information Analysis Section (IAS) comprises two
components – ReliefWeb and the Field Information Services
Unit – which work together to provide timely, relevant and reliable information services to the humanitarian community.
IAS, in close collaboration with the Information Technology Section (ITS), will lead the multi-year implementation strategy addressing the recommendations of the Information Management Review. The goal of the recommended changes is to improve the effectiveness of OCHA’s information tools, platforms and systems and to ensure the ICT support capacity required to develop and maintain these systems. A dynamic systems infrastructure capable of supporting current and emerging technologies for future growth will be a key aspect of the upgrade.
While most of this work will be carried out by the IAS and
the ITS, much of the cost of implementation will be funded
as part of the Information Management Review project. This project is critical to OCHA mainstreaming humanitarian
reform, strengthening advocacy and ensuring more effective management and internal communications.
ReliefWeb’s mandate is to strengthen the response capacity of the relief community through the timely dissemination of reliable information on humanitarian response to natural disasters and complex emergencies. This is accomplished by providing decision-makers at headquarters and field levels with guaranteed, around-the-clock access to time-critical reports, maps, vacancies and training opportunities, as well as updates on financial contributions and links to key partners and country profiles. ReliefWeb operates from three locations – New York, Geneva and Kobe – and search and collection systems for retrieving information from over 2,700 partners are active in all three locations.
In 2008, ReliefWeb will build on existing user-centric services in line with its 2007–09 strategic framework which was informed by an evaluation undertaken in 2006. ReliefWeb’s presence closer to the centres of humanitarian action is planned to be extended in 2008 through dedicated capacity in OCHA’s regional offices. Close collaboration with the RedHum initiative in Panama will be enhanced, and ReliefWeb’s first presence in Africa will be established.
Acting on the findings of the 2007 Information Management Review, ReliefWeb will undertake further improvements to its database and content management structures, and to better serve decision-makers it aims to develop its capacity for analysis of humanitarian situations. ReliefWeb Map Centre will continue to work with the Field Information Services Unit on matters related to the United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG) and the establishment of a common OCHA geo-database.
|Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices|
|Quality, timely and relevant documents and maps produced on complex emergencies and natural disasters. Recommendations from Symposium+5 followed up; workshop hosted for humanitarian information management practitioners in the Middle East and North Africa. Awareness of donors and member states about reliefWeb’s services improved. Recommendations from information management and ICT reviews implemented. Metrics, client surveys and usability studies used to support editorial decisionmaking.||Critical emergencies and disasters covered in a timely manner. Number of document updates and situation maps produced. Secretariat of the humanitarian information network established, staffed with one person; Symposium+5 outcome recognized and taken forward. 2008 reliefWeb donor/stakeholder meeting organized. Steps to ensure optimum governance, standard operating procedures and policy produced. Number of days of optimum site functionality. Communications strategy encouraging greater collaboration with partners developed.|
|Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues|
|Humanitarian trends and issues highlighted on website and made more meaningful through improved framing and visualization of content. Addition of special graphics and metrics. Strengthened partnerships with academia. ‘Policy and issues’ section further developed and integrated.||Issues framing, special graphics and metrics implemented. Partnerships established with key actors. Forgotten and underfunded emergencies highlighted throughout the website.|
|Strengthened OCHA emergency response capacity|
|Regional presence of ReliefWeb strengthened. Knowledge transferred between ReliefWeb offices and new region-based staff. Mapping and geospatial-focused workshops established by ReliefWeb Map Centre New York and Geneva in cooperation with regional offices. Stronger surge capacity within ReliefWeb developed.||ReliefWeb staff (United Nations Volunteers and Junior Professional Officers) established in Panama, Nairobi and Bangkok. Number of region-based staff trained. Maintenance of sufficient surge capacity and establishment of Map Centre surge capacity.|
The OCHA Field Information Services (FIS) Unit works to improve information management in OCHA’s field offices and deploys Humanitarian Information Centres (HICs) or smaller information management teams to emergencies. In 2008, in line with OCHA’s Five-Year Perspective and the outcomes of OCHA’s Information Management Review of 2007, FIS activities and outputs will primarily be focused on consolidating information management initiatives within the context of humanitarian reform and improving information products and services to meet the operational and analytical demands of decision-makers.
Strengthening information management systems alone will not lead to a common framework unless there is also agreement on indicators and how to use evidencebased data. This requires close collaboration between the information management community and policy- and decision-makers. In the area of information management, OCHA’s strategy foresees the full engagement of IASC partners, cluster working groups, research institutes and donors in order to secure broad agreement on how to collaborate effectively. As part of this process, FIS will continue to lead efforts to establish common standards and practices for humanitarian information management through the Inter-Agency Information Management Working Group.
In late 2007, it was agreed by humanitarian partners that HICs will be deployed for the initial stage of new major emergencies that are beyond the capacity of the Member State and require a multi-sectoral response that exceeds the mandate of a single agency. When deployed, HICs will support the humanitarian community in the systematic and standardized collection, processing and dissemination of information, with the aim of improving coordination, situational understanding and decision-making. OCHA will place increased focus on inter-agency aspects of HICs and ensure that they function as a Humanitarian Common Service.
FIS serves as the Secretariat of two geospatial information management coordination bodies: the Geographic Information Support Team (GIST) and the United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG). OCHA and UNHCR are the co-chairs of UNGIWG for 2007–09. Under the leadership of UNDP, FIS also works with the Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery to ensure that humanitarian information management systems support a sustainable and systematic analytical approach to early recovery by promoting standardized information and data collection.
In 2008 FIS will work to ensure senior management support for OCHA-endorsed policies and guidelines relating to information technology and information management, as well as the mainstreaming of the cluster approach within OCHA in support of the implementation of inter-cluster information products and services.
|Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices|
|Inter-cluster information management strengthened through the provision of timely and effective information management services at headquarters and field levels. OCHA’s information products and services improved to meet the operational and analytical demands of decisionmakers, including Member States and IASC partners.||Number and range of mutually agreed policies and practices in place at the headquarters level and used during emergencies to guide interagency information management efforts. Number and range of products, services, guidance and policies provided by OCHA to support operational and strategic decision-making in new and ongoing humanitarian responses.|
|Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels|
|Capacity of OCHA and partner agency staff to effectively manage humanitarian information increased.||Number of global and regional trainings conducted for OCHA and agency staff.|