Digital Certificate of Entitlement
Photo: Unsplash

UNICC Joins UNJSPF as a Winner of UN Secretary-General Awards 2021

UNJSPF and UNICC collaboration on the Digital Certificate of Entitlement app

Every year, the UN Secretary-General recognizes the inspiring work of United Nations personnel who have gone above and beyond their duties, or have introduced new ideas with great potential. See the Winners of the 2021 UN Secretary-General Awards.

This year, he recognizes four worthy winners, including UNJSPF and UNICC in the Innovation and Sustainability category, for the Fund’s Digital Certificate of Entitlement (DCE) solution to replace paper-based pension verification processes. See news item from earlier in the year here.

The UN Joint Staff Pension Fund and the UN International Computing Centre won the Innovation and Sustainability category, for developing a Digital Certificate of Entitlement to replace the paper-based verification process.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

The UN Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF), in partnership with UNICC, launched the Fund’s Digital Certificate of Entitlement (DCE) app in February 2021, which allows the Fund’s retirees and beneficiaries the option to complete the annual Certificate of Entitlement exercise by providing their annual proof of life in a biometric format. The DCE app is available for free download on Android devices and Apple devices. See the UNJSPF article.

We need to congratulate UNICC for its flexibility in navigating the challenges of implementing the application in the middle of the pandemic. The blockchain technology applied in this Digital Certificate of Entitlement brings about endless possibilities to automate other aspects of the pension distribution process and beyond.

Dino Cataldo Dell’Accio, CIO, UNJSPF

Innovation and sustainability

The Digital Certificate of Entitlement is a state-of-the-art mobile and web-based authentication solution that can verify the identity and location of retirees and beneficiaries, replacing a paper-based process.

It responds to worldwide COVID-19 disruption, is environmentally friendly, delivers organizational efficiencies, is user-friendly and secure and uses new biometric facial recognition, blockchain and global positioning technologies.

Read more about UNICC’s shared services and projects with Client and Partner Organizations.

UNICC at Quédate TELECO
Photo: UNICC/Gil

UNICC Shares Job and Internship Opportunities at Career Fairs

The organization participates in a variety of events in UNICC host countries

UNICC is building a dynamic pipeline for its talented workforce, with commitments to gender parity, diversity and inclusiveness. UNICC also supports the UN’s Youth 2030, an ambitious system-wide strategy to guide the United Nations and its partners to work meaningfully with and for young people around the world. With these goals in mind, the organization regularly attends career fairs in countries where it has offices (Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States) to share its organizational profile and job and internship opportunities with potential candidates.

UNICC offers internship opportunities for college students in a variety of fields, from all areas of digital business and technology, to enhance their educational experience with professional training and exposure to the organization’s work.

Presentation to the Institute of Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications

On 4 November 2021, UNICC colleagues visited the Institute of Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications (iTEAM), a research centre integrated in the Polytechnic City of Innovation at the Valencia Polytechnic University (UPV), in Spain. The UPV is currently made up of around 28,000 students, 2,500 teaching staff and researchers, and comprises 13 university centres.

Matilde Gil, Network Infrastructure Architect at UNICC, delivered a presentation together with Ana Ferrandiz, Head of Infrastructure Support Unit at UNICC. The team’s goal was to introduce UNICC and its mission, vision, services and solutions to iTEAM and UPV members.

The iTEAM, who are most specialized in multimedia applications, signal processing, antennas and wireless communication, were very interested to know more about UNICC, and they were happy to share some interesting initiatives that would strengthen common objectives starting with the event Quédate TELECO.

UNICC's Matilde Gil and Ana Ferrandiz with the iTEAM at UPV
Matilde Gil and Ana Ferrandiz with the iTEAM at UPV. Photo: UNICC/Gil

Quédate TELECO

On 17 February 2022, UNICC attended the Quédate TELECO, an initiative organized by the UPV to retain talented students in Spain. The event offered students a platform to meet with representatives of international companies and organizations with offices based in Spain and find out about jobs and career opportunities in the multilateral environment. 100 telecommunications students demonstrated their talent in front of 13 companies and organizations including HP, NTT Data, Ford, Huawei, Power Electronics and UNICC. Matilde Gil, Network Infrastructure Architect, UNICC; Elena Tejadillos, IT Officer – Data Science, UNICC and Celia Gómez, Head of Data Protection and Privacy, UNICC; were there to present UNICC and share more about what it looks like to work at UNICC’s largest office and the organization’s Digital and Cybersecurity Centres of Excellence. The colleagues had a wonderful time with UPV’s employment representatives and professors and met many students and graduates interested in learning more about joining the UNICC family.

Aula de Empresa ETSIT

On 7 April 2022, UNICC participated in Aula de Empresa, an event which is intended to bring the business reality and its needs to Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación (ETSIT) students through the various programs and activities. Victor Benet Anchel, Senior Project Administrator, UNICC; Alexandra Marinoiu, HR Officer, UNICC; Carlos Garcia, Practice Officer – Dynamics, UNICC; Matilde Gil, Network Infrastructure Architect, UNICC and Diego Arista Vinaixa, HR Consultant, UNICC; introduced UNICC and shared what it looks like to work at the leading provider of digital business solutions within the United Nations system with one real case of a project with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Swiss International Career Day 2022

On 8 April 2022, UNICC attended for the sixth time the 18th International Career Day (ICD) at the Granges-Paccot in Fribourg, Switzerland, an event organized by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). More than 50 multilateral organizations – many of them UNICC Clients and Partner Organizations – provided information for undergraduates and graduates who are interested in a career in the multilateral field about their working conditions and career opportunities. Dimitra Ralli, Head, Service Management Group, UNICC; Frederic Laval, Chief, Human Resources Section, UNICC and Amalia Stein, HR Assistant, UNICC; represented UNICC at the conference. UNICC colleagues did some outreach and advocacy to potential candidates for employment. It is indeed a critical endeavour to ensure that UNICC recruits the best of the young and the innovative to deliver its mandate. It was also an opportunity to reach out to women candidates and promote UNICC’s gender parity strategy. The event was a great opportunity for UNICC to make its work visible and attract new talents.

Forum e 2022

On 11 and 12 May 2022, UNICC took part in the 20th edition of the UPV Forum e job fair (FOROE22) with 90 activities related to employment, entrepreneurship and internationalization. On the first day, UNICC colleagues were on hand for students and candidates visiting the stand and interested in joining the UN family. As part of the activities scheduled for the second day, the team had the opportunity to attend a roundtable regarding employability and present to the audience the different jobs that UNICC offers and the professional careers that can be developed by working within the UN system.

UNICC’s participation in these events speaks to its commitment to SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals.

UNIC​C is an equal opportunity employer​ and encourages a​p​​​​plications from all qualified individuals, regardless of race, gender, nationality, age and sexual orientation. When you join UNICC as an intern, a consultant or a staff member, you will experience a truly international and multi-cultural environment. Interested in joining us? Visit the Working with Us page.

Watch Working With Us video with Spanish subtitles.

UNICC at Digital Risk Summit 2022
Photo: Group-IB

UNICC Keynote Speaker at Group-IB Digital Risk Summit 2022

Bojan Simetic shares UNICC’s best practices for brand protection

On Thursday, 26 May, Bojan Simetic, Information Security Specialist at UNICC, presented as a keynote speaker in the Group-IB’s Digital Risk Summit 2022, which brings together independent analysts, cybersecurity experts and representatives of different industries to share the best practices of building, developing and scaling digital security and brand protection strategies in the time of COVID-19 and beyond.

Bojan joined representatives from organizations such as Global Anti Scam Alliance (GASA) ​and EBANK​. He presented on UNICC and its Common Secure Threat Intelligence service, which UNICC currently provides to 32 UN Agencies.

Bojan’s presentation, on Protecting UNICC’s Clients and Partner Organizations against Brand Impersonation, presented the question, “What are the main digital scams we are seeing in the UN Agencies we are working with?” and introduced the Common Secure Threat Intelligence service and its role in exposing the recent scams and building, developing and scaling digital security and brand protection for UNICC’s Clients and Partner Organizations.

Photo: Group-IB

During the discussion, three key questions were raised:

  • What would you evaluate as a top priority threat for your region and industry?
  • What call to action did scammers use to attract users?
  • What additional measures may we consider the game-changer in the scams field?

He detailed three use cases where the UNICC’s Common Secure team used brand protection against scams in which either UN Partnering Organizations are targeted with scams, or their names were just misused in order to obtain money and/or in many cases personal details from the recipients.

Watch the full recording of the event

About Group-IB

Group-IB is one of the leading providers of solutions aimed at detection and prevention of cyberattacks, online fraud and IP protection. Group-IB’s Threat I​ntelligence & Attribution system was named one of the best in class by Gartner, Forrester, and IDC.​

Photo: UNRWA

UNRWA and UNICC Partnership Strengthens Common Objectives

UNRWA Consultants Grow in Number from 8 in 2020 to 50 Expert Resources Now

In June 2020, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) signed an agreement that aims to enhance opportunities for Palestine refugees in Gaza. With this agreement, UNRWA provided ICT and other skilled support staff to UNICC, allowing UNICC to leverage UNRWA’s cost-efficient resource model and, just as importantly, support UNRWA’s mission to deliver services to over 5 million refugees in the Middle East. With this agreement, UNICC has been able to benefit from the UNRWA expert resources from web development, cloud computing and communications to data science, project management and cyber security, as follows:

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Credit: UNRWA

We are excited to partner with UNRWA since it has given us the opportunity to find very talented young individuals to join various teams across UNICC. These new colleagues are very ably supporting various teams across all of UNICC, and we in return have the privilege of seeing them thrive and grow into their roles. These Gazan colleagues get to work across the UN system through UNICC and we, as an organization, get to do our bit to directly contribute to the UN SDGs.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The Palestinian territories suffer from limited job creation with stubbornly high unemployment rates, hitting particularly youth and women. UNRWA’s partnership with UNICC is providing a chance for Palestine refugee youth as well as women of all ages, and it is contributing to UNRWA efforts to seed, grow and nurture talented resources among the refugee community.

UNRWA, as a UNICC Partner Organization, already subscribes to UNICC’s ICT services. This ICT services support partnership agreement brings closer collaboration between the two organizations, with ICT skills development and delivery being the new bridge for partnership. Now skilled and professional Palestinian ICT personnel at UNRWA can share their skills within the wider UN digital transformation efforts.

I believe that this is a great partnership providing livelihood opportunities in Gaza in the IT domain. This partnership allowed many young Gazans to pursue their career of choice while supporting their families. This is also a unique partnership where it shows how IT organisations evolve from being support organisations to those that directly contribute to Sustainable Development Goals.

Kaan Cetinturk, UNRWA CIO and Director of Information Management and Technology Department

From 1 June 2020 until 30 September 2021, almost a hundred skilled Palestinian professionals have had the opportunity to join UNICC in supporting the UN system. The journey started with eight people being on board and hard at work on interesting projects for UNICC Clients, with over 50 professionals working today with UNICC. 42% are female and 58% are male, also supporting the UN’s gender parity aims.

This allows UNICC to advance its own agenda on bringing more youth and women into the fold. Hani Cordiya, Head of the Information Technology Service Centre at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, helped to forge this partnership, reporting to UNICC team leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, New York, USA and Brindisi, Italy.

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Credit: UNRWA

Collaborating with UNICC teams gives you the confidence to improve your skills and accomplish your goals. It also gives you a reason to challenge yourself and the obstacles that faced you, especially when you deliver work on time and see the Client satisfaction, with their confidence that their projects are in the right place. I am sure that becoming a member of the UNICC family was a most worthy decision.

Mai Ibaid, UI/UX Frontend Designer, UNICC
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Credit: UNRWA

Through this joint project, young, female and skilled Palestine refugees are able to contribute to the digital transformation of the UN in the digital business domain without the restrictions of geographic borders and strengthening UNICC’s capacity to deliver reliable ICT services driven by best practices.

This partnership has helped the Application Delivery team to make great strides in project start-up timelines, meeting implementation and completion deadlines, with cost-efficient and knowledgeable experts to round out our very busy App Dev team.

Venkat Venkateswaran, Head, Application Development Unit, UNICC

This partnership reflects UNICC’s substantive actions to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the areas of SDG 1 for no poverty, SDG 5 for gender equality, SDG 8 for decent work and economic growth and SDG 17 for partnerships to achieve the SDGs.

Photo: UNICC

Girls and Women Talking Tech – 100 Interviews – Over 20 from UNICC

As we move further into the information age, women and men need to be equally represented as shapers of our increasingly digital world. One way to inspire and empower girls and young women is to showcase success stories.

UNICC is proud to be working with ITU, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and EQUALS to present the Girls and Women Talking Tech series, which grew out of ITU’s Girls in ICT Day in 2018-2019 with conferences at Microsoft and Cornell Tech in New York and at UNOG in Geneva. UNICC is supporting with this effort SDG 5: Gender equality and women’s empowermentSDG 4: Quality Education as well as UNICC’s own gender parity initiatives.

For 2020, it wasn’t possible to have physical meetings anymore, so the group started to host dialogues online – and by now this has been a big success and radically transformed the scope of the initial project. UNICC continues to include more and more UNICC women in interviews, often with the assistance of Break Through Tech Winterns and Communications team interns. Across the inter-Agency team, the goal is to engage women in 196 countries!

Also a blog post marking the 100th interview milestone has been published at ITU News, where 200 girls and women in ICT share their stories on digital transformation, diversity and inclusion.

We could not be prouder of this community of over 200 women committed to supporting one another. Envisioning how many more minds have been inspired and growth opportunities have been triggered by the project is deeply gratifying and shows how digital initiatives and partnerships can make a tangible, positive difference in people’s lives.

Anastasia Bektimirova, Talking Tech team at ITU

UNICC women were able to share lessons they learned along the way, advice about careers in technology and stories that inspired and help many young girls. Check out our playlist that includes all the interviews UNICC women have participated in.

Despite the growing demand for information and communication technology (ICT) professionals, women still trail male counterparts in terms of pay, leadership roles, and representation in the digital sector. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 suggests that only 14 per cent of those working in cloud computing, 20 per cent of engineers, and 32 per cent of data and artificial intelligence professionals are women.

These disparities are concerning, not least because technology-related careers arguably dominate today’s job market. Moreover, the underrepresentation of women means their voices are absent from decision-making when it comes to designing our digital society.

As we move further into the information age, women and men need to be equally represented as shapers of our increasingly digital world. One way to inspire and empower girls and young women is to showcase success stories. Of course we need men to be active supporters and collaborators of this direction and perspective.

The Talking Tech: Girls and Women in ICT interview series promotes girls and women in the sector. Today, there is nothing they cannot achieve in this fast-evolving field.

Participants range from experts in artificial Intelligence (AI) to electronic sports (esports), astronauts to leaders of UN Agencies, and ambassadors to corporate executives. In the interviews, women and girls from around the world share achievements and challenges, exchange advice and network with one another – all to inspire others with evidence that every girl can fulfil great potential in the ICT sector.

UN Women - UNICC Design Thinking Event
Photo: UN Women and UNICC

UN Women – UNICC Workshop for Safer Public Spaces

Incorporating the voices of women and girls in Guadalajara for innovative urban solutions

On 25 and 26 August, over 25 women from the city of Guadalajara and its metropolitan area, in Jalisco, Mexico, engaged in a design thinking exercise to ideate and prototype solutions to make their city safer for women and girls. This event followed up on the Safe Cities for Women Thinkathon organized in November of 2020 by UN Women and UNICC, an event that aspired to amplify women’s and girl’s voices and need for access to safe and inclusive public spaces during the pandemic and beyond, within the framework of the Safe Cities Programme.

The goal of the two-day design thinking workshop was to develop and test solution prototypes, taking the best of the ideas to create a viable product created by UNICC for use in the field.

UN Women recognises the importance of incorporating the voices of all women and girls in their diversity to not leave anyone behind, as well as generating multisectoral alliances through initiatives like this one. Now, we intend to make this innovative proposal into a reality so that it is replicable and scalable in order to guarantee that women and girls from Guadalajara and its metropolitan area can exercise their right to the city free from all forms of violence.

Andrea Cházaro, Coordinadora del Programa Ciudades Seguras en México

The design thinking workshop was a collaborative problem-solving activity leveraging the results of a cycle of interviews with local key actors in innovation and public policy, as well as a survey applied to a variety of women and girls who use public spaces in Guadalajara and its metropolitan area.

Members of civil society organizations, academia, private sector, local government and technologists were invited to the event to learn more about this area of concern – safety for women and girls in public spaces by observing, engaging with women and girl protagonists and to better understand their experiences and motivations.

According to the scoping study carried out in 2018 by UN Women on the situation of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces in Guadalajara:

  • 81% of the women surveyed admitted to having suffered some form of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence at some time in their life while walking at downtown
  • Around 64.5% of women feel unsafe or very unsafe in the public space of Guadalajara
  • For fear of being sexually assaulted or harassed, 82.8% try to walk with someone; and 57.9% have stopped going out at night or very early and a significant percentage (7.6%) claim to have stopped working or studying due to insecurity
  • Only 7.9% of women who were victims of some form of sexual violence reported it. Which means that more than 90% did not report to a public institution. The reasons for not reporting are multiple: 22.6% did not know that they could report; 17% did not report because it was something unimportant and 16.8% responded that they do not trust the authorities.

Brainstorm, prototype, test. Repeat.

On the first day, 24 participants were assigned into four groups, representing four different personas: refugee women, persons with disabilities, indigenous women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, many of them vulnerable in public spaces.

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Credit: UN Women and UNICC

The starting point for the groups were the creative solutions proposed at last year’s thinkathon. The groups worked with a design thinking coach who stimulated and guided the participants through the definition of the problem and ideation process, with two rounds of brainstorming and idea selection, using an innovative and collaborative technological platform known as Miro.

Experimenting fast and cheap is one of the pillars of design thinking. The prototypes resulting from this experience are a first approach to solving a real and important need in terms of safe cities for women.

Isabella Stranger Stranger, Design Thinking Coach

The only constraint was that solutions had to be either web-based or mobile apps. Stakeholders such as members of the local government, policy experts or technologists were present to clarify assumptions, and members of UNICC’s Data and Analytics team based in Valencia, Spain, offered support throughout the event.

The second day revolved around prototyping and testing. The returning participants designed low-fidelity prototyping using basic models of examples of the product. Each group was then joined by two real user test volunteers, who identified as the specific persona of each group.

After the testers provided feedback, each group moved from the breakout rooms to the main room for a final team presentation, where all participants were able to learn about each other’s solutions and engage in a fruitful conversation.

Credit: UN Women and UNICC

From a prototype to the app store

While the main goal of last year’s thinkathon and this year’s design thinking workshop was to inform investment in public safety and infrastructure with a gender perspective at the local level, UNICC has committed to developing one of the solutions for UN Women.

The UNICC Data and Analytics team will work together with the organization’s Applications Delivery team to design and deliver a mobile application that includes the most prioritised, applicable and common features that all women mentioned in their proposed prototypes such as emergency calling and alerting.

Guadalajara is home to 1.3 million people with 51.9% being women. As we hold a mirror in front of us today, we give chance to women who are not here with us and to make their voice louder as their champion. Let us open our minds so we could talk about our relationship with public spaces.
The most useful part of our thought process today will be how our design elicits empathy and compassion and will force us to look at technology solutions differently. The experiential and qualitative data along with the prototype we will envision today can change the way women perceive safety issues. Data can play a positive role in changing the way we interact with public spaces. Let us design one Guadalajara at a time
.

Anusha Dandapani, Chief, Data and Analytics Unit, UNICC

Incorporating a gender perspective, along with a responsible, empowering and creative use of technology is a powerful tool to promote gender equality and address violence against women and girls.

UNICC is looking for allies to make the prototypes generated through this design thinking exercise a reality to provide digital solutions for women and girls in Guadalajara and elsewhere.

UN Women and UNICC are making a call to action to educational institutions, the private sector, governments and civil society to contribute to having safe public spaces free of sexual violence and harassment of women and girls. The power of change lies in collaboration and the community. See the UN Women Mexico version of this story in Spanish here.

un women
Photo: UN Women/Amanda Vard

Columbia University – UNICC Thinkathon

Team Agritech wins with its ozone-based disinfection system to address Disaster Preparedness and advance human welfare

Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS) and UNICC have collaborated to bring students and alumni together to advance human welfare, accelerate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and confront the great challenges of our time in the first-ever Columbia University SPS – UNICC Thinkathon. Teams proposed solutions to three social challenges:

  • Gender equality: Using data and technology to address violence against women during and beyond COVID-19
  • Cyber security: Understanding risks that arise from our reliance on the Internet, focusing on regulatory, policymaking and/or technological solutions in areas of Artificial Intelligence, personal data, automatic decision making and victims of data breaches
  • Disaster preparedness: Reporting on the manner in which COVID-19 has impacted vulnerable populations, to inform solutions and strategic planning to recover and reverse deterioration trends.

A summer-long Thinkathon to advance human welfare

Seven teams have been working all summer on real-world solutions with live data, mentored by subject matter area experts from Columbia, the private sector and UN Agencies.

In June, 17 teams of 3 to 5 people submitted their proposals with a statement of interest, with answers to one of the three challenge prompts and optional supporting documents. Among the initial participants there were 45 Columbia University students or alumni from five different schools, with 38 external students or professionals. Up to ten countries on four continents were represented.

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A review committee studied the submissions and selected seven final teams that moved forward to the Thinkathon competition. These teams have been working throughout July and August together with expert university, private sector and UN mentors to refine their proposals and final presentations.

Three of the teams selected the Gender Equality challenge, two teams worked on the topic of Disaster Preparedness and the last two teams chose the Cybersecurity challenge. Mentors who provided guidance and support included:

  • Edna Chun, Lecturer, Human Capital Management Department, Columbia University
  • Shouryadipta Sarkar, Information Management Senior Specialist, UNDP
  • Shahryar Shaghaghi, Chief Technology Officer, Quantum Xchange
  • Tima Soni, Chief, Cyber Security Section, UNICC
  • Lizzette Soria, Women’s Policy Expert, Safe Cities, UN
  • Jay Kesavan, Data Science Expert and Partner, Bowery Software.

Final presentation and winners

On 24 August 2021, finalist teams had the opportunity to present their ideas in front of a global audience and a panel of preeminent judges, in a live event that featured initial remarks by Columbia University SPS Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Zelon Crawford and presentations from UNICC’s Chief of Data and Analytics Anusha Dandapani and Data Scientist Dishti Gurnani.

Then each team had five minutes for their final pitch, after an introduction by their mentors. The judges had the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. After long deliberation, UNICC’s Chief of Data Analytics Anusha Dandapani announced the winners.

Team Agritech was the first-place winner, receiving a $3,000 cash prize, with its solution of a newly-developed, sustainable, proprietary ozone-based disinfection delivery system to tackle the disaster preparedness challenge. The system addresses the matter of food loss and food safety by dramatically minimising the effect of malicious pathogens on agricultural products across the entire supply chain, while at the same time considerably increasing shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seafood, meats and edibles greens.

Our unique ozone delivery system is designed extensively to be applied in the form of dry or wet methods determined by sensitivity, delicateness, fertility of the treated products.

Agritech Team

Logista Emergency Response was the runner-up. Their solution addressed the Disaster Preparedness challenge with a rapidly deployable and scalable field-based logistics system that gives emergency responders accurate, data-driven insights in order to make the right choices when time and resources are in demand. The cash prize for the runner-up team was $2,000.

The audience-chosen team was The Bulb, which was awarded a $1,000 cash prize for their Gender Equality solution of virtual networking against violence. The team proposed a virtual networking solution to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women. Their solution contains two major networking platforms, a group chat using a popular communications app and a blog site.

The teams were evaluated for their clarity and innovation, the social impact of their solutions, the capital requirements and financial forecast, the viability, both operational and technical, feasibility and sustainability of the solution, as well as the presentation delivery. The panel included the following judges:

  • Pavan Pidugu, Chief Technology Officer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Rodrigo Hernan Prado Cordova, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Primus AI, RPA
  • Reda Sadki, President, The Geneva Learning Foundation
  • Ursula Wynhoven, United Nations Representative, International Telecommunications Union
  • Friederike Schüür, Fellow, AI Ethics and Digital Governance, United Nations.

Solutions proposed by other teams were also great:

  • The SafeTeal team proposed an inter-sectional mobile app for gender-based violence prevention and response. The app is intended to engage across the educational space, advocacy circles and the healing space.
  • The Merakhi team also had a solution to the Gender Equality challenge, proposing a smart jewelry and education program.
  • The CV2 team proposed a global, encrypted communications platform to tackle one of the biggest challenges in the cyber security space, by collecting and dispersing information in a timely and secure manner
  • The World ID team proposed a distributed ledger Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providing digital identity solutions designed to immutably protect sovereign, institutional, and citizen-level data and information, increasing scale and integrity in global information systems.

Thanks to this Thinkathon to advance human welfare, participants have been able to sharpen their critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills. The challenges have heightened their awareness of global challenges, allowing them to build capacity and share knowledge, and work in collaboration with people with different perspectives.

WHO mYoga App
Credit: UNICC/Al Sawwaf

WHO and UNICC Deliver mYoga App, a Daily Yoga Companion

The World Health Organization, together with the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, recently launched the well-received and popular WHO mYoga app.​

Developed by UNICC, the mYoga app has found a global audience with a simple yoga practice platform for the general public. It includes Yoga learning and practice sessions of varying durations. The a​​pp comprises a collection of videos and audio sessions that users can enjoy in the comfort of their homes,​​ and when they wish. It also allows users to download videos in case they wish to watch them offline at their own convenience.

Need an efficient and inexpensive yoga app in a timely fashion? Call on UNICC. Its Application Delivery team helps Clients design, enhance and build mission-critical custom enterprise applications and collaborative solutions.

UNICC has been developing and supporting applications for several years, with solutions and products delivered to its Clients and Partner Organizations, including intranet, extranet and corporate website redesign, custom business application development, application integration, data migration, certificate exchange hubs, mobile apps and more.

The mYoga app is safe and secure, collecting no data from users at all, and can be used as a daily Yoga companion for people aged around 18-65 years. The app is easy-to-use and a free tool for people who are trying yoga for the first time or those who already practice yoga regularly. No special equipment is needed, and users can learn or practice yoga from 3 to 45 minutes, so even busy people can use it to get active, achieve  peace of mind and stay fit.

The app was built using React Native, which is an Open Source cross-platform framework for mobile development. UNICC leverages Amazon AWS for storing the media content (video/audio files). The WHO mYoga app is available for free download on Android devices and Apple devices.

The application currently supports two languages, namely English (default) and Hindi. I will make it available in all six UN languages.

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Credit: WHO

The Prime Minister of India expressed his hope that this app will provide help for spreading the practice of Yoga worldwide and will also contribute to the efforts of “One World, One Health.”

The project started in 2019 and the first version of the WHO mYoga App was recently launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while he was addressing 7th International Yoga Day on Monday, June 21, 2021. UNICC is currently working on the second version where all six UN languages will be available with some improvements.

The mYoga app is an effort to further popularise Yoga. It will also help realise our collective vision of “One World, One Health.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

He also said that this app will be helpful in keeping people healthy during the pandemic. It may have a great role in the re-rehabilitation of the health of the people who have recovered from COVID-19.

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Photo: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi with WHO mYoga App (see story here).

In addition, the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shared a Twitter post in June about the App, saying: “Happy #InternationalDayOfYoga! @WHO is very happy to launch a new mYoga App, together with the Government of #India, to help you do yoga at your convenience, especially during #COVID19. Thank you so much, for your support, Prime Minister @narendramodi! Let’s #BeActive!”

The app, recently launched, has already secured a prestigious place in the AppBrain world ranking!

We faced many challenges during the mYoga app development process, but after launching the app and seeing the positive feedback from the users and the prestigious place the app secured quickly in the World Ranking, we felt really thrilled. I believe that self-belief, teamwork and hard work will always earn you success.

Minas al Sawwaf, React Native Developer, UNICC

mYoga Features

  • Viewing and downloading of learning and practice videos
  • Users can view learning and practice videos for the various Yoga training exercises to understand how to perform the exercise. The video once viewed entirely will be marked as “Completed”. In case the user has not finished watching the entire video, it will be marked as “In progress”. User can also download the video if needed for offline viewing. A particular practice video will be enabled only once the relevant learning videos for that practice video have been “Completed”
  • Playing and downloading of audio files
  • Users can listen to the audio clips for a particular practice video for the various Yoga training exercises to understand how to perform the exercise. User can also download the audio if needed for offline listening.
  • Internationalisation: users have the option to switch the language from within the application. The application currently supports two languages namely English (default) and Hindi
  • Audio/Video streaming: users can view the training videos and listen to audio clips using the media player within the app. The application streams the video/audio from Amazon cloud. The media thus streamed is rendered on the device using Amazon Media Convert and Cloud front services. In addition, all the media files are stored centrally inside an Amazon S3 bucket.

WHO mYoga App and the SDGs

The app proposed the concept of Be Healthy, Be Mobile (BHBM) under the United Nations SDG for achieving Universal Health Coverage by the year 2030. BHBM initiative was set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2012 to support the scaling up of mobile health technology in the National Health Service (NHS) to combat various non-communicable diseases.

The goal of developing the WHO mYoga app is to spotlight the health benefits of yoga that can ease the stress of our modern ‘laptop’ lives. SDG 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” is particularly relevant since yoga improves physical health and general well-being. Other SDGs can also be seen in different aspects. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlights not only the health benefits of the practice but also the sustainable lifestyle it promotes, leading to better harmony between people and the planet.