Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi

Shining by Design – UNRWA and UNICC Working Together

UNICC Partners with Palestinians at UNRWA for Its Substantive Delivery

In June 2020, UNICC announced a ground-breaking agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that would give skilled Palestinian professionals an opportunity to join UNICC in supporting the digital transformation of the UN system.

This reflects UNICC’s substantive thinking around the Sustainable Development Goals, with progress on 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. The agreement also allows UNICC to advance its agenda on bringing more youth and women into the fold.

UNRWA’s partnership with UNICC is providing a new chance for Palestine refugee youth, and it is contributing to UNRWA efforts to seed, grow and nurture talented resources among the refugee community.

Hani Cordiya, Head of IT Service Centre, Information Management and Technology Department, UNRWA

With the agreement in place, Venkat Venkateswaran, Head of Application Development Services, jumped at the chance to recruit talented Palestinians to help with UNICC’s growing portfolio of app-dev services to Clients. Marco Liuzzi, Acting Chief, Operations, followed suit with some operations support personnel as well. The Palestinian support team continues to grow with two new operations professionals based in Ramallah.

Eight people are already on board and hard at work on interesting projects for UNICC Clients. Hani Cordiya, Head of the Information Technology Service Centre at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, helped to forge this partnership, with the new team reporting to UNICC Application Delivery team leaders in Geneva and Brindisi. UNICC welcomes all of its new colleagues in Clients and Projects as well as in Operations.

“Automate to Accelerate”

Abeer Alatrash, also based in Gaza, is a software quality assurance (QA) engineer who has embraced agile methodology in app development. She explained the process of QA at UNICC, where software engineers develop and test applications iteratively. To keep pace with developers, QA engineers like Abeer typically use tools such as Eclipse, Katalon and Selenium to automate testing.

Once she has developed a test case, she can run her testing script many times, each time generating a report on whether a bug exists, where, and when it first appeared in the program. Automation helps to accelerate the QA phase. “I was seeking to act with a professional team at UNICC, not only to strengthen my experience and skills in the QA field, especially in automation methodologies and tools used in UNICC’s work, but also to enhance my knowledge and skills in test case documentation, plans and reporting issues,” she said.

Abeer is woking on a project with the United Nations Subsidiary Organs Lists (UNSOL), which will benefit the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Security Council Subsidiary Organs Branch and their progress on SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). She is testing code related to the submission of sanctions proposals and the publication and translation of sanctions approvals in the six official UN languages, in XML and JSON formats.

Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi 

“Coding Is for Everyone”

Fatma Alrubaie is a mobile application developer based at the UNRWA offices in Gaza. She sees building software solutions as a means of helping people overcome common challenges in their daily lives. One such challenge is access to vital services, where smart phones can really improve accessibility. She pointed to the double-digit growth of mobile applications in app stores over the past five years. “I expect that smart phone programming will be a major area of opportunity and may take a lion’s share” of business, reinforcing the idea that coding is for everyone.

Right now, she is working on a Reintegration Handbook mobile application for the International Organization for Migration (IOM). “It provides practical guidance on the design, implementation and monitoring of reintegration assistance for migrants,” she told us.

The app will help to reduce inequalities (SDG 10), cultivate sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and bring about peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16) in service of migrant populations.

I want to be a professional developer, and I can accomplish this goal by collaborating with UNICC’s professional team. In this collaboration, I can be an expert and deliver excellent applications with high performance.

Fatma Alrubaie, Mobile Application Developer

Fatma holds herself to high professional standards. In her view, “difficult circumstances make a stronger person – not strength in the body but rather strength with the will and perseverance to reach the best and acquire the highest.” She is making the most of her work at UNICC. “My presence with UNICC will give me the will and determination to reach the best and to acquire the highest professional skills,” she added.

Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi

“Creativity Is Essential”

Belal Shbair is a Gaza-based full stack Java developer. He is currently working on the team that is enhancing and supporting the International Plant Protection Convention (FAO/IPPC) Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS), which facilitates the generation of electronic phytosanitary certificates or “ePhytos.”

GeNS is a centralized, multi-tenant web-based system created for countries without their own systems for producing ePhytos and exchanging them electronically. In terms of SDGs, it is instrumental in helping its users halt the loss of biodiversity, protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems (SGD 15) and mitigate climate change (SCD 13). As more countries join GeNS, software developers must extend and improve the application.

Belal views creativity and collaboration as essential to his work. “I’d love to share and gain experience with UNICC teams. I’m always motivated and passionate about what I’m doing. And I’m excited to work together to produce unique solutions.”

Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi 

“Transparency in Reporting”

Reeham Ghanima is also a full stack developer based in Gaza. She is working on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) portal project for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Her work supports transparency in reporting on the organization’s efforts to preserve the biodiversity of coastal, marine and terrestrial ecosystems and ensure sustainable use of natural resources (SDG 13, SDG 14 and SDG 15, to name a few). In her role as a front-end React.js developer, she is building reusable components, developing new user-facing features and translating designs and wireframes into high-quality code.

Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi 

“Shining by Design”

Ahmed Abuammouna is a graphic designer specializing in user interface/user experience (UI/UX) for mobile applications and websites. He joined UNICC in July to work on a specific project under the guidance of UNICC’s Innovation and Outreach Officer, David Damian Sandoval. Ahmed is designing innovative and dynamic content for sharing information with UNICC staff as well as Partners, Member States and other relevant stakeholders.

“Most important is our new design theme, which focuses more on storytelling through illustrations,” he said. “We plan to reflect the original design in a variety of materials, like the upcoming UNICC Director’s Report, marketing materials, infographics and broadsheets for UNICC users, the SDG identification process and so forth. It is very SDG-oriented.”

Flexibility was critical in delivering his work. “Sometimes I work during New York office hours, which is seven hours behind Palestine, and then I work during Geneva office hours,” he said. “It’s challenging. At the same time, it has been terrific to meet all these people working so hard at all times of day and night.”

Ahmed is now transitioning to Venkat’s team, full-time. Among his initial assignments will be helping to re-imagine and redesign user guides. Venkat’s vision is to transform static, formal and linear documents into dynamic and interactive platforms responsive to user needs.

Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi 

“Delivering a Pitch-perfect RBMS”

Ashraf Al Shorafa is a software QA engineer based in Gaza. He is working on a results-based management system (RBMS) improvements for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). He is involved in test planning and test execution “to make sure the system works perfectly per user requirement,” he said.

Ashraf’s contributions will strengthen UNHCR’s efforts to capture and capitalise on its system for orienting action and use of resources towards achieving clearly defined and demonstrable results. His work supports increased transparency and accountability, while avoiding overlap and waste.

Venkat expects his existing App Delivery team to benefit from the greater diversity. “Engaging the talents and experience of Fatma, Abeer, Reeham, Belal, Ahmed and Ashraf is a great way, a mutually beneficial way, to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

Photo: UNRWA/Hinnawi 

“Resiliency in Operations”

Murawweh Daher is an enterprise monitoring administrator in the Operations Monitoring Unit (OPXM). Currently, his main project is to update all System Centre Operations Manager (SCOM) servers through Windows Server Update Services patches and disaster recovery testing.

Among Murawweh’s responsibilities are adding new servers, services and network devices to monitoring solutions, checking whether management monitoring servers and services are up and running, troubleshooting any failures in monitoring, inserting new certifications for SCOM clients and modifying expired certifications for existing servers.

Photo: UNRWA/Daher

“Automation for Sustainable Development”

Farouq Mousa, an infrastructure automation developer in the Automation Unit (OPA), is working on the automation team managing the set-up and configuration of UNICC automation platforms. “We are diving deep into the process of automating platforms and infrastructure to make things go better,” he said.

“The goal is to save IT staff time and focus on the main business by having fully automated processes rather than executing routine tasks manually.” His work will contribute to UNICC’s efforts to foster innovation and develop quality, dependable and resilient infrastructures and sustainable work environments represented by SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure).

Photo: UNRWA/Mousa

Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

UNICC Facilitates UN Inter-Agency Collaboration with a Reputation for Cyber Excellence

Nearly 30 Agencies Subscribe to UNICC’s Common Secure Threat Intelligence Service 

The United Nations family, in its unique position as a global, humanitarian body and a holder of large sets of sensitive data, is a natural target for hackers. To deliver its mission uninterruptedly, it is crucial that UN Agencies are able to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate risks associated with threats through a common approach to information security. 

In support of this vision, UNICC launched in 2016 the Common Secure Threat Intelligence service, through which the organization shares timely, relevant and actionable  cyber security threat and incident information that is sourced from member Agencies as well as commercial security firms, service providers, federal, state and local government agencies, law enforcement and other trusted sources, bridging the cyber community and the United Nations system. 

Common Secure Threat Intelligence Services  

Beginning in 2016 with a handful of subscribers, the service has grown to nearly 30 UN Agencies and related international organizations, including ADB, CTBTO, FAO, IADB, IAEA, ICJ, IFAD, IIIM, ILO, IMO, ITU, OECD, PAHO, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICC, UNICEF, UNIDO, UN OIM, UNRWA, UNWOMEN, WFP, WHO, WIPO and WTO. 

The Common Secure service features automatic dissemination of curated threat intelligence through a Malware Information Sharing Platform (MISP), credential theft notifications and an annual meet-up to enhance collaboration and build trust among subscribing partners.  

In 2019, the conference was held at UNICC’s Centre of Excellence in Valencia, Spain, featuring vendor and regional stakeholder sessions as well as feedback, presentations and input from participating Agencies. The Common Secure Annual Conference scheduled for Istanbul in September 2020, due to the global pandemic, has been postponed to the week of 10 May 2021 at a venue yet to be determined. 

The Common Secure team and platform can quickly triage, consume, enrich and disseminate cyber threat alerts along with other critical information for risk management. This service aids development of professional, trusted relationships among peers and subject matter experts and allows Clients to share information and mitigate threats from all angles, fostering collaboration among various types of organizations with the overall goal of working together to proactively protect organizational reputations and their privileged information assets.

A shared cyber security knowledge hub results in maximum impact and greater efficiency and effectiveness across the UN. With our experienced and certified cyber security experts, we enable our Agencies to create secure business solutions thereby making cyber security as a business enabler.  

Tima Soni, Chief, Cyber Security Section, UNICC

Nearly half of the subscribers are members of the premium service that includes a security risk rating and intelligence enrichment using proprietary data sets coming from both Open and Closed Source intelligence resources. 

Moreover, the shared service provides maximum efficiency and cost savings. More Agencies are expected to join shortly, also bringing Common Secure threat Intel recipients a greater economy of scale. As an example, the monthly price for this services has decreased from around $6000 per Agency in 2016, to $950 today.  

Creating a Culture of Cyber Excellence  

The Threat Intelligence service is part of the Common Secure Information Security Hub, a cybersecurity centre for inter-Agency collaboration. Historically, UN Agencies have worked in silos, each developing their own solutions. The development of a shared solution with expert and certified staff that all Agencies can leverage is a brand-new and innovative approach, for which UNICC has been awarded the 2020 CSO50 Award

This hub meets countless strategic and tactical needs, with UNICC building relationships with the cyber community at large on behalf of the UN system, fostering a reputation and a culture of cyber excellence.  

Photo: Pexels/Ferguson

Green Climate Fund Delivers Correspondence Management Training with UNICC Learning Team Guidance

UNICC has built a customised, self-paced course to train Green Climate Fund (GCF) personnel in the management of official and executive correspondence in Microsoft Dynamics 365.

GCF uses the Microsoft Dynamics Executive Correspondence Management system for official and executive correspondence, including postal letters and electronic mail, tracked upon receipt and replied to in a timely manner. Users of this effective and complex system require training to best realise its benefits.

The goal of the course developed by UNICC is to provide a clear understanding of system roles, responsibilities and processes for all stakeholders, including personnel at the Office of the Executive Director, Division staff, Team Assistants and Focal Points.

We are truly grateful for the UNICC team’s tremendous energy and appreciate the relationship we have established during the project, with easy, reliable and practical communications. We are impressed by the course and are excited to start testing the training!

Kate Myounghee Kim, Business and Solution Analyst, Green Climate Fund

Photo: UNICC

For targeted and efficient instructional design, the UNICC Learning Services team worked closely with a GCF subject matter expert familiar with the Dynamics CRM Correspondence Management system, its policies and procedures, to identify user needs and shape the training accordingly.

The course contains seven modules that amount to an estimated duration of 150 minutes. There is a total of 132 interactive screens for users to learn about the different subjects, including an introduction to the course, a system and process overview and a ‘how-to’ guide for all processes. The content is based on Green Climate Fund’s administrative information knowledge base.

The UNICC team, including training coordinator Katia Distante, graphic designer Lorena Henriquez and instructional designer Adrian Pugh, delivered interactive assessments of various questioning types for users to answer at the end of each module, as well as a final assessment of 25 questions based on the contents of each module. To confirm the knowledge transfer, learners receive feedback after tests and can retake unsuccessful questions. At the end of the training, students can download a Certificate of Completion.

The training has been developed using Articulate Storyline 360, compliant with the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and was executed following Success Approximation Model (SAM) principles.

Photo: UNICC

Microsoft Dynamics 365, as a shared services offering from UNICC, offers the UN family a 360-degree view of contact management across an organization. For more information on Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Learning Services, please reach out to business@unicc.org.

Photo: Unsplash/Kelly

World Food Programme Puts Bots to Work

How Robotic Process Automation Helps Organizational Efficiency

The UN International Computing Centre opened its Robotic Process Automation Centre of Excellence (CoE) in 2019; the World Food Programme (WFP) was among the first UN Agencies to explore this new range of digital capabilities.

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions, organizations can transform routine, manual data transcription processes with automated software programs that run whenever needed, completing repetitive, rules-based tasks that otherwise expend precious human capital.

RPA frees up people to do what people do best – innovate, collaborate, motivate each other and fulfill an organization’s substantive mission and mandate. For WFP, this means achieving Zero Hunger (Sustainable Development Goal 2), whereby countries can draft and implement policies that promote food security and nutrition objectives.

UNICC’s service delivery has been exemplary, constantly adjusting to our changing needs and timeline, as WFP was new to RPAs and automation in general. After go-live, the RPA support too has been proactive and attentive, to make sure bugs and quirks to newly-implemented RPAs were promptly fixed. Our experience in working with UNICC has been really good; we have received timely estimates for development, testing and deployment, clear and competitive costs, as well as simple instructions on how to set up attended bots or scheduled unattended bots.

Masimilliano Merelli, Head of ERP/SAP Services, WFP

Among the opportunities to increase organizational efficiency, WFP and UNICC identified three task workstreams where RPA can be applied:

  • Processing outstanding employee travel advances as needed
  • Downloading and distributing an investment status report once a day
  • Checking the financial sections of annual country reports periodically.

The joint team agreed to use an RPA platform by UiPath, a seasoned RPA software vendor. The UNICC team went to work in close collaboration with WFP’s focal points to assess all processes carefully to define steps, decision points and rules – and to design a software solution.

They then developed, tested and implemented each process, connecting the components of each automation solution to UNICC’s shared RPA CoE infrastructure, from network to workstations to thus enable WFP’s business users with each bot.

At every stage, testing and security were paramount. The first two processes were ready to go live in about four to six weeks.

For outstanding travel advances, UNICC developed an unattended bot (a software robot that runs end to end without human intervention) that would send emails nudging responsible parties, thereby ensuring timely financial reconciliation and saving the travel unit valuable hours processing requests older than 60 days.

Photo: UNICC/Allen

The solution for investment status reports required UNICC to create an unattended ‘treasury user bot’ that could access the investment report platform, locate and download needed reports and then send them to a common treasury mailing box. The bot freed up staff to do more interesting and value-add work, with reports arriving as needed. UNICC onboarded WFP users for these solutions and provided technical support for their administration.

The WFP Country Reports process was more complex. To fulfil their agreements with donors, WFP country offices must publish Annual Country Reports (ACRs) on the performance of their projects. The Contribution Accounting and Donor Financial Reporting unit typically checks the financial section of these ACRs to make sure the data accurately represents WFP’s global operations. Then it reconciles them with data in WFP’s Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) system and ensures they are consistent with other reporting.

This review process is routine, but complex and painstaking, as it involves three separate sub-reports. After a detailed testing period, UNICC has now delivered this process in production and WFP’s teams are already engaged in extending the solution to more complex sub-reports and global scale-up.

Leveraging UiPath’s technology, UNICC took about seven weeks to design, develop and deploy two unattended bots that would run step-by-step through the processes of checking the sub-reports. WFP is able to verify specific financial key figures in these ACRs much more quickly, conduct periodic checks more easily and make timely adjustments throughout the fiscal year.

All these bots are now running on UNICC’s servers, connected to a UiPath solution called Orchestrator, hosted within UNICC’s shared RPA Centre of Excellence infrastructure. While UN Agency staff and stakeholders get a good night’s rest, the bots stay at it till every task is completed.

WFP’s decision turned out to be incredibly timely. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the global economy hard and budgets tightened everywhere. In all sectors, leaders have been looking for creative ways to make the most of their resources, and that’s exactly what RPA helps us to do. It delivers operational efficiencies when and where organizations need it most.

Photo: Unsplash/UX Indonesia

Beyond these current solutions, other areas of interest involving RPA innovations for UN Agencies include:

  • Business transformation consulting
  • Automation pipeline generation and value assessment
  • Invoice processing with advanced OCR (optical character recognition)
  • Financial reconciliation
  • Travel claims
  • Authorizations
  • API integrations (ServiceNow, PeopleSoft, SAP, etc.)
  • Project results and reporting
  • Records management
  • Telephone bills reconciliation
  • Digitalisation of vouchers
  • Processing advanced shipment notices
  • Funding requisitions
  • Medical service clearance
  • Vendor screening and compliance adherence
  • Drugs screening validation through public websites
  • Time sheet management.

Nagesh Vepa, Practice Lead of UNICC’s RPA Centre of Excellence, noted that the best hyper automation solutions delivered to WFP come from a quick, well-informed marriage of minds with a top-down and a bottom-up approach to problem-solving – one that considers not only an organization’s overall operational goals and budgets, but also the untapped or latent skills and talent of its employees in delivering the organization’s mandate.

Photo: NetHope

New Strategic Partnership: NetHope

ICC is proud to join hands with the NetHope community to learn from and grow strong in an effort to enhance and refine the way that both organizations serve their communities and constituents. ICC aims to provide insights for NetHope communities of practice about ICC and its Partner Organizations’ best practices and lessons learned. NetHope is strategically positioned within the NGO community much like ICC is with the UN community.

We are excited to join the NetHope forum, where we can provide insights and gain an understanding of the wider NGO community that often works with our UN Partner Organizations.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, ICC

NetHope empowers committed organizations to change the world through the power of technology. This consortium of nearly 60 leading global nonprofits unites with technology companies and funding partners to design, fund, implement, adapt, and scale innovative approaches to solve development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges. NetHope has three new partnerships – with ICC, the Salvation Army International and with War Child Holland. See the NetHope press release here.

Each of these outstanding organizations collectively touch millions of people worldwide. Digital technology has provided an opportunity to scale up their impact, and they recognize NetHope’s collaborative and convening role in progressing nonprofit digital transformation.

Liz Bronder, CEO, NetHope

About NetHope

NetHope is a consortium of nearly 60 leading global nonprofits, whose members deliver over 60 percent of all annual, international, non-governmental aid. The NetHope community strives to transform the world, building a platform of hope for those who receive aid and those who deliver it. See their website here.

Photo: UNITAR

ICC’s CTO Shashank Rai Speaks at UNITAR Webinar on Coding for Social Capital

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the First Code Academy hosted on 16 July a virtual roundtable on building a better future for the world’s youth through coding. ICC’s Chief Technology Officer Shashank Rai was invited to speak as an expert panelist on the topic of software coding and digital public goods.

After an introduction by Alexander Taylor, Youth Ambassador to the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, and an opening statement by Moses Satralkar, Associate Director for Program Development at the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, five young panelists presented their projects, where through programming and technology they solve societal challenges.

The foundation of coding for social capital is open collaboration. We can all contribute by participating in open source projects that contribute to our communities and the well-being of humanity.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, ICC

Shashank focused his contribution on digital public goods, technology and freely and openly available content. He noted that open collaboration, including open content, open-source software and open standardization, is the bridge that stands between coding and social capital.

Madhavi Shankar, Forbes Asia 30 under 30 and co-founder and CEO of SpaceBasic shared here experience in building solutions for her community through coding. Photo: UNITAR

The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, in its report published on 10 June 2019, recommends “that a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, create a platform for sharing digital public goods, engaging talent and pooling data sets, in a manner that respects privacy, in areas related to attaining the SDGs.” Digital public goods are defined as open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, do no harm and are of high relevance for attainment of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Shashank encouraged the panelists and everyone in the audience to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and start or join an open-source project that contributes to the well-being of others, focusing on human-centered design and capitalizing on social connections to create digital public goods.

The biggest challenge for open source content is that it is written from techies for the techies, and not focused on the social sector. At ICC, for example, we have to write software for use in harsh conditions around the globe, areas with low bandwidth or little Internet connectivity.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, ICC

The webinar is part of a series of intergenerational conversations to empower society and to resolve global challenges. ICC’s Director Sameer Chauhan participated in the COVID-19 and Global Youth Leadership roundable, part of the same series, on 14 May.

View the complete recording of the Coding for Social Capital webinar.

 

Photo: Unspalsh/Qim Manifester

UNICC Develops Jambo, an Inter-Agency Phone Book App for the UN

Find, connect and say ‘Jambo!’ (‘Hello’ in Swahili) on your smart phone to United Nations colleagues from other organizations. Collaboration and communications between different UN Agencies are crucial to address global challenges and achieve the 2030 Agenda. Most UN Agencies have robust communications within their organizations, but until now a combined global directory has had limited contacts.

To facilitate cooperation, especially given the outbreak of COVID-19 with millions of people working remotely from their homes, the UN Digital Solutions Centre (UN DSC) has developed a phone book app enabling colleagues from across UN agencies to find and contact each other.

The Jambo app, funded by the UN DSC and developed by the International Computing Centre (ICC) in less than a month, currently contains contact information for staff at five member organizations – the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and UNICC. The UN DSC is offering all other UN entities to join for free (additional features such as chat may be introduced as paid services in the future).

The app works like a digital telephone directory. Using their provided organizational credentials to log in, UN personnel can search for colleagues by name and find information such as email address, phone number, UN Agency and other standard Active Directory data. Jambo users can call or send messages and add notes about contacts through the device’s native phone and email functionalities.

Additional features, such as alternate languages and a fully-encrypted chat, will soon be added to the application, with all systems hosted under UN Immunities and Privileges.

The UN DSC encourages all UN entities to say hello and join Jambo for a UN-wide contact information database, strengthening inter-agency collaboration and enabling each to better serve the global challenges related to their mandates.

ICC Delivers Client Webinars on Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning

ICC presented its Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning Services, including ICC’s solid support to Clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, to over thirty people from 12 UN Agencies and non-profit organizations interested in subscribing to ICC’s new service.​​​​

ICC is taking the moment as a timely reminder that a set of Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning services were introduced at the last Management Committee meeting. Together with ICC’s Chief of Business Relationship Management Section Prado Nieto and other BRMs, Lyle McFadyen, Senior Solutions Architect, and Sami Belquas, Senior Service Management Coordinator, presented ICC’s BC/DR Planning service, which provides continuity planning, testing and training services, a comprehensive management and support system for Clients seeking to improve their organizational resiliency and improve their ability to react.​​

The main goal of this service is to help ICC Clients:

  • Safeguard life, property and the environment
  • Minimize confusion and enable effective decision-making in a time of crisis
  • Minimize the loss of assets, controls, revenue, and impact on customers
  • Continue business operations – providing products and services even during a crisis
  • Facilitate the timely recovery of business-critical functions
  • Satisfy any legal, regulatory or contractual requirements, including ISO-IEC 22301:2019 certification.​

ICC Delivers Client Webinar on UN Digital Academy

ICC presented its new learning service UN Digital Academy on Thursday 18 June to over thirty people from 14 UN Agencies and non-profit organizations interested in subscribing to ICC’s new service.

The UN Digital Academy is a learning platform developed jointly by Microsoft and ICC that serves as a central repository of training resources and content to enable UN staff and stakeholders in their digital transformation journeys.

Chief Technology Officer Shashank Rai and Head of Learning Services Franca Vinci offered a presentation to show the key features of the product, delivered a short demo of the platform and answered questions from attendees. Participating organizations included CITES, ICJ, IOM, ITU, OICT, PAHO, UNDP, UNFCCC, UNICEF, UNITAR, UNOG, UN Women, WIPO and WMO.

For any digital transformation to succeed, there needs to be engagement from the workforce. Users need to be ready to engage with the new tools, adapt and innovate.

Franca Vinci, Head of Learning Services, ICC

Franca highlighted that the UN Digital Academy is designed to have the learner at the centre. It is user-friendly, can be accessed from anywhere, including offline and from locations with low bandwidth, at any time and from any device. The platform is easy to navigate and the content, available in English, French and Spanish, follows new micro-learning criteria: it is composed of a series of very short videos straight to the point.

UN Digital Academy to Support Working From Home

The UN was already undergoing a digital transformation, but the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the pace for implementing new technologies. Now, most of the employees worldwide are working from home and it is estimated that almost half will continue telecommuting after the crisis is over.

In response to the situation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, ICC and Microsoft are offering all organizations three months of free access with a minimum 12-month subscription in 2020.

Microsoft and ICC launched the UN Digital Academy at the UN Tech Huddle event organized by Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) team on 2 June. Since then, ITU and ICJ have onboarded the platform, that now has over 1300 users.

ICC Teams Collaborate to Develop e-Learning Platform for IPPC ePhyto Hub

ICC’s Learning Services team assisted in the in-house development of an eLearning course for the International Plant Protection Convention’s ePhyto hub, a collaborative project between IPPC and ICC’s Application Delivery team. IPPC is utilizing the Open Source Moodle platform to host the eLearning courses, with good support from Rosa Alianelli, Service Desk Technician, as Instructional Designer and Lorena Henriquez as the graphic designer.

This eLearning project is part of a much more complex IPPC ePhyto project. ICC and IPPC have been collaborating for several years on the global ePhyto web hub, an innovative project to digitalize and facilitate safe trade of plants and plant products. The system, that has received a trade facilitation innovation award, is now rolling out to countries worldwide.

Agile, Inexpensive and Professional Solutions

A training platform page of the IPPC ePhyto Solution GeNS eLearning Platform. Credit: IPPC

IPPC requested a solution to easily train all personnel involved in the GeNS platform of the ePhyto hub solution, which enables and delivers digital phytosanitary certificates for ease and security of plant protection certificate transactions.

Courses are meant to train National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPO) Assistants, NPPO Administrators, NPPO Officers, NPPO Inspectors, company users and company administrators from different countries.

The eLearning course was developed from beginning to end by the ICC Learning Services team. The ePhyto solution platform is a Moodle-based solution implemented and hosted at ICC for IPPC. The project involved creating, structuring and developing the content of different roles in the application, based on IPPC user manuals. ICC’s Application Delivery team served as subject matter experts and technical liaisons for the project.

Four courses were developed covering the six roles involved in the ePhyto system. All courses have a brief explanation on what the users will see in short, how-to videos. The videos take users through the system to perform certain actions. A final assessment for each course was also created. After passing the assessment the users can download a PDF copy of their certificate of achievement.

ICC’s Learning Services team will maintain all modules to keep content up to date. This project deliverable is a great example of cross-team collaboration within ICC, and the possibility to achieve an end-to-end project with ICC internal resources.

In support of: