Photo: UN Geneva

UNICC Management Committee Meeting – New Services and Directions

UNICC’s Management Committee (MC), the organization’s governance body comprised of representatives from over 40 Partner Organizations, met on 2 and 3 November for the 110th MC meeting, the second and last of 2022.

With a board that represents practically the entire UN system, we had a very productive, eventful, energetic and open meeting. The board helped us arrive at some very tangible and promising directions in which they are asking us to move forward. I am personally pleased to see us empowered and ensuring our value to our partner organizations in these tough times is clear. We at UNICC remain committed to supporting our partners as they continue to help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

On the first day, the session covered statutory business. After a Director’s Update from Sameer Chauhan, UNICC briefed the MC on substantive topics ranging from UNICC Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to financial and audit and compliance matters, including location strategy and its impacts on costs and servicing all regions.

The MC also approved four new services presented by UNICC, following the recommendation of the Advisory Group, a subset of MC members who work throughout the year with UNICC’s Director. The services include Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions, Managed Services for Dynamics 365, Application Security and Offensive Security Services.

The second day focused on the strategy of UNICC for going forward. The group showed strong support and commitment for UNICC’s cybersecurity practice and discussed its evolution to best protect the UN information assets. 

Another topic covered was the UN Digital Solutions Centre, a hub to build shared solutions and scale them for the entire UN system. Partners engaged in an interactive discussion on possible solutions for the business and technology teams within their organizations. 

I am very proud of the work we did last week with my colleague CIOs of the UN world. We met as the Management Committee of UNICC to provide advice and governance to the UNICC leadership team. To grow the value that UNICC delivers to the multilateral system, we did not shy away from having open and frank conversations that drew from the expertise of all of us. The near future looks more complex than ever and good governance more essential than ever. 

Fabrice Boudou, Director of IT Solutions Division, WTO and Chair of the UNICC MC

Sameer Chauhan thanks all UNICC Partner Organizations for being active and supportive members of the MC, especially the Chair Fabrice Boudou, Director of IT Solutions Division at WTO, and Vice-Chair Anthony O’Mullane, Director, Operations Support Division, Office of Information and Communications Technology, United Nations, for their leadership and steer.

Photos: UNICC

New Services for a Digital UN

UNICC’s mission is to provide trusted digital business solutions and shared services to the UN family. In this 110th Management Committee meeting, UNICC presented for approval a new suite of services to meet the needs of its over 80 Clients and Partner Organizations.

The new services include a Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions (DHoTS) that provides direct and simplified access to banking mechanisms and modalities to deliver cash assistance to beneficiaries. DHoTS enables UNICC Partners to build upon a secure and fast digital cash delivery platform to access banking, marketplaces and financial inclusion for sustainable development. It also provides opportunities to harness collaborative approaches for connectivity by making available direct and easy access to global financial ecosystems for the entire UN system.

The MC also approved Managed Services for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform as part of the already wide Dynamics Practice UNICC offers to its Clients and Partner Organizations, as well as Application Security Services and Offensive Security Services.

The United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) has over 50 years of experience as a strategic partner in the United Nations system in providing trusted services and digital business solutions. UNICC has been expanding the services it provides to over 80 Clients and Partner Organizations in all parts of the world and across the technology landscape.


UNICC Cybersecurity and Data Solutions Support COP27 Climate Conference

UNICC team on the ground in Sharm El Sheikh helps UNFCCC with conference optimization

UNICC assisted with cybersecurity and data solutions for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November 2022.

There were more than 100 Heads of State and Governments and 35,000 participants, including VIPs, country delegations, civil society organizations, coordination and management teams, technical specialist teams, UNFCCC and local staff, journalists, reporters and visitors. UNICC sent three cybersecurity and data experts to help out on the ground, in addition to providing remote support from Valencia.

Last year UNICC provided conference management, registration cybersecurity and data support to COP26. UNFCCC asked UNICC to continue this year with a number of services, including:

  • Virtual conference platform and infrastructure cybersecurity assessment
  • Onsite cybersecurity support
  • Data and analytics solutions to optimize information on participants, enhance data quality and confidence in registration data, with a view to enabling UNFCCC management to make informed decisions and gather insights from survey data.

Under my guidance as UNFCCC Director of Conference Services, that of the UNFCCC, Head of ICT and the respective team leads, the UNICC team on-site (and offsite) provided excellent support, particularly in the area of registration and accreditation. This enabled UNFCCC to successfully deliver a large-scale COP. The UNICC team showed absolute dedication, commitment and flexibility in being there to address the challenges and getting the issues resolved, often within minutes, especially during situations that needed immediate intervention. On top of this, the UNICC team on the ground were also able to manage some of their other prior commitments, which is commendable.

Laura Lopez, Director of Conference Affairs at UNFCCC

On-site and remote cybersecurity support for COP27
Under the leadership of the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer, UNICC was part of the Security Operations Center (SOC) team that supported UNFCCC and the Government of Egypt during COP27. UNICC was tasked with the vetting of the cybersecurity arrangements in place, as well as to participate in security operations during COP27 to ensure that a safe and secure information and cyber environment was provided for participants and delegates.

Activities in scope for UNICC’s review included a threat and risk assessment established prior to the conference, as well as a comprehensive security audit conducted by the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. The scope of the audit included conference facilities, network infrastructure, IT services, and end-user IT equipment and was followed by a remediation phase to address findings before the start of the conference.

Under UNFCCC supervision, UNICC participated in security incident management and response activities jointly with the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. Security operations were carried out by the SOC, itself embedded within the Network Operations Center (NOC) for enhanced interaction, and were supported by a Security Information and Event Monitoring solution (SIEM) deployed on-premises by the main cybersecurity provider specifically for the purpose.

During the conference, a UNICC team member served as a backup to the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer and worked on a shift basis to oversee the cybersecurity operations on behalf of UNFCCC during the sessions.

The UNICC team member interfaced with other SOC team members, the conference Infrastructure Lead Engineer, the NOC teams, the Conference Logistics Officer and on-site UNFCCC staff servicing the conference to address cybersecurity-related events and incidents.

Doing this, UNICC was responsible for assessing and evaluating reported cybersecurity-related events and alerts, daily reports issued by the teams, as well as for providing input to decision-making and follow-up recommendations to the UNFCCC ICT Lead as necessary. UNICC was also responsible for providing forensics investigation for cybersecurity-related incidents, as well as for providing regular threat intelligence updates prior and during the conference. In addition, UNICC teams undertook the cybersecurity assessment of the virtual conference platform.

As Head of UNFCCC ICT and Lead COP27 ICT Service Coordination, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the UNICC team for the high quality support we received on the cybersecurity front, which was very valuable to us navigating through this year’s conference.We were fortunate to have UNICC expertise in the SOC, jointly with the main cyber contractor and the Egyptian teams. UNICC’s on-site and remote contribution was excellent, in particular the additional support we received in the area of threat hunting and forensics work, which was key to driving incident handling throughout the conference. UNICC colleagues were great, reliable team players, and showed outstanding professionalism, dedication, and support even in stressful moments.

John Kiarie, Head of ICT at UNFCCC
Photo: UNICC

Data and analytics support
UNICC provided data and analytics support to UNFCCC for operational aspects. The UNICC data and analytics team focused on building data and analytics solutions to support the Conference Affairs, ICT and Operations coordination teams.

They created re-usable playbook and frameworks to manage workflows such as managing information on participants, support conference affairs team with registration and other formalities. They also worked to improve the data quality and confidence in registration data and enable UNFCCC leaders to make better decisions and gather insights from survey data, improving credibility with self-serve analytics on UNFCCC reporting platforms.

The team supported with high-level areas where to provide support:

  • Supported COP27 registration and accreditation data insights, with tools that supported real-time decision-making by UNFCCC senior management.
  • Provided optimal registration and accreditation services and development and implementation of the secretariat’s registration and accreditation standards.
  • Managed a COP27 client survey, a major reference and decision-making tool for UNFCCC senior management, management at large and Host Countries, as well as other conference managers in the UN system and intergovernmental systems.
  • Supported the Coordination Unit and Registration and Accreditation Management Team (RAMT) of the Conference Affairs division with responsibilities related to data analysis, data transformation and reporting. Worked under the general guidance of the respective Team Lead according to the area of specific assignments.

Data and Analytics team members, present in Egypt at the conference, also offered support for ad-hoc requests on stats and dashboards (e.g. on vaccinations, exceptions lists, etc.), maintaining, supporting and adapting existing dashboards as well as creating new ones based on requirements.

The high-quality data analytics solutions for the COP27 included client survey, registration and accreditation allowing for sophisticated insights and harnessing data to drive actionable analytics.

The team also liaised with ICT on the ground, adding additional data sources and technical issues, as well as an interactive client survey dashboard, a sentiment analysis for the client survey, interactive registration and accreditation dashboards and stable data infrastructure for ingest, storage and processing.

UNICC was proud to help with its successful cybersecurity and data solutions and support for UNFCCC at COP27 this year.

Photo: CTBTO

CTBTO 25th Anniversary Website Refresh

UNICC assists with refreshed CTBTO website for mission visibility and information for the organization’s 25th Anniversary

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) celebrated its 25th anniversary this fall with a high-level ministerial meeting and six countries (The Gambia, Tuvalu, Dominica, Timor-Leste, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe) ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, for a total of 176 state signatories. The organization also took the opportunity to upgrade its website to bring robust mission visibility and information to its many global stakeholders.

UNICC performed professionally in all aspects of this CTBTO website upgrade and migration, responding with spirit and an openness to all suggestions. They met all deadlines to deliver the site for CTBTO’s 25th anniversary in September.

The success of the project from the UNICC team (web development, project management and communications) was successful and demonstrates our view that UNICC is and will continue to be a strategic partner in digital business solutions. We had a winning team here who was able to deliver an agile project with high quality and a bit of magic.

Sunil Gupta, Chief Information Technology Officer, CTBTO

UNICC successfully delivered a website redesign and migration project for CTBTO, who sought out UNICC as a partner to migrate its outdated website to a new and more dynamic, cloud-based (Drupal) platform, including a content refresh for more approachable, manageable, readable and engaging content. After three months of design and development beginning in May 2022, the revamped website was launched on the morning of 19th September 2022 to great appreciation from CTBTO stakeholders.

In the Beginning
The UNICC team began development in May 2022 with an initial focus on both design and content migration from the old site to the new development site. The majority of the migration took place in May and early June. During this time, initial development work also took place on the main design template which allowed the UNICC team to hand over a partially built system to the CTBTO content team.

Under the Hood
The project included design content analysis, technical analysis and design, information architecture improvements, wireframes and mock-ups, project management and Drupal Content Management System. Development activities included:

  • Final UI/UX and Site design
  • Initial CMS platform setup
  • Data modeling for all content types
  • Development of dynamic pages
  • Creation of templates for static pages
  • Development of responsive theme (menus, layouts, components)
  • Full text search engine
  • SSO user authentication
  • Content workflow management
  • SEO support.

The project included cloud hosting infrastructure (in AWS) setup and configuration, CI/CD pipelines configuration and deployment automation as well as security risk assessments and audit.

Project scope included testing, UAT, migration activities, training, transition and release management, Go-live and Early lifecycle support, documentation (service guide) and project management. The project approach meant each sprint task was recorded in a Kanban board represented in the Jira ticket system; at the end of each sprint, UNICC presented a product demo that included all the newly completed tasks. The product increment provided after each iteration will be tested by the customer when operating normally.

Credit: CTBTO

When It Comes to Content
Many years of page-at-a-time publishing from a variety of authors and perspectives meant greater consistency and compliance to editorial guidelines was needed. UNICC hired and oversaw a content writer/editor whose role included rewriting content which needed to be transformed, rewritten and/or redesigned (from an information presentation perspective) with an eye to an appealing and dynamic look and feel. This also meant providing a friendly (and accurate) facelift for highly technical/programmatic information. The CTBTO content team was able to add and modify content over the summer months ahead of the September launch.

CTBTO Oversight and Inputs

Design workshops took place throughout May and June and were signed off shortly after a presentation was made to the CTBTO Executive Secretary during the third week of June.

Photo: CTBTO

Development work continued throughout the summer and the project was delivered in eight-week sprints and included all the deliverables set out in the multi-phase plan. There were several major user interface related change requests that came in late July and early August which were accommodated well by the team. The content team continued work on page content from May until launch ensuring that pages were either rewritten or edited accordingly with signoffs taking place for each page/section.

The joint CTBTO-UNICC team successfully delivered on the following aspects of this multi-phase project:

  • Production website with the described functionalities
  • Web Application UI/UX
  • Web content editing
  • Hosting environments in the UNICC Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services
  • Website launch – Website Security Assessment – Assessment of the security requirements and controls, static and dynamic analysis, with penetration test of the web application before going live
  • Website Testing
  • Training of the CTBTO Project Team
  • Providing training materials
  • User manual and technical documentation for the CTBTO Project Team
  • Post go-live support.

Winning team, high quality deliverables and a bit of magic
UNICC delivered on time, in budget, with proactive professional responses in all aspects of delivery. The team met all deadlines to deliver the site for CTBTO’s 25th anniversary in September. The CTBTO team have reflected that project’s success demonstrates the value UNICC extends to its Clients and Partner Organizations. CTBTO affirms that UNICC will continue to be a strategic partner for digital business solutions.

Photo: CITES

CITES Goes Digital: A Cloud-based System for Tracking and Management of CITES Review of Significant Trade

UNICC delivers CITES RST Tracking and Management System for greater efficiency

UNICC launched a project with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in February 2020 to develop a system to track and manage a core CITES process with a cloud-based solution.

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. This new system, designed, developed, hosted and managed by UNICC, optimizes CITES’ Review of Significant Trade (RST) procedures.

The CITES Review of Significant Trade (RST) procedure was designed to identify species that may be subject to unsustainable levels of international trade, and to identify problems and solutions concerning effective implementation of the Convention.

CITES Resolution Conf. 12.8

The RST process identifies species that may be subject to unsustainable levels of international trade, and identifies recommendations and solutions to address the issue. The system provides a database for tracking these RST cases. The importance of a properly developed and delivered RST Tracking and Management System is critical to CITES’ efforts to regulate the trade of wild animals and plants across borders between countries.

The value in UNICC’s delivery of the CITES RST Tracking and Management System is rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those concerned with biodiversity (Goals 14 and 15) and international partnerships (Goal 17).

Credit: CITES

The RST Tracking and Management System also serves as an essential tool helping CITES Parties to track the RST process and provides an easy-to-use platform for communication.

Key features
The RST Tracking and Management System includes a summary of the case details and status of all ongoing RST cases, any recommendations of the CITES Animals or Plants Committee (depending on the species) or the CITES Standing Committee directed to the Party concerned, and correspondence between that Party and the CITES Secretariat.

The system provides more transparency in the process and allows Parties, that are subject to the RST process, and other interested users, to track the status of recommendations and receive alerts on outstanding actions. It also provides a portal for Parties to communicate with the CITES Secretariat on progress in the implementation of these recommendations.

Credit: CITES

For the CITES RST system we followed a two-phased approach. The first phase focussed on detailed requirements-gathering, analysis and design. The system mock-ups and the proposed solution were presented to the stakeholders, including members of the Conference of the Parties (CoP). The second phase followed an Agile development process with excellent validation from the CITES Secretariat.

Gianluca Nuzzo, Application Delivery Team Lead, UNICC

The RST Tracking and Management System was developed using a ‘best-of-breed’ solution/technology approach and according to the chosen design. It utilizes widely-recognized, open-source solutions and frameworks selected for the specific requirements of the application. The system is presented in a user-friendly, modern and intuitive design. Explore the RST Tracking and Management system here:


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines.

Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future.

Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

CITES is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level. For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 184 Parties.

Over 38,700 species – including roughly 5,950 species of animals and 32,800 species of plants – are protected by CITES against over exploitation through international trade. They are listed in three CITES Appendices. The species are grouped in the Appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as primates, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), sea turtles, parrots, corals, cacti and orchids. But in some cases, only a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country) is listed.

Photo: UNICC

UNICC and UNHCR at the Stellar Meridian 2022 Blockchain Conference

UNICC was proud to participate in the Stellar Development Foundation’s Meridian 2022 Conference, called “The Urgency of Doing,” between 11-13 October in Rome, Italy. The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization supporting the development and growth of the open-source Stellar network that supports blockchain technology.

UNICC’s participation highlighted the collaboration between UNICC and UNHCR, to shed light on global development issues and how can blockchain technology help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The distributed ledger or blockchain technology is revolutionary, allowing not only innovative solutions to existing business problems but creating new products and markets altogether. However, for the humanitarian relief sector, lack of tech in the last mile of digital delivery, to Persons of Concern (POC), remains the biggest block in adopting this at scale.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, UNICC

Aid organizations rely on physical cash-assistance programs to deliver the hundreds of billions of dollars in aid disbursed each yea, and the need to scale these programs is growing. What if there was a way to disburse aid faster, more transparently, safely, and with fewer barriers at scale? UN Agencies need to open the door to a new way of thinking about delivering humanitarian aid.

The panel – meeting humanitarian needs through digital tools
Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer at UNICC spoke at the panel called “Meeting Humanitarian Need through Digital Tools” on 13 October, along with Denelle Dixon CEO of Stellar Development Foundation and Carmen Hett, Treasurer at UNHCR, who spoke about the broader use of technology in humanitarian delivery.

His presentation focused on challenges and opportunities that UNICC is facing in exploring the use of blockchain technology and digital currencies for payments to beneficiaries such as internally displaced populations (IDP) and refugees.

UNHCR works to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee. Together with partners and communities, they work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country. This includes refugees, returnees, stateless people, the internally displaced and asylum-seekers. UNHCR’s protection, shelter, health and education has been crucial, healing broken pasts and building brighter futures. UNICC is a key partner to harness digital tools and transformations to successfully deliver aid.

One such digital tool for taking care of refugees is to give them financial aid called ‘cash-based intervention.’ Here, the collaboration between UNICC helps to deliver the blockchain and its digital wallets for refugee reimbursement through cash-based interventions. UNICC is providing the technical intelligence and knowledge on blockchain and associated technologies already, and now is experimenting with the Stellar network platform for optimized services.

Photo: UNICC

The conversations
There were good discussions with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), who was looking to learn more about block chain and Stellar and WFP’s Innovation Lab. What are the problems that the UN system is facing and what are the real gaps in some of the solutions it is embracing?

Shashank was able to contribute his tech and blockchain expertise in the UN system to the conversation, sharing the UNICC experience in implementing blockchain for digital identity across the UN family.

In addition to these questions, there was agreement that cross-border payments with blockchain can facilitate processing, reducing the cost of money movement and moving it expeditiously. Even instantaneously, while old school technologies might take 24 hours before a disbursement arrives in a beneficiary’s bank account.

It’s exceedingly difficult to predict when the next humanitarian crisis is going to take place. The most important thing is to be as ready as we can. Blockchain technology can make it amazingly easy and fast for UN Agencies to exchange financial and informational refugee data.

One of the other big challenges UNICC is looking to address is the difficulty of exchanging refugees’ data from one UN Agency to another (for example, from UNRWA and WFP), but with the swiftness, security and immutability of blockchain it can be done. Similarly, regarding the movement of funds, once funds are managed on the blockchain, people can relax about emergency situations. UN Agencies will be able to quickly move money, so from that point of view, this technology is really bringing efficiency.

Converting cryptocurrency to cash
What remains to be explored in-real-world situations is the ‘cash-out’ from digital wallets. While blockchain based platforms, may move monies at a lower cost and higher speed, eventually Persons of Concern have to ‘cash-out’ digital currency into ‘fiat’ for buying goods and services to meet their needs.

Cost-effective solutions are needed for this last-mile digital delivery. UNICC is supporting UNHCR in experimenting with the Stellar platform for Persons of Concern (POC), to convert the digital dollar (USDC Stable Coin) into fiat currency using services provided by MoneyGram.

This may seem trivial but has many issues as the commercial organisations have to deal with KYC/AML laws of different jurisdictions. For a cross-border refugee already under immense strain, the pay-out is not easy.

UNICC along with its partner humanitarian relief agencies continue to explore this area for cost-effective and digitally-inclusive solutions.

Photo: WTO

WTO Taps UNICC to Deliver its Integrated, Cost-efficient Service Management Solutions

ITSM and Enterprise Service Management with ServiceNow

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

The digital transformation the WTO Secretariat is embarking on relies on how well the transformation contributes to its mandate and how this will function internally. Similar to other international organizations, WTO Members States expect the Secretariat to optimize the value they are getting from their contributions and to unleash the talent of its staff.

This is where WTO and UNICC began to collaborate, to help with greater efficiency through better service delivery, assessing and assisting with updating a ten-year old service management system sorely in need of updates to automated processes.

The need for the multilateral system to visibly help the world reach the SDGs and ride the existing crisis like COVID, Climate or Ukraine has never been so high. It needs a UNICC which delivers both reliable value for money IT services and agile digital innovative solutions. At 50, UNICC’s human force mixes the right balance between expertise and dynamism to chart an exciting course together.

Fabrice Boudou, Director of IT Solutions Division, World Trade Organization and Chair of the UNICC Management Committee

ServiceNow service management now
WTO is a long-time consumer of UNICC digital business solutions across the technology landscape. They were one of the first to leverage UNICC’s partnership with ServiceNow for end-to-end service management business needs in the cloud.

WTO ServiceNow interface. Credit: WTO

The UNICC ServiceNow solution, with full cloud security, UN system cost efficiencies through its strategic agreements and full business process support, allows organizations like WTO to digitize and automate siloed processes, dramatically improving the service management experience across the organization.

The platform optimizes processes, connects data and organizational entities and accelerates innovation at scale with a single platform for digital business. On top of this monitoring and reporting tools mean that WTO has metrics at their fingertips to meet indicators with quality performance data.

From WTO’s initial objective to migrate the legacy ITSM solution to a market leading solution like ServiceNow, UNICC has been the perfect partner to allow us to meet this objective. And to go far beyond. Going out on our own to manage such a project was not feasible in terms of budget nor resources necessary. The UNICC ServiceNow team has filled the missing gap. With UNICC, a fast and efficient path became available to migrate the legacy solution and improve many ITSM processes while providing valuable additional data invisible before but critical for ITSM governance.

Ronald Jans, Head of IT Services Branch
WTO ServiceNow data monitoring. Credit: WTO

Benefits and features of the new system include:

  • Incident management
  • Request fulfillment
  • Knowledge management
  • CMDB and configuration management
  • Centralized service catalog and its management
  • Problem management
  • Change management
  • Asset management
  • Portal for end users
  • Workflow automation (approvals, delivery)
  • Measurement of SLAs
  • Reports and dashboard.

WTO had UNICC come on in 2021 to begin the process of upgrading the service management support ecosystem. The IT division was an obvious place to start, with its global support of the organization with its service management and help desk. The legacy system was replaced with the ServiceNow cloud platform immediately putting an end to manual and duplicative processes, even managing service issues through emails.

The UNICC ServiceNow team played a key role in supporting and guiding the WTO team all along, during the analysis and development of the solution, at times challenging existing practices, so as to identify where processes could be improved. UNICC also committed resources at a substantial level to ensure the WTO Service Centre team were comfortable and confident to hit the ground running once WTO’s ServiceNow went live. This contributed to the WTO Service Centre team’s being fully on board ahead of implementation and was a strong factor in its success.

Colette O’Byrne, Systems and Operations Engineer

The UNICC team first started working on the deployment of ServiceNow for other Clients in 2020, in line with current best practices and industry standards. This framework can be replicated, tailored and implemented for any other UN Agencies. The platform was designed, configured, and deployed so that WTO, as with others, could easily integrate the framework for its own ITSM frameworks.

The project involved:

  • Assessing the environment and sharing requirements
  • Setting up a portal for end users
  • Providing a centralized service catalog
  • Ensuring workflow automation of approvals and delivery
  • Measuring SLAs
  • Streamlining the incident management process
  • Ensuring request fulfillment and knowledge management processes
  • Migrating existing data and business processes replication
  • Overseeing CMDB and configuration management as well as service catalog management processes
  • Integrating problem management and change management modules.
WTO ServiceNow ticket resolution data. Credit: WTO

Development work continued throughout the second half of 2021 and the project was delivered in six months, having the go-live on January 2022, including all of the deliverables set out in the multi-phase plan. WTO is further developing its ITSM practice by building a configuration management database (CMdB )with its associated processes.

UNICC’s professional requirements analysis, documentation and project management practices ensured success, with ongoing coordination, follow-up meeting and effective and open communication channels. The two teams were then able to validate and meet WTO’s expectations, with timely and successful delivery of expected services.

WTO is gradually extending ITSM to Enterprise Service Management. They have and are still integrating other service delivery areas such as HR, Facilities, and Language services into ServiceNow, copying the success of the ITSM implementation, combined with an internal strategy of working towards a central Service Management facility for any user request or issue – the same tool for all and the same team to coordinate for all. In areas of service management and delivery, when addressing new demands, this has led to WTO adopting a “ServiceNow first” approach – considering at the outset if ServiceNow could be the best-fit solution.

Coupled with a procurement effort to source the service centre from a lower cost base, WTO is well on the way to a real digital transformation in how internal business solutions and services are delivered to its staff.

WTO was adaptive, flexible and keen to replicate the successes seen at UNICC from the ServiceNow platform. UNICC has helped in this way to establish ServiceNow as a leading industry platform for IT and asset management processes for the UN family.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

UNICC at International Day of the Girl 2022

UNICC partnered with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Infosys Foundation USA, and Micro:bit Educational Foundation to host a special, in-person event on 13 October to celebrate International Day of the Girl 2022, bringing together 70 women and girls in science, technology and/or innovation at Infosys Foundation USA HQ in New York City. The theme of International Day of the Girl 2022 is “Our time is now– our rights, our future.”

As the International day of the Girl celebrates its tenth anniversary, this collaborative event focuses attention on the momentous achievements and progress for girls across the world and more crucially, reaffirms the commitments of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. In these last ten years, there has been increased attention on issues that matter to girls among governments, policymakers and the general public, with increasing opportunities for girls to have their voices heard on the global stage.

It was incredibly energizing to work with such dedicated and caring individuals who are truly committed to providing young students with the confidence, skills, and mentorship they need to launch successfully into the future.  All of the pieces came together, and the students benefited tremendously. Some of them spoke in front of a large group for the first time in their lives, and now that they have ventured outside of their comfort zones, the next time they have to speak in front of a large group of strangers, the hurdle will be a little lower.

Dr. Joann Halpern, Design Thinking Facilitator and Director, Hasso Plattner Institute

Agenda 2022

The event convened girls and women from the private sector, the UN, NGOs and academia to meet and be inspired by one another, participate in fun ice-breaker activities, discuss the themes of International Day of the Girl and engage in a science/technology/innovation-related hands-on activity. 

The program primarily featured a design thinking session designed and facilitated by Lee Kim and Dr. Joann Halpern, in close collaboration with Katie Henry from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. 

The event began with welcoming remarks by Katherine Maloney, Executive Director, Infosys Foundation USA, and Ursula Wynhoven, the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Representative to the United Nations. Both emphasized the importance of celebrating innovation in the process of implementing the SDGs and continuing to highlight the contributions of girls and women in the science and technology spaces globally. Infosys Foundation USA colleagues shared advice for the girls to follow their dreams, to not allow for anyone to define their limitations and to recognize their experiences as valuable.

Credit: ITU and UNICC

Empathy and design thinking

Next, facilitators Lee Kim, Dr. Joann Halpern and Katie Henry provided an introduction to design thinking. Design thinking, which the facilitators described as a team-based method to solve complex problems that are human centered, is an iterative and collaborative process that girls and women would try in practice that afternoon.

There were so many amazing ideas. What really touched my heart was that I could feel that they really cared about the person that they designed for. And that is what leaders do. They care. They care enough to do something.

Lee Kim, Design Thinking Facilitator

Dr. Halpern provided an example of how Doug Dietz, an Innovation Architect at the Health Department of General Electric, sought to redesign the MRI machine after realizing that the machine experience was incredibly terrifying for children during hospital visits. The key idea the facilitators emphasized for design thinking is that empathy is fundamental to designing an experience or product that is helpful and useful for users.

Photo: UNICC/ Ouyang

With girls and women mentors in science, technology and/or innovation seated in groups they began to work on their hands-on design thinking activity. Their first design challenge was for each participant to build a duck out of six pieces of Lego with a time constraint.

The main takeaway for many of the girls was that their designed ducks were all unique and different. Thus, when it comes to engaging in the design process, creativity and curiosity can only be fostered without judgment and with an appreciation for the uniqueness that each individual brings to a potential solution.

Craft and design thinking

For the rest of the design thinking activity, the girls were tasked with how they might leverage technology to ensure a better life for other girls. Both the girls and women mentors were presented with three stories about challenges young girls were facing.

After deciding which story to focus the solution on, girls and mentors could incorporate the use of a micro:bit (a pocket-sized computer that makes learning coding easy and fun) to bring their ideas to life.

The groups carried out their design thinking activity using a variety of craft materials to make a model and also discussed how the micro:bit technology could be used to make their model more powerful.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

Each group then had a representative that shared back with the full group on what their group had discussed. Solutions included:

  • An application that recommends friends and those in one’s network to a translating service to help mitigate loneliness
  • A virtual room that fosters feeling of comfort and connection with family members
  • A website to stop bullying by stories of those who went through bullying
  • An alerting mechanism via Micro:bit to alert trusted authorities at schools and adults to stop bullying
  • An information system for one to choose to be someone else or be yourself and experience life from different perspective.
Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

The event culminated with a group photo and an ice cream social that opened the space for attendees to conduct office hours with Infosys mentors. All student attendees received their own micro:bit to keep and were invited to socialize as well as to chat with Infosys mentors who were ready to support the girls with coding their micro:bit for the solutions they designed during the design thinking activity.

The event was well-received by attendees and provided a day filled with inspiration and empowerment for facilitators, mentors, teachers, students, and colleagues at partner organizations alike. The commemoration of the tenth anniversary of IDG is a continual reminder that while significant progress has been made for girls’ rights across the world, investments in girls’ rights remain limited and girls continue to confront a myriad of challenges to fulfilling their potential.

This has especially been made worse by concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19 and humanitarian conflicts. Girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protections needed for a life without violence.

Now more than ever, it is necessary to continue bringing girls and women into the conversation to address the existing inequalities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and to focus on how their perspectives within the technology spaces can help to amplify progress as well as SDG implementation.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

The event was made possible and in collaboration with colleagues from ITU, WIPO, NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Infosys Foundation USA, and Micro:bit Educational Foundation. 

Photo: UN Women

UN SDGs Global Challenge Think-a-Thon

UNICC collaborates with Columbia University in a continued partnership to bring students and participants together to act on key UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As an extension of UNICC’s commitment to fostering partnerships with academic institutions, UNICC has collaborated this year again with the Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS) to expand their Think-a-Thon partnership. This partnership builds upon the inaugural 2021 Think-a-Thon challenge with this year’s Think-a-Thon Challenge expanding internationally bringing together students, alumni and teammates from across the world for the first time.

Participants worked together throughout the summer to come up with ideas that actively advance human welfare and address the UN SDGs with a final competition in September after months of work.

This Think-a-Thon has helped us bring together cross-functional collaboration from academia, industry and UN experts to think through digital solutions with a focus to solve societal problem. We are proud of the distance we have covered between our first Think-a-Thon and today’s UNICC’s global Think-a-Thon in collaboration with Columbia University.

Anusha Dandapani, Chief, Data and Analytics Services, UNICC

Up close and personal (SDG thematics)

Think-a-Thon challenge participants worked on solutions to confront two great challenges of our time: Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Climate Action (SDG 13). 108 participants came together in teams of 3-5 people from 15 countries. After reviewing 22 team submissions, judges selected eight teams to compete in the final competition in September. The final teams had the opportunity of mentorship from subject matter experts (SMEs) to address real-world solutions related to Gender Equality and Climate Action SDGs.

Credit: UNICC/Pang
Credit: UNICC/Pang

Teams worked on real-world innovative solutions to global issues, with a chance to win cash prizes to realize their projects and an opportunity to present their solutions to UN, Columbia and industry SMEs.

The value of UN mentorship

The Think-a-thon offered a welcoming environment for participants to learn from mentors at the UN as well as other industry SMEs in areas of data and analytics and other innovative technologies. Participants had opportunities to network and collaborate with other teams, competition participants and UNICC colleagues. By leveraging data sourced by UNICC from UN Women, competitors were able to hone their analytical skills, participants refine their problem solving and data analysis skills, which they then applied to the two UN challenges.

Think-a-Thon 2022
Photo: UNICC

The work by the final eight teams culminated in a live hybrid event on 29 September 2022, with over 140 worldwide attendances. Hosted by the Career Design Lab at Columbia University’s SPS, the event showcased team members presenting their projects from the challenge with mentors, UN and Columbia University colleagues, as well as participants from around the world tuning in to cheer on their fellow classmates.

On Climate Action

Team Athena, Team CARL, Team Coolers and Team One Tribe Indigenous presented on SDGs Climate Action solutions. Climate Action solutions included:

  • Team Athena developed a platform that dedicates a space for stakeholders to engage in direct communication to minimize transaction costs in the agricultural space as well as aiming to implement and scale Regenerative Ocean Farming through a tech-empowered non-profit brokerage model.
  • Team CARL created a professional skill development and community platform to provide regular workers at corporations learning resources about sustainability to initiate climate-led and bottom-up corporate and cultural change.
  • Team Coolers highlighted an innovative business model deploying strategy, analytics, and technology that focuses on changing incentives at the individual level to develop cooler habits to slow down global warming.
  • Team One Tribe Indigenous showcased ‘Tr [1]be,’ a partly indigenous-owned company with the aim to protect biodiversity in partnering with indigenous communities to create a transparent market for purchasing and selling carbon credits at zero cost.

On Gender Equality

Team Achieve, Team Atelier for the Future, Team Khusharth and Team Women Ride Well presented on SDGs Gender Equality solutions. Gender Equality solutions included:

  • Team Achieve (The Advancing Community Healthcare Initiatives to Empower a Vision for Equality) proposed a program targeting female-identifying individuals to provide employment and professional development for improved community healthcare.
  • Team Atelier for the Future shared two solutions: first, they emphasized the need to implement safety features to create safe mobility environments for women and second, their app, Nanny Toda, a one stop shop app for navigating childcare needs to mitigate the accelerated inequality COVID-19 has had on women’s labor force participation due to gaps in childcare support.
  • Team Khusharth proposed a social enterprise that delivers care facilities to children aged 1.5+ from middle income urban families after normal school hours.
  • Team Women Ride Well worked on women’s labour force participation in India by proposing a women-run transportation company that matches women with the desire to work with drivers ready to drive women to their far away jobs with stops at major institutions/metro stops.

Judging the innovative solutions

Dean Argier, a member of the winning team Agritech from the 2021 Think-a-Thon, hosted by Columbia’s SPS and UNICC, opened the judging session with a keynote speech. As an alumnus of the Technology Management program at SPS, Argier highlighted how the team used the momentum from the competition to keep their innovative work alive.

The prize money from last year’s award helped commercialize their technology solution, Cardinal Fresh, which reduces pathogens from agricultural processes to reduce food waste in the food security space. Argier wrapped up by reaffirming that all presenters are winners and have demonstrated their commitment to implementing the SDGs.

Marco Liuzzi, Chief, Digital Delivery at UNICC, then took the floor for the awards ceremony to reiterate UNICC’s essential support in enabling the work of the UN ecosystem towards a more prosperous and just world.  Teams were evaluated for:

  • Clarity and innovation
  • Social impact
  • Capital investment requirements and financial forecasts
  • Viability (both operationally and technologically), feasibility and sustainability
  • Delivery presentation.

Recognizing the exacting deliberation by judges Shivam Kishore, Senior Advisor of Digital Transformation and Sustainability, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ginette Azcona, Senior Research and Data Policy Specialist, UN Women, Liuzzi awarded Team CARL as the Climate Action winner, Team Atelier for the Future as the Gender Equality winner and Team Women Ride Well with the Audience Choice Award.

Photo: Columbia/Arndt

I am grateful for the opportunity to judge the Think-a-Thon Challenge. As a society, we have many challenges to work through and being exposed to the participants’ enthusiasm and innovative ideas to address some of these challenges was a truly rewarding experience.

Shivam Kishore, Sr. Advisor, Digital Transformation Programme, UNEP

I was truly honored to be part of this year’s UNICC Think-a-thon. What a phenomenal, inspiring group of young people, commitment to making a difference. The presentations were well-researched and a delight to listen to. I only wish I didn’t have to pick just one winner!

Ginette Azcona, Research and Data Policy Specialist, UN Women

Team CARL and Team Atelier for the Future were both awarded $10,000 each to split between their team members and Team Women Ride Well was awarded $5,000 to split between its team members.

My heartiest congratulations to the UNICC Think-a-Thon Audience Choice Winners: the WRW (Women Ride Well) team, with their proposal for practical and sustainable transportation to support women. Anything that can support inclusion and reduce gender inequality in all its aspects is refreshingly welcome. I was impressed by the analysis of the problem presented by this team as well as the interesting ideas they put on the table.

Marco Liuzzi, Chief, Digital Delivery, UNICC
Photo: Columbia/Arndt

The event concluded with a thank you to mentors and members of the eight teams for sharing their solutions. As well, for the UN mentors and colleagues involved, inspiration and innovation were words used to describe the whole experience.

Fantastic proposal and a great idea to get the youth involved find practical solutions to the crisis facing humanity. I was really honored to be part of the exercise and enjoyed reading the innovative proposals.

Chhaya Kapilashrami, Senior Director, Operations Coordination, UNFCCC


  • Julia Bruachle, Research and Data Consultant, UN Women
  • Asa Elisabeth Tynell, Project Manager, Sustainable UN, UNEP
  • Jacob Halcomb, Sustainable UN team, UNEP
  • Diane Confurius, Senior Data Scientists, TNO
  • Fleur Heyworth, Head of Secretariat, International Gender Champions
  • Amos Doornbos, Director of Strategy and Systems, World Vision
  • Antra Bhatt, Statistics Specialist, Research and Data Section, UN Women
  • Sonay Aykan, Associate Director ESG & Sustainability, Colgate-Palmolive

Team Achieve

  • Ashley Privette
  • Antony Nguyen
  • Caroline Ba Doe Lwin
  • Sydney Bridewell

Team Atelier for the Future

  • MinYoung Son
  • Sanggyu Jung
  • Soohyun Kim
  • Young Kim

Team Athena

  • Gigi Sariddichainanta
  • Ada Wang
  • Lavan Param
  • Janice Bi
  • Zach Russell


  • Joshua L Herrig
  • Melissa Hsiung
  • Saba Gebreamlak
  • Shruti Chander

Team Coolers

  • Karatpetch Jiwachotkamjon
  • Rekha H. Jayalakshmi
  • Valentina A.G Rojas

Team Khusharth

  • Ashwin Dubey
  • Arushi Mishra
  • Mansi Agarwal

Team One Tribe Indigenous

  • Christopher Starr
  • Galia Orme
  • Robert Fincati

Women Ride Well

  • Alison Garibay
    Geet Chawla
    Ghazal OZAIRI
    Sai Jahnavi Gamalapati
  • Nikunj Sharma

Photo: Columbia/Arndt
Photo: Columbia/Arndt

The 2022 Think-a-Thon was made possible with the support of a myriad of people from partners at the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University, to UN Women and UNEP champions, as well as colleagues at UNICC, UNEP, and UNFCCC. Shivam Kishore, Senior Advisor of Digital Transformation and Sustainability, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ginette Azcona, Senior Research and Data Policy Specialist, UN Women contributed extensive amounts of their expertise and time in judging the challenge.

Azcona and her team members also worked on sharing the challenge, providing mentorship, and sharing relevant data for solution development. Chhaya Kapilashrami, Senior Director, Operations Coordination, UNFCCC helped put together the Climate Action challenge and supported the development of judging criteria for the Climate Action solutions. The partnership was initiated by UNICC with Anusha Dandapani, Chief, Data and Analytics Services and her Data Team for support including Chiara Rucco, Data Management Junior Analyst (for UN Women involvement), and Meredith Kravitz, Senior Outreach & Strategic Partnerships Officer, and David Damian Sandoval, Innovation and Outreach Officer for strategic partnerships. Lastly, a special thank you to Marco Luizzi, Chief, Digital Delivery with his support for the judging panel and the UNICC Communications team.

2022 UNICC common secure group photo
Photo: UNICC

UNICC Common Secure Conference 2022

Joint partnership with UNDP’s Cybersecurity for Developing Nations and FIRST for discussing cybersecurity threats impacting the UN system

UNICC hosts an annual Common Secure Conference with the goal to bring its cybersecurity Clients and Partners Organizations together to increase the UN family circle of trust, share intelligence on cyber practices and provide feedback on UNICC Common Secure services. The multi-day workshop blends UN Agency participation with Member States, academic, regional and vendor participants and speakers with feedback, presentations and input with closed and public sessions.

This year’s conference was a joint partnership with UNDP‘s Cybersecurity for Developing Nations programme and FIRST, including a jam-packed week of specialized and public events held from 3-7 October 2022 and located adjacent to the UNICC Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence in Valencia, Spain.

We are pleased to see this vision of the strong role the UN system, and UNICC on behalf of the system, can play in developing the global cyber leaders of tomorrow. A great partnership between UNICC, UNDP and FIRST. A great collaboration with industry leaders, the private sector and public sector organizations.

Sameer Chauhan, UNICC Director

Cybersecurity thought leadership and best practices

Goals of the 2022 Conference were to share cybersecurity thought leadership and best practices, enhancing collaboration within the UN system and with national and international Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

The conference this year witnessed attendees (physically and virtually) from nearly 40 UN organizations, keynote speakers and guests from CERTs, academic institutions and top technology companies to share cybersecurity issues, opportunities and solutions, including cybersecurity threats impacting the UN system and the measures they take to mitigate these threats.

Participants shared insights on the ways to implement zero trust, on the future of the cloud and its impact on cybersecurity, UN Privileges and Immunities in the cloud, vulnerability management, threat hunting, security automation, IOT security and DevSecOps. Participating national and international CERTs shared cyber threat experience as well as recommendations for tools and techniques they leverage to respond to cybersecurity incidents.

A shared cybersecurity knowledge hub results in maximum impact and greater efficiency and effectiveness across the UN family, engaging our experienced and certified cybersecurity experts. UNICC’s Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence in Valencia enables our participating UN Agencies to create secure business solutions, where cybersecurity is a strategic business enabler.

Tima Soni, Chief, Cybersecurity Division, UNICC
Tima Soni, Chief of Cybersecurity Division, UNICC spoke at Day 1 during the conference opening session
Photo: UNICC

Agenda Overview

Day 1: On the first day of the conference, Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC and Tima Soni, Chief, Cybersecurity Division, UNICC, welcomed conference participants and introduced the day’s sessions, including speakers from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Health Organization (WHO) World Trade Organization (WTO), World Food Programme (WFP) UN Women and UNICC.

2022 Common Secure Conference group photo
Photo: UNICC

Day 2: The second day’s sessions focused on presentations on cybersecurity threat landscapes from Member States and seasoned speakers from World Food Programme, CCN-CERT Centro Criptológico Nacional, National Cyber Security Centre, ON2IT Cybersecurity, Splunk, SANS Institute, Dragos, Inc. and more.

From left to right: Amedeo Cioffi (Head, Cybersecurity Operations, UNICC), Lyle Mcfadyen (Senior Solutions Architect, UNICC), John Kindervag (Creater of Zero Trust, Senior Vice President, Cybersecurity Strategy) and Tima Soni (Chief, Cybersecurity Division, UNICC)
Photo: UNICC

Day 3: On the third day experts shared their knowledge and insights in both technical and management of cybersecurity topics. Each of them presented a report on the experience of cybersecurity in their work environment, the challenges and problems they faced. They discussed results they obtained after working on several technology solutions. They also brought up potential risks in the cloud over the following years and offered future solutions.

From left to right: Jenean Paschalidis (Senior Cybersecurity Officer, UNICC), Jennifer Bradford (OPCW), Marwa Popal (ICJ), Laura Del Pino (UN Women), Ioana Salanta (UN-IIM) and Tima Soni (Chief, Cybersecurity Division, UNICC),
Photo: UNICC

Day 4: The fourth day included hands-on training and knowledge sharing between participants, with a keynote speech by the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Amandeep Gill, who shared a vision of the long-term value of UN family cyber-collaboration and capacity-building.

Day 5: On the last day the conference, there was a cybersecurity Capture-the-Flag event and a tabletop exercise. Discussions over the five days confirmed the following:

  •  Building trust is a key enabler to enhance collaboration and sharing of information within the cybersecurity community
  • Capacity building in cybersecurity is crucial to deal with the shortage of cybersecurity professionals
  • Identifying a protected surface is critical to implement zero trust
  • There is an urgent need to have cybersecurity controls incorporated into digital products by default.

Cybersecurity events like this one attest to the high value of UNICC’s cybersecurity services, which aim to expand UN-system cybersecurity strategic oversight, governance, threat intelligence sharing as well as advisory services and a spectrum of programmatic and operational components to protect the UN family.


UNICC Continues to Support the Early Warning Early Response Solution of the EC-UNDP Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the EC-UNDP Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance, have partnered in more than 50 countries and nearly 200 electoral projects to provide technical assistance in the field of elections based on national requests. They strive to provide effective and sustainable support to establish and reinforce democratic institutions and processes worldwide.

The Joint Task Force contracted UNICC in 2020 to assist in the development of an Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) solution, renamed the iReport platform in 2022. iReport (formerly EWER) includes a web platform and mobile app, allowing relevant national authorities to jointly report risks and incidents of electoral and/or gender violence and allow for prompt and coordinated nation-wide verification processes and, ultimately, responses.

The iReport solution was implemented in October 2020 in Côte d’Ivoire ahead of its elections (see UNICC news item). Initially, the iReport platform was conceptualized by the Brussels-based UNDP Electoral Team as a platform meant for governmental and non-governmental organizations alike, that would render more efficient and simplify the process of preventing and/or mitigating electoral and gender violence. Nowadays, the platform is a reality with flexibility and responsiveness as key functionalities – ensuring its suitability for a variety of contexts and enhancing national actors’ decision-making processes in real time.

Since the iReport platform’s initial deployment in early 2021, the platform has been utilized in elections in Ethiopia (June 2021), Zambia (August 2021) and Honduras (November 2021) with plans of imminent release in Liberia and other countries in the pipeline. Over the course of the past two years, as product development continues, improvement follows. The time needed to deploy tailored solutions in different countries is decreasing and enables iReport to be used in more countries and with more nuanced contexts. To understand the significance of where iReport is going with its future plans for implementation, a look back to its developmental history is crucial.

The iReport platform grew from work done by colleagues at the UNDP Brussels-based Electoral Joint Task Force. Since then, the web and mobile applications have adopted crowdsourcing aspects, with personnel selected by national offices to monitor elections-posting reports of violent incidents. The capabilities of such a platform allow for relevant actors to send information via the platform (web and mobile app version) as well as SMS in the case of no Internet access. Once a report is submitted, a team of analysts is tasked with consolidating, prioritizing and verifying it to allow for joint national dialogue and coordinated responses to the reported risk or incident.

EC-UNDP Joint Task Force Dashboard
Source: UNICC *Boundaries and names shown on maps do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the UN.

Further to the transmission, treatment and response to reports, the national stakeholders in charge of the management of the platform are also in charge of producing daily, weekly and monthly reports using data analytics tools built in the platform. Once data is assessed and verified, an action plan is formulated in tandem with evaluation tools for national personnel to review the impact of response and recommend new actions.

EC-UNDP Joint Task Force Application Functionalities
Source: UNICC

A given country’s electoral risks are highly specific to its environment and history. Thus, the intelligence that iReport provides is sensitive and critical to a country’s responsiveness to threats. With constant refining of the application and major implementations on the way, iReport is iterative and adaptive, generating various advantages:

  1. The registration of incidents can be done in a way that is flexible and customizable to the various country contexts. The sources are also multiple and designed for the users to log the events as quickly as possible.
  2. The application functionality provides data analytics tools to enable data analysis which can be used to forecast the potentiality for risk in a region. The analysis reports are also automated to proactively alert on new risks as events are reaching the platform.
  3. The collection and displaying of data is highly customizable, without imposing technical requirements on users other than just a web browser, enabling the platform to be deployed within any country due to its adaptability.

The iReport platform for Liberia has interesting new developments oriented towards providing the possibility of having a public accessible front-end for citizens to be aware of latest developments. The optional Risk Forecasting section also allows users to check and compare current risks with the forecasted risks, which are calculated through an algorithm.

UNICC’s experience and expertise in multi-tenant application development mean products stay fit for purpose and ensure a conducive environment for product development. Nonetheless, with such change and improvements for the iReport solution, developments remain incremental. This allows for the product to be built and tweaked gradually, ensuring minimization of overall costs for countries as more decide to adopt the solution when new features can be added.

Lessons learned from each country are continuously leveraged to inform new implementations in new countries. Looking back on its history as well as looking ahead, the iReport development champions an improvement process that does not only prioritize the platform’s technology capabilities but also the underlying business approach for the platform’s optimum configuration. Only by deploying iReport on the ground, can solutions be better tailored and understood in local contexts. The core focus of the design process has been and continues to be on product development, which entails a focus on a field perspective and looking at how the system is being used in practice by national authorities.

Constant learning and iterative product development practices are the hallmarks of iReport’s success. In the beginning, iReport solution improvements were slower, with more time between changes. As more countries came on board, the timing of implementation has improved drastically, as have costs associated with its implementations.

Balancing a standardized approach with the capacity to be tailored for different use cases, iReport continues to get better and prove its worth in collecting and analyzing events from the fields, not only during the election periods. Most of the implementations are continuing to be utilized to monitor areas and information helping to identify needs and prevent incidents by looking at trends. The flexibility of the platform does not put any limit to the contexts of use. And as iReport looks to the near future, five to six countries are already lined up with interests to implement iReport.

For more information, please see the EWER video, visit the EC-UNDP JTF website or reach out to