Photo: UNRWA

UNRWA and UNICC Partnership Strengthens Common Objectives

UNRWA consultants grow in number from 8 in 2020 to 50 expert resources now

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

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Credit: UNRWA

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

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Credit: UNRWA

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

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

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

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

Venkat Venkateswaran, Head, Application Development Unit, UNICC

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

Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

UNICC Presents Azure and M365 Services at Microsoft’s UN Tech Huddle in New York

UNICC attended and presented at the UN Tech Huddle event organized by Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) team at the Microsoft Technology Centre in New York on Wednesday 13 November. The goal of this day-long event was to bring together ICT experts from different UN Agencies and Microsoft leaders to share the latest cloud solutions for common challenges.

Paolo Valenza, Chief of Cloud Services and Gabriel Galati, Head of Azure and M365 Services unit presented UNICC’s Microsoft Cloud services to many of our UN Clients and other non-profit organisations.  They highlighted UNICC’s role in providing managed cloud services offering support for solutions that reside in the cloud.

Cloud services are building blocks at the base of many other UNICC services.

Paolo Valenza, Chief, Cloud Services

An example of a Data and Analytics service built on an Azure cloud foundation is the Data Lake that ICC developed for OCHA, a centralized repository to store the organization’s raw unstructured data from diverse sources in a properly secured and managed way.

Nitesh Kudva, Information Security Specialist; Leiming Yao, Information Security Specialist and Mikiann McIntosh, Intern in the Information Security team also attended the event. Other Agencies present included ICAO, PAHO, UNDP, UNFPA, UN OICT, and UN Women.

During the day, Microsoft shared the latest on comprehensive solutions and best practices. Other topics on the agenda discussed during the session were the UN’s digital transformation and cloud adoption, Terraform on Azure and the PowerApp Platform.

Our Azure Management Services provides a controlled and secure back-end for solutions that we develop on top.

Gabriel Galati, Head, Azure and M365 Services Unit

Microsoft runs UN Tech Huddles on a quarterly basis in Geneva and New York with the goal of sharing knowledge and expanding the impact of UN organizations. UNICC also attended the UN Tech Huddle in Geneva in October, where Gabriel Galati and Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer presented the implementation of OCHA’s Data Lake.

Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

Photo: UNICC

UNICC Presents New ICT Services and Service Catalogue

UNICC, the go-to ICT and digital solutions provider for United Nations family, has released a new suite of services across its different areas, including Client, Professional, Software, Platform, Infrastructure and Cloud Integration services.

UNICC is meeting the challenges and drivers for organisations to move to new private, hybrid and public cloud offerings, offering its Clients assessment, migration and implementation as well as fully managed operational support and cost management for a number of cloud solutions.

UNICC has also developed strategic partnerships with three Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform vendors (UiPath, Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere) to offer the ‘best-of-breed’ and absolute fit-for-purpose RPA solutions, now that automation has become a logical step forward for organizations. Already five of UNICC’s Clients, including UNHCR, WFP and UNJSPF, are leveraging the new automation services to increase efficiency.

Another expanding area is Data and Analytics, with tools to direct and drive business insight. UNICC’s new solutions include data analytics visualisation, business performance management, data warehousing, dashboards and key performance indicators (KPIs).

UNICC services overview. Photo: UNICC

New services include:

  • Microsoft Office 365 Management: Comprehensive services to best use Microsoft’s public cloud capabilities with an emphasis on communications, collaboration, endpoint management, enterprise mobility and identity management.​
  • Microsoft Azure Management: Value options to host applications, platforms and infrastructure in the  Azure cloud, with varied services from Clients building and operating to UNICC building, deploying and managing services on behalf of Clients.​
  • Cloud Web Hosting: Varied options to host or extend web applications into the public, UNICC-managed cloud. UNICC offers required automation, scalability and reliability so that Clients are able to focus on mission delivery.​
  • ICT Communications: Services that include advisory, information/content design and delivery, campaign management website content management, social media, technical writing, editing, translations and more.​
  • Information Security Awareness: Strategic advisory to help an organisation set up a state-of-the-art, effective information security awareness strategy, from an industry-leading learning lab and platform to communications, events and training support. ​
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: From licensing, configuration and custom development to integration, training and support to help organizations in their digital process transformations.
  • ServiceNow: Services to help Clients adopt a single cloud platform for IT services and management, simplifying complex webs of legacy processes and systems.​
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Digital enablement technology that leverages a combination of user interface and surface-level features to create scripts to automate routine, predictable data transcription work.​

UNICC’s mission is to provide ICT services, maximising the sharing of ICT solutions from innovation and infrastructure to systems and skills in order to generate economies of scale. UNICC is highly competitive with today’s technology marketplace, building synergies with industry partners as well as with its Clients.

Operational excellence, service level management and continuous service improvement are fundamental to UNICC, where the expert team brings decades of experience with United Nations programmes, funds, entities and related non-for-profit organizations.

For more information about UNICC’s services read UNICC’s Services Overview and ICC ICT Services Booklet, or contact us at business@unicc.org.

Photo: UNICC

Photo: UNICC/Venkateswaran

Innovation Award Celebrates UNICC and IPPC Partnership for the ePhyto Project

UNICC and FAO/International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) have been collaborating on an innovative project for plant protection with an international ePhyto web hub to digitalize trade facilitation. The system is rolling out to countries worldwide now, and UNICC is pleased to announce the project has received a trade facilitation innovation award at the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2019, 17-18 September 2019, in New Delhi, India. The award was for piloting and implementation of the Generic e-Phyto National System (GeNS) in Samoa and Sri Lanka.

The innovation award recognizes the work of IPPC and UNICC in delivering the ePhyto hub, providing tools and opportunities to realize UN Sustainable Development Goals. There is strong interest in the Asia-Pacific for further country participation and implementation.

IPPC’s Secretariat Craig Fedchock, who was also the e-Phyto project leader, enlisted the expertise of UNICC’s Venkat Venkatswaran, Chief of Application Delivery, as the e-Phyto project manager. Together, their work helped develop and operate a centralized hub to facilitate the exchange of plant certificates through a protected, web-based system. This e-Phyto application will help standardize plant trade certificates, as well as prevent the submission of fraudulent certificates for unfit and unsafe plants.

The partnership of UNICC and IPPC successfully delivered an innovative solution for developing countries to ensure plant safety and protection, as they move across borders. Electronic phyto-sanitary certificates, in place of paper certificates, ensure safe standards in the arrival and clearance of plants. Trade suffers when ePhyto certificates do not utilize a harmonized e-business standard. IPPC and UNICC, through their collaboration on a Generic e-Phyto National Systems (GeNS) for plant trade certificates, have delivered a progressive and tangible solution to an on-going issue for plant trade. See the presentation shared at the forum here.

For more information about the IPPC ePhyto project and how a national plant protection organization can participate, visit https://www.ephytoexchange.org/

The Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum is the leading regional platform for the exchange of information, experiences and practice on trade facilitation. The APTFF has been organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and a growing number of partners since 2009, including UNCTAD, WCO and WTO. It is held biennially and attracts more than 250 participants from 30 countries.

Photo: UNICC/Nieto

International Financial Institutions on ICT for Development – UNICC Joins in Capetown

UNICC Brings Inter-Agency ICT Perspective to the Group

Technology Leaders from International Financial Institutions Share their Experiences

The African Development Bank’s Information Technology (IT) Department (CHIS), organized and hosted a 2019 meeting for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) well known as IFI CIOs Club. The meeting was held from 23rd to 25th September 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.

We had a very good time, commiserating a little but learning and inspiring each other. I am sure you will all agree that we ought to continue strengthening our collaboration. We all share a similar mission and genuine partnership is what the world needs more. 

Mr. Denis Robitaille, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the World Bank’s Information and Technology Solution

The meeting was well attending with delegates from African Development Bank (AfDB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Stability Mechanism (ESM), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). Other invited guests were UNICC, Gartner and the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation (SIF) – an UNICC Client.

​Prado Nieto, Chief, Business Relationship Management, UNICC, attended this IFI CIOs Club and represented the potential for collaborations between IFIs and the UN systems through UNICC’s support.

On the first day, delegates presented and discussed their experiences on Big Data and Analytics, Cloud initiatives and legal implications, data protection, retention, immunities and privileges. ERP modernization journey and innovations as well as outsourcing, offshoring and managed services.

This was a unique opportunity to meet the IFI community and share our vision of inter-Agency collaboration. To date UNICC is working with three IFIs, namely: IFAD, ADB and OECD
and we hope that very soon this list will be extended to the rest of the institutions
.

Prado Nieto, Chief, Business Relationship Management, UNICC

On the second day, delegates concentrated on IFIs Benchmarking results and collaboration including joint negotiations and having greater purchasing powers, technical collaborations and information sharing.

The third day, the CIOs shared their experience on cybersecurity, digital transformation, business process management (BPM), adoption and change management, measuring and presenting IT benefits and results to Senior Management and Board.

This was most productive and memorable IFI CIOs meeting I have attended. These events are important and serve to remind us of the vital role we have in our important missions when it is easy to feel overlooked. A more collegiate and supportive network I am yet to find. 

Mr. Richard Williams, Managing Director of Information Technology from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

It was a fruitful and amazing time for me and learned so much from the colleagues.

Mr. Marcelo da Silva, representing the General Manager and Chief Information Officer of Information Technology from Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

The delegates from all the IFIs thanked CHIS department for generosity in organizing and hosting the meeting, particularly for raising the bar in running such events.