un women
Photo: UN Women/Amanda Vard

Columbia University – UNICC Thinkathon

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

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

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

A summer-long Thinkathon to advance human welfare

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

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

Image

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

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

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

Final presentation and winners

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

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

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

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

Agritech Team

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

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

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

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

Solutions proposed by other teams were also great:

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

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

Photo: UN Ukraine

UNICC is Now a Contributing Organization in UN Geneva Perception Change Project’s SDG Mapping Initiative

In the spirit of transparency and partnerships to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UNICC has shared its SDGs alignments with the International Geneva Perception Change Project’s SDG Mapping initiative. The initiative’s goal is to communicate more broadly contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development from contributing organizations.

The portal’s mapping tool shows how organizational experience in digital technologies, collaborative innovation and shared delivery platforms, helps organizations to accelerate their collective rate of achievement on the SDGs. Below is a view of those providing their operational expertise in the field, in support of SDG 9, to sustain industry, innovation and infrastructure.

Launched in 2014, the Perception Change Project’s SDGs Mapping initiative maps ten types of organizational expertise to each of the 17 SDGs. Contributors must analyze their initiatives and identify specific applications of their core competencies to each SDG. The project portal features an SDGs visualization tool so that site visitors can see which organizations are applying different types of expertise to each SDG.

The ten core competences are: norms and standard setting; legal framework and support; capacity building and training; research and collection of data; policy formulation; outreach, advocacy and communication; data analysis, harmonization and statistics; operations in field; and financing.

 

Because data submitted includes hyperlinks accessible to the public, UNICC included only initiatives reported on UNICC’s public website. And so, while UNICC is making great strides across the SDGs directly and indirectly through its work internally and with its Clients and Partner Organizations, the Perception Change Project reveals only a slice of these strong efforts.

Other contributing agencies include Africa 21, European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), FAO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), Green Cross International, ICT4Peace, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ILO, IOM, ITU, ITC, IUCN, Kofi Annan Foundation, Make Mothers Matter (MMM), OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECE, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNCTAD, UNITAR, UN OCHA, UNFPA, UNRISD, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and others.

UNICC is proud to be among these organizations to move the needle, demonstrate commitments to individual SDGs and accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

Please come back and check on our progress from time to time at the UNICC and the SDGs web page.

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/Cadinu

UNICC Wins CSO50 Information Security Award 2020

New York, September 30, 2019 – The International Computing Centre (UNICC) has been named an honouree of a 2020 CSO50 Award from IDG’s CSO. This prestigious honour is bestowed upon a select group of organizations that have demonstrated that their security projects or initiatives have created outstanding business value and thought leadership for their companies. See CSO press release here.

The CSO50 Award is a recognized mark of risk and security excellence. The award is given to organizations and companies rather than individuals, making it an honor in which everyone on your security team can take pride. Client and Partner Organizations who have similarly won this award include UNDP and the Asian Development Bank.

UNICC’s Partners have requested a new approach to handling cyber security risks. UNICC has responded with new tools and new processes to support flexible arrangements by the development of a cyber security knowledge hub at UNICC, with its expert, certified staff. UNICC also brings 48 years of experience working within the United Nations landscape and offers the same UN privileges and immunities to this hub.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The CSO50 Award is a recognized mark of risk and security excellence. The award is given to organizations and companies rather than individuals, making it an honor in which everyone on your security team can take pride. Client and Partner Organizations who have similarly won this award include UNDP and the Asian Development Bank. Judging criteria included innovation (the extent to which your organization used security in a new way) and business results value (the measurable impact your project has had on your organization’s business).

Other CSO50 honourees include Adobe, ADP, AFLAC, Brigham Young University, Cities of Gaineville and Greensboro, Equifax, Expedia Group, Genpact, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, HP Inc., Kansas State University, Microsoft, PayPal, Prudential Financial, Inc., Q2 Software, Inc., SAP SE, St. Louis Cardinals, LLC, Visa Inc., Webster Bank and others.

Common Secure Information Security Hub for the UN Family

UNICC introduced a Continuous Security Improvement Suite several years ago offering cyber security tools to a handful of UN Agencies, including infrastructure for UN field offices with security controls, a threat analysis tool, and governance and operational solutions for smaller UN Agencies to support ISMS standards and processes.

Its singular success has led UNICC to scale into a comprehensive global solution, now including over 30 Agencies and growing. With tools in place, UNICC initiated a Common Secure Hub for the UN family, including a UN Security Operations Centre, SIEM, an information-sharing network and comprehensive cyber security solutions across the spectrum.

We have worked to build a Common Secure Information Security Hub for the UN family, with over 20 staff and 30 Clients today in areas such as threat intelligence networking, a UN Security Operations Centre (CSOC) and Incident Event Management (CSIEM), PKI digital identity services, advisory services, governance, and operational support and our CSOC located in UNICC’s Centre of Excellence in Valencia, Spain.

Tima Soni, Chief, Information Security Services, UNICC

UNICC, as a not-for-profit UN entity, is supporting the UN Reform’s mandate for Agencies to utilize shared services for maximum impact and greater efficiency and effectiveness across UN Agencies. Clients are asking for more business value for their cyber postures, including mitigating the risks of negative reputation, loss of information, exposure to complex cyber-attacks, sharing timely, relevant, actionable cyber security threats, and incident information. The fundamental business driver for this innovative cyber security hub has been the interest and demand from the Client base, which ranges from large UN organizations like UNDP, UNICEF and UNHCR to smaller Agencies like WMO, WTO and ILO.

The Hub provides a community for everything cyber in the United Nations – oversight and governance solutions, an Inter-Agency intel-sharing community of practice, as well as operational components, information security awareness, SWIFT security assessments and security incident response.

UNICC maintains strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, ID2020, Cloud Security Alliance, Center for Internet Security, Hyperledger, SWIFT, UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and FIRST organizations, bringing the best of long-term agreements, partnership opportunities and best practices sharing with UNICC’s 60 Clients.

What is innovative is the use and support of new technologies (PKI for shared digital identity management, Robotic-Process Automation, AI, open source and agile development and block chain are some of new technologies UNICC is offering).

What is even more innovative is the establishment of inter-Agency hubs where different Agencies leverage the same, shared solutions. Historically UN Agencies work in silos with their own budget and business solutions – the Hub brings shared solutions to provide maximum efficiency and cost savings with a brand-new innovative approach.

About UNICC

The International Computing Centre (UNICC) has 48 years of experience providing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services to United Nations programmes, funds and entities. Its mission is to provide ICT services to the United Nations family, maximise the sharing of infrastructure, systems and skills and generate economies of scale to benefit its over 60 Clients.

Photo: UNICC

Leading Social Impact through Innovation and Partnership Event at Microsoft

A Microsoft United Nations General Assembly Side Event with UNDP, UNICEF, World Bank and others…

Microsoft hosted a UN General Assembly side event called Leading Social Impact through innovation and Partnership at the Microsoft Technology Centre, 11 Times Square on Wednesday 25 September from 6:00-9:00 pm.  Anish, Paolo, Lyle, Ender, Philippe, Tom, Barto, Lei Ming, Bill and Maria from UNICC attended the evening meeting with Microsoft and other colleagues from UNDP and UNICEF.

The key question of the evening was: How can we  harness the power of technology to empower a sustainable future and enable the achievement of the SDGs?

The event highlighted examples of digital innovation to advance lasting solutions to spark economic opportunity, social inclusion and drive progress. Alex Pinho, Justin Spelhaug of Microsoft’s Tech for Impact Group and Kate Behncken of Microsoft Philanthropies guided the evening that showed concrete examples of private-public partnerships to make a difference.

Microsoft wants to bring the power of technology to every United Nations organization to accelerate social impact around the world, from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya to the 450,000 Syrian children refugees in Turkey today.

It’s great to have the technology, but you can’t use it if you don’t have the skills.

A new blueprint is needed for corporate responsibility today.

Justin Spelhaug

Technology is more relevant and accessible than never before. 20 years ago there were 10 people in the room having this discussion. Today there are more than 100.

Microsoft has moved from a focus on upgrades and patches to PCs to being full members in delivery of the SDGs.

Technology can change the world, but no organization can do this alone.

Kate Behncken

Speakers included:

Marcos Neto, Director of the Finance Sector Hub, UNDP

There are so many business opportunities to unlock in the SDGs… It is not easy for corporations to change, but at UNDP we want to help them redirect the flow of money towards the SDGs.

We are trying to use digital transformation to solve development problems, but half the world’s population have no internet.

There are two inter-related concepts that are important for UNDP’s Digital Strategy: Digitization and Digitalization. Digitization is the process of converting physical information into digital formats. It is commonly-driven by technologies that focus on enhancing efficiency by automation of existing processes.

Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to change an organization’s business model, including creating new or improved ways of delivering services, and improving the quality of what is delivered. See Digital Strategy website and document

UNICEF, UNHCR, Microsoft and more empowering displaced children with digital skills  Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

Mustafa Osman Turan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and next Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh

You need partnerships because the problems are so complex. Investors, private companies, philanthropists, governments, non-profits… we all have to work together.

The SDG Impact Accelerator (SDGia) is a global accelerator built by a multi stakeholder platform focusing on empowering “systems entrepreneurs” and innovators who are providing impact at scale. This Turkish funding mechanism is working with UNDP, WFP, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other private and public organizations in Turkey and around the globe.

The key mission is to help with basic services access and clean water through equity free cash, mentoring, field visits, networking, impact capital and strategic partnerships. See SDG Impact Accelerator 2020

Turkish diplomat Mustafa Osman Turan emphasising the need of partnerships to solve the SDGs  Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

Zachary Carmichael, with the Famine Action Mechanism (or FAM) from the World Bank

Analysing data in  new and innovative ways has allowed us to quantify the structural drivers causing famine. With AI-driven technology we can forecast these events. We don’t need to wait for the worse, we can start mobilizing resources earlier.

We don’t need to wait. Using early warnings we can start mobilizing resources. Intervening earlier makes the difference between life and death.

For prevention and risk management to address fragility, conflict and violence around famine. See FAM website

Data analysis allows to forecast famine events and mobilize resources at an earlier stage to save lives Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

George Peradze, Chief, Administrative Division, UNDP

We can get rid of paper processes with automation. We can save lives by changing our own behavior on the road through a monitoring device.

Smart asset management and lean vehicles. Joint project with Microsoft on UNDP Vehicle Tracking.

The goal of the project is to digitize and digitalize assets and processes and control costs, replacing old manuals and log books with a tracking and monitoring tools to optimize all vehicle use, helping improve road safety.

UNDP is replacing old manuals and log books with automation tools to manage its fleet  Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

Daniel Couture, CIO, UNICEF (and Chair, UNICC Management Committee)

We need to respond to threats in a more integrated way. We are dealing with financial information from beneficiaries and supporters, with information regarding children. We need to act responsibly. We need to increase awareness, from threat management to threat prevention.

UNICEF is working with Microsoft (including Azure Sentinel) for improved enterprise platform security with increased awareness, intelligence, information and integration across UNICEF information and system platforms to share data and visualize it to improve the risk and mitigate threats to the organization’s security posture.

Couture underscored the point to scale up, utilising AI and other sophisticated technologies to protect the right to privacy for UNICEF staff and the women and children they serve.

Microsoft’s partnership allows for better planning around the software-as-a-service modalities, the complex business systems and the increasingly sensitive data (beneficiary data) in a world of shifting attack paradigms with better threat prediction. This includes revisiting the UNICEF approach to operational security.

UNICEF can achieve this though:

  • Awareness
  • Increased detection and response capabilities
  • Process optimization
  • Automated threat response
  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
  • ‘Connectors’ of applications including queries notebooks and run-books for threats
  • Integration of traffic of information into a single dashboard

Couture emphasized the need to scale up to best protect financial information from beneficiaries and supporters, with information regarding children – acting responsibly and increasing awareness.

UNICEF CIO Daniel Couture  Photo: UNICC/Allen

Photo: UNITAR

UNICC and UNITAR Launch Mobile App for WHO Safe Surgery Checklist

UNICC and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) have partnered to develop a mobile application to facilitate the use of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. The app was launched Tuesday 17 September 2019, during the celebration of the first World Patient Safety Day.

Mobile apps with innovative technology like voice recognition can make all the difference in access and availability of information to people around the globe.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

World Patient Safety Day was established this year to raise global awareness on accessible, safe, timely and affordable surgical care, an issue that is at the heart of universal health coverage and is key to achieving any health related objective outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Energy, telecommunications, manufacturing and service industries have shown that innovative digital solutions can help increase safety in the medical field. The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist was developed to reduce errors and adverse events, improve teamwork and communication in surgery.

The new mobile application aims to promote the use of WHO’s Checklist by making it even easier to follow through a voice recognition system. As a result, UNICC, WHO and UNITAR expect the morbidity and mortality rates to keep decreasing in patients during and after surgery.

UNICC’s Director, Sameer Chauhan, explained the crucial link between technology and patient safety and how possible technological tools can contribute to surgical care.

The launch event, organized by WHO and UNITAR in the Palais des Nations in Geneva was preceded by a roundtable with experts from WHO global surgery staff and health care specialists from around the world who met to discuss the need for safe surgery.

The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist app is already available at Google Play.

See also the related UNICC story on WHO’s 5 Moments of Medication Safety App.

Photo: UNICC/Rai

UNICC and Amazon Host February AWS Roundtable in Geneva

UNICC and Amazon jointly hosted a business roundtable on AWS services at the Domaine de Penthes, Chateau de Penthes in Progny-Chambesy, Switzerland (near Geneva) on 26 February 2019. This gathering focused on sharing UNICC solutions and delivery results using the AWS platform as well as discrete AWS service offerings. This is the first of a series planned on a regular basis, including other UNICC Headquarters locations (New York, Rome, etc.).

Over 17 Clients attended, including ILO, IMO, UNOG, WIPO, WHO, WTO, and WMO at the venue and another ten online (including UNIDO and others), with a fair share of interest in what UNICC has already done and what it will be offering.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC, provided an introduction and overview to the evolving partnership, welcoming attendees. Prado Nieto, Shashank Rai, Roberto Cruz Flores, Nyuta Fortuna, Roberty Turturea, Gabriel Galati, Carlos Correia, Dharam Paluru and Oliver Neff attended from UNICC. The agenda included:

  • 10:00am:  Registration of guests
  • 10:30am:  Opening and welcome – Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC
  • 10:45pm:  WTO Use Case – Fabrice Boudou, CIO, WTO and Shashank Rai
  • 11:00am:  Key services that are most relevant for the UN – Data Lakes, Outposts, VMware Cloud, AI/ML and Ground Station – Amazon
  • 11:30am:  UNICC AWS services
  • 12:30pm   Lunch
  • 14:00pm: Event closed.

Key takeaways

  • UNICC provides turn-key solutions built on top of AWS services through it’s architecture, business analysis and application development practices
  • AWS Resources: different AWS Services being consumed (for example EC2, S3 storage or QLDB ledger)
  • AWS Accounts: Cost of resources is accumulated under the account used to deploy them.
  • An account can be part of UNICC master organization (UNICC root-user account) or Client master organization.

The event was a great ‘kick-off’ and announcement of UNICC’s AWS-facing services and support models.

Delivery models

  • Client built/UNICC Managed > Client builds a set of services in the cloud, while UNICC provides ongoing support
  • UNICC built/UNICC Managed > UNICC builds the service according to Client requirements and provides ongoing support
  • UNICC built/Client Managed > UNICC builds service according to Client requirements and transitions service to Client for management
  • Client built/Client Managed > Client brings in their accounts purely for billing discounts and/or rapid access to cloud resources. The  Client keeps full ownership of both setup and operational activities.

WTO Proof of Concept

The roundtable included a use case and initial Proof of Concept project UNICC is working on with WTO around machine learning, whereby trade monitoring analysts needed an automated solution to help analyze information from over 300 websites and different ‘Google News’ results (keyword search). They had to manually sift through the sites, read news articles, in some cases use Google Translate (as sources may be Russian or Turkish or a language they don’t speak). All this effort is to monitor different notifications issued by various national governments that have an impact on trade with a goal to produce the WTO Trade Policy Review Body Report.

UNICC provided a solution for collection and ingestion of information from different sites and application of ‘filters’ to sift and aggregate ‘relevant’ information. A prototype was developed and presented to WTO. Stakeholders there loved the solution – resulting in an investment to fund a full Proof of Concept. The prototype was developed on AWS , with a totally serverless front-end and the back-end using Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS). The translation work was done natively within AWS using their translation services.

UNICC is now exploring the use of machine learning technology to train a model and use it to sort the news feeds.