Photo: UNRWA/Awwad

UNICC Helps Streamline UNRWA’s Digital Services Hub

Developing the transformative eUNRWA digital services platform and mobile app

UNICC recently provided the advisory support and technical know-how to help the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) build the ‘eUNRWA’ digital services hub for refugees. Leveraging the technologies and framework built for the UNJSPF Digital Certificate app, UNICC streamlined a platform and mobile application for refugee online and mobile digital services.

UNICC had the honour of visiting UNRWA offices in Beirut, Lebanon in the fall of 2022 to prepare for the launch of UNRWA’s new digital services solution. UNRWA’s management invited UNICC to visit their offices as well as several refugee camps to meet the people who were envisioning and delivering this transformative project.

UNICC was there to help us streamline our first digital services hub, so refugees can readily access our humanitarian services anytime and anywhere, from primary and vocational education, primary health care, relief and social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response. I am pleased that UNICC is there to support our digital transformation in delivering services on the ground to Palestinian refugees across the region.

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

The UNICC solution, scaled up to support potentially up to five million refugees, enables ‘life event‘ requests for services and documentation, including refugee birth and marriage certificates, work documentation, etc.

The solution went live successfully in all five fields of operations of UNRWA, namely, Jordan, Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria where more than 5.5 million refugees are registered with UNRWA. This solution is envisaged to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Palestine refugees to profit from UNRWA’s digital services.

Palestine refugees use the new eUNRWA mobile platform. Photo: UNRWA

Under the Hood

After a successful launch of the UNJSPF Digital Certificate of Entitlement identity solution, the UN family was able to see what UNICC could do for growing needs cross the system for digital identity. Microsoft (with its Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM solution) also became interested in the project.

The platform involves multiple software solutions, including digital identity. They include Microsoft D365, data and analytics, database setup and management, Microsoft SharePoint as a portal for documentation, a notification system for corresponding with field officers as well as Twillo, a SMS tool for refugees, to be aware of changes regarding their requests. The mobile app is the intersection point between the platform and its users. As this involves many inter-operating systems, UNICC was called in with its expertise to deliver a holistic, secure and streamlined system.

The platform includes a mobile app, the eUNRWA registration app, as its official digital platform. With the app, users can access a range of digital services provided by UNRWA, both within and beyond its fields of operation. This first version includes the following services:

  • Create and manage eUNRWA user accounts
  • View individual and family registration information
  • Update address and contact details
  • Submit registration applications for new descendants, marriages, divorces, deaths, and other amendments.

As a note, the eUNRWA registration app got 10,000 subscribers in its first two days after release. In the first week, 3,000 life event applications were registered by refugees to amend their family information. The URNWA refugee family registration e-card has been downloaded 15,000 times by users.

Credit: UNICC

UNRWA has recognized the growing partnership with UNICC. The outcome underscores an ongoing partnership on shared areas for digital transformation and a pipeline of projects to deliver digital solutions to the refugees that work with UNRWA.

Photo: Pexels

UNICC Supports ICAO’s ICT Strategy and Digital Transformation

Good governance, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data and analytics, business process automation, organizational resilience and more

With the development of an ICT Strategy and Digital Transformation Action Plan 2022 – 2025, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been in process of modernizing its ICT systems and practices using leading benchmarks from industry frameworks and UN guidelines.

As a key advisor and trusted partner, UNICC has been entrusted with the mission to design and then advance ICAO’s vision, by supporting the implementation of key aspects of ICAO’s Digital Transformation agenda.

Collaboration and expertise

UNICC and ICAO have worked together closely in strategizing a comprehensive program to set out the vision of a cloud-centric Digital Transformation strategy. Throughout the process, UNICC has become a strategic execution partner to accompany ICAO along their transformational journey. Starting in January 2022, UNICC advised ICAO in architecting the optimal framework for a multi-year, interdisciplinary and high-impact program for strategy formulation, planning and execution.

ICAO’s digital transformation benefits. Credit: UNICC

The ICT market has evolved continuously over the last years and thus, similarly ICAO has adapted its operations to accommodate the shifts in ICT service delivery, technology, solution sourcing and the positioning of ICT as a crucial component for sustainable growth within the organization. Prominently, the Digital Transformation process ensures that ICAO is achieving its ongoing mission to support as well as enable a global air transport network that meets the social and economic development and broader connectivity needs of the global air transport industry.

ICAO’s strategic priorities. Credit: ICAO

Getting off the ground
UNICC’s approach has been structured on two levels. First, on a strategic level: UNICC helped ICAO create a sound and actionable ICT Strategy (Strategy definition and Action plan 2023 – 2025) supported by a budget formulation plan over a 3-year period to guide the Digital Transformation.

The strategy was approved by Member States and endorsed by external auditors. ICAO was fit to embark on a Digital Transformation journey to respond with agility to changing needs and requirements, secure the business, drive efficiencies as well as transparency and to catch up to the technological maturity and best practices of its United Nations counterparts.

Strategy for success

ICAO’s ICT Strategy is more than just the implementation of an array of new technologies. More than just shifting to SaaS and cloud technologies, ICAO’s digital transformation is equally concerned with streamlining operations, addressing security and compliance requirements and better managing the direction of technology in the organization.

The ICT Strategy UNICC developed for ICAO involves implementing more efficient operating models, restructured technological governance, and refined processes and procedures. In order for UNICC to define the new ICT strategy to support the ICAO digital transformation, the two organizations undertook activities to incorporate stakeholder, leadership and auditor inputs.

Assessment and recommendations

This involved deep dives into audit reports, conducting stakeholder workshops, and analyses of ICT’s current strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat (SWOT) reports.

ICAO’s digital transformation technology roadmap. Credit: UNICC

ICAO’s ICT Roadmap

On a tactical level and occurring concurrently with the strategic planning exercise, UNICC was entrusted with the mission to ensure the stability and reliability of ICAO’s ICT organization and systems. In this regard, UNICC has been working hand-in-hand with ICAO’s ICT team on several foundational projects within ICAO’s Digital Transformation. These include:

  • Robust governance model supported by a Program Management Office (PMO) to orchestrate an efficient coordination of work streams, ensuring stakeholder alignment and developing ad-hoc reporting mechanisms to various leadership instances and governing bodies: with main outcomes providing visibility and transparency of all ongoing projects to the leadership. As well, this process resulted in an achievement of top-down alignment among ICAO’s stakeholders and ensured smooth delivery and effective coordination of concurrent projects. Cross-functional communication and resource optimization also resulted in data-driven executive reporting, and more efficient risk mitigation
  • Migration of MS Exchange to M365 for communications and collaboration for ICAO’s Secretariat and Delegations: with the main outcomes being a successful migration of 1250-staff Secretariat and 183-Member State Delegations to cloud-based email environment
  • Enhanced ICAO infrastructure operations, both on-premises and cloud environments leveraging UNICC’s shared service delivery model: with the main outcomes being a comprehensive delivery of an exhaustive ICT due diligence resulting in instrumental recommendations for ICAO to address critical pain points and modernize outdated infrastructure
  • Developed a comprehensive roadmap for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: with the main outcomes of robust and actionable guide for business continuity and Disaster Recovery planning for a more resilient recovery
  • Built the cloud foundations of ICAO’s architecture (ICAO Landing Zone). When building a new airport from scratch, the airport should be secure, efficient and easy to navigate for both passengers and staff. This includes considerations like security protocols, baggage handling, passenger check-in, and air traffic control. UNICC has followed standardized security protocols, connectivity requirements for inbound/outbound, identity and access management and other cloud industry best practices guidelines to build the cloud foundation infrastructure for ICAO. By using a custom-built cloud landing zone, ICAO can be confident that their cloud resources will be set up in a consistent, secure and efficient way.
ICAO Cloud Architecture – Azure Landing Zone using airport analogy. Credit: UNICC

UNICC has played a crucial role in envisioning a comprehensive program for ICAO’s digital transformation journey over the next few years. This extensive project implementation and its ongoing success highlight the integral factor of the seamless, well-coordinated multidisciplinary teams from various service areas who have worked together over a year to produce high-impact and measurable results.

Photo: WIPO

UNICC and WIPO Partner for a Successful Rollout of Microsoft Teams

​UNICC’s diverse teams go above and beyond the call of duty to seek excellence in everything they do, providing superior service relationships that Clients and Partner Organizations expect and deserve – this was clear in the recent rollout of Microsoft 365 Teams planned and implemented in close collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WIPO, the global forum for intellectual property services, information, policy and cooperation, requested in September 2021 UNICC’s support with the migration and implementation of over 2000 users from Skype for Business (SfB) to Microsoft 365 Teams as the main collaboration tool for the organization.

May I take this opportunity to share my appreciation to UNICC colleagues involved in the Microsoft 365 Teams migration project. Your dedication, commitment and hard work made this project a big success for ITTD and WIPO.

Marina Stavridi, Client Services Delivery Manager, WIPO

The UNICC Messaging, Teams and Skype teams worked with WIPO’s IT Technical Operations unit (ITTD) to collaborate on all aspects of the project, including the deployment of Microsoft 365 Teams application to WIPO workspace endpoints, planning and execution of user migration, decommissioning of the on-premise Skype for Business infrastructure and early life support.

The UNICC Communications and Learning teams provided communication and learning templates such as emails, use cases and How-to guides to support the end-user communications and planning of training activities.​

The project took ten months to complete, and all project objectives were met. All Skype for Business users migrated to Microsoft 365 Teams and the Skype for Business infrastructure was decommissioned. This was possible due to the dedication and hard work of the UNICC technical team and the excellent collaboration between UNICC and WIPO.

​​I would like to thank each of the team members who were involved in the project for their contributions and continued support. A good example of a well delivered project.

Benoit Buisson, Project Manager, UNICC​

The project consisted of an upgrade from the Microsoft Skype for Business Unified Communications tool to M365 Teams for WIPO users, including project management, technical resource support and Communications team support for change management and user adoption. Project components served to:

  • Define Skype for Business SFB and Teams coexistence and interoperability strategy
  • Validate/provision Microsoft 365 licenses
  • Validate current WIPO Microsoft environment and network readiness
  • Produce the Teams architecture components and implement the defined information security requirements
  • Develop formal User Acceptance test plans (capture use cases)
  • Prepare IT Staff – Train the trainer sessions (UNICC)
  • Ensure user support (on-site, Service Desk, UNICC, Microsoft, etc.)
  • Define the user migration groups and phases (pilot, UAT, final migration)
  • Define timelines, upgrade batches & users per batch, goals and OKRs
  • Prepare WIPO environment and support for Teams upgrade
  • Prepare a user readiness plan, consisting of awareness/communications, adoption materials, training sessions and workshops and support activities.

The Teams upgrade environment ensured to:

  • Update network infrastructure and firewalls and ensure access to O365
  • Verify Microsoft Teams tenant configuration Review & adjust Teams settings, definitions and policies (e.g. Meetings, Channels, Apps)
  • Review & adjust security requirements (e.g. Conditional Access Policies, Guest & External access).

WIPO and UNICC then ran a Teams-Only pilot, including piloting the communication plans. Migration to Teams Only was validated, followed by User Acceptance Test, troubleshooting, corrective measures and fine tuning. The environment was reviewed, approved and implemented for the Production upgrade. Users were then upgraded in batches with appropriate communications. Component parts of the upgrade included:

  • Setup and configuration of Audio-conferencing features and policies
  • Reviewing and adjusting Tenant-wide security policies
  • Microsoft Tenant upgrade to Teams Only mode
  • Transition to operations
  • management handover
  • Microsoft 365 health monitoring
  • Auditing, reporting and support
  • Skype for Business clients retirement
  • Skype for Business Environment decommissioning.

This was one of many of UNICC’s Microsoft 365 Teams migration projects. It was delivered in a timely fashion and without major disruption to the business. It was a testament to the professional experience and expertise, cost efficiency and wrap-around, integrated services from UNICC, making this project a big success for both WIPO and UNICC.

Photo: UNDP/India

New Partners: UNDP Country Offices in India, Indonesia, Malawi and Papua New Guinea

UNICC is pleased to announce that four more UNDP Country Offices have been accepted as UNICC partners. While they leverage the existing UNDP Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), each office is working independently and directly with UNICC for innovative digital business solutions. They join UNDP Nigeria in working with UNICC, with some exciting projects coming up on digital health and National IDs. See the UNICC-UNDP Nigeria announcement here.

UNICC’s Business Relationship Manager for UNDP and its Country Offices is Anu Senan.

UNICC is pleased to have this additional reach to help with UNDP’s digital solutions, delivering initiatives on the ground around the globe, and the organization looks forward to success at the Country Office level for further partnerships with UNDP Regional and Country Offices, as well as field offices for its other Partner Organizations.

UNDP is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life.

UNDP is on the ground in some 170 countries and territories, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and its wide range of partners. New partners include:

About UNDP India

UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development, from systems and institutional strengthening to inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods, as well as sustainable energy, environment and resilience. UNDP’s programmes continue to fully integrate a global vision for catalytic change with India’s national priorities. 

With over 30 projects on the ground in almost every state, today UNDP India works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by transforming traditional models to do development differently.  In a rapidly changing global environment, the work of UNDP and the broader UN family aligns with the Government of India’s new national development vision, India 2030, and builds upon the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP India’s country programme for 2018-2022 has three major focus areas:

  • Inclusive growth
  • Environment and energy
  • Strengthening systems and institutions.

These are supported by a framework of renewed partnerships and blended finance solutions, a pool of financial and technical resources for greater impact and scale, and South-South expertise.

UNDP Indonesia

UNDP believes that the people of Indonesia through UNDP Indonesia should have ownership over the programmes and projects we support. All UNDP programmes therefore actively promote the spirit of mutual respect, support and accountability and subscribe to the principle of national ownership as enshrined in the Jakarta Commitment – a declaration put forward by the government and its development partners in 2009 to strengthen aid effectiveness in Indonesia.

In the true spirit of national ownership, all of UNDP’s assistance in Indonesia is implemented by national entities, including line ministries and the Ministry of National Planning and Development, and at the subnational level by line departments, provincial and district authorities as well as community groups. While each programme supported by UNDP has specific and varied objectives, capacity development is one aim that all UNDP programmes – in Indonesia and worldwide – have in common.

This takes on many forms including institutional reform, leadership development, education, and training for members of the public such as journalists, and women’s communities. In line with this logic, UNDP advisers work side by side with Indonesian counterparts to strengthen capacities in technical matters, policy formulation and budget planning, amongst others.

About UNDP Malawi

UNDP Malawi has been present in the country since 1964 and works closely with the Government of Malawi, civil society, the private sector, and other partners to contribute to national development strategy.

UNDP Country Office in Malawi has two portfolios namely, Responsive Institutions and Citizen Engagement (RICE) and Resilience and Sustainable Growth (RSG), both working within the six Signature Solutions to help deliver the 2030 agenda –

  • Keeping people out of poverty
  • Governance for peaceful, just, and inclusive societies
  • Crisis prevention and increased resilience
  • Environment: nature-based solutions for development
  • Clean, affordable energy
  • Women’s empowerment and gender equality.

UNDP Papua New Guinea

Development challenges in Papua New Guinea are as diverse and complex as the country itself. To respond to these challenges, UNDP Papua New Guinea concentrates its efforts on building the country’s capacity to promote inclusive, pro-poor growth, effective governance, and sustainable and resilient development. We help our partners in identifying relevant solutions to today’s complex, trans-boundary development challenges.

Guided by the UNDP’s Country Programme Document for Papua New Guinea 2018-2022, advisory and implementation work focuses on the following areas:

  • Peace: promoting inclusive governance, justice and peace
  • Prosperity: inclusive and sustainable growth
  • Planet: sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity conservation, strengthened climate and disaster resilience.