Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Charting a course for action and developing and sharing best practices for emergency responses

Posted in business and convergent technologies, UN-GAID by Timothy Platt on January 19, 2010

Dear UN-GAID,

Words are important and the fact that the A in GAID stands for Alliance rather than Agency is important. Nevertheless, we are in a crisis and as Sinclair Stockman has so ably put it, we need to work together in an organized effort to have beneficial impact.

I have touched on some of the issues where a lack of coordination would create difficulties and simply add that it is the “none of the above” ones that blind side us from disconnected, independent effort that will really hurt.

But UN-GAID is an alliance of independent individuals, groups and organizations that come together in shared appreciation for the value and importance of the UN-GAID mission. That is just part of our reality, even if I tend to short-hand call the organization an agency where it is just a component of one as far as agency per se is concerned. This is not the important issue right now. The really important issue is in how we can best work together to more effectively address this crisis where we are the group with a clear and distinct ICT focus.

I spoke with Roberto yesterday afternoon and he mentioned two things I would share here – one was that he would like to meet with me and to be actively involved with the Champions Network and the community that has formed around GAID and its mission. The other thing is that he mentioned the term “steering committee”.

If UN-GAID is going to primarily serve as a clearing house and a networking node for members of the Champions Network to come together through, for developing a shared, collective response as a community, then that might be an answer, with a group of people who are willing to devote blocks of time and effort to helping us all get and stay connected serving on the committee. I would be happy to so contribute and ask that others who have been actively involved in the discussion and in follow through join in too.

• Members of this group would work together to help make sure that people preparing to provide ICT pieces of the relief and recovery puzzle connect so as to avoid unproductive duplications in effort, close gaps in effort and that resources brought to bear work together smoothly, and effectively for the Haitian context as it now stands. This will definitely involve due diligence analysis of potential issues that might help or hinder the ongoing effort and sharing the results of this analysis and discussion with the GAID community as a whole. Here, the focus would be on how the individual contributions fit together both in planning and as plan B’s become necessary in execution.
• This would require openness and transparency in discussion and in its follow through.
• One really important goal for this steering committee, that unfortunately has not been effectively carried out in the past is the development of best practices knowledge that could go into accelerating a response to any future disaster event. After the smoke clears on the disaster in Haiti, we need to stay there to help with the rebuilding, and after this is no longer a hot news topic. Just as importantly we need to set up a new steering committee to work on planning for the next one and for developing faster, more effective short-time frame capabilities – an emergency response planning and preparations steering committee.

None of these efforts can come strictly from otherwise primarily disconnected efforts, however motivated or effective in and of themselves.

I will add with this as context that we have to think on two very distinct time frames here – the immediate here and now of Haiti and its crisis and the longer term one of learning from it as a group and as an organization. And as a preview note on that, many groups and organizations within the UN, among NGO’s that affiliate with it, etc have at least some ICT capabilities – but for most all of them this is not their core mission or central to it. They develop and maintain ICT such as they do on an ad hoc basis and with their own perhaps large, perhaps small part to any overall emergency relief or recovery effort in mind and that means disconnects will happen, slowing everything down. As an alliance so connected to the United Nations and with ICT as its one central mission and focus, UN-GAID should be in a position to develop and disseminate ICT best practices to a wider organizational audience and community. This in and of itself would help make any future emergency response faster and more effective as the shared best practices and common standards so developed and used would limit some of our current bottlenecks and barriers.

If someone would like to propose an alternative to the alliance-oriented steering committee approach I suggest, please share it with the group but how ever we do this, we should do something pretty quickly to make sure we put together the best collective effort and contribution of resources that we can.

Thank you,

Tim Platt

One Response

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  1. […] have also proposed (see for example Charting a Course for Action and Developing and Sharing Best Practices for Emergency Responses) that UN-GAID and its Champions Network would be well positioned to develop, organize and share […]


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