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UNOSAT launches second generation GDACS Satellite Mapping Coordination System

13 April 2012, Geneva, Switzerland – The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) reached another milestone today as the second generation of its Satellite Mapping Coordination System (SMCS) was officially launched. GDACS is a cooperation framework for natural disaster alerts operating under the umbrella of the United Nations.

It includes disaster managers and disaster information systems worldwide and aims at coordination information and filling gaps in the first phases after a major disaster. To do this, GDACS provides real-time access to web-based disaster information systems and useful coordination tools. The Satellite Mapping Coordination System, or SMCS, of GDACS is a tool for GIS-experts working with satellite imagery for specific events. It allows experts to see which images are collected where and which entity is working on what type of analysis. This facilitates a horizontal coordination links as opposed to time consuming top-down models and effectively reduces duplication of efforts and the pushing of low value maps to the use community. In addition to being an operational coordination tool for satellite image analysis professionals, SMCS is also a metadata archive for past events, and a discussion forum.

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UNOSAT/Esri Conference on GIS gathers over 100 organizations in Geneva

3-4 April 2012, Geneva, Switzerland – More than 200 attendees representing over 100 entities from the United Nations, academic fields, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector participated in the “GIS for the United Nations and the International Community” conference held in on 3-4 April the World Meteorological Organization headquarters in Geneva. The conference opened with a keynote from Ambassador Betty E. King, permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations Office in Geneva. Ambassador King, who was welcomed on the podium by UNOSAT Manager Francesco Pisano, spoke on the role of technology and information as a transformative tool empowering local actors to address global challenges and development opportunities. “On behalf of the US government and President Obama, I applaud your use of technology in your work,” stated Ambassador King. “The world’s current resources are insufficient to address all the major global development and humanitarian crises that we face. Through the use of science and technology, including innovative uses of GIS applications, we can become more effective and efficient in this endeavour and stretch the power of limited resources.”

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UN Chief IT Officer visits UNOSAT

23 March 2012, Geneva, Switzerland – United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Choi Soon-hong visited the UNOSAT operational site at CERN and held discussions with UNOSAT Manager Francesco Pisano and his staff on Friday 23 March as part of his visit to several Geneva-based UN offices and agencies. Dr Choi is the UN Chief IT Officer, in charge of all matters relating to the use of information and communications technology at the UN Secretariat. In this capacity, he leads the Office of Information and Communications Technology of the UN Secretariat, which provides enterprise-wide oversight of ICT programmes, budgets and decision-making – to ensure alignment with the Secretariat’s overall ICT strategy, in support of the mission of the United Nations. The visit followed up in a series of high level contacts and technical exchanges between OICT and UNOSAT since 2010.

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Master Students leave UNOSAT with GIS tools for disaster management

21 March 2012, Geneva, Switzerland – The Master in Disaster Management, created by the Universities of Copenhagen and Lund (Sweden), has the objective to provide national and international aid workers, government officials and other professionals interested in any or all parts of disaster management with a solid holistic interdisciplinary background so that they can respect and understand the complex context of acting and working before, during and after a disaster. To join, students must possess at least two years of professional working experience. UNOSAT has elaborated the contents of its GIS course into an intensive set of modules tailored to fit the requirements of this particular audience. Geo Information in Disaster Situations is based on a successful formula combining formal training and knowledge transfer directly from UNOSAT experts and analysts.

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