Information and Communications Technology Section
The General Assembly, in Resolution 64/301 of 13 September 2010, encouraged
Member States to make full use of the e-services
provided by the Secretariat, taking into account
the cost savings and the reduced environmental
impact that may accrue from this exercise …
This was a welcome encouragement to move forward on various initiatives already under way to make available documentation in digital formats.
At the United Nations e-Subscription portal (http://undocs.org) all documents can be subscribed to for regular delivery by e-mail or RSS feed. Subscription categories include the Journal, General Assembly, Security Council, Human Rights Council and Economic and Social Council documents as well as many others.
In order to improve the digital access and retrieval of United Nations documents, the Official Document System (ODS) features an enhanced search page (http://documents.un.org) which, using keywords, facilitates considerably the search and retrieval of documents. In addition, documents can be accessed easily by typing a quick link URL plus the document symbol in a web browser, for example (http://www.undocs.org/A/RES/64/301) for the above resolution.
The Information and Communications Technology Section (ICTS) plays a central role in the paradigmatic shift from paper-based processes and products to digital and web-based ones. In the work environment these days many words begin with “e”. Within the Department, for example, you will find eDOC (an electronic system for documentation planning and management), eMEETS (a similar system for the planning and management of conferences and meetings), eREF (electronic referencing) and ePUB (electronic publication, a free and open e-book standard). The development and maintenance of such information management systems, among many others within the Department, are in the hands of the 41 staff of the Section. The Section also manages and delivers information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, both hardware and software, to the 1,200 staff of the Department at Headquarters.
The mission of the Section is to ensure the most forward-thinking, efficient and effective use of ICT resources within the work programmes of the Department. Within that overall objective, the work of the Section is geared toward:
- Developing and sustaining ICT systems, services and tools, specifically in the field of conference services management, and ensuring that staff are enabled to make the best use of them;
- Providing technological services and solutions to the multilingual work processes of the Department and to the staff who depend on them;
- Moving the ICT efforts of the Department forward as new technologies are developed, new automation projects are recommended, and new business initiatives are implemented.
The Section collaborates on technology advances with the three duty stations (Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi), the Office of Information and Communications Technology, and other United Nations Departments and International Organizations in order to advance the Department’s work programme and to continue to develop information technology strategies for the implementation of conference services applications. ICT is a prime concern for integrated global management of conference services and resources, and the staff of the Section are actively involved in ongoing and far-reaching projects to harmonize systems in the field of meetings, documents and language services.
The organizational structure of the Section includes the following three units:
- Business Unit: to align ICT solutions and services to the Department’s particular requirements - in particular its six-language environment and, to that end, to carry out analyses of the use of ICT tools to achieve gains in operational efficiency and also to analyze the business processes of the Department and user requirements and to support new business initiatives.
- Development Unit: to improve the functionality and usability of information systems and applications related to conference management through the design, development and testing of such systems, services and applications, and to provide ICT support for training initiatives relating to conference management.
- Operations Unit: to provide support to the staff of the Department and to provide on-site training to users, and to maintain conference-management equipment, including asset management – the acquisition and disposal of stock and property control.
The outreach functions of the Operations Unit, in particular its Help Desk, during any given month, receives between 400 and 600 urgent requests from staff for assistance. Staff who cannot use their personal computers have their hands tied. The Help Desk unties their hands and gets the work going again.
It goes without saying that the time factor is crucial in the work of all three Units as they must ensure that resources and services are available within specific and often very limited time frames.
Last Update: 23 May 2011 / Nadya SIRIYSKA