4 December 2012
Press Release
PI/2044

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Online Volunteers AND Staff Launch Free, New Interactive


iPhone ‘App’ of Organization’s Activities, Events, Information


A new iPhone app developed by the United Nations Department of Public Information with a team of United Nations online volunteers is now downloadable for free.  Illustrating the breadth of activities of the United Nations system around the world, the UN Calendar of Observances app uses the international days as a basis to show users, through photos, videos and weblinks, what the United Nations does.


The app, which can be fully integrated into a user’s iPhone calendar, features United Nations observances that promote awareness of political, social, cultural, humanitarian and human rights issues, as well as ways to get involved.  It also provides interactive features relating to United Nations achievements, links to videos and photos, and options for sharing information via e-mail and social media.  It may be downloaded through https://unp.un.org/calendar.


The app is the electronic version of The United Nations Making a Difference 2013 educational calendar, which highlights United Nations achievements through high-resolution photos and text bullets.  The United Nations online volunteers who developed the electronic version of the calendar — at no cost to the United Nations — have backgrounds in software development (Christopher Bell, New Zealand), information technology management ( Aveline Sodji, Canada) and software engineering (Andrew Thornton, United Kingdom).


“Working for the United Nations in any capacity is an honour, but doing so on a voluntary basis, even in this small way, seems to be the purest way to give back to an organization committed to world peace, socioeconomic development and human rights,” said Mr. Thornton, the coordinator of the volunteers.  Similar United Nations online volunteering opportunities can be found at http://www.onlinevolunteering.org.


“The volunteers brought professional expertise and experience that we did not have in this area,” said Finn Summerell of the Department of Public Information’s Publications and Editorial Cluster, which spearheaded the project.  “They helped determine the app’s critical features, functions and appearance, and offered solutions to technical problems that cropped up along the way.”  Department staff and interns created app-specific icons and provided development support, as well as content.


Fittingly, the product is being launched in connection with the celebration of International Volunteer Day for Social and Economic Development, 5 December (http://www.volunteeractioncounts.org/en).  The celebration, organized by the United Nations Volunteers Programme, the United Nations Department of Public Information and the AARP — an organization that offers volunteer opportunities to its 37 million members in the United States — will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the North Lawn Building, Conference Room 4. 


The observance will feature Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information; Maher Nasser, Director, Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division; Kevin Gilroy, Director, Peace Division, United Nations Volunteers; and Josh Collett, AARP Vice-President for International Affairs.


For further information, contact Orrin Summerell, Department of Public Information, e-mail:  summerell@un.org, or tel:  +1 212 963 8293.


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For information media • not an official record