Mark McCarthy writes that he’ll be in town mid-day Monday February 28 through the evening of Tuesday March 1 on leave from the UN group in Darfur. This means he will not be here during my class time, but we’ll be working on setting up a time when he can give a talk and share his experiences and insight on running an IT operation in the midst of a serious humanitarian crisis.

Watch this space for details of his upcoming visit/talk.

He writes:

I can discuss my role as the Data Coordinator in the Humanitarian Information Center (HIC) for Darfur. We are part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Our role is to fill the information gaps that are present at the early stages of a humanitarian crisis.

I am the number 2 in the office. My manager deals with all the politics, planning, and headaches that I am glad to avoid. I have a team of 3 internationals and 3 national staff. In Darfur, the most immediate need was mapping. We needed to help the humanitarian actors get to the areas of need. They needed to know where the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were and how to reach them. Then we focused on mapping the needs in different regions and who was working to cover those needs.

The stage of the emergency we are at now has us beginning to take a hard look at information gathering and sharing amongst the agencies. Our mapping is pretty complete and we are shifting as appropriate.

Here is a link to information about HICs in general.