UN International Computing Centre

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Acronym: UNICC

Established: 1971

Address: Octagon Building, Chemin du Pavillon 2 Grand-Saconnex, 1218 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.unicc.org

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisation

UNICC is a specialised entity whose mandate is to provide digital tools and solutions to the UN family.

UNICC is currently positioned as the preferred operational and shared services centre of excellence for the UN system. It is committed to delivering reliable digital services driven by best practices, offering world-class technology, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and system-wide cross-domain experience of knowledge and data, enabling its clients and partner organisations to achieve their sustainable development goal (SDG) mandates through accelerated digital delivery.

UNICC’s portfolio covers more than 80 client and partner organisations that subscribe to its 50 trusted services and digital solutions, offered from five strategic operations locations worldwide (Geneva, Switzerland; New York, the USA; Valencia, Spain; Rome and Brindisi, Italy). UNICC is a full-cost-recovery organisation.

Digital activities

UNICC provides core digital business services to UN agencies and related international organisations including client services,  support for innovative technologies, cybersecurity, data and analytics, software as a service and cloud integration services, infrastructure and platform services including network services, enterprise backup, enterprise resource planning (ERP), web hosting and enterprise collaboration platforms. UNICC offers cost savings, business efficiencies, and volume discounts based on the scale of its engagements. These services are designed to protect organisational assets, intellectual property, sensitive data, and reputation and leverage the shared expertise of the umbrella of UN organisation, with shared innovative solutions being adaptable to the client’s needs.

Digital policy issues

Digital solutions, services, and tools

The need for digital and technological solutions is at an all-time high across businesses and sectors. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all areas of humanitarian development saw an increased call for advanced technology products and services to respond to the many challenges the world faced. Digital transformation allows for more productivity, streamlined operations, cost efficiencies, agility, and resilience in ever-changing scenarios and is a catalyst for economic growth.

UNICC is responding to this growing need for digital business solutions with innovation and state-of-the-art digital business solutions tailored to many of its more than 80 clients and partner organisations. With UNICC’s shared services business model, clients can benefit from affordable, accessible, flexible solutions to support their mission delivery. At the same time, member states benefit because more UN entities are harnessing smart technologies to fulfil their mandates, reaching further into the field to support country offices and their results. UNICC continues to fine-tune many of these new technologies, and through strategic partnerships, their impact is even greater. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

UN Digital ID

A building block for UN digital cooperation

The UN family is taking steps to digitally transform its identity management solutions, with a system to streamline information sharing, daily workflows, and access to platforms and premises, operating across UN agencies by providing its personnel with a universal, system-wide solution.

In the spirit of emerging technologies supporting the UN Secretary-General’s Strategy on New Technologies, the UN Digital ID is harnessing blockchain, biometrics, and mobility to provide online UN credentials and digital wallets for UN employees, from onboarding to separation. The UN Digital ID aims at minimising data fragmentation and incomplete processes in the UN, giving ownership of personal data back to employees. It is reliable, scalable, dependable, and interoperable between agencies.

The UN Digital ID uses various open-source solutions to ensure transparency and avoid bias. To further build digital trust, UNICC has also released the source code of the UN Digital ID, so that efforts spent creating the software are available and can be used by other organisations for the .public good. For more information, visit the UNICC website or watch the Digital ID video.

PAHO and RPA+

Mia and Max: Digital workers

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has added two Acquisitions Technicians to its Procurement and Supply Management team – two new members that can work 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, year-round. Mia and Max are PAHO’s first-ever bots, developed by UNICC’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA+) Centre of Excellence alongside PAHO’s Procurement and IT teams.

The robots execute repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing the human teams to forget about manual processes and paperwork and focus on the strategic aspects of procurement, such as PAHO country office support and enhanced relationships with suppliers. A single purchase order requisition can take a human buyer an average processing time of 20 minutes, whereas Mia is able to do the same work in approximately 5 to 8 minutes, thanks to automating redundant and time-consuming steps. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

FAO and sanctions screening

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) embraces RPA for vendor sanctions screening

The UN Digital Solutions Centre (UN DSC), operated in partnership by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), supported by UNICC, developed the Joint Sanctions Screening Solution using RPA to streamline repetitive, manual, and inefficient vendor screening processes.

High standards of integrity and compliance mean zero tolerance for fraud and corruption. The UNminimisesfraud by imposing sanctions on potential vendors, partners, and their employees. The Joint Sanctions Screening Solution speeds up the vetting process and improves the efficiency of vendor records management, eliminates human errors in analysing and reviewing data, and reduces operational risk. The UN Joint Sanctions Screening solution, embraced by FAO as well as several other UN agencies, optimises back-office operations to bring peace of mind to managing public funds for social good, unlocking the promise of the SDGs. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

UN Partner Portal

Where UN agencies and civil society organisations connect

UN agencies (UN Secretariat, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP) have joined forces with civil society organisations (CSOs), with operational support from UNICC, to deliver the UN Partner Portal, a platform for CSOs to engage with the UN on partnership opportunity management. The UN Partner Portal is designed to facilitate a harmonised, efficient, and easy collaboration between the UN and its CSO partners, simplifying and strengthening UN partnership opportunity processes. By optimising opportunity management, CSOs and the UN family can better deliver projects and programmes with better results to reach their goals, delivering more good for people and the planet.

The development of the UN Partner Portal draws on decades of successful partnerships between the UN and civil society, consultations with networks of NGOs, as well as best practices in partnership management, to support streamlined business processes. UN Partner Portal teams have a continuous improvement approach, where feedback from UN agencies and CSO users drives enhancements to the portal, which is designed to encourage harmonisation within the UN. It is expected that more UN agencies and their associated CSO partners will join the portal in the near future. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

Data Action Portfolio

Driving data for digital transformation across the UN family

The Data Strategy of the Secretary-General for Action by Everyone, Everywhere is a call to action for a data-driven transformation for building ecosystems that unlock the potential for global action on the SDGs. Data drives all aspects of the UN’s work and its power, harnessed responsibly, is critical to global agendas.

As the digital business and technology shared services hub for the UN, UNICC is uniquely positioned to heed the call, embrace, and implement the UN Secretary-General’s data strategy in every corner of the UN system.

UNICC is well-positioned with its Data Action Portfolio to assist UN agencies in implementing their alignments to the UN Secretary-General’s Data Strategy, taking their data programmes to the next level with humanitarian use cases across many UN agencies, in the areas of analytics, advanced analytics, data management, and data exchange as well as data governance.

For more information, visit the UNICC website.

Travel Data Cube

An inter-agency project to drive savings in UN travel costs

The UN Digital Solutions Centre a pilot programme and innovation hub from UNHCR, and WFP, with operational support from UNICC, has leveraged existing solutions to build the Travel Data Cube, a consolidated data cube platform that allows comparing and contrasting travel spending, including reviewing average travel cost rates on top UN travel routes.

In the cube, data is aggregated, cleaned, consolidated, and shown on a visual, interactive, web-based dashboard that allows users to perform data-driven fare negotiation with airlines, ultimately driving savings. The dashboard includes a mapping tool through which users can see which UN agencies are covered by which UN airline contracts plus the savings they deliver. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

Independent Evaluation Solutions

Artificial intelligence powers UNDP’s evaluation office solutions

Independent evaluation offices play a major role in gleaning and sharing years of evaluation knowledge and experience for UN agency programme delivery. This is never an easy task. Finding valuable information is time-consuming, methodical, and often manual, with multiple sources and document types to process.

In partnership with UNICC and Amazon Web Services, UNDP’s latest cutting-edge solution streamlines the scanning of thousands of evaluation documents to understand keywords, context, and intent using AI capabilities, returning meaningful answers to complex questions. This innovative solution, based on AI and machine learning (ML), is publicly available through UNDP’s portal, AIDA (Artificial Intelligence for Development Analytics).

With UNICC’s support, UNDP’s AIDA Portal is accessible to Evaluation Office staff who want to learn from past evaluations to improve programme design and delivery, offering an innovative solution to search, find, and share lessons learned and build on successes from country programmes worldwide. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

International Criminal Investigations

Innovative technology and partnerships for international criminal investigations

The United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) partnered with UNICC and Microsoft to support advanced data management for accountability in UNITAD criminal investigations, with UNICC offering Microsoft Azure hosting services, development, data and analytics, and cognitive services.

UNICC Data and Analytics, Application Development, and Cloud Infrastructure teams supported the collection, preservation, and storing of evidence in the form of images, audio, video, and digital text files that have been recovered from sources in the field. This solution streamlines evidence in independent criminal proceedings to hold members of ISIL accountable for the crimes they may have committed.

The partnership helps UNITAD fulfil its mandate in a more efficient and cost-effective manner by creating new business opportunities for UNICC clients and partner organisations to leverage for similar challenges with this innovative technology. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and information security services for the UN family

UNICC’s cybersecurity services cover oversight, governance, threat intelligence sharing, as well as advisory services and a spectrum of programmatic and operational components. It has grown its global cybersecurity programme to serve 40 UN partner organisations since its inception in 2017.

Services range from the Common Secure Threat Intelligence Network of over 30 UN agencies, maturity assessments, ISO certification support, SOC and Security information and event management (SIEM) support to security incident response and forensics, business continuity management and industry-standard operational processes.

UNICC is certified with ISO  27001  and was given a 2020 and 2017 CSO 50 Award for its Common Secure Information Security services, demonstrating outstanding business value and thought leadership. For more information, visit the UNICC website.

Digital diplomacy

UNICC supported numerous UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate change events over 2021, delivering support to Conference of the Parties (COP26) events, including Subsidiary Bodies meetings and regional partner meetings, bringing forward a breadth of capabilities and addressing the constraints of large-scale physical conferences imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For these events, UNICC supported the delivery of a seamless conference management solution with single sign-on for different conference platforms. From guest registration to document management, this solution allowed organisers and participants to carry out the same activities as in a physical conference, and more.

For the COP26 that was held from 31 October to 12 November 2021, UNICC performed as a cross-functional team to deliver innovative solutions through eight workstreams: Digital Business Advisory, Data and Analytics, Cybersecurity, Event Management, Training, and Governance and Technology Implementation, to support the meetings and negotiations happening in Glasgow. As part of this set of digital solutions for digital diplomacy, UNICC developed the COP26 ID Check app, an AI-powered application that leverages facial recognition technology to securely and efficiently verify the identity of participants and issue virtual badges, avoiding fraud and ensuring a seamless user experience. All registered participants, including representatives of the Parties to the Convention and Observer States, members of the media and representatives of observer organisations such as NGOs and intergovernmental organisations, could verify their identity with the COP26 ID Check app any time before the start of the conference, which reduced registration wait times by at least 50%.

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LinkedIn @UNICC

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