United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS):
At just five years old, UNITeS had grown into an accomplished, stable, collaborative initiative with many successes in the support of volunteers applying information and communication technology (ICT) for development (ICT4D) and in the promotion of volunteerism as an essential element to the ICT4D efforts:
- During the tenure of UNITeS, UNV helped place and/or support more than 300 volunteers applying ICT4D in more than 50 developing countries, including 28 Least Developed Countries (LDC), making it one of the largest volunteering in ICT4D initiatives. These volunteers supported projects in a variety of thematic areas (education, governance, health, HIV/AIDS, etc.). More than 60% of these volunteers were from developing countries. UNITeS highlights the accomplishments of these volunteers on its web site (now available only from www.archive.org), as well as those of other organizations. Some UN Volunteers affiliated with UNITeS met Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2001, and one addressed the UNDP Executive Board Special Session as part of the celebration of UNV's 30th anniversary. These UN Volunteers served with UNV contracts of a year or more. Other volunteers were students from the University Network, which included George Mason University, USA and Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain and its family of other universities. UNV signed agreements with Japan's Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) in 2003 and Universidad de Colima of Mexico in 2004 (and its network of 10 universities) for university volunteer placements. University volunteers -- students, faculty and staff -- served on a short-term basis in the field on ICT-related projects. In December 2002, UNITeS received a Global Junior Challenge 2002 award for its University Volunteer Network, which continues to grow each year. In addition, more than 100 online volunteers from around the world were managed through UNITeS, undertaking a variety of projects to support activities of volunteers applying ICT4D in the field.
- UN Volunteers worked in the global Least Developed Countries Initiative of Cisco Systems-UNDP. They participated in the establishment of Cisco Networking Academies in 20 developing countries, working with local communities so they could benefit from the learning opportunities and services provided by these academies. In addition, UNV has placed more than a dozen employees "on loan" from private companies as volunteers to apply ICT4D, such as placing a volunteer from France Telecom Longue Distance through the French association Congé Solidaire, who evaluated and updated information systems at the main hospital in Niger's capital, Niamey, and trained staff in more efficient use of software.
- As part of UNITeS' promotion of volunteerism as a fundamental element of successful ICT4D initiatives, UNITeS updated its profiles that promote the role of volunteers from various organizations in successful ICT4D initiatives, with volunteers tracked by project contributions to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These profiles were launched when UNITeS featured highly in the profile of UNV during its activities in association with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), with activities centering around the promotion of the involvement of volunteers as essential to the successful achievement of fair and inclusive information societies.
- The UNITeS Knowledge Base served as an online resource to help volunteers applying ICT4D and to help online volunteers supporting such projects. Much of its content was produced by other organizations, and much of the content was suggested or researched by onsite volunteers and online volunteers.
- The UNITeS online UNITeS community was made up of both UN Volunteers, volunteers in other organization's programs, online Volunteers, and people not formally associated with UNV but who promoted volunteering in ICT4D in developing countries. This online discussion group was used by UNITeS to disseminate news and information of interest to volunteers engaged in ICT4D, and to allow these volunteers to collaborate and share resources with each other.
- Initial financial contributions to UNITeS were provided by the Governments of Japan, Finland, San Marino and Germany, helping to underwrite costs of volunteers supported by UNITeS and UNV. The pioneering support of these bilateral donors helped to establish a stable, results-oriented initiative.
- UNV/UNITeS staff researched and developed two pioneering articles, one on Using Instant Messaging with Volunteers" and another on Handheld computer technologies in community service/volunteering/advocacy", with information from various other organizations. The publication of the latter on the UNITeS web site lead to a feature story in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
- Through UNITeS, UN Volunteers became active participants of the UN ICT Task Force, a wide multisectoral forum establish by Secretary General Kofi Annan to foster action and stimulate partnerships with the aim of bringing increased digital dividends to developing countries. UNITeS was given the task to coordinate and organize the volunteer contributions from universities around the world according to the goals of the Task Force. UNV also co-chaired the Committee on Human Capacity within the Task Force.
- In a widely-read challenge in November 2002 to Silicon Valley, Secretary General Kofi Annan cited the UNITeS initiative as a primary avenue for ICT leaders to engage in public-private collaborations that benefit the many needs of poor communities and underdeveloped nations.
- UNITeS was selected as a finalist in both the 2001 and 2002 Stockholm Challenge Awards.
- Invited articles by UNITeS staff regarding volunteering in ICT4D activities have been featured on several other organizations' web sites and publications, including the Digital Divide Network and One World's Digital Opportunity Channel.
- UNV staff working with UNITeS held invited presentations at conferences and workshops in Madrid, Cairo, Minneapolis, Buenos Aires, Geneva, Manchester, London, Bonn, Seville, Boston, Brussels, and Austin (Texas), among many other places.
- In October 2001, UNITeS co-hosted two live web casts in association with UN Open Days in Geneva. These web casts featured volunteers involved in ICT4D from various UN-related activities, and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, who credited his creation of the Web to the contributions of Online Volunteers. An online discussion< accompanied this broadcast, and was facilitated by three Online Volunteers.
- In 2001, UNITeS/UNV coordinated and sponsored an onsite visit to an NGO in Uganda by an Online Volunteer who had been supporting the organization and coordinating more than 150 other Online Volunteers for the organization, through UNV's Online Volunteering service. This visit allowed the Online Volunteer to see first-hand the results of her service and the contributions of many other Online Volunteers, and marked the first time an Online Volunteer who had been helping through UNV's OV service made an onsite visit to an NGO in a developing country.
To see the complete, original UNITeS web site and its resources, including its extensive knowledge base, look up unites.org at archive.org
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This archived version of the UNITeS web site is hosted by Jayne Cravens