United Nations


Last week in Bangkok (23-26th March, 2015), at the invitation of the UN Development Group (UNDG) Asia-Pacific Secretariat, I had the opportunity to brief country heads and senior staff of UN agencies as well as from the Resident Coordinator’s office on how to leverage big data, for the data revolution needed to measure the progress in achieving the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event was the Lessons Learnt Workshop for Countries Designing UN Strategic Development Frameworks (UNDAF) in 2015. 13 countries were represented: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, DPRK, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The key point that I left with them was that National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) in developing economies are not yet set up to be the key champion for leveraging big data for development, let alone to certify standards. The UN’s role in my opinion was: to inform and catalyze the in-country discussions with examples from other countries.
The colloquium was conducted by Nalaka Gunawardena. The colloquium began by Nalaka explaining the big picture; Climate change and energy use.  Global warming is not new but the rate of global warming is. There is a multiplicity of gases causing global warming and their sources. Looking at the Green House Gas (GHG) mix, Carbon Dioxide is dominant.
Some of our best friends are at in the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), but still warms our hearts when they quote our writing, especially when we go out of our way to wave the red flag before those who still believe in the benevolent state. In a submission to the UN Group on the Information Society, they frankly debate the wisdom of continuing with universal service funds, among other things, quoting us: Rohan Samarajiva of LIRNEasia suggests in a recent paper that explores the success of the ‘budget telecom network model’ in South Asia that ‘the idea of making universal service transparent by creating universal service funds …was a good idea in its time ..but experience suggests that it is an idea that has run its course’. He identifies two problems: Billions of dollars of universal levies lie unspent in government accounts.
Chanuka Wattegama, Senior Research Manager, LIRNEasia, chaired the thematic session on ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction during the International Conference on Building a Local Government Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on 11-13 August 2009. The thematic session brought together specialists from Asia and the Pacific to share knowledge and experiences on ways in which ICTs have been used in response, recovery and risk reduction efforts. The session – organized by the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) – was part of the International Conference, jointly organized by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) and the Incheon Metropolitan City of the Republic of Korea, and was attended by senior government policymakers, disaster managers and representatives from international and regional agencies. Chanuka was also interviewed by Korean electronic media on LIRNEasia’s disaster management efforts Chanuka Wattegama, Senior Research Manager, LIRNEasia, chaired the thematic session on ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction during the International Conference on Building a Local Government Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on 11-13 August 2009. The thematic session brought together specialists from Asia and the Pacific to […]
Dr. Gordon Gow presented the working paper titled; The future of community-based hazard information systems: Insights from the Internet sharing economy. Dr. Gow who was previously at the LSE is now an Associate Professor at University of Alberta. The presentation began by looking at situations where systems/programmes are developed but only to fall to disuse.
Iran has launched its first domestically made satellite into orbit, state media reports. TV commentary said Monday’s night-time launch from a Safir-2 rocket was “another achievement for Iranian scientists under sanctions”. The satellite was designed for research and telecommunications purposes, the television report said. Iran is subject to UN sanctions as some Western powers think it is trying to build a nuclear bomb, which it denies. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the production of energy, and has emphasised its satellite project is entirely peaceful.
From 13-15 October, 2008, The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with support from the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction – Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning (UNISDR-PPEW) and the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) organized the Second United Nations International UN-SPIDER Workshop on “Disaster Management and Space Technology – Bridging the Gap” in Bonn, Germany. LIRNEasia researcher, Natasha Udu-gama was one of 134 participants representing 49 countries. The 3-day UN-SPIDER  workshop was notable in that it featured a number of German and international presentations on the themes of Session 1: “Space technology in support of risk and disaster management”, Session 2: “Vulnerability and Risk Assessment”, Session 3: “Contributions of space-based technologies to existing and proposed early warning systems”, and Session 4: “Disaster Medicine, Telemedicine and Integrated Vector Management (IVM)”. Natasha Udu-gama presented on “Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” during Session 3 highlighting the usage of WorldSpace Addressable Radios for Emergency Alerts (AREA) systems as appropriate for last-mile hazard information dissemination in the LIRNEasia pilot project “Evaluating Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination”. The presentation also presented sustainability models for WorldSpace in Bangladesh and Indonesia, while demonstrating […]
Natasha Udu-gama has been invited to represent LIRNEasia at the Second International United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response  (UN-SPIDER) Bonn Workshop: “Disaster Management and Space Technology – Bridging the Gap” in Bonn, Germany, from the 13th to 15th October 2008. Natasha will make a presentation on, ‘Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination’ at a session entitled, ‘Contribution of space-based technologies to existing and proposed Early Warning Systems’. This session will examine how public-private partnerships (PPP) centered on space-based technologies can enable the development, establishment and embedding of early warning systems. The event is organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), with the aim of providing a platform for brainstorming and in-depth discussion among decision-makers and experts from both the space technology and disaster management communities, academia and private companies. The UN-SPIDER was established as a programme of the UNOOSA, with the aim of providing universal access to all countries and relevant international and regional organizations to space-based information and services relevant to disaster management.
A United Nations survey of global e-government readiness has found that many Asian countries are sliding down the rankings. Just one Asian country—South Korea—made the top ten coming in at sixth, with Japan next on 11th.   The next highest was Singapore at a surprisingly low 23rd, and Malaysia at 34th. The top 35 countries are otherwise dominated by Europe, Australasia and North America.  The biggest revelation was that most Asian countries are sliding down the rankings.
With global agreement reached on clearing the 700 MHz band of analog broadcasting so it can be used for wireless broadband, the equipment will start coming to market soon.   Unless the regional spectrum regulators clear the band in time, it will not be possible to reap the benefits. After Global Agreement, Companies May Bid Higher at Wireless Auction in U.S. – New York Times Because the conference elicited a global consensus, that confidence should extend worldwide.

ITU approves WiMax

Posted by on October 20, 2007  /  1 Comments

U.N. Agency Gives Boost to WiMax – New York Times The United Nations telecommunications agency in Geneva gave the upstart technology called WiMax a vote of approval, providing a sizable victory for Intel and something of a defeat for competing technologies from Qualcomm and Ericsson. The International Telecommunication Union’s radio assembly agreed late Thursday to include WiMax, a wireless technology that allows Internet and other data connections across much broader areas than Wi-Fi, as part of what is called the third-generation family of mobile standards. That endorsement opens the way for many of the union’s member countries to devote a part of the public radio spectrum to WiMax, and receivers for it could be built into laptop computers, phones, music players and other portable devices.
Looks like international law is being made as we speak. According to the UN, basic human rights are violated when countries cut off Internet access. Burma is not the first. King Gyanendra of Nepal cut off everything in his palace coup. If cutting off Internet is a violation of human rights, what is cutting off phone service to entire regions like Jaffna?
Cities and natural disasters | Some hard talk about towns | Economist.com Intelligent planning and regulation make a huge difference to the number of people who die when disaster strikes, says Anna Tibaijuka, UN-Habitat’s executive director. In 1995 an earthquake in the Japanese city of Kobe killed 6,400 people; in 1999 a quake of similar magnitude in Turkey claimed over 17,000 lives. Corrupt local bureaucracies and slapdash building pushed up the Turkish toll. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which killed at least 230,000 people, would have been a tragedy whatever the level of preparedness; but even when disaster strikes on a titanic scale, there are many factors within human control—a knowledgeable population, a good early-warning system and settlements built with disasters in mind—that can help to minimise the number of casualties.
BBC News | Technology As part of a UN programme to tackle poverty in rural Africa, 79 villages across 10 African countries will be hooked up to cellular networks. It is hoped that the connections will help improve healthcare and education, as well as boosting the local economy. A 2005 study showed that an increase of 10 mobile phones per 100 people could increase GDP growth by 0.6%. “This is a technology that is remarkably empowering, especially for remote areas where the ability to communicate is vital,” Dr Jeffery Sachs, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, told the BBC News website.
World now has 4b phone lines, says UN | Sep 05, 2007 | telecomasia.net (Associated Press via NewsEdge) Largely because of the mobile phone boom in developing countries, telephone service has quadrupled in the past decade to 4 billion lines worldwide, according to a report from the UN telecommunications agency.
“MY NAME is Mohammed Sokor, writing to you from Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab. Dear Sir, there is an alarming issue here. People are given too few kilograms of food. You must help.”  A crumpled note, delivered to a passing rock star-turned-philanthropist?
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