The early origins of iMMAP date back to 1998 when Joseph Donahue, Charles Conley, and William Barron, who would eventually become the co-founders of iMMAP, were part of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation's (VVAF) team that worked on the development and implementation of the Landmine Impact Survey Initiative. VVAF supported the successful International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) through advocacy efforts that were then translated into practical results on the ground through the execution of the Landmine Impact Survey Initiative.
VVAF served successfully as the focal point of the Survey Working Group, a coordinating body of United Nations, Donors and INGOs that built international consensus on the effective application of survey and information management approaches to the global landmine problem, as well as of broader social and economic requirements in the context of humanitarian emergencies and post-conflict recovery.
This work resulted in broad and continuing international acceptance of landmine impact survey standards through the Landmine Impact Survey Initiative, fundamentally shifting the metrics of the mine action community away from the narrow focus upon the size of contaminated areas and the number of landmines/unexploded ordnance (UXO) toward a more holistic approach of measuring the socioeconomic impacts of landmines and UXOs.
Through this process, VVAF coordinated, supported, and implemented humanitarian information management activities as well as landmine and UXO surveys during and after complex emergencies around the world, setting clear priorities in humanitarian relief and development, economic recovery, landmine clearance and victim assistance activities. Examples of these activities include Landmine Impact Surveys in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Chad, Kosovo, Lebanon, Thailand, and Armenia.
The scope of this work illustrated that shared information and maps, effective analysis tools and a common view of the operating environment were essential for the successful implementation of individual initiatives as well as collective efforts. Specifically, the team sought to capitalize on geographic data management tools and methodologies that strengthened the maintenance, organization, and visualization of complex information into a common operating picture (COP). The team was proving that better data led to better decisions that had the ability to positively impact relief operations.
As a natural by-product of seeking to integrate broader social and economic factors with technical mine clearance and victim behavior analysis, iMMAP was created in 2001 as a unit of VVAF, and began offering direct support to non-mine action humanitarian and development organizations. The team's hard-earned practical experience and insights quickly placed the iMMAP at the forefront of information management services.
From 2001, iMMAP successfully led the expansion efforts to encompass much broader relief and development activities through the establishment of humanitarian and development standards for the strategic use of information management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), supporting improved decision-making and coordination among emergency and development service providers.
This expansion beyond Humanitarian Mine Action commenced with a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Afghanistan, which soon expanded to other regions worldwide. Having multiple information management experts across the Middle East, iMMAP was able to provide timely assistance in Iraq in support of United Nations partners in 2003, including the Technical Support to Iraq Humanitarian Information Centre project with OCHA, providing the foundation for information management preparedness and inter-organizational information sharing requirements, and assisting in the comprehensive analysis of humanitarian data across sectoral boundaries. iMMAP also provided rapid response support following sudden-onset emergencies such as the Pakistan earthquake in 2004 and the southeast Asia tsunami in 2005, and continued to support humanitarian mine action stakeholders through these years.
In 2005, iMMAP's efforts were recognized internationally, with the organization selected as one of five finalists of more than 150 nominees for the World Bank Development Gateway Award for the most exemplary contribution in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) for development.
An early United Nations report on the role of information management and other technologies, Information and Communications Technology for Peace
, published in late 2005, stated that "The NGO with most experience in this sector, however, is the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), whose IMMAP project – while only a small part of VVAF's work – has been instrumental in supporting both Mine Action initiatives and the HICs operated by OCHA. NGOs offer a different perspective and a different approach to GIS in the field, one that can complement that of international organizations, and it seems certain that these actors will expand their activities in coming years."
Following the successful implementation of information management work across several world regions, in 2006 Joseph Donahue, Charles Conley and William Barron established iMMAP as an independent organization. On June 30, 2006, iMMAP incorporated as a not-for-profit 501 c3 organization, headquartered in Washington D.C. with country offices in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), West Africa, and South America.
The first full iMMAP team formed in 2007, becoming a leader in the internationally coordinated effort to combine information management, sociology, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Since then, iMMAP has been a pioneering humanitarian organization, leading the way towards the effective use of information management practices and principles in service to the world's most vulnerable populations.
iMMAP was the first international NGO to develop Humanitarian Information Management practices, building on the extensive experience from performing mine action surveys and information management activities. Humanitarian Information Management, a term coined by the iMMAP team, consisted in applying technical processes, tools, data manipulation, and analysis techniques to support humanitarian planning and coordination activities. iMMAP's work was based on the premise that national authorities, implementing organizations, and donor governments must be able to define the physical, social, and economic dimensions of any relief or development challenge as a critical component of effective planning, resource allocation and advocacy.
On September 28, 2008, iMMAP France was created with the aim of supporting the organizational expansion for the provision of information management services across a wider range of geographical areas and through a diversified donor base, including high-profile institutions such as the European Union. Since September 1, 2016, iMMAP Inc. based in the United States, and iMMAP France, became affiliated under the name iMMAP. Based on common interests, vision, and strategy, this affiliation aimed to maximize opportunities available to them and the outcome of operations, allowing both organizations to align their skills, resources, and goals.
iMMAP's expertise and proven track record in delivering information management services drove the organization to become a surge capacity provider in 2012, joining the Standby Partnership (SBP)
to lend skilled and experienced human resources to United Nations partners in humanitarian emergencies.
Following the establishment of iMMAP's SBP, the organization signed an array of surge support agreements
, including the global Long Term Agreements with UNHCR and UNICEF, a Long Term Agreement with the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO), the Global WASH Cluster Field Support Team membership, and a Cooperative Agreement with CDC.
iMMAP is committed to ensuring the sustainability and continuity of information management practices in the humanitarian and development sectors. To achieve that, we leverage our extensive capacity building expertise through tailored programs that empower stakeholders and national capacities to reach a proficient understanding of the principles and best practices of information management in the aid context.
The iMMAP team comprises over 400 information management and other multisectoral experts
who work in over 30 countries across the world. Furthermore, iMMAP maintains a roster of over 500 rapidly deployable information management experts
across the globe to support our partners' emergency operations, providing timely and regular surge capacity in times of crisis.
With over 80 partner organizations that include United Nations agencies, multilateral donors, national and international NGOs, private technology companies and academia, iMMAP is consolidated as one of the technical leaders in the broad spectrum of information management in the humanitarian and development areas. Our alliances create synergies that allow iMMAP to develop cutting-edge, tailored solutions for our partners' needs, facilitating prompt and detailed information that supports the delivery of data-driven humanitarian response services.
In today's dynamic and ever-changing world, we can be certain that technology will continue playing a key role in all aspects of life. Thus, iMMAP will continue to leverage the latest innovations and digital pathways to support our partners by providing accurate and high-quality information that facilitates efficient aid provision as we look ahead to the future.