The Republic of Iraq is one of the world’s most severely afflicted countries by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), Iraq’s border with Iran being the site of major military minefields and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Moreover, stockpiles of ammunition and weapons remain throughout the country. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Iraq
program focuses on enabling humanitarian and stabilization interventions to support the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to areas previously under the ISIL control, most of them heavily contaminated by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war (ERW).
From February 2017 until May 2018, in a project funded by The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and aimed at providing assistance to UNMAS Iraq, iMMAP established a dedicated Information Management (IM) Support Unit in order to satisfy the internal and external IM requirements of UNMAS.
iMMAP facilitated the coordination between UNMAS and the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA) and connected all UNMAS Iraq’s Mine Action operations with the Iraqi national information management systems. Part of it consisted of the migration of data collected by UNMAS to DMA.
UNMAS provides explosive hazard management response in support of humanitarian and stabilization efforts, delivers risk education at the community, regional, and national levels, and works towards enhancing the government capacity to lead, regulate and coordinate the explosive hazard management response.
Consequently, reliable information is crucial to carry out these operations. Identifying and clearing explosive hazards is critical before the reconstruction of infrastructure & rehabilitation operations can proceed.
UNMAS Mine Acion Activities in Mosul
The internal data management procedure involved the use of two data management systems in parallel: the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA NG), managed by iMMAP and used for recording explosive hazard management (EHM) activity reports, and the Mine Action Reporting System (MARS), developed by UNMAS IM team and used for generating task orders, tracking their completion, and compiling daily Mine Risk Education (MRE) reports.
However, these two systems were not interoperable and presented issues such as delay in data-synching between MARS and IMSMAA, which caused discrepancies in figures.
In order to solve these issues and enhance the overall information management processes in UNMAS, In June 2018 iMMAP Iraq began the development of the System for Mine Action Reporting and Tracking (SMART), which became operational by April 2019.
iMMAP Project Manager presenting SMART to HMA stakeholders
The main objectives for the development of the SMART System were to establish, first, an internal IM system for UNMAS Iraq, designed for survey, clearance, risk education and quality management, as well as facilitating the tasking, data collection, processing, validation, analysis, and information reporting, including database administration, data analysis capabilities, data entry, reporting and GIS function (capture, management, analysis and display of geographically referenced information). The second objective was to implement an external IM system that connects all UNMAS Iraq operations with the IM systems of DMA and Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), which facilitates continuous transfer and reconciliation of data.
SMART is powered by the ArcGIS Enterprise technology. The system allows the data to be stored in a centralized server that can be accessed through a user-friendly online interface, and the real-time data is now immediately updated after being edited. SMART contains unique datasets, accessible by selected UNMAS staff, and it follows a strict control system for data editing, thus preventing duplications.
iMMAP sequenced the development of SMART into four main phases:
1. Planning and design phase: aimed at identifying and modeling the functional requirements expected for the new system
2. Development phase, split into major components:
• Server and Portal
• Tasking system
• Mobile data collection forms
• Validation system
• Feature services and layers
• IM products
• Automation of repeated tasks
• Transversal tasks
3. Training phase: aimed at giving the UNMAS staff and their operators the knowledge and skills to use the tasking system, mobile data collection, and validation systems
4. Deployment phase: fully functional system is deployed, and UNMAS operators trained
Training sessions carried by iMMAP
In addition to the development of SMART, iMMAP facilitated the transition and the migration of data from the previous systems, IMSMA NG and MARS, into SMART, which required the transfer of IM tools needed by UNMAS such as the map gallery of GIS Boxes and Satellite applications from the iMMAP Portal to the UNMAS Portal, and the transfer of IMSMA’s survey and clearance activity data, plus MARS’s task order, daily reports, and MRE activity data.
Furthermore, iMMAP developed the Prioritization Tool, which helped UNMAS with decision-making on prioritization and tasking of operations. The Prioritization Tool is a GIS cross-analysis software that creates priority area maps from different sources of data and on different dimensions like community’s exposure to hazards, the vulnerability of communities to those hazards, and the lack of coping capacity. iMMAP also ensured the weekly maintenance of other existing products such as the Operations Dashboard and the Activities and Progress viewer.
UNMAS launched a Global Information Management Solution (IMS) in February 2019, intending to implement an integrated and harmonized information management approach across its worldwide programs. IMS is developing Minimum Data Requirements (MDR) to strengthen its global advocacy and analysis efforts. With the iMMAP-developed SMART System in place, UNMAS Iraq is now well prepared to contribute to MDR.
Through SMART, iMMAP established an internal IM system for UNMAS Iraq and an external IM system connecting all UNMAS Iraq operations with the IM systems of the Directorate of Mine Action (DMA). SMART contributes to simplify the humanitarian mine action (HMA) IM processes and increases the level of control over these processes. Overall, SMART saves resources while improving the quality and efficiency of the data.
iMMAP Iraq supports all HMA stakeholders in addressing the threat from explosive hazards in liberated areas through accurate and reliable information, which saves lives and enables critical humanitarian, stabilization, and development initiatives to support the Government of Iraq.