23 March 2012, Geneva, Switzerland - United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Choi Soon-hong visited the UNOSAT operational site at CERN and held discussions with UNOSAT Manager Francesco Pisano and his staff on Friday 23 March as part of his visit to several Geneva-based UN offices and agencies.

Dr Choi is the UN Chief IT Officer, in charge of all matters relating to the use of information and communications technology at the UN Secretariat. In this capacity, he leads the Office of Information and Communications Technology of the UN Secretariat, which provides enterprise-wide oversight of ICT programmes, budgets and decision-making – to ensure alignment with the Secretariat’s overall ICT strategy, in support of the mission of the United Nations.

The office focuses on strategic, long-term improvements across the Secretariat, through efficient management and development of its global ICT infrastructure; enterprise applications; project management frameworks; ICT governance; and establishment of ICT policies, architecture and standards. OICT also provides services to meet the overall ICT needs of UN Headquarters and, in cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, for lease lines and satellite communications to overseas duty stations.

Francesco Pisano and the UN Chief IT Officer, Dr. Choi

The visit followed up in a series of high level contacts and technical exchanges between OICT and UNOSAT since 2010. Dr Choi and Francesco Pisano discussed recent strategic developments in OICT and UNOSAT and how these can be corroborated using the experience and technical means developed by UNOSAT in the area of satellite analysis, in which UNOSAT represents an advanced centre of excellence for the entire UN system. In particular, rapid mapping and human security mapping and monitoring, developed at UNOSAT based on very high resolution imagery analysis and used mainly in support of UN agencies and programmes, could benefit additional users in the UN Secretariat in New York and Geneva in applications for early warning and information management.

Francesco Pisano explains: “we liaise more and more with offices in strategic positions at the UN Secretariat, including the UN Department of Field Services and the Office of Information and Communications Technology. Their requirements are specific and somehow different from the operational needs we serve with the humanitarian community and the human security circles, but the complementarity and the potential for synergy are self evident. Dr Choi and I discussed these positive points and intend to build on theme to benefit the UN Secretariat as well as the entire UN family”.

During his visit, Dr Choi was also invited by the Head of the IT Department at CERN, Frederic Hemmer, to tour the CERN computing centre that support CERN computing and data storage as well as the experiments linked to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and provides the backbone for UNOSAT IT applicaiotns and data infrastructure.


Dr. Choi and Francesco Pisano at UNOSAT (above); Aerial impression of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Images courtesy of UNITAR and CERN