November 2011, Geneva, Switzerland – On 2–3 November 2011 users and stakeholders convened in Geneva for the first HumaNav Community Workshop intended to discuss common challenges, available solutions and future plans for vehicle tracking, fleet management and logistics support in the humanitarian field.

The HumaNav Community has been created by UNOSAT to gather current and prospective users of the fleet tracking solution that goes by the same name, designed by UNOSAT experts together with NOVACOM Services of France. The first workshop, held at UNITAR headquarters in Geneva, included also a potential new partner from the private sector.

“The alliance with the private sector was indispensable to design and offer the best solution for the users”, says Olivier Senegas of UNOSAT, who is in charge of animating the new community of practice. “After initial tests that were carried out within a pilot project in 2009 and 2010, we decided to rely on the integration of available hardware to create optimal solutions instead of following the usual approach linking vendors with users who then have to combine hardware and technology to have a solution responding to their needs. Today we know this was a winning idea and we are rewarded by the fact that large organisations like UNHCR, WHO and CARE International use our solution in the field”.

Harry Leefe, in charge of fleet tracking at UNHCR, says: "UNHCR is using the HumaNav solution after a successful pilot in Chad, South Sudan and Uganda and also due to the close working relationship between UNITAR (UNOSAT) and UNHCR. The system is proving to be popular with our staff in the field and provides a security platform that UNHCR requires due to a recent increase in vehicle hijacking and kidnapping of humanitarian workers in remote areas."

As the Community Workshop was being held in Geneva, HumaNav could also celebrate the symbolic threshold of 1,000 vehicles to be equipped with the HumaNav solution: this target was reached well within the first year of operation of HumaNav, which was officially launched in April 2011. 

HumaNav community members share a common approach to equipping vehicle fleets with an integrated solution matching the specific needs of each organisation, rather than relying on off the shelf commercial products. At the same time, HumaNav has the flexibility of operating with any of the major hardware solutions sold worldwide by manufacturers. The aim of UNOSAT is to provide a solution based on available technology that uses commercially available hardware combined in a way that meet the special requirements of the humanitarian community. Building on its experience in meeting specific needs of humanitarian agencies in the mapping and geospatial arena, UNOSAT intends to facilitate the spreading of fleet management as a solution to several important challenges in the field during humanitarian response.

Photo: the community of practice at work at UNITAR headquarters in Geneva. The next event will be held in 2012