28 March 2012, New York, USA - The United Nations Sub-Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET), has endorsed at its 31st plenary meeting held in New York the HumaNav Service developed over 2 years by a public-private partnership initiative led by UNITAR/UNOSAT and including NOVACOM Services of France. HumaNav is an application integrating hardware and software solutions to provide humanitarians with real-time geolocation of their fleet in the field, even when outside of mobile phones networks coverage.
HumaNav has already been selected by several large agencies like the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and by a number of NGOs. “This is an important additional token of formal recognition, considering that WGET gathers all major UN and international humanitarian partners” says Olivier Senegas, who oversees the activity at UNOSAT. “Our system is the result of four years of research, tests and field operations carried out together with a number of humanitarian organizations and major NGOs. Today we even have a HumaNav Community gathering all these users in a forum to exchange experience and assess requirements”.
HumaNav, which began in 2008 as a research project funded by French Space Agency CNES, had a connection with WGET since the beginning because the founding partners of the initiative were all WGET members: UNITAR/UNOSAT, UNHCR, ICRC and NOVACOM Services. Only two years later, in 2010, HumaNav was already a mature service aiming to answer security challenges faced by humanitarian fleets and to address other main concerns such as staff safety, fleet management, and environmental impact. The system is also conceived to create interoperability between major tracking assets available on the market through a unique web interface.
UNHCR has been the first large organisation to choose to equip its fleet with this solution, starting with priority areas like Somalia, Kenya and Sudan. More recently, other organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) India, Care Kenya, and Marie Stopes Kenya have adopted HumaNav. Others are starting pilot projects to test the solution, for example the World Food Programme (WFP) in Chad and in Pakistan.
As of today, some 1000 vehicles are equipped by HumaNav. The main aspects of HumaNav part of WGET endorsement are:
- Real-time tracking, available 24/7 worldwide (based on hybrid mode communication GPRS/satellite transmission whenever a GSM network is not available) and accessible through a unique web interface, whatever the hardware solution chosen by the user agency;
- Security alerts, in-cab alert button, geo-fencing and no-go areas (Web mapping services) triggering pre-specified messages to identified users according to security response procedures established by the user agency;
- Bi-way data communication between driver and fleet/security management, wherever whenever, to allow better description of any distress situation;
- Real-time driver behaviour monitoring to detect over-speeding and night driving for example.
Images: courtesy of UNHCR, WGET and UNITAR