The aim of Information management (IM) is to supply decision makers in the mine action world with appropriate information on which to base their decisions. This is closely linked to the concept of evidence-based decision making in quality management. IM involves the collection, analysis and timely provision of information to all mine action stakeholders, based on their continually specified requirements.
To be effective, IM requires the close collaboration of all parties in mine action. Effective IM makes programme achievements more measurable and easier to manage, and management more transparent and accountable. It enables monitoring, evaluation and the adoption of quality management systems. Ineffective IM forces decisions to be made in ignorance and based on intuition rather than evidence. In turn, this opens the door for corruption and inefficiency.
Through testing and research, the GICHD develops standards, guides and good practice for stakeholders to benefit from mine action. These tools are integrated into training and certification activities that the GICHD conducts on national, regional or international levels. GICHD staff includes focal points for each country who conduct visits on the request of the authorities in the countries. During these visits, plans are drawn up on how to maximise the benefit of IM in the mine action programmes. The visits are followed up remotely by GICHD staff.
The cornerstone of the programme is the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). The GICHD started developing IMSMA in the late 1990s with the goal of providing the mine action community with one comprehensive information management package. IMSMA has since grown to become arguably the most advanced and widespread IM tool in the humanitarian sector. The tool, always intended to be intuitive and flexible, should be part of the capacity development of its users, followed by the adoption of increasingly powerful decision-support tools as human capacity becomes available to support them.
The functionality of IMSMA is expanded through several tools, notably the Mine action INTelligence tool (MINT) and the trials of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for mine action. MINT allows for live online monitoring of indicators extracted from IMSMA databases or other sources. The system provides secure areas for countries and international organisations to store and share their data.
The aim of the programme is to continuously develop improved tools and methods for the broader mine action community in order to ensure that lessons are transferred between stakeholders and that the benefit of IM is realised.
In January 2015, the GICHD initiated a new development cycle. This provided the opportunity to set new goals for IMSMA, both in relation to maintaining regular IMSMA updates and addressing evolving and emerging requirements. IMSMA is a system of tools. Through this next development cycle, the IMSMA concept will be developed so that these tools becoming increasingly interrelated and operate together to provide the mine action sector with sound information management. They will be developed both by the GICHD and by external partners.
There are four overreaching objectives for IMSMA as a system of tools and standards:
This new component is currently in development: it will be a streamlined version of the current IMSMA that focuses on robust data validation and storage and allows for the standardised exchange of functionality and data between the other specialised tools in the system.
Existing IMSMA tools, such as mobile data collection (IMSMA mobile), spatial analysis (IMSMA Geoservices) and reporting (IMSMA MINT), will continue to be maintained and modified. Third-party applications will be developed according to the specifications of IMSMA Core and will have the capacity to share their information with the preexisting tools. Many of these are already in development, either by the GICHD or its partners.