MEETING NOVEMBER 6 2015 Professor Charles Downs.

Profile: Charles Downs is an Adjunct Professor of International Public Management at New York University and management consultant specializing in design, implementation and evaluation of international development cooperation programs. Recent research and consulting assignments have focused on: design of operational processes and monitoring and evaluation system for Syria Recovery Trust Fund; strengthening strategic and operational management of Angola landmine program; development of UN audit capacity to include program performance management; review of the UNDP Multi-Donor Trust Fund mechanism; lessons learned from UNDP management of funding for humanitarian NGOs in Sudan; support to national efforts to strengthen management and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of landmine action; review of UNDP capacity development efforts under projects funded by the Global Fund against AIDS, TB and Malaria; risk assessments of the UN Democracy Fund, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge Tribunal and the UN trust fund system; review of UN management training efforts for national managers of mine action programs; and senior technical advisor for the Angola Landmine Impact Survey.

Feedback from Meeting:

The most important take aways from professor's Downs meeting were:

  1. Realible information is key. In demining processes such as the Angola case the importance of information has become evident in terms of: where the information comes from and how that information is collected.
  2. Be aware of not make the decisions whether an area is safed based on a personal judgment.
  3. Generate confidence instead of panic is important when demining processes are being done. Generating panic is very easy every time there are a suspicious mined zone and this is one of the main issues to deal with.
  4. The project needs to clarify the level of advice that will provide: 1) Will the App provide information to the parties that they don't have access before? 2) Are we going to deliver information from SHA (Suspected Hazardous Areas? 3) Will the App show information from previously found landmines?
  5. Colombian government has done a remarkable job in documenting landmine casualties, take advantage of that.
  6. The importance of getting funding and collaborate with official entitiesThere are several ways and entities to being supported by to take the project to the next level, among them: UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service) UN (United Nations) and off course the DAICMA program.

Note: Do some research related to LIS. (Landmine Impact Survey)

Shifting direction

After this enormous amount of information and feedback from different stake holders, the natural consequence for the project was to take an step back and re-frame. The initial approach was tested and had adjustments, to the point that the original idea of what was thought would be the deliverable for the prototype of the thesis was completely transformed and even the project itself totally change its orientation from military to civilian population.

What if instead of focus the efforts of the thesis phase of the project on developing an Augmented Reality App for military people to give them a tool for the clearance process, the focus were pointed in the civil part of the equation? How to develop an App that leans in information if the information has not been collected yet? Those questions in particular, among others, made the project to head a brand new direction.

The original question that was the starting point for this research acquired a fresh meaning. How can the ability to divert/avoid land mines become more accessible to the public? Before this point the public has always been the military people. Yet, after the trip to Colombia and that public became civil population due to mainly one reason. The imminent conflict's end will point the finger on the civil population.

Although the numbers, according to the Colombian Government are still on the military side, showing a majority of accidents among them with a 61% Versus 39% on the civilians side(DAICMA 2016). Those numbers might change considerably after the signing of a peace agreement due to the increasing confidence from civilians to reuse forgotten paths and return to abandoned plots after years of intense war.

Another important fact to be considered is that 89% of mine/ERW accidents and events have been reported in rural areas - affecting mobility and agricultural activities (UNMAS 2016). The possibility of increasing change of the casualties towards civilian population and the vast amount of accidents in rural zones, motivated the balance tilts to the side of the civilian population, at least in its first phase of research and user testing.

From this moment on the project turned into its final shape which is: A mobile App for civilian population of rural zones in Colombia, to identify landmine safe paths for their daily commutes. Hence, considerations such as technologies for mobile development, Information collection methods for GPS Devices and User testing and developing for mobile applications will be analyzed in greater detail within the next chapters.