Collaborate, Create, Communicate

The year that has passed

Another fruitful year is behind us at the ICT-KM Program; a year of progress, change and growth.  A year that started off with a great ShareFair, a year that saw us learning from an external evaluation,  a year during which many of our projects came to an end …

Rather than try to thank each of you individually, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the work you have done as a member of the ICT-KM team during 2009 – the very least I can do to express my appreciation for your relentless commitment, passion, dedication and achievements.

1. CIO’s Office

  • ICT-KM Program External Review: An external review of the ICT-KM Program was conducted from May to July, with positive results. The review panel supported the Program’s work and provided us with excellent suggestions on how we can improve in the future.
  • New ICT-KM Website and logo: We are proud of our new a logo Our new logo and revamped website. The content-rich, easy-to-navigate site has enhanced Web 2.0 applications, and features many interviews.
  • Savings: Leveraged IT-related purchasing through the CIO Office has resulted in more than USD 600,000 in savings. The power of collective action!

2. EasyMTP/CGMAP and Ongoing Research Projects

For EasyMTP we installed the tool for the Challenge Programs and provided training. We move many local systems to hosted environment, developed new reporting functionality and optimised the formatting and assembly procedure.

EasyMTP: Submitting Medium Term Plans (MTPs) has never been easier. This year, we introduced EasyMTP to the Challenge Programs. We moved many local systems to a  hosted environment, developed new reporting functionality and optimised the formatting and assembly procedure.  All Centers and Challenge Programs now use EasyMTP to submit their MTPs.

CGMap: CGMap is now 100% complete in terms of data and also contains rich metadata. This means all project plans for CGIAR Centers and Challenge Programs can be found on CGMap, resulting in a more reliable representation of the CGIAR System work plans and more accurate analysis. We improved the usability and accessibility of information and redesigned the new home page with maps as points of entry. This application, which is now richer and bookmarkable, contains search-engine-friendly Project Fact Sheets, with information that can be reached through public services, such as Google Maps and Google Earth.

CGIAR Ongoing Research Project: The Regional Plan for Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa , which has contributions from more than 50 researchers and 180 ongoing research projects, held its Beta Launch in March.  The beta version utilized Google data for both the contribution of project factsheets as well as the display of the geographical overview (map) of those places where research projects are carried out.  The final CGIAR Ongoing Research was officially launched in December, with richer project factsheets and maps showing research by area, lead Center, and project timeline.

3. CGX 2.0: the collaboration platform for the CGIAR and its partners

CGX 2.0: Users can now connect, share and collaborate online with the new CGX 2.0 powered by Google Apps Education Edition (Sites, Docs, Calendar, Video and GTalk). Google Apps is now linked to our Active Directory, so users can login with their usual network username and password and be able to use the same credentials for the online applications, Google Talk and the mobile applications.

4. AAA Framework: improving availability and accessibility of research.

  • AAA Framework: We completed the benchmarking for Availability, Accessibility and Applicability of research outputs for 6 CGIAR Centers. The results from this study shall be shared with the CGIAR through a report early this year.
  • Institutional Readiness: We looked at ways of improving access to research.
  • CIARD Promotion: As a CIARD partner, we are encouraging the CIARD initiative to have all CGIAR agricultural research and development scientists/professionals speak the same language – so they can be synchronized and coherent with their peers. We have supported CIARD through the drafting of social media pathways, which have been promoted via blogs; supported events with participation from CGIAR communications professionals; and also facilitated at the ICM workshop for the CGIAR and other ARD institutions.
  • CGVlibrary: a flagship product of the CGIAR information managers, the CGIAR virtual library, provides instant access to research on agriculture, hunger, poverty, and the environment. From just one search engine, users can tap into leading agricultural information databases, including the online libraries of all 15 CGIAR Centers. These shared integrated services have removed barriers to information and made publicly available information more accessible to researchers in the CGIAR and partners in developing countries. The CGVlibrary has continued to grow in usage while expanding resources and improving services since its launch in June 2006. There are now more than 180 electronic databases available for conducting federated searches through the CGVlibrary site. Besides the databases of the Centers and the CGIAR Secretariat, users can also access image repositories for several Centers. Many of these databases are organized into topic-specific QuickSets for federated searching – at the last count, there were 21 QuickSets preselected by CGIAR information specialists. The CGVlibrary also offers integrated access to more than 8,000 electronic journal titles.

    CGVlibrary can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. The Information Managers of the CGIAR are now working to offer access to all the books published by the CGIAR through a partnership with Google. Stay tuned!

5. Knowledge Sharing and Events

  • Simone Staiger-Rivas reported on her experiences with GFAR, the CGIAR Secretariat and many more in My 2009 Knowledge Sharing Highlights
  • Online social media workshop: Three successful online workshops have introduced social media tools to researchers and communications professionals and supported their social media strategy development.
  • Social Media blog series: This popular series examines the role of social media in research: how to increase the visibility of research, engage people, share knowledge, and much, much more.
  • KS  Sharefair Workshop in Rome: We co-organized a successful first Knowledge  Sharefair in Rome. Facilitation and social reporting kept many CGIAR colleagues involved during the week.

  • Online Social media Workshop: we facilitated an online social media workshop with more than 30 participants from the CGIAR and partner institutions.
  • Training on Wikis: We participated as invited speakers in the Wiki trainings at FAO.


  • IT Managers Meeting 2009: We facilitated the 2009 Annual Information Technology Managers Meeting held at CIAT, in Cali, Colombia. All Centers and other partners participated in this yearly event to discuss important IT business and corporate management issues of strategic interest to the IT management team and make plans on how to position the IT Group in preparation for the CGIAR Change Management process.

Tech corner

  • Strategic Technologies for 2010: We will soon release an analysis of strategic technologies for the CGIAR in 2010, highlighting and prioritizing future technologies to be implemented. Look out for our technical blog series!
  • Active Directory evaluation and health check: We had an external review on our Active Directory that will help centers maintain the Active Directory, DNS and VPN connections up to date to improve the performance of our directory.
  • Enterprise Security: We joined hands with the Internal Audit Office of the CGIAR to publish 7 Enterprise Security Good Practice Notes, which are a great example of the collective work with the IT community of practice.

6. AGCommons

In 2009, AGCommons, our geospatial information program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), kicked off. After several months of design activities, the program now sees the way ahead as an Africa-based service bureau that will provide location-specific information services to increase the reach and impact of initiatives already underway in sub-Saharan Africa.

AGCommons laid the groundwork for the bureau’s operations and now has an office in Nairobi, thanks to a cooperation agreement with RCMRD, with support from USAID and a partnership that is underway with SERVIR, a technical platform for the initial service delivery is being tested and clients are getting ready to receive the services.

The service bureau was also made possible thanks to the inputs of the CSI group at the African Agriculture Geospatial Week, held in Nairobi in late March. As of 2009, the CSI annual meeting included the AGCommons workshop and became an occasion for a week of geospatial information sharing that was attended by over 100 representatives of the GIS community, including BMGF stakeholders, UN officials and geospatial technology experts. The meeting garnered impressive media coverage.
The week also included WhereCampAfrica, the first event of its kind held in Africa. Mobile location experts, social cartographers and others interested in “place” or locational information and technologies  had the opportunity to discuss topics of their choice and of common interest in a free unconference, with the objective of further exploring the technical capabilities and potentials in the region, and to build a community focused on technical issues.
In addition to deliberating and planning, AGCommons delivered 5 QuickWin Projects, which offered the opportunity to test “on the ground” the potential of the various models selected. The projects covered a variety of technologies and different links with end-users – from direct work with farmers, to collaboration at the research level, to creating access to valuable data sets that can be used on the farmers’ behalf. The Community Level Crop Disease Surveillance project is part of the larger Community Knowledge Workers (CKW) project, which was recently awarded a huge grant by BMGF to scale up activities to cover all Ugandan territory.

7. The people who have made all this possible

Since it’s very rare to have all the people who make up the ICT-KM team in one place at the same time, we have attempted to show them in the composite picture below: (Clockwise from bottom left) Enrica, Francesca, Antonella, Michael, Tania, Jacopo, and in the center, Meena and Simone.


To all members of the ICT-KM team and their dear ones: Thank you! I wish you all a great 2010!