KIM-UNU, “Knowledge Integration and Management – United Nations University” is the name of the technology platform developed by UNU-INWEH in partnership with the Center for Community Mapping as a powerful and user-friendly Knowledge Management System (KMS). The platform has been developed in recognition that often there is a wealth of knowledge and information, representing a significant investment of development funds and project implementation which is not readily accessible, let alone capable of integration.
Stored in a relational database, the ability to quickly and effectively integrate this existing information via a search interface allows for efficiencies in targeting new initiatives and builds on the body of knowledge that exists. Built in to this database, a suite of communication and interaction tools allows users to view, comment and access information as a group in either real time or as a shared collaborative workspace. Integration of this learning network with the relational database of information provides the tools for the capture and storage of user-inputted information. This results in the continuous improvement of document classification, resulting in better refined searches for the next user, as well as the capture of newly created and/or tacit knowledge.
The platform is broadly divided into three integrated components:
- A relational database for document, map, photo, video, and spatial information upload combined with a powerful database management system to locate and extract the information
- A suite of learning and communication tools to both facilitate live interaction between users and capture and save imparted tacit knowledge back into the system, and
- A user-friendly web portal that requires no programming or special IT skills to use, but more importantly, to run and manage
Created as part of the GEF-funded IW:Science and KM:Land projects, the KIM-UNU platform saw the creation of the largest-ever compilation of GEF International Waters project documents. GEF’s International Waters focal area has seen 20 years of work on 180 projects for international river, lake, groundwater, coastal and marine water systems spanning 172 countries and over US$ 6 billion of investment. The KIM-UNU platform allowed working groups consisting of 75 scientists all over the world to mine the documents for science information across the entire portfolio at the click of a button, comment on documents and provide answers to science-specific questions that are fed back into the system.
Sustainability and Replication – The KMS developed in IW:Science has been noted as a useful and versatile KM and learning system for other multi-country or regional initiatives. It has already been re-applied by the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel to investigate GEF intervention in global hypoxia hot spots for large marine ecosystem areas globally (see report). In addition, various stages of trial systems and discussions for the replication of the KMS approach and software for other bodies of information are underway:
- UN-Water (KMS implementation between the 28 UN-Water member institutions for all transboundary water matters)
- The Lake Victoria Basin Commission (KMS implementation between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda & Burundi)
- “Knowledge from Land” (KMS implementation of institutions concerned with global desertification)
- The management of Hima areas for conservation and natural resource use across 21 countries in the West Asia – North Africa region
As the KIM-UNU platform is developed using COMAP’s Web Informatics Development Environment (WIDE) the systems do not require any special programming or IT management skills to run and manage once they are developed. This makes for significantly reduced running costs and a platform any access-granted user can contribute to.
United Nations-Water Activity Information System, IW:Science at UNU-INWEH, Lake Victoria Basin Commission and Knowledge from Land