The WMO Community Platform launched at the Eighteenth World Meteorological Congress (Cg-18) in June. Its first module, the Experts Database (contacts.wmo.int), replaces the static Pub5 with an interactive self-service system that allows Members to review and update information about experts and organizations. In September, the Platform’s new revamped extranet − organized by activity area and integrating events and document sharing for working in teams − went live. The new extranet (community.wmo.int) functions as a one-stop shop with personalized dashboards showing news items, events and notifications for pending tasks depending on your role in WMO. As more modules roll out through the remainder of 2019, the Platform will revolutionize the way Members and partners interact with each other and with the Secretariat.
The Platform’s tools create an environment for collaboration and information sharing, and a more integrated view on activities reflecting the infrastructure and services paradigm stipulated in the WMO Reform.
Motivation for the platform
In an integrated Earth system approach − the basis for the WMO Reform − the stress is on the cross-sector and cross-community processes. While creating great synergies through the reduction of redundancies in different areas, this change will transform the work environment of WMO experts and staff.
The WMO Reform will work to develop the vision of integrated infrastructure and the tailoring of weather, climate, water and related environmental services, supporting the new way of working with a strong focus on partnering and innovation. The WMO Community Platform also aims to support continual improvement through enhanced Member profiles and tailored dashboards for monitoring and evaluation.
Improve Communication & Digitize Processes
The Platform is set out to improve the way everyday tasks and communications are conducted with the help of modern Information Communications Technology tools. The Platform aims to:
- Improve communication by providing collaboration, document management and knowledge management tools
- Consolidate business relevant information and visualization for decision-makers in tailored dashboards and Member profiles
- Digitize and document WMO administrative processes.
Therefore, where WMO regulations permit, paper-based processes have been or are being digitized.
There are now electronic workflows for:
- The nomination and approval of experts as members of WMO bodies
- Updating information about organizations and experts
- Answering surveys
Registering for participation in an event, and travel claims after a meeting will also become digitized functions in early 2020.
Interactive dashboard created from information provided by WMO Members.
In addition, the Platform absorbed – consolidating and modernizing – a number of legacy tools, including Pub5 and the Country Profile Database (CPDB). Redundant solutions created over the years to collect contact information and group memberships, share documents and organize meetings are being integrated into this corporate solution to create a single authoritative source with reliable information on the composition and activities of WMO.
The up-to-date digital solutions implemented in the Platform make bureaucratic procedures more efficient so WMO experts and staff can concentrate on delivering on their core tasks for the Organization. Barriers to international communication and collaboration are reduced. Transparent access to ongoing work enables new contributors to join discussions. This will open up a new source of expertise for WMO from academia, whose experts rarely participate in international intergovernmental conferences.
The Platform aims to facilitate the participation of current and future WMO experts in the creation of the best possible knowledge products for the WMO Community and the international community to address global issues such as climate change. In practice, a significant part of that work is executed outside of WMO in bilateral efforts between Members and in development projects involving Member experts. The knowledge and experience gained on the ground does not necessarily find its way into official manuals and guides of WMO. The Platform will support this work while also documenting progress. Everyone in the WMO Community will be able to publish and retrieve documentation by full-text search of shared content. The Platform will help to break boundaries and connect experts with common interest.
In parallel to the implementation of the technology itself, the project team at the WMO Secretariat has started to establish processes and define roles to better involve Members. Collection of data and information tailored to the needs of decision-makers is a Member-driven effort to increase accountability and transparency. Feedback from the community will drive future development of the Platform, in collaboration with the WMO Secretariat.
Overview of features
The WMO Community Platform will provide the following features for WMO experts and partners:
- A centralized Experts Database with self-service functionality to keep contact information, roles and group memberships up-to-date. Several processes from group nominations to travel claims will use the same information avoiding redundant maintenance and reducing errors.
- Member and partner profiles used to collect information about countries and territories as well as partner organizations. Self-assessment information can be updated by the Members and partners themselves. These profiles will be enriched with data harvested from WMO and external databases, including WMO projects, WIS/WIGOS related databases and country and project information from development partners such as the World Bank.
- A central repository and database to streamline surveys avoiding redundant questions to Members. The data collected can be reused in multiple contexts. Together with Member and partner profile information, comprehensive dashboards can be tailored to different user groups to support evidence-based decision-making on many levels as well as comprehensive monitoring and evaluation against a variety of strategies and performance indicators.
- Online discussion forums for experts to connect on specific subjects of interest independent of affiliation or group membership to find and provide practical help on a peer-to-peer basis.
- Document collaboration and task tracking capabilities for WMO constituent and working bodies, as well as focal points, ad hoc groupings, event and meeting participants, etc.
To improve the WMO Secretariat’s support for Member and partner organizations, a number of internal support processes will be integrated, including:
- Event management (invitations, participant tracker, agenda publication, printing badges and handling travel claims)
- Task assignment and follow-up on requests to ensure that communication is not lost or delayed.
For a smooth transition to the new Platform, a large amount of data and information formerly stored in legacy systems, decentralized databases, spreadsheets and websites have already been, or will soon be, migrated.
Benefits for Members
Overview page to access WMO Member/Partner profiles.
Once all features come together, the power of a fully integrated WMO Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI) solution will dramatically improve transparency and collaboration, empowering all Members' experts to partake in the regulatory process and keep an eye on implementation efforts. It will make WMO more accessible to other communities and sectors, including academia and the private sector, in the spirit of integrated Earth observations for weather, climate, water and related environmental services, for the benefit of the global community.
Based on this consolidated repository of business data, monitoring and evaluation can be systematically improved, more comprehensive Member profiles can be created, as well as thematic dashboards for different stakeholders to better support evidence-based decision-making.
The WMO Community Platform is more than an ICT project. It changes the way the WMO Community interacts and how it values collaboration and partnerships. Increased accessibility and capabilities to cross-analyze and visualize information will bring new insights and participation for good governance.
Making this digital transformation a reality depends on the contributions of all Members and partners. The Platform is for you. You are its users and owners. It is up to you to fill it with life.
Florian Teichert, WMO Secretariat