ActivityInfo User Conference 2018: A lot of insights on how the online M&E software assists coordination, planning and information management
Just a few days ago the ActivityInfo team visited Jordan to host a two-day User Conference on ActivityInfo. The purpose of the User Conference was for the team to meet some of the users of ActivityInfo and to get the chance to discuss with them the way they use ActivityInfo as a software for Monitoring and Evaluation, the expectations they have from the tool and the ways it can be improved to assist humanitarians in planning, coordination, data collection and data analysis and reporting.
With the theme of "Addressing challenges in Information Management" the event welcomed humanitarians from various UN organizations and other NGOs from the Middle-East, Europe and Africa. During the first day of the User Conference, on September 26th, a variety of sessions, presentations and panels took place. UN organizations such UNICEF, UNHCR and UNRWA and other organizations such as WHO and IBP, represented by Information Management officers, Monitoring and Evaluation officers and more, took the stage to present the way they have been using ActivityInfo through the years to report on data, to monitor and evaluate the data they collect, to support the response to the region and to plan and coordinate their work based on the information collected and analyzed via the online software.
During the second day of the User Conference the participants joined the training session of their choice and followed a day full of trainings on the software provided by the ActivityInfo team. The trainings offered were related to the creation of databases, forms and reporting as well as to the more technical side of the software.
You can have a look at the Twitter feed of the User Conference at #AIUC18 on our Twitter Account and you can take a look at some photos of the User Conference here.
For a more detailed overview of each day, please read on.
From coordination in clusters to individual case management and supporting the Response in Jordan, the first day of the User Conference provided an abundance of information.
On September 26th, the ActivityInfo team welcomed all the speakers and the participants early in the morning and started the day with a Welcoming Note by Alex Bertram, the Technical Director of ActivityInfo, followed by an Introduction to BeDataDriven, the company that runs the M&E software. Alex Bertram participated then in a short interview conducted by F. Candiliari, responsible for Marketing and Communications in BeDataDriven, in which he described the early years of ActivityInfo and shared details about the first developments and user needs in DRC.
The day continued with four presentations around the theme of using ActivityInfo for Coordination in Clusters and Panels. Mr. A. Nore from WHO in Iraq, Mr. R. Ghossoub from UNICEF in Lebanon, Mr. S. Alhubaishi from UNHCR in Yemen and Mr. M. Beqiri from WHO in Turkey presented how each organization uses ActivityInfo to coordinate Planning and Response. Then, the four presenters participated in a panel discussion during which they replied to questions raised by the ActivityInfo team and the audience.
The case of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) was also presented by F. Candiliari, on behalf of S.Hulawale, MEL Officer in IBP along with a pre-recorded interview in which the way ActivityInfo is used by IBP was explained.
An introductory session on the ActivityInfo API conducted by J. Whitehouse, Software Engineer in ActivityInfo, allowed the audience to get more acquainted with the concept of an API. The session was followed by Mr. H. Maroof from UNOCHA and Mr. M. Karnib from UNICEF in Lebanon who presented the ways in which their organization has been visualizing data throughout the years and explained how the ActivityInfo API can be used in this direction.
In the evening of September 26th, by Ms S. Abdi, Ms M. Charjane and Mr. M. Issa from UNRWA presented the way they use ActivityInfo for case management. The speakers explained the usage of the tool in the Jordan field office and in the Lebanon field office and provided a lot of feedback on how the software can offer more.
Following the case management presentation, the IM team of UNHCR in Jordan came to the stage to present the way in which ActivityInfo is used for Response in Jordan. Mr. F. Alsagban, Mr. M. Alsamhouri and Mr. G. Diouf offered a lot of information about the use of the software in the country.
The day was completed with a presentation on the future developments of ActivityInfo by A. Bertram who explained what is to be expected in the following months and presented the Redesigned Interface of ActivityInfo.
A day full of practice and new knowledge on the second day of the User Conference.
The second day of the User Conference was dedicated to trainings. The ActivityInfo Team created two training tracks and the participants followed the track of their choice.
In the Application Track, C. Blokiau, Account Manager in ActivityInfo and L. Brinks Technical Support Engineer in ActivityInfo presented how ActivityInfo can be used for the creation of Databases and Forms as well as for data analysis and reporting. In the evening, the participants showed their newly-acquired skills by working on some exercises next to more experienced ActivityInfo users and presented their solutions to the exercises.
In the Development Track, A. Bertram, Technical Director of ActivityInfo, and J. Whitehouse, Software Engineer in ActivityInfo, provided technical trainings to the participants. During the morning, the participants were instructed on the ActivityInfo Data Model and Query API to prepare them for building their own applications using the ActivityInfo API. In the afternoon, the participants were instructed on the ActivityInfo .NET client, the ActivityInfo R client, as well as some basic R programming and packages for producing reports from data from ActivityInfo. The participants then spent time building a mini-project, using the ActivityInfo API and the tools they had learned throughout the day.
The ActivityInfo User Conference was a great opportunity for us to come closer to our users and to listen to their needs and questions. It is the history and mission of ActivityInfo to develop based on these needs and to align with the developments in the field. We were very happy to meet a very engaged audience and we look forward to repeating this experience in the future.