The Making of IMSMA
The making of IMSMA started in 1998. It was however not until 2004, to satisfy recurrent requests from our IMSMA users in the field, that the development of a fully re-engineered version was started. Compilation of all lessons learnt and users’ feedback were submitted to a tender competition process. The software development contract was eventually won by FGM Inc. Interoperability, flexibility and user-friendliness were three of the key words that laid down the foundation for the next generation of IMSMA – called IMSMA NG. This entailed moving away from somewhat rigid processes and methods towards a highly flexible and user-friendly information management system that could meet almost all local needs and requirements.
IMSMA V4 achieved this goal in 2006. One of the key enhancements was the development and integration of a fully functional GIS component. For this work, the GICHD was honoured by the presentation of the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI Inc.), Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award to its IMSMA support team. The award citation reads in part “By embracing GIS technology, these organizations have made extraordinary contributions to our global society and set new precedents throughout the GIS community.” IMSMA V5 released in 2007 provided another major enhancement by including an impact scoring tool and the possibility of recording victims and accidents separately. User feedback and lessons learnt are constantly evaluated and compiled by the GICHD. Furthermore, the GICHD close collaboration with FGM remains crucial to guarantee that we meet our users’ needs and requirements in the field.
IMSMA Legacy Systems refers to older IMSMA versions (V1.x to V3.x) deployed in the field before IMSMA NG. Support is still being provided to installations that were performed by the GICHD, and which are currently in use for field operations. New installations can only be done with IMSMA NG, due to the close dependence of the Legacy Systems on Microsoft Office Suite and Windows operating systems. Read more on Upgrading to IMSMA NG. Legacy Systems requires a highly standardised and linear workflow. The workflow is started by the Impact Survey or other Level 1 Survey, which can produce mined area reports. Technical Survey or Level 2 Survey follows. This produces a minefield which is addressed by a clearance which may have associated progress reports. The process is concluded with a Completion report.
IMSMA V3 was released in 2002 and followed by regular updates over the next couple of years. It presented a complete new software architecture and each update contributed substantially with new added functionalities and greater flexibility. This was a first attempt to move from the original repository database into a more operational management tool for the mine action programmes. The task tracking tool allowed information managers to account for the work accomplished by each organization. In addition, IMSMA V3 started embracing professional database platforms such as Microsoft SQL Server for its technical development. This software improved numerous aspects, from data handling being facilitated through the design of database queries, to installations into a networked environment, with an increased number of simultaneous users.
IMSMA V1 was first deployed to the field in Kosovo in 1999. Information management being one focus principle of every mine action programme, the Zurich’s Institute of Technology (ETHZ) had been mandated by the GICHD to develop a standardized software tool to help process and coordinate both data and activities related to mine action. Valuable cooperation from field users resulted in the development of a new version. IMSMA v.2.2 was said to be “significantly better” as it provided among others, a plug-in to ArcVIEW allowing to view information on a map. It was with this newly developed version that IMSMA was adopted by the UN on an international level as the standard for humanitarian demining information.