Understanding Mine Action Information Management

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Understanding Mine Action Information Management is a prerequisite to be a good information manager in a Mine Action program. The practice of information management in mine action is similar to information management in any other domain. Information managers oversee the collection, processing and analysis of information to support decision making in operational activities and planning and reporting. Information management is not an end in itself. Although archiving is one of the roles of information management, it is definitely not the central role. Rather, information management is an activity that enables evidence-based decision making and increases transparency and accountability. Good information management is a pre-requisite to an effective and efficient mine action organisation.

Objects and Processes

In mine action information management, the primary object or focus is contaminated land and the activities or processes undertaken to reduce or eliminate the contamination in a process called land release. Other important objects and processes include Accidents, Victims, Assistance, Quality Management and Risk education. Although it is not the standard situation, these elements may sometimes take the prominent role from the land release process in some mine action programmes.

The process of clearing hazards follows an operational workflow that is reflected in information management as a set of business rules. As each step in the clearance process is completed, the status of the hazard changes so that the hazard eventually is cleared. It is the role of information management to collect information about each step and accurately report the status and attributes of each hazard as it makes its way through the workflow to assist in operational activities such as planning, tasking and clearance operations. Whether a programme is implementing a land release model for hazard clearance or a risk reduction model, the concepts are the same. Hazards are reduced and changed over time by various processes. To implement this effectively in IMSMANG, information managers must first fully understand the workflow and business rules in use in their programmes.

Information management needs assessment

Before setting up IMSMANG, information managers should have an understanding of the information management needs of their programmes and the workflows that are used. Then they can begin designing the information workflow in IMSMANG to meet those needs. The table below lists the information management concepts to review along with the possible resources that may be available to help assess the needs.

IM cycle step Possible Resources
Data collection
  • Reports collected from mine action actors
  • Existing databases
  • Data collection forms: Programs often have existing data collection forms or spreadsheets that describe what information must be collected from operators or key stakeholders. These forms can serve as the basis for data collection forms in IMSMANG. It is important, however, to critically assess the information provided by these forms since existing forms may not accurately reflect current data collection needs and may have more information than necessary.
  • Information systems: Whether databases, spreadsheets or GIS, existing information systems can provide a key source of information requirements for IMSMANG. Often, these information systems document the specific information the programs must collect and report on and so serve as a valuable source for detailing information needs.
  • Information consumers: It is important to collect information about decisions made in mine action programs by interviewing consumers of information. Often, existing data collection forms, reports and systems do not fully represent the needs of the consumers or users of this information. While implementing IMSMANG, it is an ideal time to readdress the needs of these information users to determine how additional requirements can easily be met using IMSMANG.
Information use
  • Prioritising
  • Tasking
  • Operations and planning
Mine action processes: Assessing existing and planned processes and their required information is a key source of information for this activity and allows the IMSMANG system to be customised to accurately support these processes. It is important, however, that these processes correspond to the actual operational needs of the mine action programme.
Information dissemination
  • Monthly progress reports
  • Statistical reports
  • Treaty obligations reports
Reports: Donor reports, monthly or quarterly reports, statistical reports, reports supporting the Ottawa convention and other reports provide details about information that must be collected and managed in IMSMANG.