This is a transcript. For the video, see Inside the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) with Emma Jane Hogbin.
[00:00:00] Michael Meyers: Hello, and welcome to our Tag1 TeamTalk going inside the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or the UN OCHA, helping people in crisis through technology.
[00:00:13] I'm Michael Meyers, the managing director of Tag1 Consulting, and I'm joined today by a very special guest: Emma Jane Hogbin who manages the web operations team for the digital services group at the UN OCHA. Emma. Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us. It's so great to see you.
[00:00:32] Emma Jane Hogbin: Thanks very much for having me.
[00:00:33] I feel bad that I don't have my cat filter on today, but this is. This is real uncut unedited, except for later, when it will be edited.
[00:00:44] Michael Meyers: That is very much our loss. I didn't know there were cat filters. We're going to be Googling that after the show. We've known each other for, for a very long time, but, but for our listeners could you just give everybody, you know a brief background and overview on, you know, Emma.
[00:00:59] Emma Jane Hogbin: My life in a nutshell. Thank you. So I've been involved in the Drupal community for quite some time, I guess my - I'm trying to think back way back. First involvement would have been with the product itself in sort of 2003 ish, 2004. When James Walker was quite heavily involved in Drupal core and we both lived in Toronto and he sort of gave a shout out to the product and said, this is something you may want to look into.
[00:01:27] And at the time I I, I I've told this story since, and always gives me a bit of a giggle, but I found the translation part to be really helpful in some software that I was developing. And for those of you who've been around for quite some time, you'll know that maybe translation was not in its most robust form in 2003 or 2004.
[00:01:49] But I took some bits and pieces from it and didn't come back to the product or the Drupal community until. A few years later, I guess it would have been in the transition to Drupal 6 that I first got involved. So DrupalCon Szeged in 2008 was my first real sort of introduction into the community. I worked with Konstantin Kafer on front-end Drupal.
[00:02:12] So it'll be a bit of a blast in the past for some of you. And we put together the book that I sort of perceived to be the complement to what Lullabot had written in terms of the Well, I'm blanking on the title of their book, but it was basically a user guide for site builders. And so this was the theming complement to the book later, I went on to write a Drupal 7 user guide.
[00:02:34] And since then I've written a book on Git and working with teams together and have actively given up being a developer myself in favor of Project management - technically is my title. But I also do a bit of line management and help to set priorities within our digital services team here at OCHA.
[00:02:52] I feel it is my duty to say, I do not speak on behalf of OCHA. Everything here is my opinion, and sort of reflects how some of the, the team works together, but it is not OCHA policy. So I always have to slide that in.
[00:03:08] **Michael Meyers: **Wow. Well, you've been involved in so many open source projects when it's documentation, the web standards project, you know, so much more than Drupal, but you've made.
[00:03:18] Many amazing contributions to Drupal, including your Drupal socks were all their age, the knitted socks back in the day. So tell us a little bit about OCHA. I was reading about it last night. I honestly, I, I had not heard of OCHA before we had talked and caught up and, and the more I read about it, I was like, Oh my God, this is, this is amazing.
[00:03:44] Emma Jane Hogbin: Yeah.
[00:03:45] So the, the United nations sort of ecosystem for humanitarian disaster response and support globally. is it pretty interesting space and where OCHA sits within that is we are sort of the traditional project managers who help to support between each of those different standalone organizations within the UN and also non-governmental organizations more broadly.
[00:04:09] So our list of sort of our informal list of organizations who we, we as in OCHA and the humanitarian community work with is well into the thousands of organizations. So what we do more traditionally, I guess, is the best way to say it is in a sudden onset response, we show up and provide the project management between whether it's the world food program and the, you know, the sort of the UNICEF and the Oh, this is where I like fail to fall down on all of the all the different acronyms here refugee support.
[00:04:44] So all of those different standalone organizations have really specific in the past things that they take care of and OCHA's responsibility has been to provide the coordination between each of those different pillars within the disaster response community as the technology has evolved as individual communities have become better able to provide their own disaster response. The role of OCHA has been reduced. And so part of what I think is quite interesting actually, is that the operating budget for OCHA has shrunk by about 10%, probably even more now, since I first started. And so we're looking at, you know, the fact that the, the donors, because we are a governments give us money to do our job are increasingly saying we don't really need your project management support. We're finding that these organizations can collaborate directly and don't need, use the ending there in that sort of project manager capacity. And more and more. We don't see the large scale disasters that we have in the last, maybe 20 years.
[00:05:49] We see maybe a community who's hit year after year by hurricanes or year after year by famine or year after year by. Something that's approximately the same thing each time. And so that community is better able to respond to their specific design style of disaster. So they, there's less of a need.
[00:06:07] Also, we're less of a desire also for the international responders to come in and rescue the local community from these responses or from these disasters. More and more we want to show that a community is able to be resilient and do their own response. And so we really have taken a step back as international responders and only stepped in when asked instead of showing up, maybe not unannounced.
[00:06:34] I mean, certainly we'd always be announced, but I'm playing less the hero and supporting the communities and doing their own disaster response.
[00:06:43] Michael Meyers: Wow. And one of my one of the things that I think blew me away the most when I was doing some research it turns out that OCHA has its own country code. Is that for real? Like like, like plus one is, is the US OCHA has +888 eight. W not to be confused with the area code, the toll free area code in the US, North America, but literally OCHA organizations are plus eight, eight, eight, and then a phone number. That's that's for real.
[00:07:12]Emma Jane Hogbin: Quite possibly, I'm not, I'm not staff.
[00:07:14] So I don't, I carry my own phone. I don't carry a, a staff phone number. but I, I guess Maybe one of the more, even more interesting things is that the United Nations doesn't exist as a company. So one of the things that we really struggle with and I'm sure we'll get into this a little bit more later on is we're not a not-for-profit, we are an international organization and we don't exist as a registered company anywhere.
[00:07:36] And so part of that is because the United Nations exists sort of above the countries. I mean, it's the UN who recognize that a country exists and, and sort of gives the international okay. For a new country to be formed if there is a, a division in an existing country. And so, we find that this is really complicated and hard for other companies to understand when we say, well, we can't apply for a nonprofit discount because we are not a nonprofit.
[00:08:04] We simply. We don't exist. So in terms of this specific phone number is very possible that we have our own phone number, but we also don't exist.
[00:08:12] Michael Meyers: [00:08:12] And so how to reach us, you can't,
[00:08:17] I guess, if you control what a country is, you can give yourself a country code. So how does your team and grou fit into OCHA and its mission.
[00:08:31] Emma Jane Hogbin: Yeah. So I guess really generally OCHA is comprised of people at headquarters who mostly do policy work and some coordination work and people in field offices. And we've got 35 recognized field offices, as well as some regional offices and HATS, humanitarian. Something, something we're really big on acronyms.
[00:08:57] We even have acronyms of acronyms in this company. So there's, there's different sort of separations. And what we do in headquarters is mostly policy work and meetings about documents that will discuss what will happen in the field or how different humanitarian organizations should work together.
[00:09:19] And so I, you know, we, we host a lot of websites that are storage of documents about meetings and meetings that are about what a document should say. So that, that part of it is kind of, it's not boring, but it's one side of what we do. And then OCHA more generally also does humanitarian disaster response, and those can be sort of.
[00:09:44] Let's say pop-up shops in terms of immediate disasters, you know, something really big happens. So the Nepalese response to the earthquake in 2015 was something was a product that we developed. while that was going on and we can talk a little bit about that later on. And we also do sort of longer-term disasters where there's a permanent team who's in place to support year after year the response, and this is sort of where the, you know, every year that community gets hit by a hurricane every year that region gets hit by whatever it happens to be. And the, in those cases, OCHA will provide ongoing coordination between all of the different Humanitarian actors, whether they be a donor, whether they be someone who's providing on the ground response.
[00:10:26] So it's, it's a real mish-mash of different kinds of things that our organization, more generally does. More specifically, our team takes a look at what the organization is doing, perhaps ineffectively, and we look for efficiencies in, in the software and the processes. So when we first, or when I first started the term or the teams for our digital services didn't exist, it was an idea that my boss had.
[00:10:55] And what he wanted to be able to do was bring together a team of highly skilled developers who had experience in the software community, who could come in and provide support to an organization. That had a lot of developers who were perhaps former field officers and their training was in mapping software or their training was in something that was really specific to disaster response, but they didn't necessarily have the current industry best practices on software development.
[00:11:29] So digital services was formed to be able to provide industry best practices. And we took a look at a few pieces of software initially. Humana, I'm trying to think of what we had in our sort of portfolio at the very beginning, humanitarianresponse.info came in later. Humanitarian ID was toward the beginning and then lots of little kind of websites that no one really knew what to do with, because they'd had a contractor developer three years ago.
[00:11:59] And this site had just kind of languished in the background. Wasn't getting a security updates. It wasn't really getting any attention. We didn't know if it should still be running. It didn't have analytics on it. And so part of what we started to do was look at when do we sunset software? When do we start software?
[00:12:13] You know, why do we even, how do we justify starting a new project. When we need to hire a developer to work on a team versus putting it into a collection or a pool of developers who might be able to. You know, do an initial sprint, maybe a three month or a six months set up and then just kind of let it gently run in the background, getting only security updates.
[00:12:32] And then once every couple of years we do an evaluation and see, does this product need to continue or not? So digital services more specifically is looking at the optimizations in process and product that the organization as a whole. They just didn't have a mandate to look at their software products individually.
[00:12:53] And that's part of where we came in was to support on that.
[00:12:57] Michael Meyers: Interesting sort of the technology experts providing all of this support and guidance. can you tell me, you know, could you put that into context, like, you know, is there a particular example or situation where, you know, this has come up and, and I'm curious, like, you know, you, you talked about. You know, giving, giving insight and advice on what to do with these software packages and when to sunset them and maintain them.
[00:13:22] Are you guys also doing that or are you just saying this is what you should do?
[00:13:27] Emma Jane Hogbin: Yeah, it totally depends on the project. Absolutely. Totally depends. Yeah. So in some cases I I'll pick sort of two or three different examples. They, the easiest one is a campaign micro-site that's been put together. Where there's a pledging conference.
[00:13:41] So it's basically going directly to those government donors and saying, we need X, millions, or billions of dollars to support in. And then whatever this specific disaster response is, and they need a little flashy campaign site for that no problem. Then six months later, do you still really need the flashy campaign site?
[00:14:02] And there had been no capacity within the organization to think long term, because a lot of these people were, you know, their donor relations, their marketing folks. They're not technology folks. And so they're not -their job. Isn't to think about the long term implications of having a website, their job is to get money for the disaster.
[00:14:21] So one of the things that we did initially was to say all of these little micro-sites that have been shoved into Initially just shoved into the Drupal folder of the corporate website. You know, step one was take them all out of Drupal so that we can actually do security updates to Drupal. Step two was to put Google analytics on those microsites to say, are these still getting traffic?
[00:14:41] And then step three was to say, they're not getting traffic. They're not important to the current messaging and let's just turn them off. Let's take them off the internet. And so in some cases they're still, they're still available as an archive somewhere in you know, in a repository of source control repository, but they're no longer publicly available.
[00:14:59] So that's sort of one process that we came up with and it had, you know, kind of the checklist of, does it have analytics? Do you know if it's still being used those kinds of questions? There was just no process around that. That's one type. Another type of site is maybe more difficult to do an assessment of, and this would be a prototype that was developed in a specific field office for a specific type of monitoring or reporting. And if there's 10 different field offices who were doing exactly the same thing, is there a way to consolidate those 10 individual efforts into one platform and then we're maintaining one platform instead of maintaining 10? So the example of that one is sort of how humanitarianresponse.info came to be.
[00:15:46] And it was initially many, many different individual websites, which then came together under one roof. And I think the initial version of it was. An Aegir deployment of many sites, then version two was a single site that everyone needed to be part of. And we're looking now at what version three should be for supporting those fields operations.
[00:16:10] So that's another kind of example of what are the efficiencies that we can get. Do we really need 10 individual platforms more or less doing the same thing? Or can we consolidate. And then I guess the other type of website that we have is whether this is fair or not, but information about money.
[00:16:28] We do a lot of surfacing of information for donors. They want, you know, if they give a donation of a hundred million dollars, they would like to be acknowledged for that donation of a hundred million dollars. And quite frankly, they should be acknowledged for it. So some of what we do is I don't want to trivialize it, but it's just surfacing financial information.
[00:16:46] It's not, it's not a payment system. it doesn't take payments. It doesn't give out payments, but it is tracking that information so the donors can see how their money is being spent. Oh, yeah, those are examples of how we're doing this consolidation work and process work.
[00:17:03] Michael Meyers: I think this applies to so many organizations you know, when I was at Acquia doing developer relations and I, I talked to a lot of, you know, the CTOs at our, our customer organizations, and this was something that they all struggled with.
[00:17:17] So. You know, and one of the reasons that they were adopting Drupal in many cases was for consolidation purposes, you know, and they had this technology sprawl. So I think what you're doing is, is, is really broadly applicable, you know, this idea of, you know, how to evaluate software and determine when to sunset it and, and what that process is you know, through, to consolidation and management of all of these sites and systems for everything from efficiency to making sure the information you're communicating is, is still factual and accurate. so you know, if you're thinking about a fifth book..
[00:17:59] Emma Jane Hogbin: Yeah. It's, it's, you know, it's a lot of cleaning up messes and my My manager is absolutely fantastic to work with. Andrej Verity has, you know, he's the one who sort of brought me in initially to the role that I'm in now and his, his vision for this team. He is fantastic at the. Sort of five to 10 year vision of where where's an organization could go or where technology could take us more broadly more generally.
[00:18:24] And he's just absolutely amazing at those brainstorming. Like where could this go if, if we were to do it, and I'm more of the like three months to maybe one year, you know, implementation, what's the mess that we have in front of us that we need to clear up. There is four different ways of doing this. Can I write a Google doc to figure out.
[00:18:43] How we would make this one way of doing things. Are there compromises that we need to make? Are there specific decisions we can make to, to sort of streamline or make it tidy or in how we go? So it's a, it's a fun team to work on. Cause I don't, I don't need to worry about where we're going in 10 years. He worries about that for me.
[00:19:00] And he doesn't worry, need to worry about what we're doing day to day because our team takes care of that for him. Mm, it's it's a really nice collaboration and I, I hope this for every team that you've got someone who really loves the faraway stuff and someone who really loves doing the, the, sort of the day-to-day part of.
[00:19:17] Why is there, why do we have another way of doing this? Can we just make it three ways of doing it instead of seven ways of doing it? Is there, can we tidy this up a little bit more.
[00:19:28] Michael Meyers: instead of, is there a module for that? Is there a policy for that is the new question.
[00:19:33] Emma Jane Hogbin: Yeah. My team hates my Google docs, but I think it helps to really, and we are maybe it's relevant to this point, just to talk a little bit about the team structure. and I, I think it's okay for me to talk about this. I don't know. How widely this part of it will go. in terms of the editing process of this video. So my level and below were all contractors into the UN and then Andre, my boss and above are all staff into the UN.
[00:20:00] So we're sort of my level in down are all home-based individuals and everyone else's headquarters based. So that also provides a really, or creates a really interesting tension in terms of what can the staff do working, collaborating, you know, when they're walking into the same office and working on something together, versus what can we do when we work across multiple time zones and the sort of the 24 hour cycle of what we can get done by not being in the same physical space.
[00:20:27] It's also been really interesting to watch the staff struggle a bit during the recent global pandemic, because of course they're all used to being able to collaborate in person. And here we've said, look, our team is already set up to work as a distributed team. We know how to do this. Let's, you know, let us help you in getting used to the changes and even in terms of how we've worked with field offices previously, there might have been a.
[00:20:53] I mean previously, like 10 years ago, there might've been the money for someone to just jump on a plane and go and collaborate more, more directly. And now we're, our team is sort of providing some leadership in terms of saying, no, you don't, you don't need to, you can actually work as a distributed team.
[00:21:10] It has some advantages and disadvantages, but it's. It's been an interesting change, I think for the organization as well, to see how someone who is invisible can make such a big change. And I think it's been a positive change for the organization.
[00:21:23] Michael Meyers: Yeah. I think so many organizations again, are, are, are struggling with these challenges.
[00:21:29] But I think there's going to be tremendous long-term benefit, you know, in, in our personal lives. Like I've worked from home for 20 years and Tag1's a virtual company and I. You know, there, there are certainly challenges and, and some drawbacks to it, but it's on a whole wonderful, you know, it gives me a lot of freedom and flexibility and you know, I think our listeners, you know, all are in a similar boat to us and, and, and get it, but for, for big organizations, it's a challenge.
[00:21:56] Emma Jane Hogbin: It's a big change. It's a really, really big change. Yeah.
[00:22:00] Michael Meyers: [00:22:00] And there are a few organizations as big as the UN it's, you know I didn't realize, you know, what you had said about like the team structure and it makes total sense, but like, what I was thinking is like, okay, here you are.
[00:22:11] These digital experts, like OCHA itself is a really big organization. And then, you know, the groups that you work with, you know, so it's like, you know, What's it like, like, does that add an entire layer of challenges? I would imagine in order for you to sort of fulfill your mission and get your work done, like, you know?
[00:22:30] Emma Jane Hogbin: Yeah.
[00:22:31] So we're big, but we're not that big. Maybe to put it even in a bit more context. I, if I remember correctly, OCHA's official budget is around 300 million annually US dollars. And to compare to that, the world food program is 5 billion. Now we don't have to buy rice. So there's a lot of stuff that we don't do that costs money.
[00:22:51] But we are a fraction of the size of some of these other international or some of the other UN agencies. And I think for me, it's been really interesting to look at the speed at which we're able to work. And then the team that's come together. For digital services, they're all really used to agency work where if it's not done in two to three months, you, you know, you've failed to meet your deadline.
[00:23:16] And we'll be really happy to move a project forward in one to two years because it just takes longer. When you know, whether the individual is is busy. So the product owner is busy doing disaster response, or they're busy doing policy coordination between 12 different organizations, you know, one of whom is the, you know, a representative of the $5 billion company.
[00:23:41] So they're, they're busy. They, you know, they have a day job and the website is not, it's important to their day job, but it's not the core part of their day job. So I think for me, one of the interesting things is reminding myself, how fast we are making progress for a very large company. And even unlike, ah, 300 million.
[00:24:00] It's not that big. I mean, it's no, we're not a world food program. And to look at, you know, some of the initiatives and it may be actually interesting for you to talk to Andrew Holgate from World Food Program, to look at the kinds of stuff they're doing with Drupal as well. but it's. It feels really slow when you're in the middle of it.
[00:24:15] And it takes a lot to take a step back and say, well, what have we accomplished in the five years that we've been here? Where were we five years ago as a team will we didn't exist? So, you know, I'm like, what are the processes we put in place? What are the changes that we've made? And I think that reflection.
[00:24:34] For our team of mostly agency workers is really difficult to do because it's, they're just coming from a world where it has to be done right away. It has to, has to, has to happen right now and saying, we can prioritize something for six months from now and in six months we'll get there. But you know, it doesn't have to be, everything is an emergency culture.
[00:24:53] We can wait. A little bit of time and schedule that to happen in future. And it's one of the things that I've really enjoyed about working with disaster responders is. They understand what a real disaster is. A real disaster is when you are on the ground and your water filtration system doesn't work anymore.
[00:25:10] And people no longer have clean drinking water. A real disaster is when people are literally dying from hunger. When people are literally dying from Ebola, when people are like, when that that's, that's a real disaster, you know, if a website comes offline for an hour because of. You know, a bot inefficiently crawling something.
[00:25:27] That's not a real disaster. And it's been really nice for me to get that perspective from the staff and really helped me to understand the importance of what I'm doing. But also, I mean, it's important, but it's not the end of the world. No one actually died. If the website went down, no one actually died.
[00:25:44] If the product wasn't perfect. And that's, that's been really nice to have the reality check.
[00:25:52] Michael Meyers: It's a, it's a really great perspective. It's, it's sobering to hear about, you know, the intense and amazing things that the organization does. And You know, I, I think I like the fact that there's a tolerance for error in what we do.
[00:26:06] You know emergencies may be what you, you know, your organization does, but it shouldn't be how you guys operate in a, you know, it's, it's, you know, you have that built in perspective. I think we all need a little context and understanding and you know, we're, we're doing good things in some cases doing fun things, but we're not.
[00:26:24] You know, it's not life and death. It's not, you know, poverty, famine. But yeah, what are, you know, so, so, you know, building, managing technology you know, what are the underlying technology challenges that you deal with on a day-to-day basis with this site? You know, does it range from like, we need to upgrade and maintain these systems to, you know You know, performance and scalability problems as a result of you know some event that's happening.
[00:26:53] Emma Jane Hogbin: I would say on a day to day basis our biggest technological threat maybe is the best way of saying it is a A bot who discovers Drupal and all of the different ways that it can access the taxonomy system or Solr or some kind of faceted combination of things that we just can't optimize for in terms of a proxy in front of it or a CDN in front of it.
[00:27:21] So that's like scaling, isn't really an issue that we deal with. Most of the sites that we deal with are pretty low traffic. So they are very important visitors. But there are very few of them. Our highest traffic site would be Relief Web, and that gets well, I don't know, maybe a million people a month.
[00:27:40] So it's big, but it's not, it's not, it's huge, huge, and
[00:27:46] Michael Meyers: Very respectable.
[00:27:48] Emma Jane Hogbin: Thank you. but I would see a lot of our sites are in the range of a few thousand people a month. So pretty small where we did have some more interesting challenges around the technology. I mean, it wasn't really a technology scaling problem, but it was interesting in terms of how we - the biggest, you know, the biggest tech challenge when I first started working for OCHA, I was working on a product called humanitarian ID, which is now an authentication service.
[00:28:15] It provided more information at the time and we were in not. Quite, we were still beta, I think when I was first working on it. And actually this was, I first was working on as a contractor for phase two. So this was a phase two contract when I was first working on it. and we were in not quite beta when the Nepal earthquake happened and our product owner at the time, who's now my manager Andrej Verity was deployed as part of the initial on the ground responders.
[00:28:47] So within, at the time he like many other OCHA staff had a ready bag and was deployed to Nepal. He spent the initial 72 hours in airports trying to get to Nepal, just because there wasn't really flights going to a place that had had a disaster impacting tens of thousands of people. So once he arrived on site, he was part of the initial team who set up the infrastructure.
[00:29:13] To an infrastructure as in physical infrastructure. So they, you know, they set up the tents, they set up the, the medical stations, they set up and OCHA's role at that point is basically the greeting tent. And this is where, you know, in terms of the, the project management aspect of things, we bring people in, and this is, I'm just using we as an air quotes.
[00:29:32] I've never done this. I I'm amazed that people are able to do this. So OCHA brings people in and we say, basically, welcome to the disaster. What are your skills and how can we get you to the right team to be able to provide support moving forward? And that window is for those initial responders, I believe three to six weeks.
[00:29:53] So during that initial three-week period, we had daily stand-ups with Andre who was in the field in Nepal. And I would do an initial check-in with him to see how this authentication service, which at the time was an identity service. How it was being used in the field. What were the technical problems with people in Nepal trying to use beta software on basically no internet connection.
[00:30:15] We have a triage, those, and then with the team of phase two developers, they would start around noon my time and run through till, gosh, it'd be about 9:00 PM. We do a deployment and then we start the process again. So Andre would wake up in Nepal, the following morning with the bug fixes from the previous day's development.
[00:30:34] and we would work through all of the issues people were having. We would get the support requests saying, you know, I'm a firefighter, who's landed in Nepal. I tried to register and I had this error and we would fix this error. And then I would get back to the firefighter and say, I think we fixed your error.
[00:30:49] Thank you for doing disaster response. I'm sorry that you're dealing with our buggy software. So it was just this incredible cycle of. Very rapid iteration on a product that was being used immediately in disaster response coordination, to provide people with contact information for on the ground responders or back in headquarters.
[00:31:10] And to be able to say, you know, headquarters is doing whatever kind of coordination to the people that are in the field who are then maybe working in satellite teams, you know, not directly as part of the main station, I guess is the right word. so that. That idea of the rapid iteration and actual support of disaster response, we don't do much of anymore.
[00:31:31] And I think part of that is because the products that we support have matured, so the features are in place and what's, there is there. And also recognizing that in a lot of cases we feel that there might be a technical solution and. We don't always need to build it. You know, if you need some basic coordination, maybe Google sheets with it's spreadsheet and collaborative editing is, you know, that technology has grown up to a point where maybe that's now acceptable, whereas 10, 15 years ago it, it just didn't exist.
[00:32:03] And so there was more of a tendency within the organization to want to build those products. So I think the, the biggest technical challenge is. To not build, you know, the biggest technical challenge is to say, is this really a piece of software that can't be solved by something that already exists?
[00:32:22] Is there truly no service out there that's offering something that we can use. And in the case of identity management, there isn't, there isn't a product out there that the United Nations felt comfortable signing on to. To say, yes, we won't sell your information. We're not going to use it to target ads to you.
[00:32:42] We're not going to, you know, all of those extra bits and pieces. And so we felt that this really truly was a product that was unique and one that we could offer But the biggest challenge is to not build. That's the hardest part.
[00:32:56] Michael Meyers: Isn't my that's my solution to everything these days, a Google doc just create a Google doc.
[00:33:03] Like what are we talking about here? Obvious. all right. So before we wrap up You know, where do you see things going for your team over the next three months to a year, you know, two years you know, given what you mentioned, you know, this direction is, you know, what is, what is the, you know, immediate future hold?
[00:33:24] Emma Jane Hogbin: Gosh, well, in the next year.
[00:33:26] And I don't think that any team will be excited to hear this, but I think that there has been Changes in the software that the enterprise has procured, which makes the need for a private internet style website, less necessary. So we've got a few sites right now that provide really important coordination tools to different teams of people that the UN previously has not been able to offer because of How it interacts with outside collaborators.
[00:33:58] So that's one of the things that OCHA, you know, we, we work with outside teams that's that is our mandate basically is that coordination aspect and the the systems that we use at the enterprise level have become more open to collaboration. So I feel like there's a number of products that our team has built and hosted.
[00:34:18] That we don't need to build and host anymore. So I think for, you know, in the next sort of year, we're going to see some of those products hopefully migrate into the enterprise tools that are available. You know, again, it becomes something that it's not specialized in it, like what they're doing is super important, but it doesn't really need a custom build.
[00:34:38] Basically Drupal with the groups module for authentic, you know, for dividing out how authorization happens for the different groups. It's not really that special. Like it's not really that unique. so I think we'll see some, some teams migrate into some, some non Drupal platforms. I think we'll also see some more collaboration.
[00:34:58] Behind the scenes for the editor workflow in terms of how we accept documents into the OCHA family of products. and how we say if, if the field uploads a version of a website and you know, headquarters makes an improvement to that document. How do we say that those two documents are actually the same one?
[00:35:20] So traditionally that may have been a SharePoint type product. and that, that is something that I think we'll continue to build on iterate for the next five years. I don't think that there is an internal product that exactly meets our needs yet. So we'll be, I think seeing the backends of our systems change and the editorial workflow change, but not necessarily a huge change to How the tool is viewed from the outside world.
[00:35:47] But I don't know. It's not very exciting stuff. It's just workflow, but I really like it.
[00:35:52] Michael Meyers: I, I mean, again, I think these are fundamental things that, you know, are applicable to everybody, you know, workflow management, you know, even, even our website, you know we're, we're just about to roll out some changes and, you know, two people were editing a doc and save different vers, you know, it's, you know, that is such a small scale example.
[00:36:11] You guys are dealing with this on, on such a larger. And frankly, more important scale you know,
[00:36:17] Emma Jane Hogbin: Different scale, but everyone feels their work is important and valuable now.
[00:36:24] Michael Meyers: Fair enough. Fair enough. But yeah, I think that these are our challenges that every organization struggles with and needs to solve.
[00:36:32] And so, you know it's, you know, I think it is really valuable. I think, you know, that you know, we're big into open source. It would be awesome if we're able to share some of these solutions and learnings, because I, you know, everyone is, is solving the same challenges. And while we don't all need the same software or solutions, we're reinventing the wheel and it's, you know, It's crazy inefficient in a, in a big part of your job is to, you know, get rid of that sprawl and make things more efficient.
[00:37:01] So that's pretty amazing.
[00:37:03] Emma Jane Hogbin: And certainly~~, ~~people do have do you have questions? I'm, I'm very happy to field the questions and where we can we publish open information. I'm and this is something that is something that I brought into the team, I guess. I mean, I knew, I know that. Andre knew who he was hiring when he hired me.
[00:37:20] but it's something that, that we have an open open by default policy. And all of our, you know, all of our projects are online. If we need to fix something with an upstream project, we put that back as a contribution to the upstream project. And that's super important to me. And I think it's You know, it's sometimes it's a bit of extra work, but it's also, we've managed to attract people who have long standing relationships in the Drupal community.
[00:37:45] And I think that we are able to get more done because they know the person who knows the person who worked on the thing five years ago and are able to just help out a little bit to get it over, you know, whatever that hurdle happens to be. So it's really important to me and continues to be important to me.
[00:38:00] And we're also looking more and more at the inter-agency collaboration and some of the stuff that that we've done in terms of just, I don't know, how do we make a process about this? How do we make, we write a Google doc and you put draft at the top and you share it around. but that, you know, that kind of collaboration is happening. And we are definitely, I'm very happy to share whether it's, you know, where did we get our information from? Where did we get our draft ideas from? And then how have we dealt with this and made it specific to our organization? Like I said, a lot of it is, is shareable and public.
[00:38:34] We don't have an appropriate place to publish it because it's not, you know, it's, it's our team's ideas of how it could work. but some of this stuff does go through and get official OCHA, you know, the rubber stamp, acknowledgement that this is the way our enterprise level organization will do things.
[00:38:51] And gosh, that's so gratifying to think that you're able to support an organization to make a process where nothing existed before it wasn't that we changed the process. It was just there wasn't anything. So that's, that's pretty exciting. And I'm happy to take - follow up on that one as well.
[00:39:04] Michael Meyers: Making things better at a really important organization doing really important things.
[00:39:09] Well, for our listeners, if you have questions, you can reach Emma at plus eight, eight, eight
[00:39:17] Please don't dial it. And that might be like some emergency relief organization, but I'll put some contact information in there. Emma, thank you so much for joining us and giving us a look inside you know, OCHA. It really is amazing what, what your organization is doing and how you help facilitate that and, and really are making the world a better place.
[00:39:36] You mentioned some amazing links. We'll put them in the show notes for everybody, all the websites and information. So you can follow up on that. you know, if you like this talk, please remember to upvote share, subscribe, and , please contact us. You know, you can reach us at Tag1 TeamTalks, it's firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any feedback on this show or thoughts on what we can cover in the future. And you can check out our past talks at tag1.com/ttt T. Emma. Thank you so much for joining us. It was so great to see you really appreciate you coming on the show and our listeners. Thanks for tuning in..