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Civil-Military Fusion Centre Joins Humanitarian Response to Pakistan Flooding from Its Offices in ODU Research Park

For the second time this year, Allied Command Transformation's (ACT) Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC) has sprung into action to help with the coordinated humanitarian response to a natural disaster.

The center, located at Innovation Research Park @ ODU, has been monitoring events in Pakistan since early August.

Using its expertise as an entity that specializes in high-level facilitation of communication between civilian and military groups in times of crisis, the CFC is now supporting the civil-military situational awareness needs of Allied Command Operations and the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre in its Pakistan flooding humanitarian relief mission.

The effort is similar to work done on behalf of agents doing relief work on the ground in Haiti, following that country's disastrous earthquake last January.

To help the situation, CFC is tapping into its network of contacts with international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and national and international military personnel to help with information compiling, synthesis and sharing - a vital component of any disaster relief effort.

The work of knowledge managers (KMs) is key to what the CFC does.

KMs are subject-matter experts who have knowledge and experience working with or within the military and the international aid community. Their background enables them to understand humanitarian response mechanisms and information resources, which allows the team to comprehend the situation, the actors and the essential needs. This understanding enables them to establish a Web-based resource displaying the most relevant information, organized in a user-friendly manner.

"As always, our KMs are doing their best to support this relief effort in order to ensure that the needs of the affected population are met," said Tony Icayan, the chief knowledge manager and plans officer of the Civil-Military Fusion Centre.

"We believe that the CFC is providing a unique service to NATO and the relief community by providing relevant and comprehensive civil-military information that not only complements, but enhances existing information sharing and situational awareness mechanisms."

While the number of fatalities in Pakistan is lower than in Haiti, the overall affected population is much larger. Official figures put the number of casualties at around 1,400 dead and more than 2,000 injured. Additionally, nearly 900,000 houses are reported to have been damaged or destroyed, and government estimates put the number of people directly affected by the floods at 15.4 million (other estimates are as high as 20 million).

The CFC is composed of a team of civilian and military personnel who work closely together to collect, process and disseminate relevant information on humanitarian or complex crises via its Web portal, called CimicWeb.

The CFC has close ties with Old Dominion University, especially its Graduate Program in International Studies (GPIS). Icayan is one of four GPIS graduates who work at the CFC, and doctoral candidate Renata Giannini will intern in the CFC as an assistant KM during the fall semester.

For more information about the Civil-Military Fusion Centre response to the Pakistan floods, visit www.cimicweb.org.

This article was posted on: August 20, 2010

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