Interview with Eero Sario, RMS Coordinator

eero5_300pxEero Sario has been volunteering for Finnish Red Cross since 1998. After having worked first as a software developer he moved to humanitarian field where he had his first mission in 2008-09 with IFRC in the Caribbean managing a hurricane appeal. Then he worked as a WatSan delegate in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and started the current RMS project end of 2010.
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Where does the creation of the RMS come from?
Eero Sario: Our Asia Pacific national societies have been asking for a system like RMS for some years now and in 2010 we had the resources available to start the development.

The creation of the RMS fits into the IFRC’s global ICT strategy. Can you tell us more about it and how does it relate to the decision to create RMS?
ES: It is ambitiously to create “one village” where the location does not matter for the conversations and the work to take place. IFRC is working hard to support the less developed NS to cross the “digital divide” in order to support the main strategy. One way is also to employ “discover and harvest” approach where we identify working solutions already in use and then scale them up to make them available more widely to IFRC members.
IFRC is also working actively on beneficiary communications and also especially striving to improve two-way communications. We have already used mass SMS communications extensively in Haiti earthquake 2010 and Pakistan floods in 2011 among other disasters and have lots of plans on how to improve in this field.

RMS is not an IT project but a programme support tool. Why is it important for the project to be the responsibility of the program departments?

ES: Often when I start speaking of the system for the first time many might think that since we’re talking about a system you access with your computer, it is an IT project and therefore the IT department should manage it and take the ownership. That couldn’t be further away from the truth as it is the programme, management and admin staff that use the system and benefit from it: it’s the volunteer managers in the branches that change to RMS from their current speadsheets, the program managers who track the projects’ key information and the Human Resources staff who update key staff information through RMS. Basically all the staff that manage information relevant to running an NS are potential users of RMS.

Why choosing open source technology through Sahana Eden? 
ES: When we selected Sahana Eden as the underlying platform of RMS, Sahana Eden was already in use or being seriously considered by multiple NS. Open source and Sahana Eden had got many benefits to us:
  • There was already lots of good and relevant functionality existing that we were able to utilise immediately and for free
  • No lock-down to a single supplier
  • Benefiting from the development work of the overall Sahana community by incorporating new features developed in other Sahana Eden projects into RMS
  • Excellent interoperability and implementation of various standards – much better than in many proprietary systems.

Thank you Eero.


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