GinkGo, the knowledge sharing platform supporting the Red Cross

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assists vulnerable people affected by war and other violent situations and ensures that the rules and principles, known as the Geneva Conventions, are respected during warfare. But, how do they stay informed, as the number of political and armed actors, the range of their visions, and the extent of the crises in which they are involved, continue to increase?

Valérie Martin, Head of Scanning and Reputation, is responsible for a remarkable knowledge sharing platform called GinkGo. It was christened GinkGo to emphasise the permanent nature of knowledge - that it could be stored in a way that prevents it being ephemeral and soon lost to the organisation. Also Ginkgo biloba, derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree, is often touted as a memory aid if taken in tea or tablets.

Valérie leads a team in charge of 'scanning' external public information relevant for the organisation to assist people in contexts in crisis. Many of the situations where their colleagues work are unstable war zones where the situation can flex and change with alarming speed.

Using public information published by media, institutes, governments, armed groups or individuals of different sensitivities and cultures in several languages is key because it forces us to constantly reassess and readjust our internal reading. Ultimately, it helps us to better anticipate issues related to security, acceptance and access. It is crucial that those who work in the field have a reliable picture of the political forces that may have a direct impact in their local environment. \n \nTen years ago we were checking websites but now it's all through social media. We have a team of analysts based at our HQ and in the field who add value to information, and analyse and filter hundreds of articles or sources each day, \n \nThe challenge we faced was how this high value content was being shared with our colleagues. The quality of the content was recognised as being very high but it was mainly being shared within particular silos. It was being shared by email and if you were not on the list you ran the risk of missing out.

Valérie Martin, Head of Scanning and Reputation

A whole seam of information was being collected that had a wider relevance than for a particular country and it became clear that ICRC would need a different distribution tool to share such knowledge more widely. So GinkGo was born - based on the platform from Elium. Valérie is keen to point out that this is not just a depository for information like a cuttings service. GinkGo reflects the very ecosystem of where the knowledge comes from and how it is being used.

We know that the value of information today is in what people add. It's not enough to know that it exists and that it's accessible but we want to know whether our colleagues - and the people they respect - value it. Most of us are using social networks in our private life and we have this experience of looking at ranking, liking, sharing and commenting content before deciding to read, watch, listen or ignore. Within an organisation, it is not very different: we use the crowd's behaviour and opinion to make a decision and what they do when they receive it and put it in perspective. \n

Valérie Martin, Head of Scanning and Reputation

Elium's solution was offering this additional layer of 'information on information' and this was one of the reasons we opted for it. One year on GinkGo is proving its worth, with 4,000 users on the platform.

by Marc Wright, Simply Communicate
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