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United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS):
A Legacy


The United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS) was a global volunteer initiative to help bridge the digital divide and was active from 2000 through February 2005. UNITeS both supported volunteers applying information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D) and promoted volunteerism as a fundamental element of successful ICT4D initiatives. It anticipated the popularity of smart phones and apps4good, talking about these concepts long before they had these names. It was NOT limited to United Nations initiatives; the goal was to help any and all tech-volunteering initiatives meant to help the developing world, by creating a platform for their networking with each other, sharing experiences, etc. 

UNITeS was launched in 2000 by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and was hosted by the United Nations Volunteers programme. UNITeS had two primary goals:

UNITeS was active until 2005. While it was active, it was lovingly promoted by then-UNV head Sharon Capeling-Alakija. From 2005, with the departure of the last UNV staff associated with UNITeS, and through most of 2009, the web site was still available at www.unites.org, but was no longer updated. As of November 2009, all UNITeS web site materials were taken down from the original site. The materials were put back up a few months later, but not updated, and then around March 2016, the materials were taken down again.

Because many UNITeS materials continue to be in demand, and to continue both the spirit of the initiative as defined by Kofi Annan and as realized by Sharon Capeling-Alakija, I, Jayne Cravens host some of the original UNITeS materials here on my own web site (all of the ones I wrote, actually):

To see the complete, original UNITeS web site and its resources, including its extensive knowledge base, look up unites.org at archive.org

Since the UNITeS archived list is out-of-date, here is an up-to-date list of ICT Volunteering / Tech Volunteering initiatives. This is a list of tech volunteering / ICT4D initiatives, some defunct, some still going strong, that recruit tech experts to volunteer their time support either local nonprofit organizations or NGOs in developing countries regarding computer hardware, software and Internet tech-related tasks.

Note: the UNITeS initiative is not the same as the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology (UNITE), which is responsible for defining strategic direction for ICT to the United Nations Secretariat, providing oversight of UN-related ICT programmes, budgets and decision-making to ensure alignment with the Secretariat’s overall ICT strategy. Among its activities is the Unite Ideas platform that supports collaboration between academia, civil society, and the United Nations. "It is a place to exchange ideas, learn from others and support development initiatives by taking on data science and visualization challenges. The open source code of solutions implemented for previous challenges is available on Unite Ideas and can be re-used by governments and civil society organizations."