UN Migration Agency Adopts New Mobile-based Staff Security System

Geneva – This week IOM, the UN Migration Agency, adopted an innovative new staff security system across IOM missions worldwide. With the Security Communications and Analysis Network (SCAAN), IOM’s 11,000 global staff will be equipped with a mobile app that utilizes geolocation, context-specific advisories, instant headcounts and reporting features to enhance security communications and assistance.

SCAAN will have a life-saving impact on teams in the field worldwide. According to the Aid Worker Security Database, there were 158 major attacks against aid operations in 2016, in which 101 aid workers were killed, 98 wounded and 89 kidnapped.

For the second year in a row, South Sudan had the highest number of attacks on aid workers with 52, followed by Afghanistan (25), Syria (20), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13) and Somalia (12).

“As the safe humanitarian space in which we operate continues to shrink, ensuring the security and well-being of staff working in hostile environments is essential,’’ said William Wairoa-Harrison, Head of IOM Staff Security Unit. “Adoption of SCAAN at the global level allows any staff member facing danger to instantly alert us, enabling a more rapid response.’’

SCAAN is designed to mitigate risks and strengthen security measures, particularly for staff working in high-risk locations – armed conflicts, natural disasters, civil unrest and other threats – by leveraging the latest mobile technology. The mobile app facilitates rapid communication between field staff and security personnel, which is vital to providing efficient and appropriate assistance in an emergency.

SCAAN was developed jointly by IOM's Staff Security Unit and the Media and Communications Division in collaboration with CENTRIC, the research and innovation centre at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. SCAAN has two components: a mobile application developed for IOM staff; and a dashboard for security staff monitored by IOM’s 24/7 Security Operations Centre as well as local and regional security personnel. Through this co-design partnership, SCAAN has been customized for the protection of IOM staff.

“Innovation and co-creation coupled with close partnership between IOM and CENTRIC made the vision of SCAAN into operational reality for the safety and security of IOM staff,” said Babak Akhgar, Director of CENTRIC.

IOM currently has over 11,000 staff working in more than 150 countries worldwide including 800 staff responding in Level 3 emergency contexts. IOM works extensively in providing technical and operational support in humanitarian contexts and provides migration services in emergencies or post-crisis situations to address the needs of individuals and uprooted communities across the globe.

For more information, please contact Amy Rhoades at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 717 9948; Email: