Published on: 28/07/2015
With two prestigious humanitarian innovation fund awards and major organisations that collaborate, the humanitarian response platform KnowledgePoint can prepare to scale up in the future. Tim Kent, Project Manager for KnowledgePoint, looks back at a successful start.
KnowledgePoint is a software platform and support service for sharing vital specialist knowledge and expertise in humanitarian response and international development. It is the result of an innovative, collaborative venture led by WaterAid, RedR, Practical Action, IRC and EngineerAid. With the support of these partners, over the past three years the project has been given two prestigious Humanitarian Innovation Fund awards for the invention and development of a platform for improving vital information support services.
As we now prepare to extend and scale up the service, we can look back at a number of early successes from this development stage. The platform has already been adopted by several partner organisations including the Global WASH Cluster, Practical Action, RedR and WaterAid, with many others currently evaluating or implementing the platform. IRC is one of the initiators of Knowledge Point and will participate in testing how to best take it further.
Many organisations have already used KnowledgePoint. UN Global WASH Cluster used KnowledgePoint to manage frequently asked questions for Ebola response, and support new requests, encouraging critical collaboration across WASH and Health sectors. They feature KnowledgePoint as their primary technical support platform on their homepage.
WaterAid actively use KnowledgePoint as their internal support platform, asking questions within the organisation using the KnowledgePoint privacy function. They often share questions with the entire KnowledgePoint network for a wider range of answers, and also use staff expertise to answer selected questions from other parts of the network.
RedR moved their highly-respected Expert Network from an email-based system to being entirely based on KnowledgePoint. It recently secured funding from the Arup Charitable Foundation for the initial development stage of a KnowledgePoint app.
Practical Action are preparing to move to the KnowledgePoint platform a significant part of the Practical Answers service, which handles a very high volume of enquiries, with some country offices already using the service. They developed the KnowledgePoint Energy Portal, the first of a series of thematic areas.
We are now setting out on the path to being a fully self-sustaining operation. A new strategy, launched in July 2015, sets KnowledgePoint's professional user-base at the heart of our growth. The service will always be free to end-users, and a business model is being implemented to ensure quality of service and a professional-grade platform, customised to support the vital work of humanitarian and development actors.
As part of this, we will create a membership structure, whereby the participating organisations set rates of annual financial contributions for customised sites. Member organisations will represent their own users and help to ensure KnowledgePoint is directed towards optimising the value of the service to end-users.
At the same time, we recognise the transformational role that funding partners such as the HIF and Arup Foundation can play, and we are seeing this as a transition towards a more self-sustaining model.
Where will go next? We are now focused on "scaling up and scaling out", increasing the user base on KnowledgePoint and the level of quality and functionality they can expect.
Our 600+ users come primarily from personal recommendations from users and organisational pilot implementations, so we are looking forward to our first activities to raise awareness of KnowledgePoint as a fully operational service. Part of our objective will be to increase the range of complexity of solutions we can deliver, involving an emphasis on increasing the connectivity between users.
New KnowledgePoint implementations also have an increasing emphasis on knowledge asset management, whether that is using KnowledgePoint to increase the utilisation of existing assets, or to facilitate human-to-human knowledge management, which is perhaps the most exciting opportunity that is emerging.
However KnowledgePoint grows from here, we feel in a strong position to begin our journey to a mature platform and self-sustaining organisation. We have the fantastic support of our partner organisations, and the ever-growing range of active professional users at our core.
Tim Kent, Project Manager for KnowledgePoint.org