Improving Virtual OSOCC moderated discussions to support real time information management in disasters

The Virtual OSOCC, OCHA’s web-based disaster coordination platform, is designed to facilitate information exchange and international coordination during the first phase of sudden-onset disasters. Access to the Virtual OSOCC ( is restricted to disaster managers in member states and response organisations. At the occurrence of a new disaster, a dedicated discussion is established on the Virtual OSOCC where information is shared among international responders and other actors, including the authorities of affected country.

To facilitate information exchange, the disaster discussions are managed by dedicated Moderators who produce concise summaries, presenting an overview updated in real-time. In the last years, the number of VO users has continued to grow rapidly, with currently 26,000 subscribers at a 15% annual increase. A VO Moderator workshop, held in Austria in Oct 2016, examined ways to optimize information management needs through the Virtual OSOCC, and established a Steering Committee to govern the revision of moderator procedures. Some of the planned improvements include the creation of Team Leaders working with teams comprising VO users and managed in a VO Moderator roster. During disasters, the team will be structured in predefined functions and responsibilities. Procedures for the activation and composition of VO Moderator teams in disasters will be similar to already existing on-line mobilising procedures for UNDAC or the Environmental Expert Roster. It is further planned to improve the Virtual OSOCC interface with the aim to make it more user-friendly and intuitive, and to improve navigation and access to information on the site.

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