Security Tool Keeping IOM Staff Safe in Afghanistan and Worldwide Shortlisted in Times Higher Education Awards

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SCAAN, an innovative staff security app jointly developed by IOM and Sheffield Hallam University, is in the running for a Times Higher Education award. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed  SCAAN, an innovative staff security app jointly developed by IOM and Sheffield Hallam University, is in the running for a Times Higher Education award. © IOM/Muse Mohammed

Geneva -- A life-saving security app developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UK's Sheffield Hallam University has been nominated for a prestigious Times Higher Education award.

With real time alerts sent to 16,000 IOM staff worldwide -- and some United Nations agencies -- SCAAN (Security Communications and Analysis Network) has been invaluable in Afghanistan recently. It allows staff in the field to send reports back to security personnel and, through an 'I'm not okay' alert button on the app, signal for help if they are at personal risk.  

"SCAAN is critical to our security operations in Afghanistan,'' said IOM's Office of Staff Security Director, Luc Vandamme. "By activating a staff headcount immediately following the attack on Kabul airport, we were able to quickly ascertain the status of all staff in country and follow up with those who needed assistance. In such a situation, every minute counts.''

The digital platform and mobile app are also keeping staff updated on travel restrictions and curfews during the COVID-19 pandemic and monitors the health and wellbeing of remote workers.  It was a major asset last month during Hurricane Ida in the US and the earthquake in Haiti.

SCAAN -- developed jointly by Sheffield Hallam's Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research (CENTRIC) and IOM -- has been shortlisted in the International Collaboration category of the Times Higher Education Awards, billed as the Oscars of higher education. The Collaboration category spotlights exceptional projects by an academic institution and an international partner at a strategic level. Winners will be announced in late November. 

"It's been fantastic to see the project develop over the last couple of years and become such a highly valued resource," said Tony Day, project lead at Sheffield Hallam. "I'm excited to see where we can make SCAAN better as satellite technology develops and cellular internet connectivity improves." 

IOM's Security Communications Manager, Amy Rhoades, said the app has been transformative. "SCAAN has prevented dozens of potentially fatal staff incidents in hotspots and elsewhere over the years," she said.

"UN personnel put themselves at great personal risk each day to help vulnerable people worldwide. Tragedy has sometimes followed when staff were unable to call for help or send their location in a crisis. The SCAAN app is changing that by providing real-time assistance to staff at the press of a button.'' 

Learn more:

*For more information: *

*Greg Mattocks-Evans, Sheffield Hallam University press office, Tel: +44 114 225 3685, email, *

*Amy Rhoades, IOM Security Communications Manager, Tel: +41 797011679, email, *