The Virtual OSOCC was first launched in 1998 to facilitate information exchange among the UNDAC team and INSARAG USAR teams in earthquakes. Since then, the tool has evolved into an important information platform for the international disaster response community, which is used to facilitate information exchange not only in earthquakes, but also in all major sudden-onset emergencies as well as during preparedness activities such as training events, simulation exercises, meetings and expert discussion fora.
In 2004, the Virtual OSOCC was integrated into the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDCAS) as GDACS’ online coordination platform for first (bilateral) disaster responders. GDACS is a cooperation framework among OCHA, the European Commission, UNOSAT, and disaster managers worldwide, which provides automatic alerts, impact estimations, and an on-line coordination platform for disaster managers and producers of satellite-images and maps.
In 2014, which marks the 10th anniversary of GDACS, the Virtual OSOCC underwent a major revision to improve the support of information analysis and to provide a multi-lingual interface. Additional features will be added in the course of 2015 with the aim to adapt the tool to latest technological developments and to the needs of a steadily growing user community, which reached 19,000 subscribers in October 2014, at a yearly increase rate of 20 per cent.
The success of the Virtual OSOCC is a result of the constructive collaboration of its users. Since its creation, users have continuously made recommendations for improvements and participated in workshops and lessons learned exercises with the aim to further improve the tool to meet information and coordination needs in the early phase of major disasters and significant international response.
We thank all Virtual OOSCC users for their continuous support and contributions, in particular the Virtual OSOCC revision working group with participation of Argentina, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, the USA, and OCHA, who were instrumental in designing the most recent version of the tool.