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NMO Portal Concept and Function

by Rose Hessmiller last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:47 AM
Description of how the portal came to be, the concept of the portal and its function.
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What is the Point of this Portal?

Stated Problem: Multi-dimensional challenges face global conservation, sustainable development, health and security.

Suggested Response: Design a USAID Resource Management Portal to serve as a needed networking, communication, web services, and outreach delivery system to address this challenge using a landscape-level approach.

What were the Portal Requirements?


watering hole
Build a watering hole!

Portal Platform needed to:

  • Support strategic, integrated circuits, linking diverse groups and locations

  • Allow the organic growth of a networked, committed community

  • Use open source software that could be easily supported within the global community

strategic linkages

The Portal was not intended to replace:

  • a simple phone call
  • a quick email response
  • stopping by someone's office

The Portal was intended to make it easy to:

    • Answer a question that can resonate globally, serving more than the first person needing help
    • Work privately or publically while remaining connected to the network
    • Host and deliver dynamic, up-to-date, high quality content from diverse sectors
    • Share web services (portal applications) with Mission Partners so they can focus more time and energy on their core mission not contextual activities (reduce need for IT install and maintenance software support, cost-effective collaboration facilitation across time/distance, quickly re-use knowledge)
    • Provide workflow with built in security across multiple sectors
    • Improve group writing process, ID, time stamp and track draft documents, meet funding and/or reporting deadlines
    • Create online reporting capabilities to allow Mission Partners to report back on project metrics (including an easy means for Partners to store content for easy retrieval and access to workflow tools that facilitate successful use of the online reporting tool.)
    • Find relevant information and people fast: all applications, content and members deep searchable from a single search box
    • See the interconnected nature of knowledge across sectors allowing members to re-contextualize content easily (adapt for use in their own sector)
    • Publish efficiently in a community environment. Move away from centralized, solitary, authoring, and publishing process to a content management system CMS based on connecting people into global communities that share knowledge and IT infrastructure.
    • Protect intellectual property with easy system for referencing content creator(s), contributors, and copyright information.
    • Increase intellectual property value (shared content increases its impact) by linking to author's references or other work.
    • Manage the Content (Easy upload, logical storage, easy manipulation, simple download)
    • Deliver and/or assemble training and the ability to produce short courses quickly using content from any where on the portal (Facilitate mechanism for Training of the trainer)
    • Support private and public collaboration
    • Support multiple languages
    • Support all forms of media content types
    • Share and re-use information
    • Grow and support expert networks and collections (members and their resources)
    • Afford, build, grow, and sustain the global network by using open source “free” software

brazil survey teamWhy did we think this would work?

We used “Bottom-up” feedback and creative brainstorming. The design and functionality of the RM Portal was guided based on in-depth and in-country interviews conducted through the USAID Mission staff and implementing partners in Brazil (Environment and Energy NGOs) that served as the focal group that participated in several workshops and to complete both technical (NRM) and computer (IT) needs assessment surveys.

What did we learn from the Portal feasibility assessment?

It is not sufficient to simply generate materials for outreach and consumption. We need to build an effective delivery and commenting system – one that allows Washington-based offices to reach out to the Missions, while also allowing USAID/Mission, Embassy Science and Technology Staff, and Mission Partners to reach back to Washington. A system where one can create, publish, share, and discuss as well as find and download.

USAID Brazil Mission is the first mission to be sponsored in the portal and describe it below:

“In addition to being timely and needed by all partners, the RM Portal is a tool that can be used to strengthen the environment program strategy. Disseminating information and exchanging experiences among consortium members, the other consortia and partners represent fundamental elements to the success of that new institutional arrangement chosen by the program to implement the strategic plan period.”


“The Portal can be a very important mechanism to learn from other missions and to disseminate results from Brazil. Brazilian USAID’s partners should benefit from a broader dissemination of their results; and the Portal is an institutional strengthening instrument. In this sense, it should contribute to our empowerment and autonomy.”

powerpoint slide

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