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Summary of World System Data Banks

International Organizations and the Generation of the Will to Change

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Appendix IV of: International Organizations and the Generation of the Will to Change (UAI Study Papers INF/5, 1970)


1. United Nations

(a) Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Computerized indexing of United Nations (not Specialized Agency) documents titles and contents. System operational. Major objective is to work back to cover all such UN documents since 1945. Other materials entering library are not computer indexed but could be. Organizations publishing documents are extractable but only as editor, publisher, or referenced in document. No addressing system.

(b) Specialized Agency Libraries. FA0, ILO, and IAEA use computers for library work. UNESCO will shortly implement ILO document retrieval system. WHO uses computers for handling health information. Each is primarily interested in its specialized field and within that field in the documents produced by the Agency. Transfer of information from Agency to Agency is not possible due to differences in format. Attempts made to standardize keywords with OECD using Aligned List of Descriptors. This has not been satisfactory. Organizations extractable as editor or publisher only, if at all.

(c) UN and Specialized Agency Project Information Systems. Implementation held up pending consideration of Capacity Study. Will deal with projects and only incidentally with the organizations involved in the projects. UN system projects only. Will be standardized as far as input is concerned. Computer level compatibility creates problems.

(d) UN and Specialized Agency Information Distribution Systems. Addressing systems for circulation of documents and other material are either addressograph plates, mechanical equipment (card), or in the process of conversion to computer based. The systems are not linked. There may be several such systems within one Agency.

(e) Centre for Economic and Social Information (OPI). Starting to act as center point for collection and redistribution of addresses between Agencies. Addresses are not collected centrally. Mainly concerned with individuals in organizations and not the organizations. Had hoped to collect one million addresses onto magnetic tape.

(f) Office of Public Information. Not primarily concerned with contact mailings. This function is being taken up by Centre for Economic and Social Information.

2. UNITAR Possesses computer coded one-off collection of information on the effects of UN action over a period as registered by the Press around the world.

3. UNRISD. Computer data bank of statistics on the social aspects of development. No organization data.

4. OECD. Development center provides information in various areas of economic development by means of bibliographic references, books and documents. This documentary material includes studies, statistical data, names/addresses of institutions and experts specializing in particular areas of development (economic), information on development problem conferences. Attempt made to standardize with UN Agencies. Works through chain of national documentation centers. Only available to public and semipublic bodies.

5. European Communities. ESCS and EURATOlI use computers for library work.

6. Council of Europe. International relations library.

7. International Council of Scientific Unions. Does not have central information service other than through newsletters. Coordinates activities of specialized independent services and international unions each with its own newsletter service. Some have bibliographies.

8. Committee on Data for Science and Technology. Concerned with formats for the exchange of scientific data at computer level.

9. ICSU-UNESCO (UNISIST) World-wide Science Information System. Feasibility study underway for handling documents and bibliographic materials internationally.

10. Council for International Organisations of Medical Sciences. No regular bibliographic service. Calendar of medical meetings.

11. Dimensionality of Nations Project (social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii). Computer data bank of coded characteristics of nations as an aid to research on socio-economic, political, cultural and geographical variations. No non-statistical data.

12. International Peace Research Institute (Oslo). Coded data on international organizations based partly on information in Yearbook of International Organizations. No National organization information. No addresses. Used entirely for research.

13. International Council of Voluntary Agencies. Name/address and activity information on some 2,300 nongovernmental (primarily national) agencies active in the field of international development aid. Information made available in News Bulletin. Considering formation of a development information clearing house in this field.

14. Union of International Associations. Publishes Yearbook of International Organizations covering all fields of human activity. Will produce forthcoming edition via computer and use the resultant data bank for research, production of specialized directories, mailings, etc. Data base will be extended to include national organizations, meetings, projects, etc. Also departments within complex organizations. Entities on file will not be treated as isolated. Links between them will be coded to facilitate a network approach to research on the world system of organizations and their relationship to problem areas. Investigations are being made into the display of such networks on television-type screens to facilitate comprehension. This will be used to analyze information flows, communication and coordination gaps and structural weaknesses in the organizational system.

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