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Issue 7.2, August 2003
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UIDMA in Bosnia and Herzegovina, With Possibilities for Wider Use

The Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) recognized the need for and developed a new model of the Unique Identifier of Mine Action (UIDMA). The author outlines the new model and its benefits in identifying aspects of mine action.

by Almir Budalica, BHMAC

Summary

A need for UIDMA has been recognized in the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) mine action community. The purpose of UIDMA is for users to be able to identify any aspect of mine action properly, regardless of the type of information (data on risk, accident, etc.) or activity (clearance, mine awareness education, quality control, etc.). The existing model is fixed (20 digits) and does not provide any flexibility. The consequence of the lack of flexibility is that identifiers of some mine action data contain unnecessary data (two, four or even eight zeros). The new model would provide more flexibility and enable unique identification of UID of any mine action to incorporate only data that is related. Possibilities for eventual wider use are based on the flexibility of the system and its capacity to cover all the aspects of mine action in more than one country. “Flexibility” means that UIDMA could classify all mine-related information from the countries that carry out different procedures in mine action. One of the benefits of wider use of UIDMA would be easy mine action data interchange and referencing.

Main Problem

BHMAC has already developed UIDMA according to the procedures performed at the time of development and according to the geo-political structure of the country. The identifier consists of 20 digits, and is quite easy to “read.” Generally, UIDMA consists of two elements: geo-reference (country, district, region and municipality) and mine action data (information or activity). The mine action data element follows the demining procedure: it consists of a General survey ID, a Task ID, an Inspection ID and a Clearance ID. After the general survey is done, some areas are declared as risk areas and the project is prepared for demining. Upon receipt of the budget, a task is created and demining begins. Upon completion, a clearance certificate is issued. Meanwhile, there are demining quality control inspections.

Identifiers for certain aspects of mine action in some countries are rapidly growing, i.e. they require more digits. This problem is obvious in Bosnia. When using a linear incremental identifier for certain aspects of mine action, it gets higher with each record added. For example, there are about 4,000 records of general survey in Bosnia. In a few years it will reach 10,000 and five-digit identifiers will be necessary. Furthermore, keeping in mind financial resources and demining dynamics, as well as survey activities, one can expect a reduction of the area for each survey activity, which will also increase the number of records.

Consequences

UIDMA will need one more digit (maybe two) that will change the identifier. At an international level (information interchange and reference), this would cause confusion because all countries would have to change their UIDMA. Solutions would include:

Benefits

The following are benefits to developing a new model of the UIDMA:

Potential Difficulties in Solution Implementation

Though changing the identifier presents a “non-elegant” solution to retroactive “spending” of IDs, it is imposed as the only possible solution. On the other hand, the benefits are great and difficulties would be temporary.

Purpose of UIDMA

Elements that define the purpose of UIDMA include:

UIDMA Description

UIDMA composition would include:

Components of UIDMA

As mentioned, UIDMA consists of two major parts: geo-reference and mine action data. Geo-reference follows the political constitution of the country hierarchically, i.e., from the highest level (nation or region) to the lowest level (municipality). The mine action data part of UIDMA follows the chronology of mine action: from survey through risk area, project, task and inspection to the clearance certificate issuance. Roughly, UIDMA is composed as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: UIDMA Composition.

With decentralized entry, it is possible that two separate offices can enter the same data. Due to the nature of operational requirements (e.g., urgent demining), sometimes surveyors from one regional office area of responsibility (AOR) perform activities in an adjacent AOR. Thus, it is possible that an activity of another regional office in the same AOR (and municipality) gets the same ID. For this reason it is necessary to include the ID of the office of data entry in UIDMA. Possible use of UIDMA in countries with centralized data entry would not need ID of the office of data entry.1 The longest possible UIDMA (18 digits) would look like this: 462091263039430419 (numerical) or 4.6.2.09.12.6.3.0394.3.04.19 (decimal).

The point is that the Mine Action Data part of UIDMA is based on the chronology of mine action, from the general survey and declaring the risk area, through project definition, task creation, demining (along with quality control) to issuing the certificate. When the whole procedure is completed, it makes sense for UIDMA to be 20 digits long. However, when it is still a project (without task created, quality control carried out and certificate issued), the rest of UIDMA is not necessary (task ID, inspection ID) since it consists of zeros. This is not to mention minefield or accident data, which does not involve (not directly, in regards to UIDMA) survey, task, inspection or clearance.

So how do we determine whether a certain part of UIDMA is a task in one case, and a project (or survey) in another case? The solution is outlined in Table 2. The value of the status shows the grade of an item identified by UIDMA—it is still a project, ongoing task, inspection or finished task. Alternatively, it could also be a no risk-area. In that case, no other parts of UIDMA are necessary.

Table 2: Reference table of statuses.

Thus, it is not necessary for task, clearance and inspections to get separate IDs; they are defined by the survey ID as a primary identifier within the mine action data part of UIDMA. Activities that follow a survey (risk area, project, task, inspection and clearance) are defined by item No. 7 in Table 3 (information type). Item No. 9 in Table 3 (Status) shows the degree of activity at the mine action scale of UIDMA.

Table 3: Example of UIDMA, with whole procedure completed.

Possibilities of Future Use/Implementation

The UIDMA system (with some modifications) could be used in the mine action community worldwide. However, two issues must not be overlooked. First, if (in a certain country) data entry is centralized, data on decentralization of data entry is not included. However, the country ID shows that data entry is decentralized. If data entry is decentralized, the ID of the office of data entry is not necessary. Table 4 shows whether data entry, within a specific country, was centralized or not.

Table 4: Reference table of (de)centralized entry.

Second, for cases (or countries) where not all activities are carried out (in the beginning of demining in BiH, there was no survey or task, only clearance; task procedures were introduced in 1998, and general surveys even later), country ID is a good enough qualifier for one to know that the first ID within UIDMA (after geo-reference) is clearance, but not survey (if that country carries out clearance only, but not survey and task). Table 5, showing mine action carried out by countries, should be used in order to determine whether a certain country carried out the whole procedure (survey, risk area, project, task, inspection and clearance), or just some parts of it (e.g., task without survey or clearance without task).

Table 5: Reference table of activities carried out by country.

Final Remarks

Adding and updating the items in the reference tables cannot be avoided, as mine action is a dynamic process that is continuously improved. For the sake of data integrity, any new item in the reference tables must be added at the end of the table, with an incremental ID. Changing existing items is not recommended, but can it be done simultaneously, in order to preserve classification system integrity? Optionally, the ID of a demining agency and its type, as demonstrated in Tables 6 and 7, could be added to the structure of UIDMA.

Table 6: Reference table of demining agency types.

 

Table 7: Reference table of demining agencies by type.

In the future the need for making reference tables of demining agencies at a global level, used by all members in the demining community, could be discussed in more depth.

Endnotes

  1. All reference tables are just examples and are a product of fiction. They do not represent any activity from real life, neither by structure, nor by content.

Contact Information

Almir Budalica
BHMAC
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tel: + 387 33 20 12 99
Fax: + 387 33 66 73 11
E-mail: al_capo@yahoo.com