As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, we have seen many high-profile events (AGU Fall Meeting in December will be online everywhere and remain the global convening meeting for the Earth and space sciences community) shift from in-person to virtual gatherings. Training programs, conferences, conventions and meetings have been cancelled or postponed. Virtually some employees (and indeed, entire organizations) are working from home. The trouble is, many have no existing structure or processes for remote collaboration.
Group photo of the workplan meeting held in July 2018
The RCMRD/SERVIR-E&SA Project management team and project staff used this method this week July 13, 2020 to July 17, 2020 to review the current and upcoming work plan and performance targets for the period 2020-2021. The virtual collaboration entailed each thematic section and the cross cutting sections to discuss their current work plans, indicating the progress and what is to be achieved before the close of the financial year. At the start of the online session, SERVIR Project Manager Dr. Robinson Mugo noted said online meetings might lack many of the benefits of an in-person meeting: face-to-face networking; fresh perspectives that can come from simply leaving one’s home ground and even conversations over lunch or dinner; but he asked the team to appreciate the new 'normal'of meetings moving online — a trend likely to continue even after the pandemic fades. Joining the SERVIR-E&SA/RCMRD team during virtual meeting was was Emily Adams the Eastern and Southern Africa Science Coordination Lead from the NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office.
SERVIR - E&SA operates under four thematic areas: Agriculture and Food Security; Weather and Climate, Land Use Land Cover and Ecosystems and Water and Hydroclimatic Disasters. The four are supported by Geo Information Technologies (GIT), Monitoring and Evaluation, Grants, Communications and Outreach and Vapacity Building units. While nothing can quite replace the unique benefits of face-to-face gatherings, virtual events — if thoughtfully done — can accomplish surprisingly powerful results and that was the experience with the SERVIR-E&SA as they discussed the five year journey of this phase that closes on September 30, 2020 and look forward to a new phase that commences on October 1, 2020 until September 30, 2025.