Individual Contractor – Artificial Intelligence and Mapping

  • Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 14/08/2023
Full time Data Science Data Analytics Artificial Intelligence Software Engineering DevOps

Job Description

Duration of the contract
6 months (with possibility of renewal)
Deadline for submission of applications
31 August 2023
Organizational Unit
United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) Programme Unit
Number of job positions
Area of Specialization/Thematic Areas:

Artificial Intelligence and Mapping


The United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) is a technology-intensive programme active since 2001 in applied research and innovative applications relating to geospatial information technology and satellite analysis.

UNOSAT is currently expanding its operational support services and training offer with particular focus on the implementation of artificial intelligence applications and services for disaster response, humanitarian and human security support, and climate services. UNOSAT services encompass a series of operational activities spread across different application domains including natural disasters, conflict, integrated water management, hydrological/hydrogeological modelling applications, early warning systems, satellite-based flood mapping services and capacity development activities.

General Objectives of the Contract:

The main objective is to support UNOSAT in developing AI methods, algorithms, code, and documentation on mapping natural disasters and supporting humanitarian and human security by using satellite imagery in support of the international humanitarian community and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A secondary objective is coordinating UNOSATs role within a broader community working on these issues and assessing progress across the field.


The contractor will support UNOSAT in applying AI methods to satellite imagery for disaster response and SDG promotion by:

  • Exploration and implementation of machine learning for satellite derived flood analysis, building footprints, and possibly change detection using optical and radar satellite imagery.
  • Participation in and documentation of UNOSAT AI efforts on refugee settlement mapping, flood mapping, vegetation mapping, damage assessment, building footprint delineation, simulated imagery, and other topics.
  • Development of training data repositories.
  • Coordinate and support UNOSAT relationships on artificial intelligence with external partners.
  • Assess artificial intelligence and machine learning models within the UNOSAT areas of interest.
Measurable outputs/deliverables/schedule of deliverables:
  • Written summaries and documentation of ongoing UNOSAT efforts on artificial intelligence development, resources, and methodologies for use;
  • Artificial intelligence models explored, developed, assessed, and deployed;
  • Training data repository;
  • Briefings to UNOSAT management and staff on AI and satellite imagery, and related issues as needed.
Performance Indicators for evaluation of results:
  • Uptime of flood mapping algorithms to support the Disaster Mapping Team during activations;
  • Algorithms and analytical workflows for flood analysis, building footprints, and possibly change detection tested, validated and ready to use during certain rapid mapping activations, either utilizing UNOSAT AI resources or external resources;
  • Timely delivery of proofreading technical documentation and reports according to schedule and deadlines;
  • Partnerships developed and funding opportunities identified.
  • Professionalism: Knowledge and understanding of UN system. Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations.
  • Planning & Organizing: Is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Based on the supervision received, develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments with minimal supervision; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary in a coordinated manner; uses time efficiently.
  • Commitment to continuous learning: Keeps abreast of new developments in own occupation/profession; actively seeks to develop oneself professionally and personally; contributes to the learning of colleagues and subordinates; shows willingness to learn from others; seeks feedback to learn and improve.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; very good inter-personal skills and a demonstrated capacity to deal with colleagues and counterparts from different backgrounds, and proven ability to function in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnical environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Technology awareness: Keeps abreast of available technology; understands applicability and limitation of technology to the work of the office; actively seeks to apply technology to appropriate tasks; shows willingness to learn new technology.
  • Communication: Excellent communication skills (spoken, written and presentation), including the ability to draft/edit a variety of written documents, such as technical and scientific papers, reports, studies, and other communication materials, articulating ideas in a clear and concise style; ability to prepare and deliver targeted and results-oriented presentations; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed; strong interpersonal and communication skills including facilitation skills in training related activities.
  • Integrity: Demonstrates the values of the United Nations in daily activities and behaviours.
  • Accountability: Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honours commitments. Delivers outputs for which one has responsibility within prescribed time, cost and quality standards. Operates in compliance with organizational regulations and rules. Supports subordinates, provides oversight and takes responsibility for delegated assignments. Takes personal responsibility for his/her own shortcomings and those of the work unit, where applicable.
Reporting structure:

The incumbent reports to the Specialist in charge of the Human Security and Human Rights section and works and liaises with other relevant project partners and UNOSAT staff as required.

Minimum requirements

Education: Strong educational background, preferably a master's or PhD in Computer Science, Statistics, Data Science, or a related field.

Work Experience: Entry level and up to 3 years of progressive experience in developing, evaluating and deploying machine learning models for computer vision use cases.

Technical skills and competencies:

  • Excellent technological skills, experience dealing with a variety of geospatial data formats, advanced Python coding skills with knowledge of some cloud platforms
  • Result-oriented, proactive, self-motivated and “hands-on” with the ability to prioritize work and multitask;
  • Excellent communication with an ability to convey complex ideas in a creative, clear, direct and lively style;
  • Able to work both independently and collaboratively.

Languages: Fluency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language would be an advantage. Good level of French is desirable.


General conditions of contracts for the service of individual contractors apply. Incumbents are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local laws. UNITAR does not reimburse for any taxes, duty, or other contribution payable by the Contractors on payments made under the contract.

The Institute does not provide or arrange life or health insurance coverage for Contractors, and Contractors are not eligible to participate in the life and health insurance schemes provided by the UN for its staff members.

This is a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply. The successful candidate will be employed under a local contract and will not hold international civil servant status nor is he/she a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.

The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. (Charter of the United Nations - Chapter 3, article 8).

How to apply

Please submit your application along with a motivation letter as soon as possible after the vacancy has been posted and well before the deadline stated in the vacancy announcement. Due to the high number of expected applications, UNITAR will only contact the shortlisted applicants.