Consultancy, Drones (UAVs/UAS/RPAs) Technical Specialist,11.5 months, New York, USA


Job no: 534666
Contract type: Consultancy
Level: Consultancy
Location: United States
Categories: Consultancy

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, innovate…

UNICEF has a 70-year history of innovating for children. We believe that new approaches, partnerships and technologies that support realizing children’s rights are critical to improving their lives

The Office of Innovation is a creative, interactive, and agile team in UNICEF. We sit at a unique intersection, where an organization that works on huge global issues meets the startup thinking, the technology, and the partners that turn this energy into scalable solutions.
UNICEF’s Office of Innovation creates opportunities for the world’s children by focusing on where new markets can meet their vital needs. We do this by:

  • Connecting youth communities (or more broadly — anyone disconnected or under-served) to decision-makers, and to each other, to deliver informed, relevant and sustained programmes that build better, stronger futures for children.
  • Provoking change for children through an entrepreneurial approach — in a traditionally risk-averse field — to harness rapidly moving innovations and apply them to serve the needs of all children.
  • Creating new models of partnership that leverage core business values across the public, private and academic sectors in order to deliver fast, and lasting results for children.

The Office of Innovation specifically looks to form partnerships around frontier technologies (like drones and UAVs, blockchain, 21st century skills, urban technologies, new banking tools, wearables and sensors, or 3D-Printing) that exist at the intersection of $100 billion business markets and 1 billion person needs – and to identify how they can grow and scale profitably and inclusively.

How can you make a difference?

In coming years drones will be fully incorporated into commercial airspace. Will we be ready? How can we use these emerging technologies to help children? UNICEF Innovation is looking at the future of drones (UAV/Ss, RPAs), for humanitarian response and development. Though they are a new technology, their potential use in imagery, connectivity and transport situations will be integral. Drones can be helpful, for example, in mudslides in humanitarian and refugee flooding situations, by bringing connectivity to disconnected areas and for transporting important medical supplies to hard-to-reach places.

UNICEF has identified drone technology and drone-based services as a means to strengthen and improve its work in global health and community resilience. The Office of Innovation is supporting the organization to better understand these opportunities, address key considerations on the use of drones, and craft a practical way forward for UNICEF to globally leverage this technology in protecting and advancing the rights of children.

UNICEF has established implementation hubs to test drones for humanitarian and development applications. These hubs provide new platforms for data collection, stakeholder engagement and youth capacity building:

1) In collaboration with the Government of Vanuatu, UNICEF supported the implementation of the first vaccine drone delivery network in the world. The drone companies have delivered vaccines, syringes and other medical and non-medical goods to different locations in the country.

2) In Malawi, UNICEF launched the first humanitarian drone testing corridor with the Government in 2017. Since then, several companies, universities and research centres from all over the world have participated in Malawi’s corridor to test their drone technologies and services. In January 2020, UNICEF launched the African Drone and Data Academy which is the first educational institution for African youth to get a free education on how to build, operate and maintain drones, and get certified in this area of technology.

3) In Kazakhstan, UNICEF supported the Government to implement and manage a drone corridor to test the use of drones in disaster preparedness and emergency response. Several Central Asian drone companies have tested their technology in this corridor for search and rescue operations, wildfire response and mountain mapping.

4) In Sierra Leone, UNICEF supported the launch of a humanitarian drone testing corridor with the objective to test the technology in the delivery of medical supplies to reduce the risk of maternal mortality for women in remote rural communities. Sierra Leone’s drone corridor explores the use of aerial drones for medical deliveries, emergency response activities, agroforestry and geospatial mapping.

Through the UNICEF Venture Fund, UNICEF has invested in six drone startups developing open source software and hardware solutions to support the use of UAS in humanitarian use cases. These seed investments to entrepreneurs will accelerate the development of digital public goods in the drone technology sector. These digital public goods can be either the design and blueprints to build low-cost and long-endurance drones for the delivery of medical supplies under an open-source license, or open-source algorithms to model precipitation and floods that help to better identify households at risk. Each investment within this cohort has the potential to improve efficiencies within UNICEF’s programmes, creating solutions that contribute to improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged children.

Your main responsibilities will be:

  1. Provide technical support to implement training programmes required to develop UNICEF regional and country offices’ capacity to use UAS, as a tool to improve service delivery for children.
  2. In coordination with the Global Drones Lead, supporting UNICEF’s Drones Working Group–composed of participants from UNICEF programs, offices and divisions; as well as with a global, regional and country representation–to integrate the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in delivery, imagery and connectivity use cases, where it makes more sense to support UNICEF’s mission.
  3. Provide technical support to the UNICEF ICTD and Office of Innovation as well as country-level drone-focused initiatives, including implementation and management of drone testing corridors, use of UAS to support programmatic work, integration of UAS into health supply chains for the delivery of medical supplies, among other UAS initiatives.
  4. In coordination with ICTD, the Globlal Drones Lead and the Office of Innovation team build and maintain partnerships with interagency entities, NGOs, private sector, among others, in relation to UAS use in development and humanitarian missions.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in engineering, physics, aeronautics, business administration or other relevant fields.

*A first University Degree in a relevant field combined with 2 additional years of professional experience may be accepted in lieu of an Advanced University Degree.

  • At least five years of relevant work experience with unmanned aerial technologies and experience with government relations (Civil Aviation Authorities, Telecommunication Authorities, Ministries of Health, Transport, Education, among others), project management, development and management of complex partnerships with stakeholders from different sectors.
  • Knowledge or experience of the commercial drone industry.
  • Knowledge or experience with UAS regulations and frameworks.
  • Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergency is considered an asset.
  • Fluency in English and French is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

The functional competencies required for this post are…

  • Applying technical expertise – 2
  • Analyzing – 2
  • Creating and Innovating – 2
  • Entrepreneurial thinking – 2

View our competency framework at

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.

Payment details and further considerations

  • Monthly payment, based on monthly tasks and progress reports, approved upon monthly review with supervisor.
  • Consultant is responsible for his/her own health and travel insurance
  • Consultant is eligible for standard DSA for all work-related travel


Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

Advertised: 24 Sep 2020 Eastern Daylight Time
Deadline: 08 Oct 2020 Eastern Daylight Time