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 Thursday, 17 March 2011

When it comes to disaster management, there are quite a few aid organizations around the world who arrive quickly to the spot to help with whatever help required starting from food, to medicines and even ICT.

But Japan’s worst earthquake in decades that is leading to a nuclear crisis as well has raised a peculiar problem. How do international agencies reach with aid, particularly technology aid, when a disaster has the potential to endanger the lives of the helpers who are not locals?

In Japan for instance, Télécoms San Frontières
(TSF) -- or Telecom Without Borders -- the France-based NGO that specializes in setting up emergency telecommunications in disaster hit areas around the world, was one of the first international aid agencies to reach Japan for setting up an emergency telecommunication network in the affected areas.

But when Japan’s beleaguered nuclear power plants started spewing out nuclear radiation, TSF had to hastily retreat. According to TSF, concerned by the threat its staff faced due to the radiation hazard, TSF was forced to pull out yesterday; with bag, equipments and baggage, so to speak.

One organization that was able to tackle this eventuality smartly was UN’s
International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  ITU too dispatched its emergency telecommunications equipment to areas severely affected by the tsunami within 24 hours of Friday’s devastating earthquake.

But instead of sending its own people, it sent its equipment with detailed and lucidly composed instruction manuals so that the
local agencies operating on spot could deploy them easily.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, 17 March 2011 11:35:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 02 November 2010

Satellite broadband terminals deployed following tsunami and volcanic eruption

Geneva, 1 November 2010 - ITU has deployed a hybrid of 40 broadband satellite terminals in an effort to restore vital communication links in the aftermath of a tsunami triggered by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake and a volcanic eruption that hit the Indonesian archipelago in two separate incidents.

As aid and rescue workers battle rough weather and difficult terrain to reach tsunami victims in the remote Mentawi islands off Sumatra, Mount Merapi continues to spew super-heated gas and debris on villages in Central Java. The natural disasters have wreaked havoc, causing untold death and destruction in their wake.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré expressed his solidarity with the people of Indonesia and offered his condolences to the bereaved victims of the disaster. “The loss of life and destruction of property as a result of two natural disasters is a matter of deep concern and I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims and to the people of Indonesia,” Dr Touré said. “ITU will do its utmost to provide assistance to people in the disaster-affected areas by re-establishing telecommunication links which will be vital in the rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the days ahead.”

Click here to read more..

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 10:12:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pakistan is flooding. People are dying and being displaced. Food aid distribution is lagging.
But can they make phone calls?

An unusual question, perhaps. But a crucial one, nonetheless.

You see, the United Nations has a division -- the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) -- that is responsible for rushing into disaster zones to help resurrect vital telecom infrastructure that has been destroyed. Why is that important?

We're not talking about allowing people to engage in idle gossip at steep monthly rates.

We're talking about cellphone towers losing electricity or falling into crevices, about shifting tectonic plates rupturing fixed-line phone service, about rooftop antennas in crowded urban areas collapsing into rubble, about flood waters shutting down power generators to various parts of a mobile network.

Without any of this, government agencies can't distribute all the aid your donations have provided, can't co-ordinate with humanitarian agencies to figure out where the need for medical services is the greatest and can't, in short, respond to the crisis properly.

For citizens, it's even more frightening. During the Haiti earthquake, as with many disasters, family members didn't know whether their loved ones were alive. People were texting SOS messages from beneath the rubble -- and having their text messages join a long queue created by the strained wireless networks (a data backlog situation that also happened, if you recall, when Sidney Crosby scored his momentous goal for Team Canada). That's why there's other groups, as well, such as Télécoms Sans Frontières.

For more in this article please go to:

Wednesday, 25 August 2010 16:03:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 04 February 2010

3 February 2010 – Three weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations’ oldest agency, is still trying to re-establish reliable telephone and internet connections in the country, but also has long-term plans to help build state-of-the-art telecommunication networks there.

“We are working with the Haitian Government and operators to put in place telecommunication infrastructure that could be used for efficient and effective disaster management and for the general socio-economic development of the country,” Cosmas Zavazava, Chief of Emergency Telecommunications at the ITU, told the UN News Centre.

“Our aim is to help Haiti mobilize and deploy different kinds of technologies to mitigate the impacts of disasters. Reliable telecommunication systems can be complemented with remote sensing and GIS [geographic information systems] technology. In disaster management, a hybrid of these technologies is important,” Mr. Zavazava added.

For more information, go to UN News Centre at:


Thursday, 04 February 2010 16:04:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 14 January 2010

Phone lines and cell phone towers are among the casualties in Port-au-Prince, after the worst earthquake in the region in 200 years. The International Telecommunication Union, the ITU, has announced that it is deploying equipment and experts to establish emergency telecommunications services in the affected areas. Bissera Kostova spoke to ITU's Chief of Emergency Telecommunications, Cosmas Zavazava, about the operation.

Zavazava: ITU, as the specialized agency of the United Nations in providing information and communications technologies has allocated a budget of slightly over one million US dollars for purposes of deploying telecommunications resources by way of satellite based solutions, which are capable of providing voice communications and high speed data, which can be used, of course, for telemedicine facilities to help the injured and those who are maimed.

For more information, go to UN Radio news at:

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:16:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |