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 Thursday, 17 April 2008

Telecommunications to save lives when disasters strike

Geneva, 13 December 2007 — The Global Forum on ‘Effective Use of Telecommunications/ICT for Disaster Management: Saving Lives’ closed yesterday, having launched two important initiatives, the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies and the ITU Network of Volunteers for Emergency Telecommunications. Two new publications on emergency telecommunications were also issued.

The ITU Secretary-General also established a High-Level Panel for Emergency Telecommunications consisting of Mr Eui Koh, Mr Jay Naidoo, and Mr Olof Lundberg.

Several partnerships forged with industry were also announced. These partnerships bring to ITU both equipment and funds to be used to finance telecommunications/ICT solutions in all phases of disaster management, including early-warning and response.

The Global Forum was held in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2007.

The Forum attracted representatives of 174 governments, some at Ministerial level; 18 international organizations; 18 private sector entities including some CEOs; and 53 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Participants gathered to map out concrete strategies and adopt practical measures aimed at giving telecommunications/ICT a central role in all phases of disaster management early warning, preparedness, relief and response, and rehabilitation of telecommunication networks.

"We have seen through first-hand experience the power and potential of telecommunications to save lives in times of disaster," noted Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. "I was pleased to meet so many dedicated men and women during this Forum who are united in the common belief that much more can and must be done."

The Forum discussed policy, regulation, technology, finance and deployment of last-mile, multi-hazard communications systems. The Forum comprised plenary sessions, panel discussions, a ministerial round table, a private sector CEO round table, a workshop on remote sensing, thematic sessions, and an exhibition of telecommunication/ICT state-of-the-art solutions, including technologies for remote sensing.

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