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  Home : ITU-R : Information : Emergency Radiocommunications
Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R)  
Emergency Radiocommunications

Photo credits: American Red Cross, L. Ignelzi, INMARSAT, ITU.

Telecommunication is critical at all phases of disaster management. Aspects of radiocommunication services associated with disasters include, inter alia, disaster prediction, detection, alerting and relief. In certain cases, when the "wired" telecommunication infrastructure is significantly or completely destroyed by a disaster, only radiocommunication services can be employed for disaster relief operation.

Two major tasks of the ITU-R - ensuring the effective use of the radio-frequency spectrum and studies concerning development of radiocommunication systems - concern all radicommunication services. Moreover, the Radiocommunication Study Groups carry out studies related to the continuing development of radiocommunication systems used in disaster mitigation/relief operations and these can be found within work programmes of the Radiocommunication Study Groups.

Major radiocommunication
services involved
Major tasks of
radiocommunication services
Studies carried out by
Prediction & Detection
  • Meteorological services (meteorological aids and meteorological-satellite service)
  • Earth exploration-satellite service
Weather and climate prediction. Detection and tracking of earthquakes, tsunamis hurricanes, typhoons, forest fires, oil leaks etc. Providing warning information Study Group 7

  • Amateur services
Receiving and distributing alert messages Study Group 5
  • Broadcasting services terrestrial and satellite (radio, television, etc.)
Disseminating alert messages and advice to large sections of the public Study Group 6
  • Fixed services terrestrial and satellite
Delivering alert messages and instructions to telecommunication centres for further dissemination to public Study Group 5
Study Group 4
  • Mobile services (land, satellite, maritime services, etc.)
Distributing alert messages and advice to individuals Study Group 5
Study Group 4

  • Amateur services
Assisting in organizing relief operations in areas (especially when other services are still not operational) Study Group 5
  • Broadcasting services terrestrial and satellite (radio, television, etc.)
Coordination of relief activities by disseminating information from relief planning teams to population Study Group 6
  • Earth exploration-satellite service
Assessment of damage and providing information for planning relief activities Study Group 7
  • Fixed services terrestrial and satellite
Exchange of information between different teams/groups for planning and coordination relief activities Study Group 5
Study Group 4
  • Mobile services (land, satellite, maritime services, etc.)
Exchange of information between individuals and/or groups of people involved in relief activities Study Group 5
Study Group 4

ITU-R is also invited to pursue studies on the further identification of suitable frequency bands that could be used on a global/regional basis for public protection and disaster relief (PPDR), as well as on facilitating cross-border circulation of equipment intended for use in emergency and disaster relief situations - the second of these tasks being reinforced by the Tampere Convention on the provision of telecommunication resources for disaster mitigation and relief operations.

Recognizing that the immediate availability of pre-identified and pre-coordinated frequencies, and/or spectrum are important for the successful use of radiocommunications in the very early stages of humanitarian assistance intervention for disaster relief will save many lives, WRC-07 adopted Resolution 647 (WRC-07). This Resolution requests the BR Director "to assist Member States with their emergency communication preparedness activities by establishing a database of currently available frequencies for use in emergency situations, which are not limited to those listed in Resolution 646 (WRC-03)".

Impetus for the work also comes from several Resolutions of World Radiocommunication Conferences (Resolution 644 (Rev. WRC-07) , Resolution 673 (WRC-07) requesting ITU-R to study aspects of radiocommunications relevant to disaster mitigation and relief operations and studies on possible means to improve recognition of the essential role and global importance of Earth observation applications.

The Radiocommunication Assembly 2007 (RA-07) approved Resolutions ITU-R 53 and ITU-R 55 instructing all ITU-R Study Groups to carry out studies on the use of radiocommunications in disaster prediction, detection, mitigation and relief.

Relevant Web pages



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Updated : 2013-05-29