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Innovation for Emergency Connectivity

Innovation for Emergency Connectivity

Side Event at the 7th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum 2022)

Organizers: ITU, UN Innovation Network, Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology
Date: 4 May 2022, 10.30 - 11.30 am (EDT) / 4.30 – 5.30 pm (CEST)
Format: Virtual panel discussion and thematic short breakout sessions
Digital technologies are recognized as one of the key enablers for the achievement of SDGs, allowing for more equitable access to education, public services, and healthcare, among others. However, this cannot happen without digital connectivity. Yet, despite the meteoric growth of broadband connectivity, 2.9 billion people have never connected to the Internet and most of them are in developing countries.
The gap is especially persistent for the most vulnerable populations and people who are highly prone to connectivity disruptions due to disasters, emergencies, or crisis situations. In that respect, innovative solutions for universal connectivity and fast emergency connectivity response when disasters/crises strike (such as rapidly providing satellite telephones, terminals and other equipment), are crucial.

I-CoDI. Innovating for Connectivity – Do Things Differently and Join I-CoDI

About the Session

What do countries need to deliver connectivity in times of disasters, emergency, and crisis?

The session brought together stakeholders representing different perspectives (UN organizations, tech and satellite companies, representatives of the national and local communities, and associations of the emergency telecommunication operators). The discussion centered around sustainable innovative solutions for connectivity for emergency response with an overall objective of evaluating the level of innovation in emergency connectivity, and did:
  • Highlight best practices of digital connectivity in an emergency.
  • Spotlight the importance of partnerships with the private sector in deploying and providing vital connectivity in emergency response situations, not only in terms of equipment but also how important the connectivity data sharing is for fast response.
  • Discuss lessons learned from deployment on the ground and what innovative technologies could emerge in the future.

Thematic breakout room discussions

Participants had a chance to dive deeper into specific topics during short interactive three breakout room sessions on:
  • Drones & connectivity for humanitarian response (World Food Programme)
  • Role of AI & data sharing for emergency connectivity (FG-AI4NDM)
  • Wi-Fi solutions for vulnerable populations (Jangala Big Box)

Opening remarks

  • Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary General UN DESA and Acting Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology
  • H.E. Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, New York


  • Kasia Jakimowicz, ITU International Centre of Digital Innovation (I-CoDI)
  • Catalin Marinescu, Head of Strategy and Planning, ITU Secretariat General
The discussion and knowledge exchange was further facilitated during breakout rooms by the ITU’s International Centre of Digital Innovation (I-CoDI). During the breakout room virtual sessions, participants were able to dive into a specific topic of interest.


Kasia Jakimowicz  

Kasia Jakimowicz

HQ Project Coordinator – ITU International Centre of Digital Innovation, I-CoDI
Catalin Marinescu  

Catalin Marinescu

Head, Strategy and Planning Division, ITU
H.E. Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid  

H.E. Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, New York
Arif Albayrak  

Arif Albayrak

Co-Chair of the Working Group on Data, ITU/WMO/UNEP Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence for Natural Disaster Management (FG-AI4NDM)
Gregory Domond  

Gregory Domond

Regulatory Representative, CONATEL, Haiti
Aarti Holla  

Jonathan Hofeller

Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales, SpaceX
Aarti Holla  

Aarti Holla-Maini

Secretary General, Global Satellite Operators Association ("GSOA")
Patrick McKay  

Patrick McKay

Data Operations Manager - Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), World Food Programme
Maria-Francesca Spotalisano  

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano

Assistant Secretary General UN DESA and Acting Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology
Rich Thanki  

Rich Thanki

Managing Director & Head of Technology, Jangala

About the STI Forum

The seventh annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum) was held from 5 to 6 May 2022, organized by the UN interagency task team on STI for the SDGs (IATT), convened by UN-DESA and UNCTAD, and the 10-Member Group of high-level representatives appointed by the Secretary General.
The theme of the STI Forum was Science, technology, and innovation for building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This closely aligned with that of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to be held in July 2022, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The HLPF in 2022 will review in-depth Sustainable Development Goals 4 on quality education, 5 on gender equality, 14 on life below water, 15 on life on land, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals. The STI Forum will take an exclusive focus on the role and contributions of science, technology and innovation to these SDGs.

About the UN Innovation Network

The UN Innovation Network (UNIN) is an informal, collaborative community of UN innovators interested in sharing their expertise and experience with others to promote and advance innovation within the UN System. UNIN is open to innovators from all UN Entities as well as external partners and to date, 3,000 colleagues from 70+ UN Entities in over 140 countries have joined the Network.

About the Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology

The Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology coordinates the implementation of the Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation and will advance work towards the Global Digital Compact proposed in the Common Agenda, in close consultation with Member States, the technology industry, private companies, civil society, and other stakeholders.

About I-CoDI

ITU's International Centre of Digital Innovation (I-CoDI) aims to help countries and partners to advance connectivity and accelerate digital transformation via faster, more impactful and more cost-efficient interventions, bringing key stakeholders, regulators and policy makers together to experiment with new tools, processes and methods, explore new ideas, and effectively use technology to address connectivity challenges.
UN Innovation