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Emergency Telecommunications

​Telecommunications to saves lives:  From disaster mitigation to relief and response ​

Extreme weather events, earthquakes, tsunamis, as well as pandemics and other natural and human made related hazards continue posing challenges to countries and communities. ICTs have an important role in disaster risk reduction and management: They allow us to monitor the environment, help to anticipate, mitigate and to prepare for hazards so that they do not lead to disasters. And when disasters strike, ICTs ensure the timely flow of vital information.


In order to mitigate the impact of disasters, timely dissemination of authoritative information before, during, and after disasters is critical. ITU’s activities in the field of radiocommunications make invaluable contribution to disaster management as they facilitate the prediction, detection, and alerting through the coordinated and effective use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the establishment of radio standards and guidelines concerning the usage of radiocommunication systems.

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ITU’s telecommunication technical standards also play a strategic role in ensuring global interconnection and interoperability of telecommunications networks for monitoring and management at the onset and during emergency and disaster situations. A number of Recommendations have been developed for call priority schemes that ensure that relief workers can get communication lines when they need to, whether using traditional or next generation communications networks. Complementary to the need to provide call priority during emergencies is the ability to deliver warnings to users, and standards are fundamental to ensure that warnings are timely delivered uncorrupted from the source to the end users – no matter how they can be reached.

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Emergency telecommunications are an important part of the BDT's development agenda, and one of its ten thematic priorities. It helps countries in limiting risks and building disaster resilience in a number of ways.

Better policies and plans for preparedness: Effective disaster management not only depends on having in place resilient telecommunications infrastructure and services but also national strategies and plans that ensure effective and timely information sharing across all levels of government, within affected communities and among public and private organizations. Timely and effective information flow is important for decision making, for early warning and alerting and for the effective coordination and articulation of response efforts within all stakeholders working in disaster management, from first responders to senior officials.  The BDT Guidelines for Developing National Emergency Telecommunication Plans assist policy makers and national regulatory authorities to develop a clear and flexible National Emergency Telecommunications Plan (NETP) with a multi-stakeholder approach. This includes national policies and procedures as well as a governance framework to support and enable the continued use of reliable and resilient ICT networks, services and platforms for disaster management and risk reduction. As part of its work on emergency telecommunications and disaster relief, BDT is also responsible for tracking ITU's Strategic Plan Target 3.5: "By 2023 all countries should have a National Emergency Telecommunication Plan as part of their national and local disaster risk reduction strategies".

Disaster response: In the immediate aftermath of disasters, ITU deploys temporary telecommunications/ICT solutions to assist countries in restoring vital telecommunication links needed for coordinating response efforts. After providing assistance for disaster relief and response, ITU undertakes assessment missions to affected countries to assess ICT infrastructure damages and help in the restoration of networks and services based on the principle of building back better. 

Visit the BDT's website for more information on its work on emergency telecommunications, including multi-hazard early warning systems, capacity-building and trainings, the disaster connectivity map and more.