Emergency Call contd...

Operational synergy
During a catastrophe, individual and governmental organisations team up with local and satellite operators to carry out disaster relief measures. “Normally, agencies from the local governments are involved in crisis management,” says Baca, citing Haiti as an example, “In the case of Haiti, we initially interacted with the local operators, then we started to provide ISP services on our own until the local operator was able to sustain capacity and quality of services needed.

“We are not interfering with the local market here. When we have a sustained service within a given country, we have a local operator who gives fibre optics to our operations, and hence, we are buying from them,” he adds.

Ebrahim adds that Thuraya connects its satellite networks to national emergency centres and field activities in the disaster struck areas during relief activities, location identification and operational planning. “The coordination between emergency centres involves the exchange of disaster assessment information via these satellite broadband services such as Thuraya’s IP data solution. “For communication between field and national emergency centres, voice solutions are also used such as Thuraya’s rugged handhelds to provide GPS way point navigation which is essential for location services during relief operations,” he adds.

Africa update
Ongoing crisis and unrest have increased the need for humanitarian efforts in Africa. Baca says that WFP has resources on the ground in areas prone to emergencies with assistance from Dubai-based group, Fast IT and Telecoms Emergency and Support Team (FITTEST).

He says that in North Africa, there are many cases of large groups of people displaced from their homes, with no access to food or shelter. “In this case, we have to go there with our logistics arm and distribute food for the beneficiaries, and before landing there you need to deploy all telecom services that provide not only security for people to track them on ground, but also to give operational tools in order to keep the supply chain active, because they need access to their systems and databases located far away. We have a mandate to be at a place, up and running, in no more than 48 hours,” Baca says.

“WFP is always ready to manage three major concurrent emergencies. There are issues happening in Libya which has a spiraling effect on the borders of Tunisia and Egypt. There are ongoing crises in Cote d’lovire and Chad,” says Baca. In Africa alone, he says that WFP has its hands full supporting emergencies.

Baca says: “Libya is very high in our priorities right now. With no less than 400,000 people moving across the borders, both in Egypt and Tunisia, we are already supporting not only WFP operations, but also the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that is active in Libya.” He said that WFP already has a proposition to place food, IT, and telecom equipment in the borders of Libya. “Once permission is granted, we’ll place them in the borders,” he adds.

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