About Disaster Preparedness
Communications has always been a critical component of any response to disasters. As technology has improved, the nature of that communications has expanded greatly, and new applications that save lives are continuously being developed to take advantage of the communications infrastructure. The speed in which ICT systems can be made available is a direct contributor to the saving of lives.
However, a persistent challenge that has severely inhibited the public and private sectors’ efforts concerns the need for “pre-positioning” of ICT solutions that are local to the disaster zone and that can be quickly used to support a disaster-response effort. The cost of creating and maintaining global warehouses of pre-positioned ICT equipment is too high for humanitarian organizations. Further, how to link those same pre-positioned systems so that they can not only be used for disaster response, but also to be re-purposed after the disaster-relief effort to achieve medium and long-term development objectives has not been realized at a satisfactory level.
In response to this unmet need, GVF is facilitating organisations’ and agencies’ efforts to address disasters through pre-emptive identification of satellite communications assets in every major region of the world. GVF Member companies either own or support most of the world’s satellite infrastructure; as such, they represent an invaluable asset base for disaster preparedness, response and medium and long-term development. A searchable Disaster Preparedness Registry of trained VSAT installers and satellite system & service providers has been established by GVF and is being made available on a complimentary basis, so that fixed and mobile satellite-based resources can be more rapidly identified to serve an affected region. (Disaster Preparedness Registry.)
Here’s how it works: When a disaster strikes, first responders in need of qualified local VSAT installation support may search the GVF VSAT Installer Database, which includes more than 1,000 technicians located in every major region of the world. The database is searchable, and contact details are provided for each installer. GVF’s Certified Installers have been notified in advance that, in the event of a disaster, they may be contacted by first responders through the GVF Disaster Preparedness Registry. If GVF Installers are able to provide assistance, their work will be conducted on whatever terms are mutually agreed with the first-responder organisation. GVF Installers represent a vital local asset that has already proven effective for disaster response.
Satellite systems and service are also often required in the response of a disaster, and it can be costly in terms of outright expense, logistical resources and as well as taking up valuable transport capacity from other emergency resources. The Registry is comprised of GVF-member companies who have implemented procedures to ensure a rapid response to enquiries and provisioning of their services to response organizations. Those in need may search the GVF Disaster Preparedness Registry for companies which have committed to being available to support the response with systems and/or services in the disaster zone, including making available resources already located in the affected area that may be in service on their network or on a customer’s network as a way to reduce the time required to establish communications. Where local resources are not readily available, some may offer to respond quickly with equipment from their warehouses or depots. If GVF Member Companies are able to provide systems or services, their work will also be conducted on whatever terms are mutually agreed with the first-responder organisation.
Using the resources from the GVF Disaster Preparedness Registry, GVF will usually also attempt to actively support disaster response efforts by trying to reduce redundancy of efforts and by opening up regulatory restrictions on the use of ICT systems by lifesaving response organizations.
In addition to GVF Member companies and GVF Installers, other humanitarian, aid and disaster response stakeholders are working in collaboration with the Disaster Preparedness Registry, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), NetHope, Global Partners United, the US Agency for International Development, the African Union, and other leading groups. For more information, download a whitepaper on the Disaster Preparedness Registry or contact GVF’s Chair, Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response Programs, Steve Birnbaum.
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