GVF Online Events

Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response: The Evolving Role of Satellites in Disaster Response

Thursday, 5 November 2020

3:00 pm UK time / 10:00 am US Eastern time

The world has long looked to a range of varied communications solutions to support their connectivity agendas for the facilitation of socio-economic growth. Such solutions are also mission-critical for governments and their partnering organisations working in humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) environments requiring resilient communications to coordinate ‘first responder’ relief efforts and support supply logistics. One type of disaster receiving greater attention is that of a global pandemic as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst COVID-19 continues, other disasters do not stop. Recently, a “plague” of locusts has been consuming its way across eastern Africa, the Arabia peninsula, and south Asia; and Super-Cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in Bangladesh and north-eastern India. These disasters, in particular, have exacerbated both the instance and the effects of pandemic as infection takes hold in lower-income countries, affecting communities with weak health systems.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has not directly compromised or destroyed communications infrastructure, the pandemic has affected the world’s communications infrastructures. For the developed world, the pandemic has led to increased demand for telecommunications services which has required a greater role for satellite communications connectivity. For lower-income countries with far more vulnerabilities, the pandemic’s impact is much broader with delays in mass programmes of immunisation against diseases like measles and rubella being just one impact.

Whether a pandemic or an earthquake, first responders and the wider humanitarian community become the stuff of headlines during the tragic circumstances of a disaster and in such circumstances there is clear illustration that the quickly deployable capabilities of satellites – the technology, the applications, and the services – are at the mission-critical core in the organisation and delivery of humanitarian aid by the various agencies of the UN.

As important is the ability of satellite capacity to be deployed following a disaster, communications cannot be restored unless satellite communications terminals are operating on the ground to receive the signal from, and send the signal to, the satellite. These terminals come in myriad different forms designed for different purposes and applications and include handheld satellite terminals and transportable terminals that can be rapidly deployed to provide services such as ad hoc Wi-Fi zones that obviate the need for first responders to have direct terminal access to use satellite communications.

This webinar will explore the role of satellite communications in HADR along with the challenges and opportunities impacting the use of satellite communications.

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