The rapid deployment of engineers by international and national telecommunications companies to hard-hit areas of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates the private sector’s increasingly vital role in relief efforts. With more mobile phone subscriptions than people in the Philippines (107 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people), and industry estimates of at least one billion text messages sent daily, analysts say the telecommunications industry is not only able to re-connect the estimated 3.8 million displaced people with their families, but is also an ideal vehicle for raising relief funds. Telecommunications play a critical role in disaster preparedness and response by disseminating early warning messages, tracing survivors and providing vital aid information, said Kyla Reid, the head of disaster response at the London-headquartered Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a trade organization representing more than 800 mobile network operators worldwide. Within 72 hours after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) hit the central Philippines on 8 November, international mobile companies Vodafone and Ericsson deployed teams equipped with emergency kits to help local providers get the network running again: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99234/telecom-led-relief-in-the-philippines
No longer content to import technology, Africans are using cellphones to spur indigenous innovation. Tired of hearing friends in Accra, Ghana, fret over the specter of home invasions, Herman Chinery-Hesse launched a text-messaging security service earlier this year that both addresses the problem of poor police response to property crimes and takes advantage of tight-knit neighborhoods. More at http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/africans-dial-up-innovation
Dr Patrick Meier's presentation on the future of humanitarian response given at the UN's Global Humanitarian Policy Forum in New York, December 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWvVglGwEVk#t=21
In this talk, Patrick notes that local communities will increasingly become tech-enabled first responders, thus taking pressure off the international humanitarian system. These tech savvy local communities already exit. And they already respond to both “natural” (and man-made) disasters vis-a-vis the information products produced by tech-savvy local Filipino groups. The rise of tech-enabled self-help should be noted by traditional humanitarian groups that humanitarian response in 2025 will continue to happen with or without them; and perhaps increasingly without them.
Speakers at the launching of World Disasters Report 2013 highlighted the use of technology in increasing resilience of disaster-prone communities. The World Disasters Report was jointly launched by Pakistan Red Crescent Society and (PRCS) International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) here on Tuesday December 10, 2013. Addressing at the occasion, member of the PRCS managing body Mian Muhammad Javed, who was the chief guest, said the report has served to remind us of the vital role technology plays in so many aspects of humanitarian work. PRCS supports the notion that the government and other humanitarian agencies must fully commit to and invest in developing the tools, policies and strategies to improve dialogue with disaster-affected communities; however, such humanitarian technology and use of information must remain ethical and focused on principles of humanity and humanitarian imperative:
It is now 33 days since typhoon Haiyan hit landfall, causing widespread devastation across the Philippines. On the 12th of November, five days after the event, the UN launched an appeal requesting US$301 million in response to the emergency. Initial requirements were revised up to US$348 two weeks later, but yesterday further revisions include requirements totalling US$791 million. The increase in requirements reflects the evolving needs of the people and communities affected by the disaster. The typhoon is reported to have claimed the lives of 5,759 people and to have affected 15 million, with approximately 4 million people remaining displaced: