NGO Emergency Response


When Katrina struck the gulf coast, emergency communications and data networks needed to be set up quickly and in a less than optimum environment. The Connection People Network Solutions (TCPNS) was asked to assist the National Guard after the disaster. TCPNS rapidly deployed satellite, radio and data networks in the wake of the country’s worst natural disaster.

TCPNS says they have handled some of the most challenging enterprise network and communications efforts of the decade, and can bring no-nonsense expertise to any Agency or company. Their Short Haul Early Entry Vehicle (SHEEV) links forward elements to higher headquarters with a satellite backhaul for voice and data communications.

TCPNS specializes in large Enterprise network design and integration consulting services. TCPNS installs, troubleshoots, manages, maintains, and documents all types of networks, regardless if it is a new install or a legacy network.

Another agency with a track record of success throughout the world is HumaniNet (right). Their Silicon Valley Sim Day will be held on September 19th, and demonstrate new technologies that can help relief teams to communicate and manage information in a crisis.

HumaniNet’s Sim Day features a simulated crisis communications center with satellite communications and wireless networks. It is sponsored by satphone provider Telenor as well as Inveneo which makes low-power computers, a new Web knowledge platform by Interplast and map-based OASIS situational awareness software.

Local, state and federal officials demoed a new service in Texas Thursday enabling police, firefighters and other emergency workers to communicate in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster. The Dallas Love Field Wireless Integration Project uses special software made by a Seattle-based CoCo Communications to let authorities from various departments and agencies talk to each other, even if they are using different technologies such as a two-way radio and a cell phone.

Laptops and PDAs loaded with CoCo’s software supports ad hoc mesh networking while providing a high level of security. With a CoCo Access Point connected to an Inmarsat M4 portable satellite uplink, emergency communications can be ensured even when all land-based infrastructure is destroyed during a disaster, says CoCo.

While satellites have been around for several decades, the most recent developments have been a series of newer satellites that provide native IP services at a substantially lower cost that has been possible in the past.

IPStar satellite services, off of several satellites out of Thailand (right) and Inmarsat’s BGAN deliver integrated voice and data.

Satellite service providers like Telenor Satellite Services deliver land, sea, and aeronautical solutions, using satellite platforms from Inmarsat, Intelsat, Iridium, New Skies, Satmex, Spacecom, Thuraya and others.

The key here is to: a) gain access for calls outside the local community, and b) gain access to VoIP switching that can be centralized…rather than every local community having to have its own VoIP switch.

USAID’s Last Mile Initiative (LMI) projects (pdf) in Mongolia and Vietnam are blazing the trail.

The Emergency Capacity Building Project has released of the final version of its Report on Information Technology and Requirements. This comprehensive five-part Report is the first in depth examination of information and technology issues for international NGOs in emergency response, the result of a six-month, inter-agency, multi-country assessment.

It analyses critical requirements for NGOs in emergency response, providing a snapshot of existing initiatives, examples of good practice and useful reference documents for practitioners.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .