Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation partner with Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) to help bring emergency mobile communications
Date: Wed, 03/02/2011 - 10:06
The Vodafone Foundation is deepening its partnership with disaster relief agency Télécoms sans Frontières (TSF) to help bring emergency mobile communications to disaster zones.
Télécoms sans Frontières specialises in bringing wireless communications to affected areas to help humanitarian relief agencies coordinate their efforts and to enable displaced families to make a three minute call to reassure loved ones.
Under the three-year partnership, the Vodafone Foundation will give the agency financial support of €1 million towards its core costs. Vodafone will also be on-hand to provide TSF with innovative mobile equipment for use in emergency situations alongside technical expertise from its employees.
Vodafone has sealed the partnership by designing and trialling a portable mobile network that could help relief workers to reach victims more quickly. In the wake of a humanitarian disaster, the first few days are critical in establishing an effective relief effort. One of the major challenges facing relief agencies operating in these chaotic conditions is the lack of an effective communications network to get help where it is most needed.
To help solve this problem, Vodafone experts, working alongside Huawei at its Mobile Innovation Centre in Madrid, have developed a prototype portable GSM network that can be set up to handle free local calls among relief workers in less than 40 minutes.
Thanks to its innovative design, the prototype can be packed into three suitcases which can be transported on commercial flights, avoiding the inevitable delays that surround cargo deliveries of bulkier equipment.
Vodafone, in collaboration with Télécoms Sans Frontières and Huawei, recently ran trials of the prototype in a simulated emergency situation in the Pyrenees in Spain. The organisations are now evaluating the technology to see how effectively it could be used in real operations.
“Once a disaster has occurred it is important to get a communications network up and running as quickly as possible to accelerate the benefits of aid relief,” said Andrew Dunnett, Director of the Vodafone Foundation. “We want to use our expertise and our experience to help Télécoms Sans Frontières empower both aid workers and victims in disaster zones across the world. This trial is a good example of how Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation are determined to bring more than just money to the partnership.”
“Télécoms Sans Frontières has operations in nearly 60 countries worldwide that serve millions of victims and support more than 550 humanitarian organisations. We have helped out in emergencies such as the Tsunami in Indonesia and the floods in Thailand, Pakistan and Colombia,” said Jean-François Cazenave, President of Télécoms Sans Frontières. “Vodafone has committed to give us access to their people, access to their partners as well as access to their innovation. Vodafone’s support will help us to vastly improve our global humanitarian relief capabilities. ”