Thursday, June 28, 2007

ITU partners ICO, CBC on SatCom for disasters

Global telecommunications regulator, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is partnering with the ICO Global Communications and Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) in deploying Satellite Communications (SatCom) in disaster situations globally.

ITU said it has reached an agreement with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council to utilize satellite communications to improved global response in the face of natural disasters.

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, Mr. Sanjay Acharya and Head, Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and Emergency Telecommunications at ITU, Mr. Cosmas Zavazava, in a joint statement made available to Champion Infotel, noted that natural calamities have spread mayhem around the world.

The partnership said that severely disasters have impacted on the lives of people and the environment, such as the recent spate of Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides and forest fires have left behind a legacy of lost and broken lives, economic upheaval and sheer devastation, imposing long-lasting impediments to sustainable development and global efforts for poverty reduction.

“The poor, especially those living in remote and isolated areas, are the most vulnerable and disaster-prone,” the partnership was quoted as saying.

It would be recalled that in 2006 alone, 21,800 people were reported to have succumbed to natural disasters, with 95 per cent of those killed residing in least developed countries, just as $65 billion, about the United States Dollar worth 65 billion of economic loss were recorded worldwide.

However, the partnership would afford ICO Global Communications to provide satellite airtime on its F2 satellite for disaster prevention and effective response in the aftermath of natural disasters through both voice communications and other telecommunication applications, including telemedicine.

Champion Infotel gathered that an hour’s airtime would be provided every day for use through ITU to help countries maintain preparedness, provide early-warning information and elicit quick response.

ITU stressed that in the event of a disaster, this time will be adjusted according to demand to facilitate rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Secretary-General, ITU, Dr Hamadoun TourĂ©, pointed out that the partnership established with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council is an important milestone towards ITU’s effort to save human life.

“Satellite communication provides a platform to deliver a wide range of services and applications even to remote areas. In the digital age, we are able to provide an ICT lifeline to disaster victims and humanitarian personnel entrusted with coordinating rescue and relief operations, especially when terrestrial communications infrastructure is disrupted, overloaded or destroyed,” Dr. Toure said.

He added that while ITU will manage and coordinate emergency telecommunications, CBC would provide content and manage the entrepreneurial skill development programme.

Also speaking, the chief executive of ICO, Mr. Timothy J. Bryan, said that his firm strongly supports the goals of ITU and CBC, and is pleased to contribute via its satellite services to these efforts.

He noted that as next-generation satellite operator, “ICO’s development and global implementation of S-band technology will serve our interests well as we continue to work with key suppliers to create advanced user terminals to access F2 for humanitarian and emergency uses.”

Equally speaking, the Director General, CBC, Dr Mohan Kaul, said, the council is pleased to work with ITU and ICO to contribute towards development and disaster preparedness.

“What is required for the future is increased economic empowerment of wider segments of society, to lift people out of poverty and give them new opportunity. This can be achieved by bringing technology and innovation to the service of many.” He said, adding that CBC need to pursue the ‘democratization of knowledge’ by making technology more widely and freely accessible, especially by means of tele-education and entrepreneurial development programmes, CBC would equip and prepare global citizens for economic empowerment and disaster management.

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