ITU workshop on Emergency Telecommunications and Disaster Relief

workshop-on-et2A workshop on Emergency Telecommunications and Disaster Relief was held on 27 September at ITU Headquarters in Geneva. The workshop was held within the framework of the third meeting of the ITU-D Study Group 2, Question 5/2 which deals with the utilization of telecommunications/ICTs for disaster preparedness, mitigation and response.

The workshop highlighted the central role that telecommunications/ICT play in disaster risk reduction with participants calling on ITU Members to continuously update their national emergency communications plans, conduct regular exercises and drills to test their disaster preparedness and to incorporate new and emerging technologies and ICT applications into their disaster risk reduction plans.

Participants at the workshop also called for more research and investment into resilient telecommunication infrastructure and the prepositioning of equipment in hazard prone areas to ensure operational continuity during disasters. Training of personnel was also identified as being critical to support implementation of disaster response plans, and should cover all aspects including use of emergency telecommunication equipment.

The workshop highlighted the importance of sharing lessons learned from previous disasters, and how ICTs help improve resilience and reduce the vulnerability of communities. Participants noted that ICTs are no longer a luxury for citizens during a disaster, but an essential tool not only for receiving and sharing life-saving information, but also in restoring economic activities.

“ITU is committed to assisting Member States reinforce and strengthen their disaster risk reduction and management through the innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) with the aim of saving lives and coordinate the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance,” says Mr. Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). “ICTs that are today playing a critical role in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, can be used for disaster management to enable those affected respond and recover from the hardship and damage caused by such disasters.”

“Almost every day someone, somewhere is a victim of natural disasters and disease – nobody is immune, says Mr. Cosmas Zavazava, Chief of Department, Project Support and Knowledge Management in the Telecommunication Development Bureau in ITU. “The use of ICTs for disaster risk reduction goes to the core of humanity as it relates to every individual, community, and country across the globe. This workshop provides an opportunity for us to link the theoretical work of our Study Groups, and the field work and practices from across the globe on saving lives, based on the use of ICTs. This is why the speakers and participants have been drawn from various regions, organizations and have diverse backgrounds.”

“Throughout this study cycle, Question 5/2 has provided a platform for ITU Member States, Sector Members and other organizations to share information about new technologies and their experiences in preparing for disasters and deploying ICTs for disaster response,” says Ms Kelly O’Keefe, Rapporteur for ITU-D Study Group 2 on Question 5/2 .  “This workshop provides participants with a great opportunity to learn how organizations collaborate before, during and after a disaster and identify good practices and lessons learned that can help improve the capacities of both developed and developing countries in deploying ICTs for disaster response”.

Discussions during the workshop also focused on the important role that each organization involved in disaster management plays and the challenges they face when responding to disasters.

For presentations made during the event click here

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