How North American Telecoms Can Assist in a Disaster

by Pamela Hilliard Owens on January 14, 2010

Haitian Earthquake 2010I waited until the absolutely last minute to write this post because the situation concerning the earthquake in Haiti changes hour by hour. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the entire world, and definitely in the Western Hemisphere.

No matter the disaster, the first 48 hours of the search and rescue operations are the most important. This is where the U.S. and Canadian private telecom companies can immediately swing into action. Communication between people and agencies was already difficult, and landline and cell links were the first to go. But because of their relationships with their respective government and military organizations, communications systems can be set up by telecom companies within hours. Already, makeshift airport air traffic control centres have been set up.

Help from around the world is pouring in with disaster recovery experts from many different countries This is not the time for politics; this is the time for action.

As an American, I distinctly remember about one day after the levees broke and flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a sheriff of the next parish looked up and there were the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. With their horses! And their sharp red uniforms! They knew that they could really help find people from their horses; so they put the horses on trucks and drove to New Orleans and said: “We’re here!” They didn’t wait to be asked: they knew they already had the expertise and organizational structure in place. I still get choked up when I see those pictures of the “Mounties” in New Orleans.

If you own or work for a large telecom company, you can check with the department dedicated to disaster relief. Communications infrastructure will always be needed in disaster relief.

If you are an individual there are several humanitarian organizations already in place who can use your monetary donations. You can find a list of them on this website and others.

In addition, Rogers yesterday announced it has launched a mobile giving campaign to enable its customers to donate funds to help the relief efforts in Haiti. You can read more about this here.

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Written by: Pamela Hilliard Owens.

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