In light of widespread devastation in Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12, communication restoration is the key to rescue operations.
Haitian Ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph, has called out restoration of communications as the top need in the region, which is almost entirely dependent upon wireless technology. Immediately following the earthquake, a lack of internet connectivity made it nearly impossible for NGO’s and the Haitian government to coordinate the delivery of aid. Large international service providers, humanitarian organizations, technology companies, and local service providers have all been taking action in the past three weeks to begin addressing the situation.
The two known Haitian Public Safety Answering Pints (PSAPs) were both reportedly destroyed and the Haitian police Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system was ruined along with most all of the wireline infrastructure. Inadequate power supply has been a major problem as well, particularly because even before the earthquake, Haiti’s electricity grid only provided about eight hours of daily power.
Humanitarian organizations are trying to make a difference in the relief effort by setting up wireless connections and utlilizing technology solutions. Engineers from NetHope have been sent to Haiti to set up a VSAT satellite solution using WiMax technology to restore Internet connectivity to large NGO’s who are serving in Haiti. NetHope members operating in Haiti will have access to this network and with connectivity restored, agencies will have the tools they need to expedite the delivery of much needed resources to victims through a coordinated response with each other.
Hainet, Multilink and Access Haiti, the three leading local Internet service providers in Haiti, have used broadband fixed wireless access (BFWA) systems for connectivity, including certified WiMax networks and pre-WiMax equipment. Technicians have been working to restore damaged wireless infrastructure as they also buildout new base stations. Both Access Haiti and Hainet were reported ‘non-operational’ immediately following the earthquake but were restored within days.
A plan supported by the National Joint TERT Initiative -a collaboration between APCO International Telecommunicator and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) for Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) – will cover an immediate phased approach to a solution as well as long-term support and training for the Haitian people.
APCO President Richard Mirgon have driven home this point regarding immediate need and actions – “The restoration of essential emergency communications systems is critical to saving lives and maintaining the health of the population, including
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