I have just arrived in a damp yet picturesque Pisa to observe, and maybe even take part in an ICT Emergency response training day hosted by the World Food Programme, The United Nations Foundation and Vodafone's charitable wing Vodafone Group Foundation.
I am not sure what the next day or so is going to offer but if it's anything like the journey here – then it should make for some good copy. Yep, the gods have chosen to play their irony card today in a very unsubtle fashion by visiting a full scale fire alarm and evacuation of Gatwick airport – a scant 20 minutes before I was supposed to board my flight to go and see an emergency response event in Italy.
Why bother leaving when I could see it al in Gatwick? Well, let's just hope that the scenes I witness tomorrow are better orchestrated than the BAA run shambles I witnessed in Gatwick with the staff clearly not sure if the event was real or a test – flitting between despondence and aggression when passengers followed their lead and failed to show any enthusiasm in believing their random calls to leave the building. They knew it was a test, we knew it was test, why couldn't we just leave it at that, rather than going through the half-arsed charade of shuffling 5000 people outside the terminal over a period of about 20 minutes – if it had been a real fire we would have been toast.
Anyway, I pretty excited about what tomorrow has to offer. Its all pretty relevant given the awful situation in Burma, and China (although the latter seems in danger of overshadowing the former thanks to the Chinese governments new found information dissemination skills – well actually they have always been ok with letting information out, it’s the letting it in which has been the problem). I am not sure what exactly the day will consist of but its basically all around setting up the communications infrastructure in a disaster zone – food, water and medicine obvious necessities but if, as in Burma, there is no way for aid groups to talk to each other, then relief efforts are made many times more difficult. I am promised that there will be some re-enactments of kidnapping attempts – a very real risk for the technical staff working in some of the world's hotspots.
Right – off to gather some more intelligence/dinner. More tomorrow when the actual details should become clearer.