This just in: The tech world’s equivalent of Thunderbirds International Rescue – Telecoms Sans Frontieres -- has been deployed to the aftermath of Tropical Storm Noel in the Dominican Republic. (The only thing worse than losing your house in a storm has got to be losing your house to a storm called Noel).
TSF are working in cooperation with the United Nations Foundation and The Vodafone Group.
Here’s the rest of the press release:
“Communications are vital to international relief workers’ ability to act quickly to provide on-the-ground assistance and help save lives. Without effective communications, the life-saving work of those providing food, water, medicines, and shelter could be seriously compromised. As it has done time after time, TSF is answering the call in emergencies. We are proud to be a partner in these efforts,” said Kathy Calvin, chief operating officer of the United Nations Foundation.
The TSF team deployed within 24 hours at the request of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA). The TSF team arrived Thursday evening in the Dominican Republic capital Santo Domingo, carrying IT and satellite communications equipment to set up emergency communication centres that will benefit humanitarian relief organisations and affected civilians. The TSF team will support a six-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination agency team dispatched by OCHA.
“Through our partnership, we are committed to helping TSF use communications to facilitate international response and recovery. By bringing improved telecommunications access to relief workers, TSF enables the recovery effort to work more quickly and effectively. In situations like these, time is absolutely critical and every moment saved in an emergency operation can mean the difference between life and death,” said Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Group Foundation.
The mission to the Dominican Republic is the 12th rapid response deployment supported by the United Nations Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership in the past 18 months. Since the first mission to respond to flooding in Suriname in May 2006, TSF has deployed at the UN’s request to support emergency humanitarian relief efforts after earthquakes in Indonesia and Peru; floods in Mozambique, Uruguay, and Ghana; the April 2007 tsunami in the Solomon Islands; and in the aftermath of Hurricane Felix in Nicaragua in September 2007. TSF has also deployed at the UN’s request to conflict zones in Darfur, Sudan; in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and in southern Lebanon.
“The past 18 months of successful TSF deployments with the United Nations demonstrate the importance and the impact of the United Nations Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership in providing rapid and reliable communications to the humanitarian community in emergencies. Thanks to this support, in the last two months alone, TSF was able to respond to five emergencies worldwide to the benefit of over a dozen aid agencies and thousands of affected civilians,” said Jean-François Cazenave, director of TSF.
Since May 2006, when TSF signed an agreement with the United Nations to become the first NGO formally partnering with the UN in emergency response telecommunications work, the United Nations Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership has funded the deployment of TSF teams that can respond to disasters anywhere in the world within 48 hours. TSF teams deploy from centres in France, Thailand, and Nicaragua to provide emergency communications to UN agencies and other emergency responders and establish call centres for refugees and disaster victims.