Science, Tech & Environment

Telecommunications in Haiti aid effort

U.N. agencies are on the ground in Haiti trying to coordinate relief efforts, but you can't coordinate if you can't communicate. This aid worker runs a partnership between the U.N. and a cell phone giant company. She says cell phone technology is not a luxury in emergency situations and fills basic needs for humanitarian organization and ultimately means those on the ground are better served. The partnership provides money and training for the U.N.'s rapid response telecommunications teams. This man is a head of one of those teams. Cell phone services were down when he first arrived, so he first focused on setting up a secure two-way radio set up for his staff and then set up a basic internet cafe. A French telecom group working in Haiti specializes in rapid response to emergencies. This man is on the ground in northern Haiti, the area hardest hit by the hurricanes. He has plenty of opportunity working in disaster zones, but he says this is the worst he's ever seen. The group has telecommunications up and running for the U.N. in about 20 minutes but the group does more than that: it allows Haitians to use phones and offers free calls to those affected. His team has been in northern Haiti for September 7th and plans to stay for the long haul.

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