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At times of disaster, when other communications systems are either destroyed or overloaded, satellite communications equipment can be used immediately to support relief efforts. Ground infrastructures are often damaged and rendered useless during natural disasters and conflicts. Satellites have almost complete immunity from catastrophic events such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes and are therefore deployed during most if not all disasters to enable immediate vital communications for relief efforts, which otherwise would have taken days or weeks to set up. Satellite communications offer a range of solutions to meet the immediate needs of emergency response, help civil protection as well as the on-going needs of humanitarian aid.

The Crisis Connectivity Charter

Satellite services restore critical telecommunications in Haiti

Satellite communications are a fundamental component of the humanitarian community’s ability to respond to disasters worldwide. With this in mind, ESOA and the United Nations signed the Crisis Connectivity Charter to ensure better coordination of the private sector in the provision of satellite communications and to deliver a more predictable response for the humanitarian community when disaster strikes. It delivers an improved, more efficient and more effective response from the satellite community that prevents duplication of efforts and wasted resources. The Charter has 2 component parts: the Charter itself and a Technical Annex which sets out the workings of the Charter. The mechanism foresees legal contracts signed between satellite companies and the World Food Program (WFP) which manages the UN's Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC). Under those contracts, satellite companies each donate satellite capacity and equipment at no cost on an annual basis to the ETC for local storage in one of the WFP's depots around the world. This allows speedy deployment of vital equipment from the nearest depot to the disaster zone.  Signatories to the Charter include UN OCHA, UN ETC, ESOA, various ESOA members and the Global VSAT Forum. 

Satellite beach ball for emergency response, part of the emergency.lu Rapid Deployment Kit to provide high-speed communication support to humanitarian organizations in emergencies. Essentially a big beach ball, the terminal has a dish inside which separates it into two parts, each with its own air supply. A pump expels air at different pressures to the two parts to achieve the dish’s parabolic shape. The dish is made of a sturdy cloth, covered with a special coating, which reflects and concentrates electromagnetic waves in the same way as a conventional satellite dish. The first deployment of the Rapid Deployment Kit was in Bentiu, South Sudan.

Satellites – links for life.

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