The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the GSM Association (GSMA) and the Internet Society (ISOC) have announced that they are joining forces in the fight against Ebola.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Kathy Brown, CEO of ISOC”]“The spread of Ebola and the ravages that it is leaving behind in the affected countries in Africa are imprinting their mark on all of us and have a very personal impact on people in those communities and around the world. Like others, the ISOC community of staff, volunteers and members want to help. We have therefore come together to establish the Ebola TECH Response Group.”[/blockquote]
The three organisations are expected to bring together the global telecommunications and Internet communities, leveraging their extensive reach, capacity and respective memberships to increase the effectiveness of information and communications technologies (ICT), especially mobile communication and the Internet, for better preparedness, early warning and response.
This collaborative plan was announced at the ongoing ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Republic of Korea. ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré convened a special session with ITU membership at the Conference to identify recommendations for a more effective use of ICTs in the fight against Ebola.
Touré stated that “the ICT Sector is critical in dealing with the Ebola threat. ICTs are already being used by ITU and its partners to support awareness raising and emergency communications, and our immediate challenge is to ensure regulatory barriers are removed to facilitate deployment and use of telecommunications applications for the purpose of saving lives. We will focus on innovative measures to increase the effective use of communications systems and applications. Human life has to be preserved and protected.”
Dr Touré addressed Ministers, Regulators, Ambassadors, and other delegates and appealed to them to ensure that all measures are taken to facilitate the effective deployment of ICTs for addressing the Ebola crisis while balancing this with the need to protect consumer privacy.
ITU has already deployed satellite terminals to support ongoing efforts and is currently developing new applications in close cooperation and coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO). The apps are being designed to improve awareness raising efforts, facilitate early warning alerts, report new cases of infection, and support coordination of humanitarian action at community, country and regional levels.
The GSMA has led in coordinating and standardising the response of mobile operators in affected countries, and has collaborated with WHO to develop the “Ebola Mobile Response Blueprint”, which provides critical guidance for operators and regulators on running effective and best practice public health campaigns leveraging mobile technology.
Director General of the GSMA, Anne Bouverot says “the response effort to address the Ebola crisis is broad-ranging and complex, involving many different organisations globally. The mobile industry is committed to continuing to work closely with governments, international bodies and NGOs to utilize technology that will help address this outbreak, as well as deliver information to individuals in affected countries on symptoms, care and resources for this disease.”
ISOC has set up the Ebola TECH Response Group aimed at harnessing the expertise of its extensive tech community around the world to aid the emergency response. Kathy Brown, CEO of ISOC says “the spread of Ebola and the ravages that it is leaving behind in the affected countries in Africa are imprinting their mark on all of us and have a very personal impact on people in those communities and around the world. Like others, the ISOC community of staff, volunteers and members want to help. We have therefore come together to establish the Ebola TECH Response Group.”
Combining the resources of all these organisations is expected to facilitate knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas, tools and increase their accessibility to the humanitarian community, mobile operators and the general public.