Disaster response and the central role of mobile technology
From Nepal’s 2015 earthquake to the recent unprecedented hurricanes in the Caribbean, mobile technology is being used to support preparedness and response activities and to maintain dignity for those impacted by natural and man-made disasters. There are a growing number of examples of mobile technology being used in innovative ways in disaster and humanitarian preparedness and response as well as helping people after natural events – from ‘super base stations’ to innovative connectivity provision for displaced populations, humanitarian call centres and digitised response activities, to country-wide early warning systems.
New technology-enabled services have supported communities and increased resilience around the world. As natural and man-made disasters increase in their frequency and impact, so the number of people requiring help is growing. More than 90 million people across the world will have needed assistance over the course of 2017, with the number of displaced people exceeding 65 million and growing every day. In response to the growing challenge, mobile operators, humanitarian organisations and innovation labs around the globe are exploring the potential role of mobile technology in disaster preparedness and response. The GSMA recently launched the Disaster Response Innovation Fund providing an opportunity to unite these efforts, linking initiatives which have mutual goals and bringing their innovative ideas to life.
It is essential that both the mobile industry and the humanitarian sector continue to innovate in order to improve their capacity to deal with crises, and ensure that the needs of affected populations can be met. While great strides are being made in the development of innovative services and solutions, no single sector can tackle the scale of the challenges alone. The Disaster Response Innovation Fund will support collaboration that has the potential to enhance or transform preparedness and response activities and improve the delivery of dignified aid.