The Government of Luxembourg and the Emergency Telecommunication Cluster (ETC), led by the World Food Programme (WFP), hosted a World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Business Consultation focused on the satellite industry on 9-10 June 2015 at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in Luxembourg.
The consultation was attended by 21 representatives from the satellite community, the ETC and the Government of Luxembourg. Through the consultation participants identified issues, provided recommendations and made commitments around improving the coordinated engagement of the satellite community in emergency response and delivering better targeted private sector support.
This consultation built on the outcomes of the March 2015 WHS Business Consultation with the mobile industry held in Barcelona in the margins of the GSMA Mobile World Congress, where the mobile industry launched the Humanitarian Connectivity Mobile Charter. The Mobile Charter demonstrated that industries can align and commit to better support humanitarian responders, affected people and governments in emergency preparedness and response. The ETC network of humanitarian, private sector and government organizations has commenced implementation of ETC 20201 - its newly endorsed strategy to create a communications environment for quick, effective and accountable humanitarian action. ETC 2020 priorities four key areas comprising enhanced communications and energy; improved and decentralized response readiness; increased communication resilience to disasters; and communications as aid. This Business Consultation provided an opportunity to identify ways in which ETC 2020 can be operationalized and to enhance the role of the satellite industry within this new strategy.
Following the planning meeting that took place in Dubai during Humanitarian ICT Week (26-30 April 2015), the ETC elaborated requirements in a White Paper for the satellite community to consider ahead of the Business Consultation. The White Paper served as a point of departure for discussions, during which the following Issues emerged:
The scale and nature of emergencies is stretching the capacity of the humanitarian system like never before. There is a need for the humanitarian architecture to evolve accordingly towards a better coordinated multi-stakeholder approach and account for the substantial capacity of the private sector, and in particular the satellite industry.
The satellite industry and the ETC have already demonstrated the vital contribution they bring to humanitarian responses by providing connectivity to actors after emergencies. However, complex demands associated with the evolving operating environment, new humanitarian challenges and rapid technology innovation will challenge the way the ETC will deliver services in the future. As outlined in the ETC 2020 strategy, in order to best serve affected populations and host governments prior to and during crises, the Cluster must transform the current service delivery model, and operationalize one of enhanced connectivity based on a network of predictable partnerships.
In order to meet the demands of providing forms of digital aid during crises, enhanced connectivity solutions are required that can cater to at affected communities and host governments. This connectivity will facilitate more effective aid delivery and enable two-way communications amongst and with affected people, the government and the response community.
Opportunities exist for greater and more predictable engagement by the satellite industry in emergency preparedness and response. The future ETC operating model should seek to expand on available satellite equipment and existing networks.