Samer Halawi, Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa, discussed how Inmarsat satellite communications have been used to improve the coordination of search and rescue efforts, reunite families displaced through natural disasters and locate missing persons in times of war.
During the presentation, Halawi highlighted Inmarsat’s long-term support of emergency aid organisation Télécoms sans Frontières (TSF). TSF provides an essential emergency telecommunications service, using Inmarsat products and technology, including mini-M and GAN satellite phones and Regional BGAN units.
Based in Southern France, the team of TSF engineers is on standby to respond to an emergency situation anywhere in the world, within 48 hours. Once on site, the engineers use Inmarsat mobile satellite communications equipment to provide telephone, fax, email, Internet, data and live video transmission services in almost any location. This service is particularly useful in remote areas that lack terrestrial fixed or mobile communication infrastructure, or in areas of disaster where such terrestrial infrastructure is among the first casualties.
“Inmarsat continually strives to deliver flexible, reliable and high speed technology that enables organisations such as TSF to coordinate logistics of aid organisations, making search and rescue efforts more effective, as well as reuniting family members who have been displaced by the disaster,” said Halawi.
During the presentation, Halawi also discussed how Inmarsat equipment has been used to save lives of personnel from the media sector, who risk everything in order to report the news from the frontline in times of war.
“The challenge for the media sector today is to get live video, pictures, voice, and articles out, fast and accurately, from wherever the news is breaking, however they also need to ensure their own safety. Inmarsat’s GAN (also known as the videophone) and Regional BGAN satellite terminals are used heavily by the media to enable them to travel lightly and get to the news and allow them to stay in contact with colleagues and loved ones,” explained Halawi.
On March 22nd, 2003, before the fall of Basra, a Middle East television crew of two went missing in Iraq. The crew were reporting on the conflict for Al Arabiya, part of the MBC network, when they were caught in a cross-fire between Iraqi and American soldiers. In a country where terrestrial wired and mobile networks are scarce and unreliable, the crew had few options for making contact with their base to call for help. Fortunately, they were carrying a lightweight Inmarsat GAN, which they were using to deliver the news live from the frontline.
Inmarsat’s GAN enabled the Al Arabiya crew to get in touch with the base before they were captured and inform them of their location. This facilitated their rescue eleven days later.
The GAN unit used by Al Arabiya is used extensively by broadcast media to deliver news, live, at the forefront, in areas of high public interest. When television viewers see ‘via videophone’ on a correspondent’s live report, the station is using Inmarsat GAN to transmit from the field.
Voice, text and video can be transmitted from mobile satellite units about the size of a PC that can travel as hand luggage, increasing the media’s ability to get to the news as the stories are breaking, regardless of location.
And because the service is on demand, as opposed to pre-booked and can be set-up in less than one minute, the media have the flexibility they need to report the news as it happens.
This makes it a highly effective solution compared to alternative satellite communications which require a lengthy set-up time and pre-booked time slots.
During his speech, Halawi pledged continued support for Télécoms Sans Frontières and other organisations committed to rescue operations and the rebuilding of communities across the globe.
“No part of the world is immune to natural disaster or conflict. The events we have discussed today highlight the importance of a reliable and flexible communications technology to any country. Inmarsat is committed to developing leading edge mobile satellite communications which can bring people together in times of distress and support rescue operations in times of danger, no matter where in the world it is needed,” concluded Halawi.
Wednesday, June 16- 2004 @ 12:59 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.