ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )
Aimed at mitigating the impact of disasters and extending timely relief to the victims by introducing in Pakistan the first of its kind innovative location based early warning SMS system, Telenor Pakistan has recently signed an agreement with its emergency response partners, Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for Beneficiary Communications Project. The agreement was signed by Michael Patrick Foley, Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Pakistan and Mehboob Sardar Secretary General, PRCS in the presence of Minister for IT & Telecom Anusha Rehman at PRCS National Headquarters.
The project is a flagship endeavor designed to ensure preparedness and mitigation of a disaster through emergency response, emergency recovery, rehabilitation and development. Beneficiary Communication Project will allow aid agencies and mobile phone users in disaster-hit areas to interact in real time through SMS text system creating much needed timely communication flow. The project is jointly funded by International Federation of Red Crescent (IFRC) and Telenor Pakistan.
Sharing her views, Minister for IT & Technology, Anusha Rehman said, “Unfortunately, Pakistan has seen recurring natural disasters in recent times. It is hearting to see that Telenor Pakistan and PRCS have again collaborated to develop a system utilizing their core competencies to bring positive social change. This is true empowerment, as it will allow potential affectees to proactively save lives. Everyone can in fact become a helping hand.”
On this occasion, Michael Patrick Foley said, ” Unlike traditional SMS services, which require broadcast messages to be delivered to every subscriber on a carrier’s network, this system allows PRCS to specify a particular region or even a neighborhood to which text messages will be sent to mobile phones. The text messages elicit response from mobile phone users in need of aid, giving them an effective voice on how assistance should be delivered. After reviewing the impact of Beneficiary Communication in emergency situations in various parts of the world, we are hopeful that this first of its kind project in Pakistan can deliver effective aid in the form of information that facilitates the recovery of communities affected by disasters. Beneficiary communication aims to save and improve lives through the provision of timely, relevant and accurate information and support an environment of transparency and accountability through the creation of feedback mechanisms. This project will engage communities in dialogue and integrate beneficiary feedback into the decision making process of our emergency response programmes .”
Dr. Saud Elahi, Chairman PRCS said, “One of the major challenges being faced by humanitarian organizations in natural-disaster areas is the lack of early warning for affectees that can mitigate the effects and save many lives. The available telecommunications services in the country after these disasters are immediately congested and choked causing extreme difficulty in established of reliable communication with the affected community. It increases the necessity of a dedicated system that can respond better in such a situation. TERA System is a fast, secure and effective communication platform between humanitarian organizations and the community. It has been very effectively experienced during last Haiti EQ. Since it is based on SMS (short text messages) technology, it makes a low use of telecommunications services by delivering localized early warning as well as aid related messages to the affected community. We are indebted to Telenor Pakistan for always providing generous and valuable support in the form of cash and other forms. Telenor Pakistan has always been at the fore front responding to the disasters and has taken the leading role”.
Telenor Pakistan will work as technology enabler providing the platform and outreach whereas PRCS will provide the communication system via vendor and user of the system for defined objectives (via interface). This innovative system will link PRCS with the community in times of disaster, through location-based opt-in service for Telenor subscribers. The service will enable Telenor subscribers to receive timely messages pertaining to disaster alerts, relief, pre/post emergency awareness and aid disbursement. The project will focus on disaster prone areas of Pakistan.
As a socially responsible organization, Telenor Pakistan has always responded to the call of natural, man-made and conflict emergencies by targeting specific and un-met needs of the affectees. As part of its emergency response program, the company has contributed an amount of PKR 404 million since its inception and vows to continue setting the standard for the industry in future.