Over 500 participants from 70 countries attending ITU’s 2nd Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications: Saving Lives (GET2016, Kuwait City, 26-28 January), underscored the importance of ICTs in disaster early warning and response through the launch of two important new global initiatives, the ITU Network of Volunteers for Emergency Telecommunications and the Global Emergency Fund for Rapid Response.
Held at Kuwait City’s Regency Hotel, the GET2016 forum discussed trends and emerging technological innovations, financing mechanisms, country case studies, challenges in deploying ICTs in disaster zones, climate change issues and the role of the private sector and other non-state stakeholders. It also featured a series of exhibits featuring solutions for the most effective use of ICT in emergencies.
ICTs play a critical role in disaster risk reduction. Paragraph 33 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction emphasizes the importance of investing in, developing, maintaining and strengthening early warning systems, disaster risk and emergency communications, social technologies and hazard-monitoring telecommunication systems. It also stresses the importance of promoting the resilience of new ICT infrastructure.
“This was a very successful event,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Nearly every day, a disaster strikes somewhere in the world. The high number of participants reflects the common will to join forces to help reduce the impact of disasters.”
The adopted outcomes of GET-2016 provide strategic guidance to the national and international community and will result in increased knowledge of the role different entities could play in giving telecommunications/ICT a central role in disaster mitigation and management.
“At this Forum, we have adopted practical strategies to strengthen the world’s response in emergencies,” said the GET2016 Chairman, Salim Alozainah, Chairman and CEO of the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) during his presentation of the final report of the forum.
“We all gathered in Kuwait to harness the enormous potential of telecommunications and ICT to save lives when disasters strike,” said Brahima Sanou. “This forum has helped forge partnerships that will be key to making our goal a reality.”
Launching the ITU Network of Volunteers for Emergency Telecommunications and the Global Emergency Fund for Rapid Response, Mr Sanou invited all stakeholders to contribute to life-saving initiatives.
Siaosi Sovaleni, Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, said that “all participants at the forum agreed that ICT is a key tool for disaster management. They further stressed the need for a multi-stakeholder approach and showed unwavering support to the initiatives launched by ITU, as they will greatly help countries to enhance their capacity and provide accessible resources to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and save lives.”