Disaster response

Families in distress are at the heart of all our concerns when a disaster hits. There are those who lose their homes, those who lose their families and those who lose everything. As humanitarian workers, we are part of a worldwide network of people whose job is to alleviate pain, ease suffering, build resilience and save lives.

TSF has established itself as the leading iNGO in providing technology and telecommunications in the direct aftermath of sudden-onset disasters and humanitarian crises. When a disaster strikes, a country’s terrestrial network can be entirely or severely damaged, whilst the traffic on functional transmission stations congests peoples’ access to voice and internet services.

Both the population and humanitarian responders are affected by the lack of communication. As Mobile Network Operators work to repair telecom infrastructures, we bridge this gap by establishing direct contact with affected communities, providing lifelines via internet or telephone, whilst ensuring that the humanitarian community (United Nations, governments, NGOs, Search & Rescue teams) is covered by the necessary communications means to secure the efficiency of their operations. In an emergency situation, our rapid response teams will deploy in under 24 hours to any crisis zone to set up the following operations:

Building digital lifelines

Giving families a voice

When a disaster hits your town or city, what would your instinctive reaction be? More often than not, the first thing that people will seek to do is pull their mobile telephone out of their pockets, and attempt to contact their loved ones. But when the network is down or saturated, you can remain without any news of your family for days or even weeks.

TSF will go out to affected communities that have been identified as in need of communications. Our teams will meet families and offer them telephone calls using satellite communications, bypassing the temporarily deficient terrestrial network, to guarantee the ability to make that vital, reassuring telephone call, either to provide some essential psychological relief, or request assistance from a friend or family member.

Internet as communications catalyst

The telephone call is no longer the only way to contact your loved ones. On your telephone, you no doubt have a number of ways to reach your friends and family (Facebook? Twitter? WhatsApp?), but without internet, how do you Tweet your 140 characters? How do you use Facebook's Safety Check to let your contacts know you have survived?

We recognise the importance of internet for affected populations, and for this reason we ensure that according to the situation, populations have access to either an open internet connection for their phones (in a registration centre, or refugee camp context, for example), or a dedicated internet centre with access to computers or tablets.

A simple internet connection is a strong means to empower disaster-affected individuals. Using their own devices, the connection acts a motor for people to respond to their individual and personal communications requirements whilst giving them access to information online.

Emergency Coordination support

Respond. Connect. Coordinate.

Populations are not the only ones in need of reliable communications services in the aftermath of a disaster. Our fellow humanitarian workers also require dependable voice and internet services to carry out their operations in the most effective way possible.

The first few days following a disaster are the most crucial. Be it for pulling families out from under the rubble, providing drinking water to communities where rivers have been polluted or setting up an emergency field trauma facility, telecommunications will always be the backbone behind the coordination of any relief operation.

Satellite communications are the most reliable in a disaster situation, and TSF will deploy a fleet of equipment to ensure that within the first few hours after a crisis, the United Nations, the local government and NGOs all have a way to communicate and circulate information in operations centres at the heart of a crisis. This means that their operations run smoother, their information is shared more efficiently, and the people that they seek to serve are assisted quicker.

UNDAC Support

UNDAC is the UN response mechanism in charge of Disaster Assessment and Coordination under the management of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Its teams are made up of a number of highly specialised NGOs and mission support partners. TSF has been a partner of UNDAC since 2006 and plays a vital part in providing communications to ensure the self-sufficiency of the body.

Our experts are responsible for the ICT aspects of UNDAC's work, and beyond connectivity in the On-Site Operations Coordination Centres (OSOCC) and in the Reception and Departure Centres (RDC), TSF will provide technical support to its partner and fellow team members to ensure that the pillars of an effective humanitarian response (such as coordination, assessment, information management, logistics and safety and security) pave the way to help saving lives.