3 November 2014 – At the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the GSMA and the Internet Society (ISOC), announced that they are joining forces to fight against Ebola. The three organizations will bring together the global telecommunications and Internet communities, to leverage their extensive reach, capacity and respective memberships to increase the effectiveness of information and communications technologies (ICTs), especially mobile communications and the Internet, for better preparedness, early warning and response.
Secretary-General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré convened a special session with ITU membership during the Plenipotentiary Conference currently underway in Busan, Republic of Korea, to identify recommendations for a more effective use of ICTs in the fight against Ebola.
Dr Touré stated that: “The ICT Sector is critical in dealing with the Ebola threat. ICTs are already being used by ITU and its partners to support awareness raising and emergency communications, and our immediate challenge is to ensure regulatory barriers are removed to facilitate deployment and use of telecommunications applications for the purpose of saving lives. We will focus on innovative measures to increase the effective use of communications systems and applications. Human life has to be preserved and protected.”
Dr Touré addressed Ministers, Regulators, Ambassadors, and other delegates and appealed to them to ensure that all measures are taken to facilitate the effective deployment of ICTs for addressing the Ebola crisis while balancing this with the need to protect consumer privacy.
ITU has already deployed satellite terminals to support ongoing efforts and is currently developing new applications in close cooperation and coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO). The apps are being designed to improve awareness raising efforts, facilitate early warning alerts, report new cases of infection, and support coordination of humanitarian action at community, country and regional levels.
The GSMA has led in coordinating and standardizing the response of mobile operators in affected countries, and has collaborated with the WHO to develop the “Ebola Mobile Response Blueprint”, which provides critical guidance for operators and regulators on running effective and best practice public health campaigns leveraging mobile technology. Director General of the GSMA, Anne Bouverot said: “The response effort to address the Ebola crisis is broad-ranging and complex, involving many different organizations globally. The mobile industry is committed to continuing to work closely with governments, international bodies and NGOs to utilize technology that will help address this outbreak, as well as deliver information to individuals in affected countries on symptoms, care and resources for this disease.”
ISOC has set up the Ebola TECH Response Group aimed at harnessing the expertise of its extensive tech community around the world to aid the emergency response. Kathy Brown, CEO of ISOC said: “The spread of Ebola and the ravages that it is leaving behind in the affected countries in Africa are imprinting their mark on all of us and have a very personal impact on people in those communities and around the world. Like others, the ISOC community of staff, volunteers and members want to help. We have therefore come together to establish the Ebola TECH Response Group.”
Combining the resources of all three organizations will facilitate knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas, tools and increase their accessibility to the humanitarian community, mobile operators and the general public.