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Satnews Daily
December 9th, 2013

GVF—Unprecedented Collaborative Efforts To Aid the Philippines (SATCOM)

[SatNews] In the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the international satellite sector has implemented an unprecedented collaborative effort through GVF, the satellite industry’s non-profit association, to provide communications solutions optimized for support of the disaster-response efforts underway in the Philippines.

In the hours immediately before and after Typhoon Haiyan’s landfall, Steve Birnbaum, GVF’s Disaster Response Director, issued an emergency notification calling upon Members of the association to provide closely co-ordinated support for disaster-relief efforts conducted by the humanitarian community. “With relief efforts underway in the Philippines – and recognizing the severity of the nation’s crisis – the satellite industry responded with invaluable offers of communications services and bandwidth to facilitate immediate delivery of mission-critical satellite communications,” said Mr. Birnbaum.
With coordination from GVF Members, the Initiative collaborated to create a new, premium VSAT service exclusively for the humanitarian response effort in the Philippines.  This level of industry collaboration is unprecedented, and provided the humanitarian response community with an optimal common platform from which to operate.  The collaboration minimized the duplication of effort and resources often criticized in past humanitarian responses, achieving a key objective of the GVF’s Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response programs. The GVF Disaster Response Initiative included co-ordination with a host of key emergency-management stakeholders, which have been mobilizing communications, personnel and other vital assets to the affected area.
“The importance of satellite communications has long been recognised as effective for use in disaster relief and mitigation,” said David Hartshorn, Secretary General of the GVF. “But the scale of the Philippine disaster has required the fullest measure of support and co-ordination for the delivery of rapidly-deployable communications.”
As the Initiative’s focal point, Mr. Birnbaum coordinated an international effort to identify satellite communications assets that could be applied to the ongoing relief efforts. They include a wide range of satellite solutions, including provision of three vital services:

  1. Rapid Access to State-of-the-Art Services:  GVF posted emergency notices to the global industry for disaster-recovery requirements. In addition, direct and immediate access to the world’s leading suppliers of satellite-based emergency-management systems and services was provided. The GVF Members, which include approximately 200 companies from throughout the world, offered an extensive range of satellite solutions: Bandwidth, mobile systems, VSAT networks and equipment, fly-aways, ruggedized terminals, integration and installation, consulting, legal services, and more.
  2. Provision of GVF-Certified Technicians: Contact details for GVF-Certified VSAT Installers are available to first responders via http://www.gvf.org/. These technicians, all of whom have completed the GVF’s Certification Program, include personnel from the UN, NGOs, government, and industry.  
  3. Implementation of Effective Regulation: Regulations often inhibit or prevent the industry’s ability to rapidly provide satellite communications during and after disasters. To address this issue, GVF has co-ordinated closely with the Philippines’ government and contributed to the initiation of emergency licensing procedures.

“The relevance of satellite communications to emergency managers and the humanitarian & aid sectors has never been higher... nor has there ever been greater recognition that the industry has a vital role to play in saving lives,” said Mr. Birnbaum. “The GVF’s Disaster Response Programs continue to represent an important opportunity for everyone involved in the satellite industry to help save lives when disasters strike anywhere I the world. If your company has assets that can be used in support of future disasters – please contact me directly at steve.birnbaum@gvf.org to be registered with the GVF’s Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response programs."