At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress in Shanghai we announced the news that KDDI, KT Corporation, NTT DOCOMO Inc and SK Telecom have become the most recent mobile network operators (MNOs) to sign up to the our Humanitarian Connectivity Charter. By becoming a signatory of the charter, these four operators jointly commit to a common set of principles designed to create a more coordinated and predictable response to disasters and humanitarian crises.
The four new signatories have now committed to the three principles of the Charter which focus on enhanced coordination, standardised preparedness and response activities, and strengthened partnerships between industry, government and humanitarian organisations. These four operators bring in a significant wealth of knowledge in disaster preparedness and response initiatives from a region which faces natural disasters more frequently than many other region of the world.
KDDI in Japan has established a variety of measures to enhance network reliability in preparation for large-scale disasters by looking at having back-up communication modes such as Emergency Rapid Mail. This includes tsunami warnings and the ability to disseminate other information that could prove useful in times of disaster. They have also strengthened their Business Continuity Plan under the Disaster Response Project where detailed rules and guidelines are set for each phase of a response to a disaster, from initial action through to full restoration. KDDI also has set up a satellite network that links to principal bases throughout Japan in preparation for a scenario in which all fixed-line and mobile circuits cease to function.
NTT Docomo maintains a Network center which operates around the clock, all year to monitor and control the extensive DOCOMO nationwide network. This monitoring centre has enabled the company to respond rapidly to any unforeseen situation. Building on the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, DOCOMO has been implementing additional disaster countermeasures that secure stable communications in key locations during major disasters, ensure quick response in disaster areas and further improve convenience for customers. The NTT DOCOMO Disaster Message Board Service allows friends and family to check the safety status of one another following major events, and importantly there are regular drills and practice runs of the system to help users become familiar with the service.
Korea Telecom (KT) leads an integrated emergency notification network system across South Korea. This systems merges 21 emergency hotlines from 15 government agencies into 3 short-codes used country-wide. KT also provides the Public Safety communications network system in Pyeongchang which is based on LTE technology. To add to this, KT last year showcased how LTE-based drones and backpacks can be used in rescue operations where cars or other vehicles cannot go. After this, KT also targets to export the disaster prevention system after its successful demonstration in the local market.
Many who visited Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 would remember SK Telecom’s demonstration of its telecommunications network for disaster relief purposes earlier this year. In February, SK Telecom signed a technical cooperation agreement with EE, a British mobile carrier having approximately 22 million customers, for collaborations with regard to telecom network operation for disaster response. Specifically, this Group Communication System Enablers allows simultaneous voice calls and data transmission by hundreds of people in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake. With this technique, communication overloads on specific base stations can be prevented in the case of emergencies and rescue activities can be facilitated.
The commitment by these four MNOs, with vast experience and expertise in disaster response and preparedness, further enhances the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter working group and the collaborative efforts of the industry to improve preparedness and response activities. We look forward to welcoming them into the group and working with them on this important topic.
For more information on the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, please visit www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/mobile-for-humanitarian-innovation/humanitarian-connectivity-charter.