The ITU (The International Telecommunication Union) has launched new guidelines in telecommunication technology to try to curb present and future disasters, the loss of life or disaster escalation, through efficient and timely communication in times of crisis.
By promoting coordination and synchronicity, these guidelines will allow access to telecom networks and services during the Coronavirus epidemic and future crises, help national authorities maintain quick and stable communication, and implement policies and regulations preemptively. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union, emphasizes how crucial it is that all the authorities are ready to respond appropriately in the shortest time possible.
Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, stated that the Covid-19 outbreak has revealed how “vital information and communication technology networks and services” are to disaster and pandemic mitigation, adding that “the implementation of comprehensive national emergency telecommunication plans can ensure there is effective and timely sharing of information across all levels of government, within affected communities and among humanitarian agencies to prioritize response efforts and to save lives.”
The guidelines highlight major areas of risk and therefore justify significant and continuous funding for equipment, maintenance and readiness in the event of a crisis; natural disaster, pandemic or external threat. Readiness must be a daily priority, and include mock-exercises, routine checkups, simulations and tabletop scenarios, walk-throughs, and full scale drills.
The ITU, which has 193 Member States, added that they have already worked with several countries to create national emergency plans, and set up monitoring and early warning response systems. When considering what we have experienced from the current pandemic – from misinformation causing wide-spread panic, to untimely or inefficient responses, leading to increased cases – it is abundantly clear that quick and clear communication is vital for any kind of future readiness.