At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030
Over the next fifteen years, countries will mobilize efforts while ensuring that no one is left behind as these Goals universally apply to all.
Information and communication technologies will be pivotal in helping to achieve these and Inmarsat is delivering the global satellite connectivity that is essential to giving people access to the modern digital world even in the most isolated locations.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Satellite connectivity can help promote more effective and efficient food production.
In temperate climates greenhouses are used to grow staple crops year-round, while in harsher environments, such as the desert regions of the Middle East, the use of hydroponics is being explored to increase food production. These structures can be extremely large, so one solution is placing them in remote locations, away from urban infrastructure. Remote real-time monitoring of such sites through machine-to-machine (M2M) sensor technology provides real-time, low-cost updates so any required action can be taken quickly. Site security can also be maintained remotely.
Satellite-powered drone technology is also helping farmers maximise production and crop efficiency. Using drones to take aerial photography gives farmers a unique insight into the topography and soil conditions of their fields, to make sure that crops are planted in the most ideal conditions. These images can also be input into automated planting and harvesting vehicles, as is happening in large-scale commercial farming in the US. This technology can be too expensive for smaller farms in the developing world, but, as it evolves, the same principles could be applied on a smaller and cheaper scale to help farmers struggling in harsh climates to grow crops more efficiently.
Broadband connectivity is already helping farmers in Africa to improve their economic outlook by accessing information on future weather patterns and viewing current crop prices before they make the journey to market. Satellite-enabled pilot schemes are currently underway, with the aim of allowing farmers to check prices on their mobile phone and so be able to decide the optimum time to sell.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
In rural communities, technology-enabled healthcare applications coupled with satellite connectivity can help counteract a lack of healthcare infrastructure, support an under-skilled workforce, control the spread of communicable diseases and record the increase of manageable conditions such as diabetes
eHealth solutions can also enable a more equitable treatment for girls and women, by empowering them through access to health information to improve their lives, especially during pre and post-natal care.
A telemedicine initiative, launched in September 2014, tested remote healthcare for the benefit of around 1,346 children and their families in Benin, West Africa.
Charity SOS Children’s Villages Benin worked with clinics in two rural locations in the Abomey and Dassa-Zoumé regions, and used a series of community consultation programmes to monitor, diagnose and treat adults and children.
The clinics utilised the Safe Triage telemedicine application to gather the patients’ medical information on smart tablets, and send it in real time via BGAN Link to a secure server so urban hospital doctors could monitor and evaluate the villagers’ health.
Over the course of the first three months, the clinics saw over 850 men, women and children and remote doctors were able to identify instances of diabetes, hypoglycemia, hypertension and other conditions, and refer these patients for treatment. By catching the conditions early, and not waiting for more serious symptoms to develop, treatment becomes easier and safer. The technology enabled 358 consultations for people within the community that were not benefitting previously from SOS programmes and identified more than 70 individuals with serious conditions that required immediate treatment – attention that they would not previously have received for weeks or months, if at all.
Following the successful pilot the project is still in operation today.
The Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon, West Africa serves around 60 villages spread throughout the surrounding rainforest, many of which are only accessible by boat. In 2013, US videoconferencing company VSee, a specialist in telemedicine solutions, took part in a trial using its battery-powered ultrasound field kit and a lightweight, mobile BGAN terminal. Travelling out to the communities, a Harvard medical student conducted ultrasounds on villagers’ eyes,
Travelling out to the communities, a Harvard medical student conducted ultrasounds on villagers’ eyes, ears and chests and relayed the images in real time to a doctor at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, with the two being able to discuss what they were seeing on the spot.
A three-way consultation with an obstetrician at Harvard Medical School also checked the health of an eight-month pregnant villager, measuring the baby’s growth and position, and bringing her the news that she was expecting a boy.
On the back of the successful trials in Gabon, VSee went on to work with Syrian refugees in Kurdistan, successfully treating hundreds of patients with a range of conditions by consulting with specialists around the world.
In 2015, Inmarsat worked with international partners in Nigeria including Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), Praekelt Foundation, SURE-P, and Dalberg Global Development Advisors to deliver maternal and child health services to 50 physically and technologically disconnected rural communities.
Clinics in these remote areas used BGAN Link Wi-Fi hubs to get access to online health information from MAMA in order to help improve maternal and child health outcomes.
MAMA is a public/private partnership specialising in delivering localised health information to new and expectant mothers via mobile phones. To date it has reached more than two million women, families and care givers across a range of low and middle income countries.
Inmarsat is delivering satellite connectivity services, alongside smart devices preloaded with the organisation’s health application, to rural communities where mobile phone coverage is unreliable or non-existent.
As well as encouraging women to take advantage of maternal care services and advice, the project is also collecting data to enable improvements in maternal, newborn and child health in Nigeria.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Education is a fundamental human right, and yet there is a huge disparity in the provision of education services. Many rural communities suffer from a lack of teachers and poorly equipped classrooms.
It is always going to be easier to deliver education in urban areas, where teachers most want to work and suitably-equipped classrooms are more likely to exist. However, giving the same opportunities to students and teachers in rural communities can be achieved via satellite-enabled digital eLearning solutions.
As well as giving children access to quality online learning materials and virtual classrooms, Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) connectivity that provides ultra high speed bandwidth allows training organisations to up-skill teachers. As a result, good teachers may be less likely to be tempted away from their rural communities to find career development opportunities in the city, and children everywhere can have the opportunity to receive a solid basic education.
eLearning extends to further education too. Universities are changing the way they deliver courses, expanding their reach with more opportunities for students to enrol in online degree courses from internet café-style community centres. They can download course work and lecture notes and upload completed assignments, take part in live videogroup discussions and communicate with peers and their lecturers all over the world.
Inmarsat is also promoting access to education through its support for Partners for Possibility, a business and education partnership that aims to significantly improve schooling in South Africa, which was ranked 138th out of 140 in the World Economic Forum Global Competitive Report 2015/16 for the quality of its education system, and came bottom for maths and science teaching. The programme partners school principals with business leaders on a one-to-one basis to promote leadership development. The partners work together for one year to design an improvement plan for their school and get teachers, students, parents and the local community involved. PfP’s aim is for all South African children to receive a quality education by 2025.
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
From initial engineering surveys right through to remote monitoring for preventative maintenance, Inmarsat enables the development of infrastructure in isolated and economically vulnerable communities. Electric distribution networks, oil and gas pipe lines, mines and transport infrastructure all rely upon satellite connectivity in rural environments.
Ergon Energy maintains and manages the regional electric distribution network across Queensland which provides energy for more than 720,000 homes and businesses in some of Australia’s most isolated and economically vulnerable communities.
The company has installed hundreds of circuit breaking reclosers to manage power distribution throughout the network, with a significant number operating in the most isolated parts of the state where cellular and terrestrial connectivity is limited or not available.
Ergon Energy uses BGAN M2M to remotely monitor, control, and manage the recloser network as Inmarsat’s two-way IP data connectivity service meets their requirements for a single, ubiquitous, reliable network that is impervious to natural disasters and weather events, and provides a high level of security.
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Isolated communities are disadvantaged if they have no access to banking and financial services. If there is not a bank within walking distance, or cellular coverage to access banking apps, individuals and businesses simply cannot be part of the growing digital economy. Inmarsat works around the world supplying secure satellite data services that enable banks to provide remote financial services and ATMs. It also means businesses such as shops, restaurants and hotels can accept bank card payments.
Equity Bank Group has more than eight million customers in Kenya, making it the largest bank in terms of customer base in Africa. In 2010 the bank established the Equity Group Foundation with a corporate social responsibility remit to transform the socio-economic lives of African people by seeking partnerships to promote education, leadership development, financial literacy and access, entrepreneurship, agriculture, health, innovations and the environment.
In 2015 Inmarsat, working in partnership with the Equity Bank Group helped to deliver financial services to 200 sites across Kenya, including some of the most remote places in the region, and extend financial inclusion to the unbanked and unconnected.
We provided local agents in each village with a BGAN Link terminal to give people quick, reliable access to internet banking services. The agents can also use this connectivity to offer other data-based services, which increases business opportunities both for them and the wider community.
Each of the BGAN Link terminals were provided with smart devices preloaded with information on banking and finance subjects, addressing local knowledge gaps and helping to drive economic growth.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
Inmarsat is helping organisations to capture critical data on climate change. Our BGAN high-speed data service was used by the Earth Observatory Singapore to conduct research on earthquakes, tsunamis and climate change in Southeast Asia. Inmarsat’s global connectivity also supports vital scientific research in Antarctica. Base stations and support vessels have constant communication with the outside world, meaning scientists can send their data in real-time, conduct video conference calls and stay in touch with family and friends.
The Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) was launched in 2009 to conduct fundamental research on geohazards in and around Southeast Asia, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and climate change, and ensure affected populations are warned when there is the risk of a natural disaster.
To improve forecasting and post-event analysis, EOS uses BGAN to transmit data from 50 sensor stations scattered across Sumatra, which is at the boundary of two tectonic plates and the source of early seismic activity data if an earthquake or tsunami is imminent.
Previously, EOS had to dispatch groups of research technicians to physically collect data from a sample of 10 to 15 GPS permanent stations, which meant critical information was delayed and incomplete.
Now they can access data at any time, and rely on Inmarsat’s 99.9% network availability through the Inmarsat-4 satellites that enables invaluable measurements to still be transmitted even in the worst conditions. In April 2012, for example, when a powerful 8.6 magnitude earthquake struck Banda Aceh in Indonesia, scientists were able to able to begin analysing data as soon as 12 hours after the earthquake occurred, enhancing their understanding of earthquakes and improve future responsiveness.
EOS also uses BGAN to remotely monitor the condition of the stations, so they can be sure their instruments are working effectively at all times.
In New Zealand, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), a Crown Research Institute established to enable the sustainable management of the island nation’s natural resources, uses BGAN M2M to support its environmental data collection systems.
NIWA has weather stations dotted throughout the islands and as far afield as Fiji, well beyond the boundaries of terrestrial connectivity. By using BGAN M2M, the scientists have instant access to reliable, accurate and up-to-date data on a wide range of measurements including wind speed, rainfall, biometric pressure, humidity and soil temperature. This information is helping them to understand climate hazards and improve the safety and wellbeing of New Zealanders.
In Australia, satellite data on sharks is protecting both the animal and people. Clever Buoy is a system used by the New South Wales government that detects sharks’ unique movements and sends signals to lifeguards on the shore via Inmarsat to an app on their smartphones. They can then alert swimmers and surfers and get them out of the water. Scientists and researchers can also be updated on shark sightings as real-time data is shared via a Google+ platform.
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
Although the goals are primarily aimed at governments, private industry will be critical in supporting the delivery of these goals.
In October 2015, Inmarsat, along with other world-leading satellite operators, signed a Crisis Connectivity Charter at the World Humanitarian Summit Global Consultation in Geneva.
The charter formalises protocols to increase the ability of emergency response teams to access satellite-based communications when local networks are affected, destroyed or overloaded in the wake of a disaster. The principles of the charter also include increased coordination to prioritise access to bandwidth for humanitarian purposes during disaster operations; pre-positioned satellite equipment; transmission capacity at times of disaster in 20 high-risk countries in Europe, the Middle-East, Africa and Asia; and training and capacity building for the humanitarian community across all five continents.
The benefits of its operations were clearly evidenced following the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015.
As well as setting up communications for international search and rescue teams, TSF was also responsible for putting over 7,430 Nepalese in touch with loved ones around the world.
With the two earthquakes claiming 9,000 lives and affecting 2.8 million of the population, family and friends of people in the disaster zone were left desperate for news. By travelling to remote villages armed with IsatPhone satellite phones, TSF provided the means for them to reassure loved ones and request help.
TSF was still at work in Nepal three months after the disaster, providing an essential post-emergency eHealth service with Médecins du Monde. Medics travelled to remote communities to perform health checks, then transmitted data on their smartphones via BGAN. This allowed disease outbreaks to be detected early so intervention and treatment plans could be put in place.