TSF looks back on busy year of disaster response

19 July 2018: Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has highlighted how Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) technology powered high capacity connectivity for emergency responders and devastated communities in large-scale natural disasters last year.

Man setting up satellite terminal on roof of building

In its annual report, the Inmarsat-sponsored NGO explains that is has adapted its response to the specific needs of affected populations, introducing new and innovative means of providing communications aid. This approach saw TSF deploy Global Xpress in St Martin and Dominica when the Caribbean was battered by two category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, last September and October.

TSF teams installed two GX terminals in St Martin to help in the coordination of relief efforts including medical evacuations, aid provision and emergency accommodation. When Hurricane Maria struck, destroying an estimated 90 per cent of Dominica’s infrastructure and leaving 73,000 people cut off, the telecoms experts were on hand to set up a GX connection in the capital, Roseau, for use by 16 international agencies. In total they transmitted 250GB of high-speed data.

Hurricane victims using satellite Wi-Fi

The Dominica mission also saw TSF utilise Global Xpress in remote communities for the first time, offering people mobile high-speed Wi-Fi access. Equipped with a 4×4 and a mobile GX antenna, the agency travelled from village to village, providing over 270 families with internet access so they could contact relatives on social media and get the latest news.

In addition, TSF offered free IsatPhone 2 calls to thousands of people left cut off from electricity supplies to charge their own phones and unable to get money out of the bank, allowing them to contact relatives overseas to ask for assistance.

In total in 2017, TSF, which has been mobilising around the world for 20 years, deployed on eight emergency missions and four protection and assistance projects, as well as capacity building, education, and bridging the digital divide programmes.