30/09/20204 Minutes

Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response: The Evolving Role of Satellites in Disaster Response

GVF’s long-standing engagement in, and commitment to, the Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response (HADR) environment can be illustrated in several examples. These examples include: [1] Its contribution to the development of the United Nations Crisis Connectivity Charter; [2] Its representation on the United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC, administered by the World Food Programme for all UN agencies); and, [3] Its more than a decade of support for the United States Department of Defense Multinational Communications Interoperability Program (MCIP) Pacific Endeavor exercise, which annually brings together the disaster response and signals personnel of up to 27 Indo-Asia-Pacific militaries.

Humanitarian crises are seemingly never out of the news, and the current pandemic has brought into fine focus the critical role of satellite in emergency communications. First responders and the wider humanitarian community become the stuff of headlines during the tragic circumstances of a disaster and such circumstances give clear illustration that the quickly deployable capabilities of satellites – the technology, the applications, and the services – are at the mission-critical core in the organisation and delivery of humanitarian aid by the various agencies of the UN and of NGOs.

This webinar explored the role of satellite communications in HADR and the challenges and opportunities impacting the use of satellite communications with panellists and a moderator representing organisations linked to all the satellite industry collaborative initiatives noted above.

Insights provided in this 60-minute session covered such thematic issues and questions as characterising the Crisis Connectivity Charter in terms of disaster preparedness and its operational functionality; natural disasters physically compromising terrestrial communications networks and the role of satellite; the increasing frequency and severity of disasters and how the advance of satcoms, working with synergistic communications technologies and with EO, better position governments, society, and communities to prepare and respond; how the satellite industry helps in transforming the humanitarian system within the digital transformation of economies; the pivotal space and ground-based communications requirements of first responders; and, the factors which essentially characterise or define the HADR mission-critical resilience of satellite.



Q & A continued….

The following questions were posed during the webinar but there was insufficient time to respond during the one-hour duration of the event. Thank you to our audience for taking an active part by asking questions, and to our panellists for their time to answer them after the webinar ended…


1. How has satellite contributed to solutions to problems caused by the pandemic?

Steve Hailey: Agencies and orgs have had to setup additional locations sometimes in parking lots and under tents. VSAT satellite has been instrumental in providing voice and data connectivity for these additional locations.


2. What frequency band is used for satellites in disaster response?

Steve Hailey: Agencies L-Band, Ku-Band, and Ka-Band.


3. What about turning satellite communication OFF when requested by a government ?

Steve Hailey: This happens from time to time. I would comply and then refer to the Tampere Convention to try and convince government authorities to change their mind.


4. What’s the best portable rapid VSAT deploy ?

Steve Hailey: The smallest portable rapid VSAT terminal I have worked with would have to be the SatCube. It is slightly larger than a laptop with the “lid” as the antenna. This is something that Knight Sky can provide along with bandwidth.