Telecoms Sans Frontieres - Setting up a telecoms centre

Earlier today I was out at an airfield near Pau in the south west of France to see how Telecoms Sans Frontieres trained its volunteers.

The afternoon involved a simulation where the volunteers setup various pieces of satellite communications equipment to support humanitarian relief efforts.

The picture below showa a telecommunications centre. During a releif effort this would allow aid workers to connect their laptops, access the Internet, fax and make telephone calls using satellite communications.

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In order to set up the satellite link, first you have to find the satellites…

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Here, the volunteers are busy deploying a TSF humanitarian calling operation project. This plays a key role in TSF’s relief efforts during a humanitarian crisis like an earthquake or flooding, where refugees and people displaced by such natural disasters can make a telephone call to tell loved ones if they are safe and whether they need anything. Jean-Francois Cazenave, founding president of TSF says that such a centre can be as important as giving out food and medical help.

“In every refugee camp we have visited, victims come in with a telephone number on a scrap of paper which they have stored for safe keeping in their shoe. Often these people have lost everything and all they want – more than food or water – is to inform their relatives that they are okay, and that they are now in a refugee camp, the children have survived and if anyone of the family has been lost.”

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In this picture Laurent Petit, an engineer at satellite communications provider SatXPro, checks that calls can be made using a Eutelsat VSAT fitted to TSF’s Nissan.4×4. This piece of satellite equipment has a motorised dish and can be installed on the vehicle’s roof rack in minutes. The dish and comms kit can all be packed away into two flight cases for easy portability.

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