IT vital to Red Cross aid efforts in Indonesia

Isolated villages cut off by the earthquake in Indonesia have received food and aid thanks to innovative use of satellite technology.

Isolated villages cut off by the earthquake in Indonesia have received food and aid thanks to innovative use of satellite technology.

Red Cross workers have been on the scene since the earthquake on 30 September which killed more than 1,000 people. Their job is to receive, process and send out aid via helicopter to the affected villages.

To get to the most isolated areas, staff equipped with satellite phones were sent to the villages and used BGAN terminals, which are capable of providing simultaneous telephone and broadband connections, to communicate with staff in Padang and a helicopter base station.

Team leader Jamie Richardson said, "Without the helicopters we wouldn't have been able to reach the villages with aid and medical teams and they would have been cut off for months. Having that communication was vital."

Telephone and power lines are down and the people in these villages have been cut off by landslides caused by the earthquake.

The equipment was supplied by BT, and the company is donating £300,000 for IT and satellite telephony equipment.

Richardson said, "We constantly need to share detailed information, so computers and the internet are essential for communicating between the team; when we're out in the field, we can't rely on landlines or the mobile network, so we have to use satellite phones and BGAN units. Before we can do anything we need to have the tools to do the job, and information technology is absolutely vital to what we do."

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