Red Cross and BT form communications partnership to tackle disasters

BT has announced a three-year £300,000 partnership with the British Red Cross to support disaster relief worldwide with the provision of communications kit.

BT has announced a three-year £300,000 partnership with the British Red Cross to support disaster relief worldwide with the provision of communications kit.

The funding will go towards essential emergency satellite telephones, IT equipment and GPS systems for relief vehicles across the world.

BT’s support will help to increase the speed and rate of deployment of the Red Cross’ Emergency Response Units (ERUs). This is becoming increasingly essential as the number of global disasters and the demand for swifter access to information increases, said BT.

With the help of BT, ERUs can be in the field within 24/48 hours, and set up communications within an hour in the initial stages of an emergency. 

BT will also donate the skills and expertise of its employees, through specific volunteering activities with the Red Cross IT and Telecommunications emergency roster, and will fund their training programme.

In 2006 alone, the British Red Cross responded to 16 worldwide disasters, including the Java earthquake; food security crises in Africa, in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia; floods in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia Montenegro; mudslides in the Philippines and the Middle East crisis. 

François Barrault, CEO at BT Global Services, said, “The problem with disaster relief is that it is often reactive and funds are raised following a disaster.

“By being proactive and funding a three-year programme, BT and the British Red Cross can ensure that the relevant equipment and skills are ready, so that relief can be deployed anywhere in the world as quickly as possible.”

Sir Nicholas Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross said, “This partnership will enable us to increase the speed and reach of our emergency response units in the field, making us better equipped to support the most vulnerable people in crisis.”

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