The Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network, a portable mobile phone network which helps people connect with their relatives in situations of natural disasters just won the GSMA Humanitarian award at the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona.
The Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network is a portable mobile phone network which packs into three suitcases, weighs less than 100kg and can be taken on commercial flights. Once on location, a network can be established in 40 minutes. The ‘ultra-portable’ mobile network can provide coverage of three to five kilometres and the GSM base station can transmit and receive thousands of text messages and dozens of calls simultaneously. The Instant Network has been recently deployed in Baganga for the first time and has been used in an emergency disaster situation, where it provided communications during sever droughts in Kaikor, Northern Kenya.
Andrew Dunnett, Director at Vodafone Foundation, said, “The Instant Network is part of our Mobile for Good programme, where the Foundation is combining funding with mobile technology as an enabler. Providing mobile communications in a disaster situation enables aid agencies to work faster and more effectively, helps reunite families and saves lives.”
The Instant Network, developed by Vodafone in collaboration with Huawei, is deployed in partnership with emergency communications specialists Télécoms Sans Frontières and Smart Communications. In December of 2012, thousands of people in the Philippines were hit by the massive Typhoon Pablo, communication lines were cut, buildings were flattened, cell sites and telecoms transmission facilities suffered a lot of damage. With the deployment of the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network thousands of people that were hit by this typhoon managed to contact their relatives and aid agencies whilst carrying out life-saving emergency work that needed this much awaited communications tool during their work.
In February 2013, the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network was set-up in Kaikor in partnership with Safaricom and the Kenyan Red Cross to assist with relief efforts and the delivery of food. The Kaikor community of 15,000 previously went by without power, running water or reliable communications and was dependent upon aid agencies such as the Red Cross to provide medical and educational support and sanitation. In its 47 days of deployment, 264,104 calls were made over the Instant Network, including almost 12,000 free minutes used by aid agencies and humanitarians calling centres for those people without access to a phone.
Ramon Isberto, Head of Public Affairs, Smart Communications, said, “We are delighted to be collaborating with the Vodafone Foundation and Télécoms Sans Frontières to respond to the extraordinary challenges posed by Typhoon Pablo. This will complement our efforts to fully restore communications services in parts of the province where the typhoon’s damage has been severe.”