NetHope Bringing Internet Connectivity to Haiti Sends team to earthquake-shattered region, setting up wireless networks for NGOs to communicate and coordinate relief efforts

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- NetHope, in partnership with its nongovernmental (NGO) member agencies and the United Nation's Emergency Telecom Cluster, dispatched a disaster relief and IT specialist to Haiti today to set up a telecommunications infrastructure and wireless connectivity in Port-au-Prince. Using a combination of two VSAT satellite dishes and Wi-Fi wireless networks, NetHope is planning to establish 15 access points throughout the devastated Haitian capital and surrounding region. The network will provide telecoms connectivity and network support to all of NetHope's 20 member agencies in the region including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, CHF International, Save the Children, World Vision and more than a dozen other leading international NGOs.

Immediately following the disaster, Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Joseph called out help with communications as the top need in Haiti, and on Saturday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated this plea underscoring the importance of restoring Haiti's communications networks to escalate relief efforts.

"In times like these, communication is absolutely critical," says NetHope CEO Bill Brindley. "Without the ability to communicate, NGOs cannot coordinate the delivery of food, water, shelter, health care and other aid, or communicate their needs to the outside world."

The 10 megabyte local network will provide Internet connectivity and possible extensions to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)-style phones so NetHope's members can coordinate the delivery of medical equipment, food, water and other essential supplies in Haiti and send need assessments to the outside world. Humanitarian agencies can use the wireless network to take advantage of a full stack of communication technologies — including GIS mapping — to synchronize relief efforts.

"The situation is heart-wrenching," says Brindley. "Staff at our member agencies have been deeply and personally impacted and are doing everything in their power to rescue Haitians still missing and provide much-needed relief to survivors. I can't underscore enough how imperative it is to establish connectivity in the region so the humanitarian sector and the Haitian government can coordinate the delivery of aid."

Since the earthquake struck, NetHope has been planning its response and raising funds to bring technology equipment to the region. It's seen tremendous response from both individuals and corporations, including a $50,000 cash donation from Microsoft Corp. NetHope has also received technical expertise and in-kind equipment donations from ITC Global, Intelsat, Cisco Systems, Inveneo, Global VSAT Forum and others.

"We're incredibly grateful to the individuals and organizations that have reached out to help during this crisis," says Brindley. "Their contributions will have a powerful multiplier effect across all our members. We encourage others wishing to give to visit our Web site."

NetHope, the Information Communications Technology collaboration of 28 leading international NGOs, is no stranger to responding in times of crisis. It has provided connectivity to its member agencies during devastating disasters such as the earthquake in Iran in 2003, the tsunami in South Asia in 2004 and the cyclone in Myanmar in 2008. The 20 NetHope member agencies responding to the disaster in Haiti include Accion, Action Aid, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, CHF International, Christian Aid, Concern, Family Health International, FINCA, Heifer International, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, PATH, Plan, Relief International, Save the Children, Winrock and World Vision.

How to help:

NetHope Haiti Earthquake Fund, PO Box 6704, McLean, VA 22106-6704

Donate online: http://www.nethope.org/

About NetHope

NetHope is a collaboration of ICT leaders from 28 leading international NGOs that work to solve humanitarian and conservation issues in the developing world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NetHope's member agencies work in more than 180 countries. To learn more, visit http://nethope.org/.

SOURCE NetHope



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