MoU signed for early warning SMS system

ISLAMABAD – Telenor Pakistan has signed an agreement with its emergency response partner Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to mitigate the impact of disasters through early warning SMS system.

The agreement was signed by Telenor Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Michael Patrick Foley and PRCS Secretary General Mehboob Sardar in presence of State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman at the PRCS National Headquarters.

The project is a flagship endeavour designed to ensure preparedness and mitigation of a disaster through emergency response, emergency recovery, rehabilitation and development. The Beneficiary Communication Project will allow aid agencies and mobile phone users in disaster-hit areas to interact in real time through SMS text system creating much-needed timely communication flow.

The project is jointly funded by the International Federation of Red Crescent (IFRC) and the Telenor Pakistan. Sharing her views, the state minister said that Pakistan has seen recurring natural disasters in recent times. “It is heartening to see that Telenor Pakistan and PRCS have again collaborated to develop a system utilising their core competencies to bring positive social change,” she said.

On this occasion, Foley said that unlike traditional SMS services, which require broadcast messages to be delivered to every subscriber on a carrier's network, this system allows PRCS to specify a particular region or even a neighbourhood to which text messages would be sent to mobile phones.

The text messages elicit response from mobile phone users in need of aid, giving them an effective voice on how assistance should be delivered. “After reviewing the impact of beneficiary communication in emergency situations in various parts of the world, we are hopeful that this first of its kind project in Pakistan can deliver effective aid in the form of information that facilitates the recovery of communities affected by disasters,” he said.

The beneficiary communication aims to save and improve lives through the provision of timely, relevant and accurate information and support an environment of transparency and accountability through the creation of feedback mechanisms. This project will engage communities in dialogue and integrate beneficiary feedback into the decision making process of emergency response programmes.

PRCS Chairman Dr Saud Elahi said that one of the major challenges being faced by humanitarian organisations in natural-disaster areas was the lack of early warning for the victims that can mitigate the effects and save many lives.

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