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ITU Issues Emergency Telecoms Guidelines

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The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) issued fresh guidelines for countries to develop emergency plans to maintain access to telecom networks and services during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

In a statement, ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao said the outbreak showed how “vital information and communication technology networks and services” are to pandemic and disaster management.

Zhao detailed how national emergency telecommunication plans “can ensure there is effective and timely sharing of information across all levels of government, within affected communities and among humanitarian agencies to prioritise response efforts and to save lives”.

The ITU explained guidelines highlight major areas of risk during a disaster, justify funding for vital gear and staff in an emergency, and advocates the need for day-to-day resources and procedures to keep national authorities prepared, “especially in relation to maintaining vital communications, the essential lifeline during emergencies”.

Director of the ITU telecommunication development bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin said it was “crucial” stakeholders are ready to take action when an emergency situation arises.

She recommended “mock exercises including tabletop, talk-through and walk-through exercises to full-scale drills, help to ensure smooth emergency response among those involved in disaster management and communications”.

The ITU added it had already worked with “several” countries to create national emergency telecommunication plans, set up early warning and monitoring systems, and on provision of equipment. –Mobile World Live

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