When natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis strike, traditional fixed and wireless communications are often destroyed making satellite communications essential in the recovery of the affected area. Nowhere is this currently more apparent than in Haiti where satellite phones and data terminals are being used around the clock to aid the various aid agencies in their work as well as being used by journalists streaming news reports from the area.
According to Urgent Communications speaking with Iridium’s vice president of data services, Patrick Shay, Iridium voice traffic in Haiti has increased from 100 minutes per day to around 40,000 minutes per day since the earthquake hit on January 12. Likewise Inmarsat’s chief executive Andrew Sukawaty said in an interview with the BBC that they have seen a dramatic increase in traffic in Haiti since the earthquake and are adding channels and capacity in the area to ensure they can keep up with demand.
Global Telesat Communications have helped equip international aid agency Humanity First with the Wideye Sabre 1 satellite terminal for both voice and data communications using Inmarsat BGAN while they are in Haiti. To add to the medical team of 14 already in Haiti, a further team of 21 arrived on January 24 to support hospital teams and assist in refugee camps.
As with previous natural disasters, satellite communications are proving to be vital in the aftermath of the event and can hopefully enhance the work that aid agencies are carrying out to improve the situation in Haiti as soon as possible.