1.1 Role of telecommunications and IT in an emergency

During times of crisis, telecommunications systems help keep staff safe and allow programmes to keep functioning. In emergencies, local communications networks are often disrupted, making it difficult to talk to team members or send messages back to supporting offices. CARE operations need to put in place emergency telecommunications and IT support systems to guarantee that CARE staff can always talk to each other and be contacted in a crisis.

Telecommunications (telecoms) systems are an important set of tools available to emergency staff when working in hazardous areas. Good communications allow important information to be passed to and from field staff about changing conditions that may strongly matter to their safety. New information can be used to change emergency work plans according to the current information.

Telecoms and IT systems are also used to pass information back to neighbouring COs, Regional Management Unit(s), Lead Member(s) and other CARE offices. Computer communications (email/internet) allow current emergency information-including situation reports, media releases and photographs-to be sent out quickly from the crisis area to inform the world about what is happening during the crisis.

Telecoms and IT systems need to allow the transfer of both ‘voice’ and ‘data’. ‘Voice’ means people are able to talk to each other. ‘Data’ means the office is able to use computers and IT systems to send photos and written information such as situation reports and media releases using telecommunications systems.