11. Case study: Good practices and recommendations from the 2005 tsunami

  • Rapid installation of internet through Vsat: In February 2005, CARE Canada hired a contractor to set up a Vsat system, allowing for immediate internet connection and an internal LAN. CARE Canada had prior contacts within the Vsat installation company, which allowed the rapid installation. As there were no service providers in Banda Aceh, an outside ISP provider was required. Vsats were installed in Banda Aceh, Simeulue and Medan, and other NGOs were able to share access to the service which helped share costs.
  • Initial set up for internet access: CARE India set up their first office in a hotel in Chennai, which provided immediate access to the hotel’s internet connection.  Two computers, a printer and a modem were hired, which enabled operation during computer procurement.
  • Internet cafes: In many of the COs, field staff used internet cafés to send reports.
  • Increased access to telecommunications: To enhance communication, some CARE India personnel were provided with mobile phones during the emergency operation, although this was not normal policy.
  • Back-up communications means: Satellite phones were used by CARE Somalia staff, because other modes of communication were unreliable.
  • Satellite phone credit: As there were no satellite phone suppliers in Puntland, CARE Somalia staff required an alternative mode through which to purchase phone credit. A system was developed where credit was bought and received through email.
  • IT starter kits ready for an emergency: HQ could have a spare laptop that is set up as a server with a WiFi card. The laptop would be kept in a central area of the country to allow for rapid deployment. Information from the centralised database (such as forms and policies) would be loaded onto the laptop.
  • IT policy: Clear IT policies should outline the procurement of IT material, network design, set-up and service providers, and the IT team should be involved from the beginning of an emergency. Problems were encountered in Banda Aceh, because computer hardware and software (some of which was faulty) came from a variety of sources without the IT team’s input.

Satellite phones: HQ in COs should have a satellite phone to communicate with the field, because calls between satellite phones are inexpensive. The satellite phones should act as back-up in case of communication breakdown.