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    Paper ID



    • Sylvia Ospina


    S. Ospina & Associates - Consultants


    United States




    Since December 2004, we have witnessed a series of devastating natural disasters, with huge losses of life and homes, as well as the displacement of millions of people. Hundreds of organizations of all kinds have endeavored to provide a variety of rescue and relief services to the victims of these calamities. But most of them seem to face the same problem: lack of communication amongst themselves, leading to, or resulting in less than well-coordinated and effective relief efforts. One reason for the lack of coordinated efforts is that terrestrial means of communication, whether telephone lines or accessible roads, are usually the first to be knocked out of service. Another reason is that the different agencies, whether governmental, non-governmental, international, national, local, public or private institutions, each has its own communications policies and systems, utilizing different radio frequencies. These systems often are not compatible with each other, thus delaying notification amongst the users, and consequently, delaying relief efforts as well. At the end of the day, communications will either make or break disaster relief efforts, and satellite communications have proven that they are the best, if not essential, means to convey information in times of disaster, since they do not rely entirely on the terrestrial infrastructure. Even so, much remains to be done to improve communications at all levels, even amongst users of satellite systems. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as well as national entities involved in radio frequency management are striving to improve on this situation, by studying the possibility of ensuring that certain frequencies bands are available on a regional basis for emergency communications. If they succeed in setting apart frequencies to be used by most, if not all the entities involved in emergency response and relief efforts, in future these efforts will be more productive and efficient. Greater coordination amongst national and international agencies is needed, as well as greater cooperation between the technical people and policy makers. This paper will examine some of the efforts that are being made to make better use of the radio frequency spectrum and in particular, of satellite systems, to improve rescue and relief efforts on a global basis.