Peripatetic Event

Boots on the Ground When They’re Needed Most

Nimrod Kapon, OASIS Networks

 We live in a world where extreme weather, natural phenomenon and war are omnipresent and when disastrous events happen, natural or manmade, the need for connectivity is more pronounced than ever. Unfortunately, it is during events like these that terrestrial connectivity is often wiped out, and therefore a solution is required to re-establish communications in order to get help to those that need it. But it’s a complex challenge.

Areas hit can be remote, or cut off by already inadequate infrastructure. In disaster situations, chaos tends to ensue, with many different organisations and agencies trying to make sense of the situation. How can this fog be lifted to allow a coordinated and coherent response to the event?


Rapid deployment for rapid response

Satellite technology provides the ideal solution in these types of emergencies. Satellite requires no prior infrastructure so can be deployed anywhere. As long as the satellite terminal has line of sight to the satellite it is communicating with, connectivity can be restored. With a range of highly portable, fast deploy terminals available, it provides a highly reliable, cost-effective method of emergency connectivity.


The right boots on the ground

When the call comes through asking for help in a disaster scenario, you need to live and breathe it. That means being there, on the ground, rather than managing the project from an air-conditioned office in another country. It is critical that the companies providing VSAT services deploy experienced technical teams to affected areas to assess the situation first hand, and offer the right technical support wherever and whenever it is needed.

I have had first-hand experience of the challenges of travelling to remote sites, where disasters often wreak the most havoc. Having to carry materials and equipment adds to the problem, as does bad weather. Roads and tracks that are useable in dry weather will quickly turn to streams of mud after rain, making them impassable. This is where local knowledge is invaluable.

After arriving at the site, key questions must be addressed. Where should the satellite terminal be located? Are there obstructions that affect line-of-sight? Can a power generator be accessed? It’s near impossible to predict in advance all of the logistical and technical challenges that you’re likely to encounter. From experience, we know that for a satellite-based project to be a success, you need the right boots to be on the ground. You’ve got to have the right local knowledge, as well as the skills and experience to resolve issues quickly.

Once connectivity has been restored, and a control room opened if this is necessary, coordination can begin between agencies and headquarters - and inter-agency communications as well.

Successful satellite projects deployed in the aftermath of disasters require a well-coordinated team with local knowledge, who are able to respond quickly to logistical and technical challenges. With proper preparation, experience, determination and skills, it’s possible to find solutions to the most complex problems.