Since the 1990s the growing frequency and complexity of humanitarian crises in developing countries have led to a surge in the number of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing humanitarian relief. For these NGOs, communication plays a vital role in minimizing the damage done by disasters. The sooner humanitarian organizations are able to collect, analyze and disseminate critical information, the more effective the response becomes and the more lives are potentially saved. Therefore, NGOs increasingly rely on ICTs to share information so as to improve the efficiency of relief and development efforts. However, limited availability of infrastructure in remote areas prior to the disaster and potentially damaged infrastructure as a result of the disaster, place a significant burden on field workers to share information with headquarters or other relief agencies.
With no alternatives in place, NGOs frequently must use very expensive satellite infrastructure through VSATs (Very Short Aperture Terminals). VSAT technology is particularly useful when terrestrial infrastructure has been destroyed, and as such provides a powerful tool to mitigate damage incurred by disasters (Hancock, 1999; Marek, 1993). However, given the expensive nature of any satellite communications, VSAT is often deployed in the context of establishing new field offices; and thus is primarily deployed for development purposes, rather than for emergency response, or direct post-disaster relief.
David J. Saab, Co-authored with A.F. van Gorp, L.M. Ngamassi Tchouakeu, C.F. Maitland, A. Tapia, E. Maldonado, R. Orendovici, and K. Zhao and presented at The 17th Biennial Conference of the International Telecommunications Society. Montreal, Canada, June 24-27, 2008. VSAT Deployment for Post-Disaster Relief and Development: Opportunities and Constraints for Inter-Organizational Coordination among International NGOs.