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International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Saving lives: Telecommunication is critical at all phases of disaster management

31 January 2013 | 9:30 am
31 January 2013 - Focus Group learns from the Great East Japan Earthquake


Attendees of the fourth meeting of ITU’s Focus Group on Disaster Relief, Network Resilience and Recovery (FG-DR&NRR) will participate in a one-day technical tour of Sendai city, the area hardest hit by 2011’s Great East Japan Earthquake, visiting affected telecommunication installations and R&D sites specialized in the study of network resilience and recovery.

Organized by ITU-T and hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Internal affairs and Communications (MIC) and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), the fourth meeting of FG-DR&NRR will take place in Tokyo, Japan, 5-8 February 2013.

The meeting is preceded by an ITU workshop on “e-Health services in low-resource settings: Requirements and ITU role”, 4-5 February 2013, at the same venue. FG-DR&NRR participants are encouraged to attend this workshop, and particularly the afternoon sessions on the 5th where e-health applications related to disaster relief will be on show.

ITU-T Focus Groups are tasked with initiating work on new standardization challenges as input to the ITU-T Study Groups. Focus groups have a great deal of flexibility to decide their structure and working methods and participation is free of charge and open to non-members of ITU.

FG-DR&NRR was established in January 2012 at a meeting of the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG). The group coordinates ITU-T’s current work in the disaster relief field, and is expanding this work into two important new areas: (1) disaster relief for individuals (to notify relatives, friends or employers of a victim’s situation) and (2) disaster relief guidance (to show victims the routes to evacuation shelters, home, etc.).

Read more on FG-DR&NRR and its upcoming meeting here

 

3 February 2012 | 8:03 am
03 February 2012 - TSAG establishes new Focus Group on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery

The January meeting of the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG) has established a new Focus Group on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery (FG-DR&NRR).

A spate of recent natural disasters has underlined the need for preemptive disaster-response planning. ICT networks must be resilient enough to withstand disasters, but have also proven to be pivotal in providing relief to the people affected by major climatic fluctuations.

The Focus Group will coordinate ITU-T’s current work in this field, and will expand this work into two important new areas: (1) disaster relief for individuals (to notify relatives, friends or employers of a victim’s situation) and (2) disaster relief guidance (to show victims the routes to evacuation shelters, home, etc.).

 For these types of standardized emergency communications to exist, ICT network resilience and recovery capabilities need to be such that networks can resume normal service quickly after disaster strikes. TSAG has thus directed the Focus Group to identify all the standardization requirements of network resilience and recovery; a study which may extend beyond current ITU work in this field.

The Focus Group’s scope is as follows:

  • identify requirements for disaster relief and network resilience and familiarize the ITU-T and standardization communities with those requirements;
  • identify existing standards and existing work related to the requirements mentioned above;
  • identify any additional standards that may need to be developed and identify future work items for specific ITU-T Study groups and related actions;
  • encourage collaboration among ITU-T Study Groups, in particular SG2, SG5, SG13, SG15, and SG17, ITU-R, ITU-D and relevant organizations and communities, including the PCP/TDR.

The Focus Group will collaborate with worldwide relevant communities (e.g., research institutes, forums, academia) including other SDOs and consortia.

Comments invited by 10 February 2012

The group’s Terms of Reference are subject to consultation. The Membership is therefore invited to send comments to bruce.gracie@ic.gc.ca (TSAG Chairman), with copy to tsbtsag@itu.int or to t09tsagall@lists.itu.int (TSAG general mailing list), by no later than Friday, 10 February 2012.

 


 

6 April 2009 | 8:05 am
06 April 2009 - Talks with French Government Officials and Industry Leaders

During the UN CEB meeting held at UNESCO in Paris, Dr Touré took the opportunity to have extensive talks with French Government officials and industry Leaders, touching upon issues of great importance to both France and ITU: The negative impact of the economic crisis on the ICT sector as well as the solutions and opportunities ICTs present for global economic revival. The promotion of the forthcoming ITU Telecom World 2009 was received positively.

 

23 July 2008 | 9:41 am
23 July 2008 - ITU standard assists rescue workers to notify victim's next of kin - Global mobile phone directory code for use in emergencies

Emergency workers searching for next-of-kin contact information for an injured person now have a globally recognized way of doing so, thanks to a new standard from ITU.

By simply prefixing the Arabic numericals 01, 02, 03, and so on to a nominated contact, such as "01father", "02wife" or "03husband" written in any script in the mobile telephone directory, will help emergency workers in any part of the world identify contacts in order of priority and notify them.

ITU will work with non-profit organization ICE4SAFETY to promote this new way of identifying an emergency contact in a mobile handset's directory.

"In Case of Emergency" — or ICE — has emerged in some English-speaking countries encouraging people to list emergency contact numbers in their mobile phone’s directory in the form of "ICE father", for example, or "ICE doctor". However, this precludes people who do not use or recognize the Roman script from readily identifying what the term "ICE" represents. ITU members expressed the need to identify emergency contacts independent of language or script. [More...]

 

9 July 2008 | 10:47 am
09 July 2008 - ITU and Servei de Telecomunicacions d'Andorra join forces to connect least developed countries and Small Island Developing States

The International Telecommunication Union and Andorra's telecommunications operator, Servei de Telecomunicacions d'Andorra (STA), have signed a non-exclusive partnership cooperation agreement to help boost access to telecommunication and information and communication technology (ICT) services in least developed countries and Small Island Developing States. In particular, the two parties will work together to develop and implement projects that aim to improve rural or outer island communication infrastructure; provide basic telecommunications, as well as high-speed Internet services; strengthen local capacity in information technology skills; and enhance ICT capacity, especially for emergency and disaster preparedness and management. [More...]

 

26 November 2007 | 9:15 am
26 November 2007 - Standard to inform next of kin in emergency

A standardized way to identify next-of-kin (or other emergency contact) in a mobile handsets’ directory, for use in case of emergency, has been sent for next level approval by Study Group 2 in May 2008.

Currently emergency service workers searching for contact information for the next-of-kin to an injured person have no commonly understood way of identifying that person’s details. Increasingly the directory of the injured person’s mobile handset is used, since it usually contains the names and numbers of next-of-kin. However, there is no standard way to distinguish these contacts from all other entries in the mobile handset directory.

A prefix to those contacts to be dialed in case of emergency is one solution. International standards must be useable by anyone, regardless of language or script. This requirement has been met by using Arabic numerals (the digits 0 through 9) since they are known by all users around the world.

The owner of a mobile handset can indicate contacts to be dialled in case of emergency by formatting the name in the form “0nx”, where “n” is a digit from 1 through 9 and “x” is any meaningful descriptive character string (e.g. “Anna” or “spouse” or “安娜”). In the interface it would be displayed as “01Anna” or “01spouse” or “01安娜”. This descriptive string is used for the “contact name” in the mobile handset directory; the actual number of the person to call in case of emergency is used for the corresponding “contact number”.

Once this standard is approved and widely implemented by individual mobile users around the world, any emergency service worker can look at the mobile handset directory and quickly identify entries tagged by the user as contact persons to call in case of emergencies.

“Emergency contact number notation” stands on the runway to take off as a new clause in ITU-T Recommendation E.123, which currently specifies, among other things, the familiar +41 22 123 456 notation for telephone numbers and other information commonly displayed on business cards.

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23 November 2007 | 1:16 pm
23 November 2007 - ICTs and Climate Change

A new report from ITU-T shows how Information and communications technologies (ICTs) contribute to global warming, but also how they can be used to monitor climate change, to mitigate its effects, to improve energy efficiency and to reduce carbon emissions in other sectors of the economy. The report -- ICTs and Climate Change -- is the third in the new series of Technology Watch Briefing Reports, launched by ITU-T in October 2007. It has been submitted to TSAG for further discussion at its upcoming meeting, 3-7 December. It is planned that an ITU symposium on this topic will be held in 2008.

Since 1970, the production of greenhouse gases has risen by more than 70 per cent, and this is having a global effect in warming the planet, causing changing weather patterns, rising sea-levels, desertification, shrinking ice cover and other worrying long-term effects. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) foresees a further rise in average global temperatures of between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees centigrade by 2030. Climate change is a concern for all of humanity and requires efforts on the part of all sectors of society, including the ICT sector. Although ICTs contribute only an estimated 2.5 per cent of total greenhouse gases, this share is set to grow as usage of ICTs expands globally, growing at a faster rate than the general economy.

ICTs are thus part of the cause of global warming, but they can also be part of the solution, for instance through the promotion of carbon displacement technologies. ICTs are also vital in monitoring the spread of global warming. One specific contribution ICTs can make is through the substitution of travel by electronic forms of communication, such as telephone calls, email or video-conferencing, all of which benefit from ITU-T¡¯s standardization work. In particular, high-performance video-conferencing, or telepresence (the topic of the second Technology Watch Briefing Report), can give the impression of 'being there, without going there'. Furthermore, ITU-T itself is also contributing to a greener future through its decision to make ITU-T Recommendations freely available online. In the mid 1990s, more than one million publications were printed by ITU but, with free Recommendations now available in electronic form, this has been cut to just a few thousand that are still printed, and carbon emissions from transport of printed copies and CD-ROMs has been greatly reduced.

12 November 2007 | 8:15 am
12 November 2007 - Common Alerting Protocol becomes ITU-T Recommendation

A standard that allows a warning message to be consistently disseminated simultaneously over different systems and applications has been approved as an ITU-T Recommendation.

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) v.1.1 developed by OASIS was the basis for the text that will be published as an ITU-T Recommendation following approval on 12 September. Publication as an ITU-T Recommendation (X.1303) will help ensure that CAP is deployed worldwide giving technical compatibility for users across all countries. The goal of public warning is to reduce the damage and loss of life caused by a natural or man-made hazard event.

CAP is a simple, lightweight XML-based schema that provides a general-purpose format for the exchange of emergency alerts for safety, security, fire, health, earthquake and other events over any network. CAP associates emergency event data (such as public warning statements, photographs, sensor data or URIs) with basic metadata such as time, source and level of urgency, and with geographic locations. The original V.1.1 specification was enlarged by a binary ASN.1 specification of the CAP messages that will enable the transport of CAP messages to VoIP terminals using H.323 among other systems. Experts say the use of ASN.1 significantly reduces the size of the message and therefore the potential for network congestion. OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee has also adopted the same extension.

CAP is successfully in use by a number of public emergency services and land management agencies today, and works with a wide variety of devices and messaging methods.

 

31 October 2006 | 3:03 pm
31 October 2006 - ITU-T and OASIS strengthen cooperation

An ITU-T and OASIS workshop on public warning, October, attracted 80 participants and saw agreement on a number of ways forward. The event signaled a further stepping-up of cooperation between the two organizations.

The OASIS Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), which was successfully demonstrated at the event, has been submitted to ITU for international standardization, officials from both organizations confirmed. Publication as an ITU-T Recommendation will help ensure that CAP is deployed worldwide giving technical compatibility for users across all countries. This action had strong support from the workshop.

The goal of public warning is to reduce the damage and loss of life caused by a natural or man-made hazard event. CAP allows a warning message to be consistently disseminated simultaneously over many warning systems to many applications.

Attendees, from policy makers to manufacturers to personnel involved in emergency management also agreed among other things to: “Coordinate actions among all relevant players to ensure that standards-based, all-media, all-hazards public warning becomes an essential infrastructure component through platforms such as the Telecommunications for Disaster Relief and Mitigation - Partnership Co-ordination Panel (PCP-TDR)”.

The workshop produced a number of other proposals, which will shortly be available from the event’s website.

In a separate announcement, OASIS said that it was happy to welcome ITU as an event supporter for its upcoming Adoption Forum, London , 27-29 November. ITU members are invited to attend the conference, titled Managing Secure Interactions in Sector Applications, at the reduced rate of EUR100 per day.

The announcements follow the June 2006 approval as internationally recognized ITU-T Recommendations of OASIS’ SAML as ITU-T X.1141 (Security Assertion Markup Language) and XACML as ITU-T X.1142 (Extensible Access Control Markup Language). See previous story.

 

2 October 2006 | 9:24 am
02 October 2006 - Workshop to Focus on Public Warning Systems: Geneva Event in Collaboration with OASIS
ITU-T is hosting a workshop and demonstration together with OASIS on Advances in ICT Standards for Public Warning, 19-20 October.

In the wake of the Tsunami disaster that took place on 26 December 2004 and major natural catastrophes that hit in 2005 standards development organizations (SDOs) have stepped up work on public warning in concert with organizations dealing with disaster management, prevention and relief. Emphasizing the practical application of standardized public warnings, the workshop will review relevant work by SDOs, identify standardization gaps, and identify key players to collaborate on further work as needed.

The two-day event will feature an emergency management interoperability demonstration of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) OASIS standard, as well as presentations by various players active in public warning and discussion of relevant technology issues that may also have public policy implications. 

 

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