The cost of using satellite services in humanitarian relief work could fall significantly after an information sharing agreement between key players in the satellite industry and a cooperative of international NGOs. Satellite imagery can play a crucial role in aid work, allowing relief agencies to make reliable needs assessments after disasters and plan emergency operations. But services don’t come cheap, and NGOs often struggle to untangle the best deals for communications equipment and calling rates.
That could change following an agreement between the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), which groups 170 mobile and satellite industry players in some 70 countries, and NGO cooperative NetHope that aims to help humanitarians bridge the digital divide. NetHope is a consortium of 15 big global NGOs that seeks to apply Internet technology to relief work in disaster areas including Iraq, Iran, Liberia, Afghanistan and Chad. Members include ActionAid, Care, Oxfam and Relief International.
GVF and NetHope said in a joint statement they had teamed up to ensure relief agencies get transparent information and updates on the best satellite solutions through GVF’s website. The two groups will also work to give the humanitarian sector a bigger voice in an industry dominated by governmental and corporate stakeholders. This will involve running seminars, workshops and training programmes to bring different players together.