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ITU Activities on Emergency Telecommunications (including disaster detection, early warning and relief). Alexandre VASSILIEV ITU Radiocommunication Bureau phone: +41 22 7305924 e-mail:

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ITU Activities on Emergency Telecommunications(including disaster detection, early warning and relief)


ITU Radiocommunication Bureau

phone: +41 22 7305924 e-mail:

ITU Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change Quito, Ecuador, 8-10 July 2009


In 2008, 354 natural disasters were recorded in the EM-DAT database. The death toll was three times higher than the annual average of 66.813 for 2000-2007, mainly caused by two major events: Cyclone Nargis which killed 138.366 people in Myanmar and the Sichuan earthquake in China which caused the deaths of 87.476 people.

In 2008, China (29), the United States (22) and the Philippines (20) were most often hit by natural disasters. These three countries, together with India and Indonesia, have occupied the top ranking of disaster occurrence during the last three years.


ITU Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change Quito, Ecuador, 8-10 July 2009

itu overview 191 member states 700 sector members and associates



Telecommunication standardization ofnetworks and service aspects

Assisting implementation and operation of telecommunications in developing countries


Radiocommunication standardization and global radio spectrum management

ITU Overview 191 Member States, 700+ Sector Members and Associates

Plenipotentiary Conference

World Telecommunication Development Conference

World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly


Committed to Connectingthe World

Radiocommunication Assembly &

World Radiocommunication Conference

role of itu in tdr ets ews
Role of ITU in TDR/ETS/EWS
  • In 5 words, Committed to connecting the world:  even more so in distress situations!
  • Long-time work on telecom for emergency situations
    • Morse code …(it was a long time ago…)
    • radio was used for the first time for saving the lives of sailors aboard the battleship General-Admiral Apraksin at the end of 19th century
    • GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System)
  • Three recent examples
    • Tampere Convention to facilitate exchange of telecom equipment in disaster relief operations
    • WRC-07: allocated additional spectrum for radiocommunication systems involved in disaster prediction/detection and emergency communications
    • Standardization work on call priority & alert message delivery
itu role in emergency telecommunications
ITU Role in Emergency Telecommunications
  • Legal basis for Emergency Telecommunications
  • removing barriers to the deployment of telecommunication equipment;
  • providing access to radio spectrum;
  • providing necessary conditions for operation of radio and telecommunication systems;
  • Technical basis
  • developing ITU technical standards for telecommunication networks, systems and equipment (radio and wired) used ;
  • developing guidelines for the use of specific systems/equipment for disaster prediction, detection, and disaster relief;
  • Organizational basis and operations
  • developing awareness about the use of telecommunications/ICTs in emergency situation;
  • assisting Member States as regards emergency telecommunications needs;
  • developing guidelines for emergency telecommunication.
itu s role in disaster reduction 1
ITU’s Role in Disaster Reduction (1)
  • Prediction and detection - using radio-based remote sensing systems/applications
  • Mitigation
    • Damage assessment for planning relief operations
    • Spectrum management
    • Establishment of globally/regionally harmonized frequency bands
    • Application of terrestrial and space (satellite) radiocommunication services
    • Global circulation of emergency equipment
    • Support to emergency broadcasting, maritime and public safety signals
      • All types of networks
itu s role in disaster reduction 2
ITU’s Role in Disaster Reduction (2)
  • Preparedness
    • Radio spectrum to be used for relief operations
    • Standards for public telecommunication services
      • International emergency for preference scheme for disaster relief
      • Message broadcast
    • Global network security
    • Interoperability of telecom networks
itu s role in disaster reduction 3
ITU’s Role in Disaster Reduction (3)
  • Response
    • Appropriate project management techniques
    • Legal and regulatory issues (Tampere Convention + Constitution, Radio Regulations)
    • Universal access (early warning)
    • Capacity building (preparedness)
    • Relief (response)
    • Reconstruction
    • Partnerships (e.g., INMARSAT, WMO, WGET, OCHA, IARU)
scenarios for emergency communications
Scenarios for Emergency Communications
  • Four communication scenarios:
    • Citizen to citizen
    • Authority to authority
    • Authority to citizen
    • Citizen to authority
  • ITU has worked in scenarios 1, 2 and 3. More work could be done
  • Could work on scenario 4 (more relevant to day-to-day emergency situations: fire, police, call for medical assistance, etc)
how the work progresses

How the work progresses?

How the work progresses?
  • ITU’s work is contribution-driven: contributions  progress
  • Governments, users (including intergovernmental agencies and NGOs), manufacturers need to bring in proposals to enhance the features of existing systems
  • Trend for initial focus to be on improving what already exists, in order to be implementable in a short time-frame
Decisions of ITU Forums(Conferences and Assemblies) Governing ITU Activities Related to Emergency Telecommunications

National laws and regulations can sometimes hamper – or, even prohibit – the transport and use of telecommunication equipment at disaster scenes.

itu treaty status decisions plenipotentiary conference 2006
ITU Treaty Status DecisionsPlenipotentiary Conference 2006
  • Resolution 36 (Rev.Antalia, 2006) “Telecommunications/information and communication technology in the service of humanitarian assistance”
  • Resolution 136 (Antalia,2006) “Use of telecommunications/ICTs for monitoring and management in emergency & disaster situations for early warning, prevention, mitigation and relief ”
itu treaty status decisions itu r world radiocommunication conferences
ITU Treaty Status Decisions – ITU-RWorld Radiocommunication Conferences
  • Resolution 646 (WRC-03) “Public protection and disaster relief”
  • WRC-07 decisions:
  • Extension of spectrum and adoption of protection criteria for the services involved in disaster management and emergency situations.
  • Several new Resolutions requesting studies related to the further development of these services.
  • Modification of parts of the Radio Regulation related to the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS).
  • New Resolution 647 “Spectrum management guidelines for emergency and disaster relief radiocommunication”.
  • New Resolution 673 “Radiocommunications use for Earth observation applications”
radiocommunication assembly 2007
Radiocommunication Assembly 2007
  • RA-07 adopted 2 new ITU-R Resolutions:
  • Res. ITU-R 53 “The use of radiocommunications in disaster response and relief” (see at:
  • Res. ITU-R 55 “ITU studies of disaster prediction, detection, mitigation and relief” (see at:
itu documents providing legal basis for et international treaties
ITU Documents Providing Legal Basis for ET – International Treaties
  • Constitution and Convention and Resolutions (e.g. Res. 36, 98, 136) adopted by the Plenipotentiary Conference;
  • Radio Regulations (e.g. Chapter 7 “Distress and safety communications” and Resolutions of World Radiocommunication Conferences (e.g. Res. 644, 646, 647, etc.);
Developing the Technical Basis for Emergency Telecommunications (Recommendations, Reports, Handbooks, Guidelines)

The ITU global standards (ITU term Recommendations) play a vital role in ensuring an effective emergency response in times of crisis.

some itu recommendations on et 1
Some ITU Recommendations on ET (1)
  • Rec. ITU-T X.1303 “Common alerting protocol (CAP 1.1)” – a global standard for simple structured exchange of alerting messages (also accepted by WMO);
  • Rec. ITU-T H.248.44 “Gateway control protocol: Multi-level precedence and pre-emption package”;
  • Rec. ITU-T H.460.4 “Call priority designation and country/international network of call origination identification for H.323 priority calls”;
  • Extension of support for Rec. ITU-T E.106 IEPS in various signalling protocols (BICC, SS7, etc);
  • Rec. ITU-R BO./BT.1774-1 “Use of satellite and terrestrial broadcast infrastructures for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief”;
  • Rec. ITU-R M.1042-3 “Disaster communications in the amateur and amateur-satellite services”;
some itu recommendations on et 2
Some ITU Recommendations on ET (2)
  • Rec. ITU-R M.1042-3 “Disaster communications in the amateur and amateur-satellite services”;
  • Rec. ITU-R M.1826 “Harmonized frequency channel plan for broadband public protection and disaster relief operations at 4 940-4 990 MHz in Regions 2 and 3”;
  • Rec. ITU-R RS.1803, RS.1804 related to development and use of Earth exploration-satellite systems employed for environment including disaster monitoring.
some itu reports handbooks
Some ITU Reports/Handbooks
  • Handbook on Emergency Telecommunications (ITU-D) plus special supplements “Emergency and Disaster relief” (ITU-R)
  • Manual for Use by the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Services (ITU-R).
  • Report ITU-R M.2033 “Radiocommunication objectives and requirements for Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR)”
  • ITU Handbook on Best Practice on Emergency Telecommunications (based on studies in 12 countries) (ITU-D).
  • Compendium of ITU’s Work in Emergency Telecommunications (covers work of all ITU Sectors ITU-D, ITU-R, ITU-T).
meetings on emergency telecommunications
Meetings on Emergency Telecommunications
  • ITU regularly organizes forums/seminar/workshops related to emergency telecommunications. It is being done by ITU-D in cooperation with other Sectors and host region/country. Few samples of events held in 2009:
  • “Using ICT for Effective Disaster Management Pacific forum”, Apia, Samoa (7-9 July, 2009);
  • Workshop on Use of Telecommunications/ ICTs for Disaster Management: Saving lives, Harare, Zimbabwe (17 - 18 June, 2009)
  • Joint ITU – Greece (Ministry of transport and communications) Workshop on Emergency Telecommunications, Greece (8 April 2009);
  • Workshop on Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Disaster Management, Dakar, Senegal (10 - 12 March, 2009);
  • ITU Workshop “Emergency Telecommunications for Disaster Management in Maldives: Developing a National Emergency Telecommunications and Ratification of Tampere Convention”.
global forum on effective use of telecommunications ict for disaster management 1
Global Forum on Effective Use of Telecommunications/ICT for Disaster Management (1)
  • In December 2007 ITU organized this Forum attended by representatives from174governments, 18 international organizations, 27 private sector entities, and 53 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
  • Global Forum:
  • adopted ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE);
  • established High Level Panel and ITU Network of Volunteers for ET (VET);
  • adopted Forum Declaration on ICT role in reduction of natural disasters effects, etc.
  • See details at:
other itu meetings relevant to emergency telecommunications
Other ITU Meetings Relevant to Emergency Telecommunications
  • Three ITU symposia “ICT and Climate Change” organized by ITU-T (in cooperation with other ITU Sectors):
  • 15-16 April 2008, in Kyoto, Japan
  • 17-18 June 2008, in London, United Kingdom
  • 8-10 July 2009, in Quito, Ecuador.
  • There were discussions concerning the use of telecommunications/ICTs for mitigating of negative effects of disasters initiated by climate change.
  • See details at:
practical assistance
Practical Assistance
  • Using Partnership Agreements with ICO, Inmarsat, Teledeisic, Thuraya, etc., ITU-D (BDT) delivered satellite terminals (providing basic telecommunications and telemedicine applications via satellites) to Bangladesh, Uganda, Peru, etc. for disaster relief operations.
  • BR is currently creating a special database of frequencies which could be used in a country for emergency radiocommunications (see at:
  • ITU (BDT) provided consultants to undertake the study and prepare projects (including designing National Emergency Telecommunications Plans and formulating Standard Operating Procedures) related to emergency telecommunications to many developing countries.
  • ...

UN Agencies/UNWGET

(UN Working Group

on Emergency


Partnering for Humanitarian Work

  • ITU has historically played an important role in telecommunications/ICTs for disaster prediction, detection, relief and emergency telecommunications;
  • In cooperation with the Member States and the key players in industry ITU is very active in defining technical standards applicable for ET;
  • ITU also provides support on demand to the ITU Member States in emergency situations;
  • The ITU Deputy Secretary-General Mr. H. Zhao, the Chairman of theIntersectoral Emergency Communications Team (IECT), coordinates all ITU activities related to emergency telecommunications.
  • See also the main ITU Web on emergency telecommunications at: