UN, Ericsson sign agreement for enhanced communications system for emergency relief
The agreement, signed on 14 December by Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Ulf Pehrsson, Ericsson's Vice President for Public Affairs, formalizes the UN's acceptance of a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) system, or "Switch."
The Switch, to be located at the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, will improve the quality of telecommunications response in humanitarian emergencies by enabling the use of mobile phones by humanitarian agencies in disaster relief operations. Ericsson will also install and test the Switch, train staff and provide remote support for two years after the system's launch in June 2002.
"Communications play an indispensable part in humanitarian relief activities, but systems used by different relief agencies during disasters and emergencies vary widely in quality and often suffer compatibility problems," Mr. Oshima said at the signing ceremony. "We very much appreciate the private sector for taking a responsible interest in humanitarian affairs and for sharing their technologies and expertise with the humanitarian community in such a generous manner."