Geeks Without Frontiers (GEEKS), a non-profit organization with the goal of leveraging connectivity to improve and save lives throughout the world has – with support from the U.S. government and in coordination with leading international organizations – successfully provided a disaster preparedness program for the government of Afghanistan.
The program, which also received support from key industry members, is part of a global initiative of GEEKS, which helps to harness connectivity, technology and regulation, and combine them with stakeholder resilience strategies focused on disaster preparedness, response and recovery to help protect, save and restore lives.
“GEEKS is honored to work alongside the Afghan government, in coordination with the U.S. government, and with support from the United Nations and key communications companies,” said David Hartshorn, GEEKS’ CEO. “The outcome of this program is not only strengthened disaster preparedness, but also an important step toward the development of a national emergency communications plan for Afghanistan.”
Central to the GEEKS program was an "Emergency Communications Management Symposium". Held recently in the United Arab Emirates, the program was delivered with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and made possible through funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Industry sponsors were also instrumental to the program’s success, including Arabsat, Hughes, and Intelsat. Knowledge and skills were imparted by subject-matter experts from throughout GEEKS’ connectivity network to approximately 25 Afghan delegates from multiple government agencies and from local network operators.
GEEKS' capacity building drew upon connectivity best practices shared with the delegates by representatives of organizations that are central to international and national resilience initiatives:
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which, as a UN agency, shares best practice in communications regulation, policy and spectrum management. During the program, the ITU focused on optimizing these government functions for improved security and resilience.
The United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (UN-ETC), which coordinates disaster preparedness and response for UN agencies in disaster-affected nations in every major region. The organization advised the delegates on the technology tools, the operational strategy, and key considerations for coordinating with ETC before and during relief efforts.
The communications industry, whose representatives from Arabsat, Hughes and Intelsat shared updates on how state-of-the-art systems and services are being leveraged through resilience strategies for more effective preparedness, response and recovery. Hands-on skills building was provided by the GEEKS team together with operators of the technology solutions used for disaster
The Symposium concluded with an agreement to build upon the dialogue established during the program by collaborating on the development of a national Emergency Communications Plan for Afghanistan. A timeline for action has been confirmed by all of the above-noted stakeholders, whose contributions continue to be coordinated and supported by Geeks Without Frontiers.