PMN Wins Gold for Typhoon Emergency Comms Kit

Telecoms Critical to Saving Lives for Humanitarian Aid Missions.

12th June 2014 – Last night Private Mobile Networks, (PMN) part of the global communications leader TeleWare Group, was celebrated as the crème of the private mobile community at
Small Cell Forum 2014 for its work in last year’s tragic Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013 killing more than 6,000 people and wreaking widespread devastation, a ruggedised mobile communications system developed by ip.access, Private Mobile Networks (PMN) and TLC Solutions (TLC) restored vital communications in some of the worst affected areas of the country in the early aftermath of the disaster. The vital communication infrastructure, that was literally dropped from a helicopter in a ruggedised self-contained unit helped humanitarian aid workers to save lives and support survivors.

Gordon Mansfield, Chair of the Small Cell Forum said, “It is important that small cells are assessed beyond their purely commercial or technical merits and in the broader context of how they may help change society – either by bringing benefits directly to certain communities or situations, or by giving individuals new choices and behaviours. The entry from ip.access, Private Mobile Networks and TLC demonstrated that small cells can rapidly deliver vital improvements in access, health and disaster relief.”

Peak performance where it is needed

The compact self-contained communications system is part of a Pre-Positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kit (PEAK) that government agencies and non-governmental organisations deploy in humanitarian aid and disaster relief situations.

The PEAK system comprises self-contained units, or kits, that are stored near areas prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons or floods. Within the 72 hours that follow such a catastrophe, the kits are dispatched via helicopter or loaded onto planes and parachuted into the disaster zone. Once in the disaster zone they are able to restore essential services, providing potable water from local sources; reliable power from renewable sources; local, situational awareness of time-sensitive events to share with decision makers; as well as voice and data communications.

Vital Communications

Along with drinking water and power, reliable and secure communications is vital for humanitarian aid and disaster relief workers – it helps them find survivors, provide emergency medical help and request supplies such as medicine, food and clothing. In addition, a robust communications link is necessary for conveying real-time information to local, national or international authorities or aid agencies.

The winning small cell system from ip.access, PMN and TLC establishes communications within 15 to 20 minutes of the PEAK kit arriving at the scene of a natural catastrophe. The rapid set up time is potentially life-saving in disaster relief scenarios.

The judges were especially impressed by the small cells which are particularly suited for humanitarian aid deployments because they have low power requirements, which means the communications system will use a minimal amount of the power supplied by the PEAK kit. The small cells are also low cost, which is part of what makes PEAK a cost-effective solution for disaster relief efforts. In addition, the small cells use optimised satellite backhaul to establish communications.

Chris Moore, director of PMN commented, “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised by our peers for our emergency humanitarian mission work which we are extremely proud of. Along with clean water, communications is now a first line emergency provision.”

The solution created by PMN and its partners ip.access and TLC serves as a portable small cell network in the PEAK kit. Each kit contains two systems which include a laptop computer, a dual 2.4/5.8GHz Wi-Fi base station, two 900MHz GSM base stations with 10-watt amplifiers, a BGAN satellite terminal, 20 smartphone handsets, remote site battery packs, a 20A charger and a 10-meter mast with antennas.

While the services that the PEAK system supplies can be provided for much longer than 72 hours, the primary objective is to restore stability for people and communities in the crucial hours and days following a natural disaster and to prevent panic and chaos from overcoming a crisis situation.

Typhoon Haiyan is the most recent example of where the small cells have been deployed. Other countries where the PEAK kits have used the small cells to provide communications include Honduras, Ethiopia, Kenya and Thailand.

In Honduras, two PEAK kits were deployed to the city of La Ceiba on the northern coast of the country 24 hours ahead of an expected hurricane landfall. The small cell network was launched and established wireless coverage over a 2-mile radius to help provide robust assistance following the storm.

A key attribute of the small cell component within the PEAK kit is its ease of use. In Honduras, it took just two days to train local disaster relief teams, first responders and humanitarian aid workers.

About PMN

Part of the TeleWare Group, Private Mobile Networks (PMN) provides private GSM network solutions for a variety of deployment scenarios including in-building coverage, remote sites, GSM infill situations and rapid deployment applications. PMN offers a viable alternative to DECT and PMR for in-building solutions and delivers fixed mobile convergence to business users.

About the award

The Small Cell Forum Industry Award for Social impact recognises the company whose provision of a small cell solution has had a significant impact on the external environment in which we live. This may include improving the lives of consumers, aiding the economic situation of individuals or regions and benefitting the ecosystem upon which we all depend.