The destruction caused by the earthquake in the Haiti has meant that the country has no power grid and no landlines. But the mobile phone networks have recovered quickly enough to be a lifeline for SMS users, as other infrastructures remain crippled most mobile services were restored within a day of the earthquake.
Foreign agencies have utlilised these networks to enable a free SMS service for Haitians to send and receive critical news and information. People can send, at no cost, text messages into the system and this ensures a stream of on-the-ground information to aid groups.
This service has been used to help search-and-rescue teams find people trapped in the rubble and direct the injured population to working hospitals. In one case, a man trapped for five days in a collapsed building sent a text message, which was translated into GPS coordinates. A search-and-rescue team was dispatched and saved his life.
As we speak, thousands of text messages from the local population are being translated into English and geo-tagged by hundreds of organised global volunteers. The United Nations, The Red Cross and the Haitian government are using the service to help spread messages such as how to reduce disease risks, trace missing relatives and protect children.
Prior to the earthquake, Haiti had a track record of using SMS in novel ways. Two years ago a network of local journalists used the SMS messaging to spread information about HIV/AIDS to the public.
Vocal is a provider of critical information communication through our award-winning iModus system, trusted to provide the public and private sectors with the tools to deliver necessary information to staff, residents and stakeholders.
For more information visit www.vocal.co.uk or contact our Accounts Team on 0800 035 0081 or firstname.lastname@example.org