Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 3 May , 2015: The UAE Space Agency addressed leading organizations that are involved in the delivery of digital communications in the aid of disaster management and relief, last week at the Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET) Forum. H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, outlined to the forum’s attendees, including: the United Nations, NGOs, and government and private sector organizations, how space technology can play a central role in serving humanity.
Organized alongside the Humanitarian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Week, this was the first time the WGET Forum was held in the Middle East. The event was hosted by the International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai and sponsored by Thuraya and Yahsat.
Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi stated that: “It is an honor to host such a prestigious event in the UAE. I would like to thank the WGET Organizing Committee for making the UAE a strategic hub among its global counterparts, but more importantly, I’d like to personally extend my appreciation to Thuraya who played a key role in bringing the WGET to the UAE and to Yahsat for supporting them.”
The need to use global satellite-based telecommunications systems in a time of emergency has never been more evident than during recent natural disasters in Nepal and other isolated countries.
Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi noted: “The United Nations has deemed connectivity as a basic human need, and the UAE space sector provides connectivity to many of the world’s underprivileged areas and plays a big role in supporting aid organizations in serving humanity.”
Dr. Al Ahbabi highlighted the remote sensing capabilities of the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and the newly established Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, and how the technology they employ in their satellites has proved to be an invaluable asset in supporting assessment, response, and relief during disasters and emergencies.
Established in 1996, the Working Group for Emergency Telecommunications is a technical forum that promotes collaboration on interagency telecommunications issues. It is intended to support the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).
WGET allows parties involved in disaster response and telecommunications to share experiences, consider new technologies, and build partnerships that will ensure a better response in future crises.
Key issues on the WGET agenda this year include providing telecommunications support to affected communities, the challenges of data security, mobile money in disasters, and how the network age is changing disaster response.