COMMITMENT TO ACTION

Caribbean Disaster Preparedness & Response

Commitment by NetHope

In 2018, NetHope committed to address information and communications readiness gap in the Caribbean region by implementing a disaster preparedness and response plan for the region focused on ICT preparedness. The 2017 hurricane season exposed critical weaknesses in the communications infrastructure of impacted areas, with information on damages often taking days to reach the outside world. With partners including Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft, and more, NetHope will implement a five-part regional preparedness plan involving: pre-positioned ICT equipment; deployment of trained staff; data sharing platforms with other NGOs and businesses; Information as Aid programs; and an online data sharing platform to support real-time decision making by responders. As a result of the commitment, at least 100 individuals from 25 partner organizations will receive training in how to deploy ICT in disaster settings.



Overview
Summary

Commitment

Caribbean Disaster Preparedness & Response

Launched

2018

Est. Duration

1 Year

Estimated Total Value

$4,600,000

Region

Latin America & Caribbean

Countries

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA; BAHAMAS; British Virgin Islands; Cuba; DOMINICA; DOMINICAN REPUBLIC; HAITI; PUERTO RICO

Commitment by

NetHope

Partner(s) of the Commitment Maker(s)

The Patterson Foundation; Facebook; Microsoft; Rocky Mountain Institute; Cisco; Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation; Internews Network
Details

To address the lack of information and communications readiness in the Caribbean region, NetHope and NetHope partners will work together to carry out a five-part regional preparedness plan. The plan will ensure that key ICT assets are in place for deployment anywhere in the region after a natural disaster. The five key parts of the plan are as follows.

Prepositioned Equipment: Communications equipment, solar panels, batteries, and generators will be pre-positioned in Panama City, Panama and San Juan, Puerto Rico to enable rapid deployment in the region.

Trained Staff: Trained technical staff will be available for deployment from a number of partner organizations - including Facebook (around 20 staff), Google (around 10 staff), Cisco, Microsoft, Amazon, and NetHope member NGOs. Training will be conducted by a consortium of technology companies including Cisco, Ericsson, Adaptrum, and Red52 and NGOs including NetHope, Save the Children, and ICE-SAR. As a result, NetHope will have a roster of over 100 qualified information and communications staff ready to install and support various communications solutions (e.g. wi-fi hot spots, satellite communications) and power (e.g. solar, generators) in the event of a disaster.

Data Sharing Agreements: NetHope will establish formal data sharing agreements with key government, non-governmental, and private sector actors in the region. To date, data sharing agreements have been forged with the World Food Programme, Facebook, and NetHope member NGOs. Data will include information to support logistics, communications and essential services (e.g. health, food security, shelter, family reunification, etc.)

Information as Aid: NetHope and its partners will implement Information as Aid programs designed to empower emergency responders and affected communities with "news you can use" post-disaster. At its core, NetHope’s program is designed to provide “news you can use” using Facebook for Good as a platform.

Data Sharing Platform: NetHope will establish an online data sharing platform to support operational decision making by emergency responders. Data will include information to support logistics, communications and essential services (e.g. health, food security, shelter, family reunification, etc.)

NetHope and its partners will work to pre-position equipment and conduct training through the summer of 2018 into the fall of 2018.

NetHope anticipates that there will be a natural disaster in the region in the second half of 2018. NetHope and NetHope partners will respond and following that response will update the preparedness programs for 2019.

Background

The Caribbean islands are extremely vulnerable to many natural hazards including floods and droughts, tropical storms and hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic events. Climate change is further affecting these hazards due to sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns, ocean acidification, and more extreme weather events.

During the 2017 hurricane season, two category 5 storms, Irma and Maria, struck the Caribbean Islands within two weeks of each other, causing wide-spread devastation over Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten/St. Martin, British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Turks and Caicos. Hurricane Maria destroyed over 90% of Puerto Rico’s communication and power infrastructure, leaving many areas without power or communication for up to six months after landfall. Reports on damage for many of the smaller islands took days to reach the outside world. The damage from the two hurricanes alone is estimated to be over $150 billion.

Many Caribbean islands are remote and have limited communication and power infrastructures that are susceptible to high winds and natural disasters. The economies of the small island states and overseas territories are extremely vulnerable to these hazards, making the islands’ livelihood and infrastructure at risk for natural disasters.

Natural disasters will continue to strike the Caribbean Islands in years to come. Hurricane season runs from June to October every year, and seismic activity in the region will likely continue for years to come. Preparedness is a key part of any resiliency plan; no matter how resilient a Caribbean island is, there will always be a need for rescue, response, and recovery after an emergency.

Partnership Opportunities

NetHope is seeking additional resources (both funding and in-kind) to complete this commitment. NetHope will open source all of what they do with organizations that have an interest in supporting Caribbean disaster preparedness. NetHope welcomes partnership with national governments, multilaterals, US federal agencies, and NGOs working in the region.

Progress Reports

December 2018
As of December 2018, NetHope has worked to build the capacity of responders, preposition equipment, and collect information to respond more effectively. NetHope’s progress on each of these activities is detailed below.

Caribbean National Emergency Operations Center (EOC) responders with CDEMA: NetHope is currently coordinating with CDEMA on building capacity of local emergency responders tasked with bringing up communications for National EOCs in the first phase of an emergency response. This will allow EOCs to operate immediately after a natural disaster to facilitate aid for the affected country. Training sessions are scheduled for March 2019 in the Caribbean which will include members of EOCs in the region.

Rapid Response Team: A NetHope Rapid Response team has been mobilized to be deployed within 72 hours. The team has been trained by NetHope partners Cisco TacOps and Ericsson Response. The Rapid Response team has deployed twice since being put in place; Guatemala Volcano Fuego and Indonesia Earthquakes.

Training NetHope Members and Partners: NetHope delivered an Emergency Response Training in Panama in July. Nearly 50 participants were from partners; Facebook, Google and Amazon volunteers. Participants also included NetHope members in the region. Successful participants from the training have been added to NetHope emergency response roster for future deployments.

Preposition equipment in Caribbean islands: In addition to training local personnel as first responders, NetHope will preposition equipment to bring up communications and set up local area networks for EOCs in each country. Equipment prepositioning is aimed be completed prior to 2019 hurricane season in the Caribbean.

Prepositioned Equipment in Panama UNHRD warehouse:
NetHope has signed an agreement with WFP UNHRD which has 7 warehouses globally. NetHope has prepositioned equipment in UNHRD warehouse in Panama for deployment to future emergencies.

Prepositioned Equipment with Rapid Response Team: In addition to prepositioning equipment in Panama UNHRD warehouse, NetHope has also equipped the Rapid Response team with equipment to deploy with personnel on commercial flights. Equipment has been deployed with the Rapid Response team to Indonesia and Guatemala emergency responses

Gather regional assessment information with WFP Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC): NetHope is working with ETC on collecting information which will be valuable prior to responding to emergencies in the Caribbean. Information will include providers, telecom infrastructures and contacts in each country to establish relationships prior to an emergency as well as select key providers beforehand to respond more efficiently.

Satellite Connectivity and Bandwidth: NetHope has identified partners in the satellite industry to provide services for satellite communications globally. This includes sat phones, BGANs, LTE and VSAT services.

Rapid Response Fund: In order to respond efficiently, NetHope has secured Rapid Response Funds to carry out an assessment by the Rapid Response team immediately after a natural disaster. Depending on the assessment results, NetHope can scale up the response if necessary.