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Thomson Reuters Foundation launches free information service for disaster-struck Haitians
Thomson Reuters Foundation launches free information service for disaster-struck Haitians
* Thomson Reuters Foundation puts in place first-of-its-kind Emergency Information Service (EIS) in Haiti
* EIS provides practical, reliable information to earthquake survivors, using local languages French and Creole
* The service is free and global. People can register via a simple text message. Families and friends around the world can also register loved ones' numbers on their behalf
* Survivors will receive critical news and information direct to their mobile phones
PORT AU PRINCE, Jan 17 - Thomson Reuters Foundation on Sunday launched a first-of-its kind, free disaster-information service for the people of Haiti.
The service allows survivors of Haiti's earthquake to receive critical information by text message directly to their phones, free of charge.
To register, survivors simply text their location to the SMS shortcode 4636. By return, up-to-date, reliable, actionable information will be sent to them wherever they are in Haiti, helping them to reach shelter, aid and loved ones. The service will cost them nothing.
The service also acts as a news and information gathering mechanism, whereby survivors can report information directly into the EIS team of specialist journalists. The EIS team will collate this information and it will be made available to agencies, emergency teams and local media.
People outside of Haiti and the quake zone can register their loved ones' cell phone numbers on their behalf.
TO REGISTER FOR THE SERVICE
- If inside Haiti: text your location to 4636 directly from your own phone
- If inside Haiti and registering someone else's phone number: send a text with REGISTER or REGISTRE and the loved ones' number and location, to 4636
- If overseas: text REGISTER or REGISTRE and the loved ones' local Haiti number and location to +4673 749 4535
- Note: The SMS shortcode is dependent on local telecom infrastructure; if the infrastructure fails, the local SMS service will not work.
The EIS also aims to get critical information to survivors via local media, especially radio, and Thomson Reuters Foundation already has a team of expert humanitarian journalists in Haiti working around the clock to collect and disseminate information.
Working with technology partner InSTEDD and aid agencies including the Red Cross, Thomson Reuters Foundation aims to help Haitians with practical information to help them take control of their own recovery.
Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa said: "In times of major natural catastrophes, information itself is aid, as crucial as shelter or blankets. All forms of communication in Haiti have been impaired and the EIS team will help fill the communication void providing reliable, actionable information to the disaster affected population.
"We only launched our new service in December on the fifth anniversary of the Asian Tsunami and whilst you never want or anticipate significant natural disasters, I am pleased that our service is now up and running so that we can come to the aid of the people of Haiti."
The Emergency Information Service is a first service of its kind, launched by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in December 2009. The EIS will be deployed when major natural disasters strikes communities around the world, leaving them with no reliable communication infrastructure.
EIS Action-Units will be deployed within hours of a disaster and upon arrival in the disaster zone will seek out, collate and disseminate life-saving information to disaster-hit populations. Key to the EIS if the use of local language for the affected population.
Thomson Reuters Foundation has developed groundbreaking technology to allow the EIS team and other groups to assimilate and process multiple information streams in an emergency. The tools let the EIS Action-Units generate information services for dissemination in local languages via SMS, email and web page.
When all communications are down, the EIS will turn to low-tech means such as leaflets, community notice boards and even megaphones. The Thomson Reuters Foundation joined by the Red Cross to act as a key delivery partner in disaster zones.
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