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Humaninet ICT Features

Last updated: 01/29/13

HumaniNet's ICT Features section includes articles and reports of topical interest to
team members and managers in humanitarian development and relief, missionary work, and aid projects around the world.


Last October, tens of thousands of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware residents discovered that calls to and from their cell phones were not getting through – just as the high winds and flooding were hitting in full force. Find out how to use your cellphone or smartphone the smart way in disasters at our feature “Your Best Friend” with some powerful lessons from Hurricane Sandy.


Also see an excellent article by John Herrman, “How to Use the Internet When the Internet is Gone.”

Inmarsats IsatPhone continues to perform extremely well in the field - a light, reliable, and easy-to-use handset for voice and text, with global coverage and integrated GPS. Price of the Isatphone is still $700, with both prepaid and postpaid plans available, including an emergency plan for < $30 per month which includes 60 minutes of airtime. Note: prepaid plans for as little as 30 days are now are available for use in North America and worldwide. Please contact info@humaninet.org for current pricing. Click here for our feature on the IsatPhone.

Looking for ways to save on satphones or BGAN terminals –purchase and service plans? See our Current Updates page for details, or contact us at info@humaninet.org.

BGAN users:
when is the last time you tested your terminal? Check our Preparedness page, where we have posted twelve “quick and easy” tips to help you tune up your BGAN and be ready for the unexpected.


On our Preparedness page, we post ideas, notes, and commentary on how your organization can be better prepared for emergency response, whether in a developed country or in relief operations worldwide.

The many worldwide natural disasters since 2009 underscore the importance of communications in all circumstances
, especially when power, cell phones, and infrastructure are severely impacted. See Gregg Swanson’s article “Are your comms ready for a disaster? and see if your organization can pass the 9-step comms preparedness test.

Holding down usage over BGAN 11 tips for controlling your costs. Eric Hoenigmann and Mike Bizub present some excellent suggestions on how to reduce unnecessary and unexpected usage with the RBGAN satellite terminal and its recently arrived cousins in the BGAN series. Read the full article. . . For BGAN users – using the Web affordably. We are often asked how to control costs using BGAN, especially with budgets tighter than ever. We recently ran a test and came up with several lessons and tips on how to reduce the cost of Web access over BGAN.

Maps in emergencies: see our prototype interactive map of the recent earthquakes in Sumatra, which will show summary information of the response and reconstruction activity.

Also read about our experience with Google Maps and Google Earth during two field simulation exercises:
- Thailand, with ADRA and World Vision, November 2008
- Portland, Oregon, in the U.S., in April 2009

In both of these, we experimented with online maps to produce and publish a common operating picture of the response.

Our friends at MapAction have produced an excellent Field Guide to Humanitarian Mapping, authored by Naomi Morris with assistance from the MapAction team in the U.K. You may download the Field Guide here (3 Mb download, pdf). Our thanks to Nigel Woof for sending it to us. MapAction welcomes feedback, which you can send to info@humaninet.org.

Practicing for the Real Thing: Exercise Khichadi and ICTs on a Mountain Ridge
Gregg Swanson discusses the importance of team training in the field and presents five findings on ICT employment in disaster response. Read the full article.

Exercise Java Lava a Unique Field Simulation to Prepare for Natural Disasters. Two articles by Gregg Swanson describe the Java Lava simulation in Indonesia in late October 2006, some of the ICT lessons learned, and the value of such exercises to relief organizations. You may download a Powerpoint (text only, 75 kb) on Exercise JavaLava (thanks to Steve Glassey)

Observations from a week under a volcano – and 12 reasons why relief organizations should conduct simulations

Big Five Criteria - HumaniNet's proposed yardstick for field usability of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

How Much Power Does Your Laptop Need?

Blogging: reaching a global audience easily and affordably – from anywhere

Teresa Crawford, who set up the new HumaniNet blog, describes in this ICT Feature article how a blog can enable field managers to share information seamlessly with decision makers and supporters, at almost no cost.

Compressing your email, saving $. If you depend upon remote satellite or HF radio services for your email, you may have heard of "compression" and asked: how does it work, and how does it help? Read more and learn about the popular UUPlus solution.

Global Development Commons. An online resource and conversation at the intersection of technology and international development. Leading technology innovators and international development practitioners from around the world share ideas to improve efforts to enrich the lives of the world's poor.

ICT Information Service. More information on selecting and using portable satellite devices, for voice or data, is presented on HumaniNet’s ICT Information Service. Because of the rapid changes in satellite communications, including new services and a trend toward lower prices, humanitarian managers should periodically revisit their communications strategies and service provider agreements.

We welcome suggestions for new content at any time. Please contact us at info@humaninet.org.

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