Rapid Deployment Kit: Improving Satcom for Humanitarian Missions

When a dam breaks and inundates villages, a super typhoon hits and completely wipes out towns, an earthquake devastates cities, or armed conflict overwhelms a country, the people affected by the calamity need immediate aid.

Rapid Deployment Kit

Even a day's delay could translate to lost lives, irreparable damage, and irreversible trauma. Therefore, in times of emergencies and disasters, timely humanitarian aid and intervention by government agencies and non-governmental organisations are of the essence.

But you can't simply put people on the ground. There must be clear communication and strict coordination, too. This is where satellite communications or satcom for humanitarian missions play a crucial role.

Why Satcom is Crucial to Mission Success

Communication is essential in coordinating humanitarian aid and relief efforts. There must be unhampered communication between mission control, field personnel and remote or response teams. Communication helps ensure that humanitarian missions will be both efficient and effective.

But disasters, especially natural calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires, often wipe out existing terrestrial communication systems. GSM and cabled broadband networks are often the first to go in such calamities.

Meanwhile, wars and armed conflicts often mean that the dominant group takes over communication infrastructures. This not only leads to the disenfranchisement of populations, as they are stripped of access to essential information and communication networks, but also makes communication systems inaccessible to humanitarian organisations.

Thus, terrestrial network alternatives are critical to humanitarian missions. Satcom systems bypass terrestrial networks and take communication to a level beyond the problems of unavailability and lack of access.

With satcom networks, mission control can communicate and coordinate with their people on the field, and vice versa, whether or not GSM networks are available. This helps ensure transparency and accountability.

Even with GSM and cable networks down, mission control can ensure relevant and timely situational awareness. Likewise, they can continuously update the people on the ground about the status of oncoming relief packs, medical aid and financial support. Moreover, field personnel can better coordinate their efforts to ensure they will cover every bit of necessary ground.

Satcom networks also provide field personnel with a means to communicate with family back home. They no longer need to be cut off from information, the world, and the people they love while serving on a mission in remote places.

The Rapid Deployment Kit for Humanitarian Missions

The Rapid Deployment Kit (RDK) is a satellite communications solution designed to accelerate the response of humanitarian missions in disasters and emergencies. It is powered by Thuraya broadband terminals and enabled by IEC Telecom's OneGate Aid Compact network management system.

With RDK, a humanitarian organisation can readily respond to calls for help. The following are the many features that make it ideal as a satcom solution for humanitarian missions.

1. Lightweight and Portable

The kit is lightweight and comes in a portable suitcase for easy transport. And since you can remove its batteries, you can carry it aboard commercial flights. 

This means humanitarian organisations can deploy remote teams at a moment's notice. Deployment can be as easy as boarding a commercial airliner, and field personnel need not wait for their satellite equipment to arrive via an aid and relief cargo charter.

The portability also ensures that field personnel need not lose connectivity even if they need to move. The durable suitcase ensures it can withstand the rigours of travel and remain a viable tool even with extreme handling and harsh travel conditions.

2. Uncomplicated Set-up and Remote Updates

Set-up does not require specialised technical knowledge and expertise. Rapid deployment kits, moreover, may be updated and upgraded remotely.

Therefore, using a rapid deployment kit means there is no need for onsite technicians and satcom specialists. This has quite a few benefits.

First, there is no need for an onsite satcom technician to get it up and running. Thus, remote teams can get set up and immediately start without delays.

Next, the humanitarian mission can operate in a lean fashion. Since there is no need for specialised satcom personnel, the humanitarian missions can reduce equipment, operational and logistic costs. 

3. High-Speed Data

The main strength of satellite communication systems is that they give you coverage even in the remotest areas where GSM networks are weak or non-existent. However, typical rapidly deployable satcom systems do not provide high-speed data connectivity.

Humanitarian missions usually need a very small aperture terminal or VSAT system for high-speed, reliable internet connectivity.

Thuraya and IEC Telecom's rapid deployment kit is a breakthrough in that it can provide internet connectivity at VSAT-level speeds and reliability. It has bandwidth optimisation and advanced filtration capabilities, which means business speeds of up to 2+ Mbps.

Not only does this ensure clearer calls between teams, it also enables field personnel to use modern communication tools such as videoconferencing, remote systems maintenance and updating. It also makes telemedical missions possible.

4. Low Cost and Cost Controls

RDK can switch to 4G networks when they are available, therefore, offering lower-latency connectivity and greater bandwidth when possible. Moreover, it does this switch seamlessly and with least cost routing.

The system also has a full administrative dashboard that lets mission control monitor their satcom network status plus a limited local administrative dashboard from the operating end (i.e., from the field).

Both of these ensure that humanitarian organisations can monitor and minimise their satcom usage and costs. 

5. Wi-Fi Enabler and Network Segregation

RDK also comes with network segregation capabilities. Therefore, missions can use the same satcom network for both humanitarian response and welfare purposes. In other words, you can use the satcom network for both mission-critical and personal activities.

Field personnel can connect to the internet using their own smart devices because of the satcom system's Wi-Fi enabler. Each team member can get voucher credits for internet access, so they can use their allotted bandwidth as they wish.

Allowing field personnel to connect to the internet for personal reasons does not degrade the bandwidth devoted to mission-critical communications since the response teams' network is separate from the welfare (i.e. personal) network. 

Thus, the rapid deployment kit's network segregation capability and Wi-Fi enabler help improve the morale of field personnel because they can use the internet to connect with loved ones at home. 

Better Satcom for Humanitarian Missions

Satcom systems are crucial to humanitarian missions. However, the typically rudimentary internet connectivity available to rapidly deployable satcom systems can be rather limiting.

The rapid deployment kit from Thuraya and IEC Telecom resolves this limitation by providing VSAT-like internet connectivity in a mobile, portable, and readily deployable form factor. Other than that, it offers a range of features that gives it excellent usability and efficacy in humanitarian applications.

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TechGlobeX: Rapid Deployment Kit: Improving Satcom for Humanitarian Missions
Rapid Deployment Kit: Improving Satcom for Humanitarian Missions
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