Life-saving text service launched in Sierra Leone

22 May 2013
By Lorna Sharpe
Mobile version
Share |
Red Cross volunteers in Sierra Leone give advice on preventing malaria. The new text service will back up this work

Red Cross volunteers in Sierra Leone give advice on preventing malaria. The new text service will back up this work

The Red Cross is working with mobile communications providers in Sierra Leone to save lives through the use of an innovative location-targeted SMS system.

Launched in April, the Red Cross and Airtel initiative provides people with information on disease outbreaks and other emergencies such as fires or floods.

Through the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA), the Red Cross can reach 36,000 people an hour at the touch of a button.

“This system is a real life-saver. We can use it to warn people when emergencies or outbreaks start and to give them vital information on preventing diseases like malaria and cholera,” said Sharon Reader, the Red Cross TERA project manager.

“Even better, TERA is a two-way system so we can quickly assess the areas with the greatest need after an emergency, and respond to requests for information on a large-scale.”

Communications business Trilogy International Partners developed TERA in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, to meet the needs of the Red Cross with minimum impact on the host mobile network.

The system uses SMS text messaging because SMS is a basic GSM service, available on any handset and requiring very little bandwidth. It is one of the first services to be restored after a network failure. Moreover, texts are stored on the handset, so recipients can easily share them.

Messages can be targeted at a particular region of even neighbourhood, unlike standard SMS services that require broadcast messages to be delivered to every subscriber on a carrier’s network, so recipients are more likely to take notice.

The system also manages inbound messages, using keyword recognition to send automated responses and to collate information on where aid of various kinds is most needed.

TERA has been in operation in Haiti ever since its first deployment in 2010. Based on its success there, Trilogy has granted the Red Cross a free licence to deploy the system globally, and Sierra Leone is now the second country where it has been launched.

The West African state is still recovering from a long-running civil war that ended in 2002. It is subject to epidemic outbreaks of preventable diseases including yellow fever, cholera, lassa fever and meningitis, and also suffers from more than 20 natural disasters each year, including floods, landslides and bushfires.

“Last year our country was hit by the worst cholera outbreak in 40 years. Simple information could have helped prevent some of the 300 deaths we suffered,” said Sierra Leone’s Vice President Chief Samuel Sam-Sumana.

“We know Sierra Leone has a poor health record and the government is committed to doing something about that. Working with the Sierra Leone Red Cross, Airtel, Comium and SierraTel we can make sure people are armed with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves and their families,” he added.

The system will immediately roll out information on preventing malaria, a disease that claims over 16,000 lives in Sierra Leone every year, making it the country’s largest preventable cause of death.

Around 70 per cent of Sierra Leoneans have access to a mobile phone and this number is growing each year in line with the rest of the developing world.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1606

"Where would Frankenstein and his creative mind fit into today's workplace? Should we fear technological developments or embrace them?"

E&T jobs

  • Manufacturing Development & Deployment Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • Preston, England, Lancashire
    • Negotiable

    Manufacturing Development & Deployment Engineer Would you like to help operate within a multi-disciplined environment working closely with TX, FCAS, JSF, Typhoon, Hawk and other projects to develop, deploy and support new leading edge manufacturing pr

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Information Assurance Practitioner

    BAE Systems
    • England, Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Negotiable

    Information Assurance PractitionerWould you like to join a world class defence organisation and develop your skills in Information Assurance? We currently have a vacancy for an Information Assurance Practitioner at our site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.A

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer - Information Assurance

    BAE Systems
    • Barrow-In-Furness, England, Cumbria
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer - Information AssuranceWould you like to have a strategic influence on the development of Information Assurance (IA) policies for a national nuclear deterrence programme? We currently have a vacancy for a Consultant Engineer - Informat

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Engineer

    National Air Traffic Services
    • Fareham, England, Hampshire
    • Negotiable

    NATS is a leading air navigation services specialist, handling 2.2 million flights in 2013/14, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic. NATS provides air traffic control from centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS also provides ai

    • Recruiter: National Air Traffic Services

    Apply for this job

  • Software Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Somerset
    • Negotiable

    Software Engineer Would you like a role which enables you to make a difference to people on the frontline? We currently have a vacancy for a Software Engineer at our site in Yeovil. As a Software Engineer, you will be developing product solutions in Java/

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Software Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Hampshire, Portsmouth
    • Competitive package

    As a Software Engineer, you will be investigating how technology and data can be used to optimise the services we provide to our clients, including the Royal Navy, and will include unique pieces of equipment at the forefront of innovation.

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • IM&T Manager - (Product Management)

    BAE Systems
    • England, Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria
    • Negotiable

    IM&T Manager - (Product Management) We currently have a vacancy for an IM&T Manager - (Product Management) at our site in Barrow. As an IM&T Manager - Product Management you will be working within the planning support group, responsible for a

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Nikon Metrology Europe
    • Tring, Hertfordshire

    Nikon Metrology is looking for an Electronics Engineer to join our Electronics Team based in Tring (UK).

    • Recruiter: Nikon Metrology Europe

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • Norwich, Norfolk
    • Competitive + Pension + Personal BUPA cover

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • Dorchester, Poole or Bournemouth
    • Circa £29,000

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T