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Airtel and Kenya Red Cross launch public emergency information service

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Airtel has teamed up with Kenya Red Cross Society to launch the first of its kind public emergency information service in Kenya that will offer disaster management information on disease outbreaks and other emergencies such as fires, floods and terrorist attacks.

Using an innovative location-targeted SMS system called the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA), texts containing disaster warnings, health advice and updates on emergency preparedness and responses will be shared with Airtel customers across the country through their mobile phones at the touch of a button in cases of emergencies or outbreaks.

Kenya becomes the second country in Africa to use the TERA technology. The technology was first used in Sierra Leone where International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) partnered with leading mobile operators to reach out to people during the Ebola crisis.

The messages will also contain information on relief distributions such as clean water, food and shelter, detailed advice on a range of issues such as hygiene, warnings on looming natural disasters and more relevant information. The system will also be used to gather information through simple questionnaires, which will inform and improve the effectiveness of Red Cross activities. The alerts will encompass the following:

  • Advice – General information to keep the community up to date with developments.
  • Watch and Act – The community is likely to be impacted by the emergency and should start taking action to protect their life. E.g. floods, Health –outbreaks such as Cholera
  • Emergency Warning – The community will be impacted by the emergency and must take action immediately.

This service will help Kenya Red Cross society to save lives, improve conditions for survivors and efficiently manage the overall aid effort in affected areas.

Speaking at the launch of the service, Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi said that harnessing technology in this way will go a long way in helping the Kenya Red Cross achieve their mandate to prevent and alleviate human suffering and save lives of the most vulnerable.

“We are delighted to partner with Kenya Red Cross Society to launch this life-saving service which will allow us to provide life-saving information to our customers in real time. Kenyans need information as much as they need emergency supplies and we hope TERA will provide a vital link between the Kenya Red Cross and communities at their hour of need,” said Mr. El Youssefi.

Dr. Abbas Gullet spoke of the need to continuously be on the lookout for ways in which organisations especially those in the humanitarian sector can periodically and strategically use modern technology and innovation to adapt and improve their operations.

“This year we are celebrating 50 years of service to the people of Kenya and I am thankful to Airtel for their partnership, giving us an opportunity to explore new technologies so as to identify innovative solutions to make our humanitarian work more efficient and effective”, added Dr. Abbas Gullet.

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