Today, NetHope, a consortium of 42 leading international humanitarian organizations and one of Cisco’s nonprofit Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partners, announced a partnership with Facebook, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Cisco, EveryLayer, and Inveneo to expand their support for effective communications capabilities to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and promote sustainable recovery in the region. The joint Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) will deliver high-speed broadband Internet access to Ebola responders based in hundreds of Ebola treatment facilities, NGO offices, and additional logistical hubs in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Reliable communications capacity is an essential tool for response organizations combating the outbreak, which has killed more than 8,600 people according the World Health Organization.
Slow, unreliable access to the Internet remains a major challenge for coordinating the Ebola relief effort, particularly in some of the hardest hit areas that lack any form of high-speed broadband. Existing networks have also been strained by the influx of relief workers and agencies in the region, increasing demand on the already fragile infrastructure. Effective ICT capacity enables rapid access and exchange of information, real-time case management and contact tracking, outbreak mapping, community mobilization, and supply and logistics management. The ERCI expands on the participating organizations’ support for rapid-deployment communications solutions delivered to West Africa in late 2014 to meet immediate needs on the ground. The joint initiative will significantly expand the scope and sustainability of the communications capacity, supporting thousands of response workers and ultimately millions of individuals. Cisco has contributed on-site hotspot equipment and financial support that enables responders to connect laptops, phones, and tablets to improve all communications related to the relief effort. “Every day, we see people face seemingly overwhelming issues. Working with partners, using our expertise and technology, we can help respond to critical human needs. We do this through Cisco’s employees and our technology; bringing people together to tackle global challenges faster,” said Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs. “By providing the resources, the technology and the experience to address the connectivity demands of the first responders, aid organizations and governments, we hope to multiply the positive impact of connecting the experts who are working tirelessly toward a breakthrough in the fight against the spread of this disease.” Read more in the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative press release.