Enhanced satellite connectivity will help improve the mental well-being of aid-agency workers in the field by boosting communications in remote locations, assisting team work and providing an accessible support network, according to satellite communications specialists IEC Telecom and Inmarsat.
A high proportion of aid workers report that they have experienced mental health issues in the workplace. According to a mental health and well-being survey* of the Global Development Professional Network, 79% of respondents stated they had experienced mental health issues with the overwhelming majority, 93%, believing this was related to their work in the aid industry.
The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic expedited the spread of digitization across many industries and the humanitarian sector was among the first to acknowledge the need for change. With travel restrictions and local lockdowns, isolated teams in remote areas rely extensively on the resources of their headquarters and communication has become even more essential.
Satellite connectivity’s role is now central to the continuity of operations undertaken by remote missions, particularly for mobile units in areas with limited or no reliable mobile phone (GSM) coverage. As a result, demand for robust satellite communications solutions has increased exponentially, especially among medical missions and teams supporting isolated communities.
Addressing the World Humanitarian Forum’s hybrid event in London on May 19, 2021, Nabil Ben Soussia, CEO Asia, Middle East & CIS at IEC Telecom Group, and Steven Tompkins, Director, Market Development, Inmarsat Enterprise, explained how the development of satellite technology is making it easier to communicate with aid workers in the field and to provide support networks and assistance to them.
Establishing communications in the field is a key priority in the initial phases of any humanitarian crisis. With every second counting, fly-away solutions such as the Inmarsat LX VSAT terminal, can be set up onsite quickly and easily without the need for an engineer, thereby enabling immediate connectivity to data, video and voice services over satellite.
Reliable back-up can be provided by Inmarsat’s BGAN service while connecting IEC Telecom’s OneGate system gives access to essential connectivity tools and added value applications such as OneAssist (handsfree headset for remote maintenance), OneHealth (telemedicine) and OneMonitor (remote surveillance). With its virtual dashboard, OneGate allows specialist access remotely, meaning the system can be set-up, adapted, updated and monitored from afar. This gives a great deal more flexibility and future-proofing to the communication network and the services which can be accessed via satellite connectivity.
In the field what is needed is proven, reliable and always-on connectivity, as provided by Inmarsat’s BGAN service. Delivered by the company’s L-band satellite network, BGAN is the industry standard for mobile satellite connectivity, trusted by governments and businesses across the world to deliver 99.9% satellite and ground network availability when its most needed.
With the help of satellite communications systems, aid agencies can set up temporary offices using semi-fixed modems, access corporate applications, manage logistics, and rely on a wide variety of digitally extended services that enable e-learning, remote maintenance, telemedicine, and more.
Mr. Ben Soussia said, “When you are working in a challenging role like humanitarian aid it is important to not feel excluded, either corporately or physically. Satellite connectivity can provide a support network to ensure you are able to work alongside colleagues elsewhere and share the burden of work. With the advancements in telecommunications it is now possible to carry out real-time conversations via videoconferencing, to have telemedicine consultations when and where they are needed, and to reliably transfer large amounts of data instantly. This means remote workers can be better supported without busting budgets. We’ve already seen this happening in the oil and gas offshore sector and we see real benefits for the humanitarian sector too.”
Mr. Tompkins said, “The pandemic has focused attention on health and well-being and given the world a greater understanding of the problems faced by isolated workforces. We will continue to work with the humanitarian sector to resolve this challenge. Our technology roadmap includes planned improvements in order to offer more affordable, mobile solutions operating at higher speeds to support growing demand in communication and industry-specific applications.”