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ITU strengthens 2018 Emergency Telecommunications in the Americas

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From the ITU--September 10, 2018 was an important date. The HR0COP gateway in Honduras began operations. Since then, three more nodes have started operations: On October 9, TI0BCR in Costa Rica; on November 6, HI8COE in Dominican Republic; and, on November 8, TG0CND in Guatemala.

All four gateways are part of the Alternate Emergency Telecommunications network. The network is implementing the Winlink solution (www.winlink.org). Winlink is a technology solution created and maintained by radio amateurs. It has a proven record during emergencies. As recently as 2017, Winlink was extensively used in the aftermath of the high-impact hurricane season in the Caribbean and also after the earthquake in Mexico.

As many good ideas, the idea of ITU and IARU to increase emergency telecommunications capabilities using Winlink ignited from a conversation during a CITEL meeting in August 2017 between Rodrigo Robles, ITU Emergency Telecommunications focal point for the Americas, and César Pío Santos HR2P, IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator. From the beginning this idea had the decisive support of Brahima Sanou, BDT Director and Bruno Ramos, Regional Director for the Americas Regional Office. Emergency Telecommunications has been a priority for many years in the Americas Region. In WTDC 2017, it was consensus as a regional initiative for 2019-2022.

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