Red Cross and G-Mobile launch SMS system to deliver life-saving information across Mongolia

Published: 28 October 2015 14:37 CET

By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC

Thousands of people throughout Mongolia are set to benefit from a landmark agreement between the Mongolian Red Cross Society and the mobile service provider G-Mobile Mongolia which was announced today in the capital city, Ulan Bator. Under the partnership, the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA) will be rolled out in Mongolia, enabling the Red Cross to communicate with at risk communities, particularly in times of natural disaster, by sending SMS blasts to geographically defined segments of the population.

“There are few early warning systems in the sparsely populated rural areas of Mongolia, and the launch of TERA represents a very important addition to disaster risk reduction and preparedness efforts in the country,” said Madame Bolormaa Nordov, Secretary General of the Mongolian Red Cross Society. The system gives people instant access to lifesaving information delivered on their mobile phones in areas where previously the only means of issuing emergency warnings was through radio and television.

TERA is capable of sending SMS messages to 600,000 people at once and also enables the Red Cross to gather important data through feedback received from recipients. The project is supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) under its community engagement and accountability programme in Asia Pacific.

“A large part of the Mongolian population are still nomadic herders and live dispersed over large areas, so sending Red Cross volunteers to help them in times of crisis is extremely difficult,” said the President of the society, Enkhbold Nyamaa. Delivering messages by SMS ensures that more people receive emergency information without delay.

Mr Baktiar Mambetov, IFRC Regional Development Delegate for East Asia, said a unique feature of TERA is its ability to target SMS at people in specific areas. “The operator simply draws a circle or a polygon onto a map in the graphical user interface, which allows them to send text messages to every active handset within the defined area,” he said. Two way communication also means TERA can be used for rapid post-disaster assessment.

“Recipients are given the option of answering multiple choice questions, and the system generates statistical results of the assessment in a graphical format. This feature helps us to gain an immediate understanding of the situation and the local needs”

Parts of Mongolia still have limited mobile phone connectivity, but the coverage is rapidly improving, even in remote rural areas of the country. Now that TERA has been launched, the Red Cross is able to reach almost every household with direct, lifesaving messages.

Examples of messages that can be delivered through TERA include warnings about snow or sand storms, floods and other natural disasters as well as targeted information about where to find medical help, clean water, food and shelter. The messages can also provide information on hygiene, health, livelihood opportunities and how to prepare for emergencies. During times of crisis, it may potentially be used to deliver cash assistance to people affected by disaster.

TERA was developed by the IFRC in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to deliver vital and practical messages around health education and disaster warnings.The system has successfully been introduced in several other countries, including Sierra Leone where it has played an important role in delivering messages aimed at raising awareness among people on Ebola prevention and protection.

Related page

TERA (Trilogy Emergency Relief Application) and Beneficiary Communication

TERA (Trilogy Emergency Relief Application) and Beneficiary Communication - See more at:
TERA (Trilogy Emergency Relief Application) and Beneficiary Communication - See more at: