Aidex Voices

Disaster Tech Lab helps reconnect communities that have been disconnected in disaster zones. Here Evert Bopp, Founder of Disaster Tech Lab, discusses their collaboration efforts with another AidEx exhibitor, Globalstar, on the island of Lesbos. Evert Bopp will be speaking at the AidEx conference on 19 November on the topic of “Collaboration and Innovation”. 

One of the most pressing humanitarian events of the year has been the migrant crisis, affecting a huge part of the Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The emergency has prompted NGOs, the private sector, aid agencies and foreign ministries to come together, as it becomes more and more evident that working as a single unit is the only way to combat the struggles faced by those in this dire situation and find a long-term solution to the issues at hand.

In Greece, the needs are all too evident. The island of Lesbos is at the receiving end of this influx of migrants, many of whom have made long and treacherous journeys in the hope of making it to dry land in Europe. Yet unbeknownst to them, the hope that they will be greeted with a better life is not quite so certain in reality. 
Setting foot on Lesbos is just the beginning of the next leg of their journey. Not least because most of the beaches on which they land are some 60km away from the two main refugee camps. And when many of those arriving are elderly or sick, getting them to medical aid or shelter is yet another barrier to overcome.

In this way, Globalstar’s satellite phones have really helped join the dots. We can now coordinate efforts between those teams greeting migrants on the beaches with those at medical centres in the camps to advise them that there are people requiring medical attention on their way. 

And that’s not all. The migrants have been really grateful for the opportunity to use the phones to call home and tell their family and friends they have arrived safely. While they may arrive with their mobile phone safely in their grasp, the lack of cellular infrastructure on the island often renders them inoperable, so the chance to phone home is leapt at. 

While the migrant crisis is set to continue well into the winter months and beyond, it is encouraging to see that collaborations such as the one we have forged with Globalstar are going some way to help improve the situation. Ultimately, it’s enormously satisfying to be able to help people in this extreme situation.