BT has partnered with Innovation Martlesham tech start-up and TEAC UK Special Award winner Jangala to provide internet connectivity to refugees and others in crisis situations.
A study by the UN Refugee Agency finds that staying connected is just as important to refugees as food, water and shelter. And with an estimated 66 million people worldwide currently in a situation of having been forcibly displaced because of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations, BT wants to help make a difference. Our purpose, after all, is to use the power of communication to make a better world.
BT is the first major company to partner with the tech start-up Jangala
to develop specialised low cost Wi-Fi boxes. The boxes can be set up in a matter of minutes to provide connectivity in humanitarian situations including refugee camps, disaster relief operations and at-sea rescues.
Jangala are no strangers to working in humanitarian situations, catching the attention of judges at the recent TEAC UK
competition hosted at BT Tower with their story of how in 2015 the Jangala team designed and built the first Wi-Fi network in Calais refugee camp – the Jungle.
Ian Caveney, BT’s Head of Digital and Social Inclusion, explains that since initial meetings with Jangala last year, BT has provided funding for Jangala's latest prototypes. "More importantly, our Technology and Emergency Response teams have been sharing their expertise in developing and testing boxes, providing Jangala invaluable support."
Caveney adds that the boxes can be useful in helping BT customers and key stakeholders in challenging environments or in emergency situations.
"Along with helping the humanitarian causes in Italy and Serbia, our BT Emergency Response team are already using Jangala technology to provide support for customers in the UK, and we are now exploring how our customers and other organisations can benefit from this innovative kit across the globe. It's another example of BT teams working together to help keep people connected, in all situations."
Why is this important?
Rich Thanki, Co-founder of Jangala, explains that during times of need it's vital to have internet connectivity.
“Internet access is crucial for the millions of people displaced around the world, as well as the thousands of professional and voluntary organisations working tirelessly to assist. We’re excited to be working with BT, both to help groups on the ground today and to develop the technologies needed to connect displaced people.”
Dan T, a Search and Rescue worker in the Mediterranean, has first hand experience of what it's like for refugees. He agrees that internet access shouldn't be seen as a luxury, but as a necessity, “People are arriving crying and shaking with trauma. They’re hungry, dehydrated, freezing cold and soaking wet… but the first thing they ask me is not for food or water. They ask to borrow my phone so they can call their loved ones to let them know they are safe, and that they made it across alive”.
More about Jangala
Jangala currently has three solutions - the Big Box, the Small Box and the Wet Box - all designed to provide connectivity in humanitarian situations of different scales and in a variety of locations. The group’s ultimate aim is to produce a commercial offering, any profits from which will be re-invested in its charitable arm.
Read more about Jangala's work