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mind weight and space limitations for shipments, we put together the equipment required to set up a basic communications infrastructure, onto a container. After this has been done, we bring in all the heavier equipment and Wi-Max and GSM technology depending on the nature of the disaster and how quickly the network may be restored.

Q: Do you work with vendors to develop specialised solutions? A: We work very close to several vendors and open our doors to any vendor wanting to collaborate and provide better solutions. We’ve made considerable progress on our projects because of the help from vendors who have made it possible to integrate no less than 100 software and hardware components with PDAs manufactured by different vendors.

Q: Can you give us a brief on the FITTEST team in the UAE? A: We have a group in Dubai called FITTEST headed by John Luca. Consisting of 22 engineers in addition to support staff, the members of this team are trained and equipped to be anywhere in the world within 48hours of an emergency, after mobilising resources and manpower, arranging visas etc. FITTEST is critical to our role in relief efforts.

Q: Why did you choose Dubai to host FITTEST? A: Following the Kosovo crisis in 1995, we felt the need to set up a base to spear head humanitarian operations in regions surrounding the Asia pacific and Africa. We then moved to Islamabad which was at the time, a better regional hub, but after events dictated by 9/11, that was no longer a feasible location. So, in 2003 we decided to relocate to Dubai, because it is central to the African and Asian hubs. The government here has also provided us with the necessary logistics and it is a much safer location for operations. Ernesto Baca, CIO and director IT and management services division, World Food Programme

may 2011

Q: Tell us about Emergency Preparedness Integration Centre or EPIC as you call it internally.

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