21 January 2010

SMS helps provide instant SOS during times of crisis - Clickatell and Ushahidi urge support to Haiti

Read Time: 3 minutes

Redwood City, CA and Cape Town, South Africa - Clickatell, in partnership with its customer Ushahidi, is expanding the call for assistance for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, emergency services deployed to assist those in crisis, as well as all the men and women that are volunteering in Haiti. As the world rallies around a country in crisis, it is paramount that recovery initiatives are expedited; and SMS alerts are being used as the communications platform of choice to coordinate initiatives, share information, organize processes, and gather and disburse significant information. Anyone can visit https://www.ushahidi.com/ to see a visual map of the activities and incidents in the region, submit incident reports via the website directly, or send and receive text messages about the situation and needs in Haiti.

Views of incidents in the area can be seen visually, and for those operating live on the ground, SMS alerts provide up to the minute information. Clickatell customer Ushahidi, a citizen-reporting platform, is working with a number of organizations in Haiti and around the world including the US Department of State, United Nations, Frontline SMS, International Network of Crisis Mappers, mobile carriers, Red Cross, EIS and InSTEDD among others. The system tracks data gathered from people on the ground while teams of specialists work to ensure that incoming information is accurate and filtered appropriately so decisive action can be taken. An SMS shortcode, 4636, has been introduced to speed the process; this SMS alerts service is only available in Haiti and is free of charge, people can use it to report developments as they happen to aid relief efforts.

Thanks to the ubiquity and availability of SMS - even with damaged infrastructure - people are able to stay in contact to communicate to volunteers, convey information about the location of food and medical supplies, and SMS alert those looking for missing persons when information has been discovered, all helping to restore a country that has resorted to violence as people fight for survival.

"The SMS's being sent and received are vital at this time, and, of course, time is of the essence. People have lost loved ones and support needs to be provided immediately to those on the ground dealing with the realities of the situation. Sometimes a matter of 5 minutes can make or break a person's survival and spirit working in this environment, not only can text messages get there, they get there fast," said Pieter de Villiers, Clickatell CEO. "Clickatell is honored to support customers like Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS, by ensuring messages are delivered accurately and instantaneously."

To get involved, please take the following action:

  • DigiCell subscribers in Haiti: text 4636 giving location and description of emergency

  • Ushahidi's Haiti platform is live at: https://www.ushahidi.com/

  • From any cell phone, report information by texting 4636 or internationally at +447624802524

  • Send e-mail to Haiti@ushahidi.com

  • Tweet with hash tag #haiti or #haitiquake

  • Visit https://www.ushahidi.com/

For information on UN family members working in Haiti call +1 212 963 4139 or visit http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah/

About Clickatell

We create a better world through technology, making commerce in chat accessible for everyone, everywhere. Consumers can now connect with brands to find goods and services, make purchases, track orders, and resolve issues with a simple text or chat. No need for cash, phone calls, in-person interactions, or apps. Founded in 2000 with now over 10,000 customers, Clickatell is powering the digital commerce transformation. Clickatell is headquartered in Silicon Valley, CA and has offices in Canada, South Africa, and Nigeria (www.clickatell.com).

Latest Press Releases

Step into the future of business messaging.

SMS and two-way channels, automation, call center integration, payments - do it all with Clickatell's Chat Commerce platform.