From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
Sierra Leone News : NATCOM all set for ‘Big Data’ & Ebola International Meet
By Osman Larry Fofanah
Aug 26, 2015, 17:04

Sierra Leone's National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) is now all set for a two days Regional Ministerial Consultative Conference on Ebola slated to commence today 26 August 2015, at the Bintumani International Conference Centre, Aberdeen, Freetown. The conference is co-organized by the Government of Sierra Leone and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in consultation with the Governments of Liberia and Guinea. His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, will officially launch the event which will receive in audience, Ministers of Information and Communications; Ministers of Health from over 20 countries; National Regulatory Authorities of the Telecom Sector in West Africa & beyond, UN Agencies, NERC, International NGOs, MDAs, Telcos, Facebook executives and more.


The regional consultative meeting focuses on among other things. the leveraging of information and communication technology to save lives. It is an ITU initiative to complement the response efforts of countries mostly affected by the Ebola outbreak. Participants will be sharing experiences and map out strategies on Ebola emergency preparedness, disaster management, early warning systems and the use of ICT to break the chain of Ebola transmission and support future epidemic response efforts.


The early part of the two day conference will entertain a Ministerial Round Table to look at how affected countries have responded to the Ebola crisis and how they have, and plan to enhance preparedness, response and risk reduction.


This will be followed by countries’ experiences in the deployment of ICT, to respond to and prepare for the Ebola virus. This will endure an opportunity for the international and regional organizations to discuss their roles in dealing with the Ebola virus and highlight the need for coordination.


The conference will be climaxed with the launch of the Big Data Analysis and its use for emergency situation. The Big Data Analysis focuses on awareness raising and outbreak management during disasters. At this session, ITU will present a new project on Big Data base on call data records (CDRs) and a smartphone application that has been developed by ITU in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO). Its purpose is to showcase the power of ICT to address epidemics, share information on Ebola related issues, national and other contacts, news, location of fields, and mobile health units.


In late July and early August this year, the top level cadre of NATCOM paid courtesy calls to sister telecom regulatory bodies in the sub-region and the telecom sub-regional umbrella body, the West Africa Telecommunications Regulator’s Assembly (WATRA) to give an update of the preparedness of Sierra Leone in hosting the upcoming event. The outcome of those visits was successful according to NATCOM Chairman, Momoh Konte, who emphasized the willingness of these sister regulatory bodies and WATRA to take part in this all-important Regional Ministerial Consultative Conference on Ebola.

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