In the recent wake of devastating natural disasters from Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha, many people are wondering how we can improve our humanitarian responses to such tragedies and natural disasters. Well, telecom enthusiasts can rest easy knowing that Voxbone has recently linked up with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which is responsible for first humanitarian response, in an effort to benefit disaster relief operations. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) provided the United Nations with its very own global code number, and Voxbone has started an initiative to encourage carriers to support the UN number in an effort to promote a more efficient OCHA emergency response system.
How Does iNum Benefit OCHA?
Voxbone teamed up with OCHA to encourage carriers to implement global networks and to increase awareness surrounding the UN’s global number. With one global code (+888), the OCHA can now receive information and provide the necessary help where and when it’s needed regardless of the location of the crisis.
With the UN number, UN emergency personnel and responders can quickly and effectively set up their own mobile phone service in the disaster area. This is especially important when the area’s telecommunications network is out of service due to catastrophe. With iNum support, the UN numbers can be used in place of traditional telecom resources, and so is an ideal solution for large-scale temporary network outages. The UN number is supported by iNum’s network, and iNum is responsible for encouraging carriers to support the UN number program.
During a disaster, OCHA will provide the individual humanitarian agencies with a specific number for the area. Because this number will only be temporarily used until the area’s normal telephone service is restored, the numbers can be recycled and reused for future locations.
What Providers use iNum?
Voxbone and iNum are currently encouraging both VoIP and PSTN providers to include iNum in their services for free or at affordable rates. The goal is for every telephone service to eventually provide iNums and to route calls to iNums.
Skype and Google Talk have recently gained attention for including iNum in their services, as Google Talk is free of charge and Skype charges $0.02/minute. Several other VoIP providers have also jumped on board.
Residential VoIP and business VoIP providers like Phone Power, OnSIP, and Phone.com include iNum services for free in their plans. The beauty of VoIP is that because it transfers calls over the Internet, in theory, all of these iNum calls should be free.
When calls need to be transferred to the PSTN (maybe you are using a VoIP number, but you are calling your parents, who still have an analog telephone service) that’s where a nominal fee may occur.
In a day and age where we rely so heavily on communication, especially in the event of a natural disaster, it’s important that we have access to reliable telecommunication services. The iNum initiative in combination with VoIP providers offer us a way to recover from disasters outside of our control.
How you can get in on the goods with iNum
iNum is already available to everyone, even people who are not with a service provider that supports iNum. There are local area codes for each country that allow individuals to make calls with an international number.
But if you want to encourage Voxbone’s excellent work towards humanitarian aid, the best thing to do is to switch to a provider that supports iNum. Not only will you benefit from the international calling features of iNum, you will also be supporting a great cause.
Chloe Mulliner graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she majored in Media Arts and Design and minored in Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication. She now writes content for My VoIP Provider.