United Nations and Turkcell Partners in Technology, Saving Lives

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Turkcell, a communications and technology company in Turkey, has been named as UNDP’s technology partner at the “Innovation and Resilience in Corporate Response to Disaster,” an event held at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.

The technology partnership is due to Turkcell’s network initiatives and its employees dedicated efforts during the 2011 earthquake that took place in the City of Van in Easter Turkey. These initiatives have been presented globally as a model project.

The event was organized in order to lessen the impact of natural disasters through mobile communications. It emphasizes the importance of readiness, decisiveness and speed during a crisis. It is in moments like this that technological flexibility becomes extremely important.

During the first 72 hours of the Van quake, Turkcell’s network, to a large extent was and running due to preparations made before the disaster. “Our damaged base stations resumed normal operation with a couple of hours,” says Surreya Ciliv, CEO of Turkcell. “Having realized that some victims trapped under debris were sending text messages to the 112 emergency lines instead of calling it, our engineers managed to turn these text messages into emergency calls.” This initiative was in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport Maritime Affairs and Communications which save lives.

In addition, Turkcell initiated “Turkey’s Money-Box” SMS campaign in partnership with the Turkish Education Foundation. Van was further injured by a second quake and the city needed permanent solutions.

“Turkey’s Money-Box was launched to this end,” says Ciliv highlighting the role of this campaign. “We not only donated TRY5 million (US$2,790,022.95), but we also created the opportunity for other corporations and individuals to lend a helping hand.”

And again, because of this, a 193 person capacity teacher’s campus and 132 person capacity dormitory for high school students were built. It has also addressed the unemployment problem in the region and was able to build Ercis, a call center in which 50 percent of its employees are disabled.

Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP’s Associate Administrator, appraised Turkcell’s initiatives after the Van quake. “In countries prone to disaster or conflict, rapid information sharing on preventative measures can save lives and property,” says Grynspan. “Mobile technology enables citizens to connect to each other and the authorities, spreading critical information in times of crisis.”

“We are honored to be presented globally as an exemplary company, and to be named as a technology partner by the UNDP,” says Ciliv.

Turkcell is a communications and technology company with 35.1 million subscribers as of December 31, 2012. It is regional player, it has operations in nine countries with approximately 69.2 million subscribers as of December 31, 2012.

Lemuel Cacho is a versatile writer specializing in business, technology and science. Contact Lem through NewsBlaze.