SEATTLE, Nov. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Philanthropist Paul G. Allen announced today that he and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will ship more than 10,000 specially programmed smartphones to West Africa to enhance data collection and identify aid needs. Additionally, Mr. Allen is providing a grant to NetHope to further connectivity throughout Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This initiative is part of Mr. Allen's $100 million commitment to tackle the Ebola crisis.
The smartphones will enable government workers and humanitarian aid volunteers to gather reliable data about the effectiveness of relief efforts in affected areas. The phones were acquired through a combination of gifts from companies as well as purchases by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
The data will be used to help government and private aid organizations to more effectively assess the pressing on-the-ground needs and deploy the right resources to address them. The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) puts connectivity among the top priorities in addressing the Ebola crisis. UNMEER will implement broadband solutions in capital cities to extend cellular connectivity. Relief workers will use the phones to collect information about the Ebola situation to share with the Humanitarian Data Exchange.
NetHope is a consortium of 42 international NGOs that, among other things, specializes in improving information technology communications capabilities with international development and emergency response organizations. Mr. Allen's donation to NetHope will allow for the establishment of a Connectivity Accelerator Fund (CAF) to increase existing connectivity at 45 locations; deployment of up to 10 Very Small Aperture Terminal satellites (VSAT) to support communications in an additional 30 locations; extend mobile capacity by funding multiple short-term private sector projects; and engage mobile network operators to connect new capacity to existing mobile networks.
"We need reliable data to understand what is going on in impacted areas to get ahead of the Ebola crisis," said Mr. Allen. "NetHope is working closely with the UN and all of the large response organizations to identify the gaps in communications capacity. Today, we are committing resources to boost communication and data collection capabilities to more effectively fight Ebola in West Africa."
"Paul Allen's investment in improving the communications and data gathering capacity in the region will benefit aid workers and volunteers in the hardest-to-reach places," said Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope. "The Ebola outbreak is a complex emergency and Mr. Allen has a clear vision and understanding of the importance of timely data collection and data driven decision support to combat the multi-layered challenges of the crisis."
From the early days of the outbreak, Mr. Allen and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation have focused on finding, funding and coordinating strategic solutions that address the most critical needs of those affected. Mr. Allen has also created TackleEbola.com to provide an easy way for individuals to contribute to specific organizations and fund critical response needs.
For more information and a complete list of Mr. Allen's contributions, visit www.tackleebola.com and follow @TackleEbola and @PaulGAllen on Twitter or Facebook.