International Telecommunication Union

UN body calls for resilience platform to protect global networks

25 March 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The UN’s International Telecommunication Union has called on the public and private sector to create a Global Network Resiliency Platform, to keep the world connected during the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the strategy, ITU's existing regulatory and policy-maker platform will be leveraged with the intention of helping both nations and industry to cope with “the increasing stress being put on global networks”.

Announced on 23 March, initially the platform will:

  • Assist national policy-makers, regulators and industry stakeholders to ensure that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all to the maximum extent possible by sharing best practices and initiatives put in place during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Collect relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on actions that telecommunication policy-makers, regulators and others in the regulatory community can use to ensure that their telecommunication networks and services serve the needs of their country.
  • Provide countries struggling to find appropriate solutions to ensure their networks' resiliency with relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on how to cope with the stresses faced by their infrastructure.
  • Help countries learn from each other – from emergency spectrum reassignments to guidelines for consumers on responsible use.
     

Building on its role as an information tool, the Platform will developed to “provide an interactive and engaging platform for continuous sharing throughout this crisis and beyond”.

In a statement, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “The crisis we are in today calls for solidarity. 

“In these uncertain times, we should not forget all those around the world who still lack access to the Internet. As the United Nations’ specialised agency for information and communication technologies, ITU has long advocated for universal, reliable and affordable connectivity, and we will continue to push on all these fronts until everyone is connected,” he added.

The new Global Network Resiliency Platform (#REG4COVID) can be accessed here.

Last week, the body released new guidelines to assist countries in forming their national emergency telecommunications plans and other elements of disaster response activities.

The guidelines are intended to assist national authorities and policymakers in developing policies and regulations that can “ensure the continued use of telecommunication networks and services before, during and after a disaster”.

The guidelines were prepared in collaboration with the Global Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), a global network of organizations that work together to provide shared communications services in humanitarian emergencies.

The ITU has also postponed the World Information Society (WSIS) Forum and AI for Good Global Summit, pushing back both events to September 2020.