A new study by research firm Jigsaw Consult has found that the use of mobile services in disaster zones is held back by weak collaboration between mobile operators, NGOs and governments.
The study was published by Save the Children and funded by the Vodafone Foundation.
Jigsaw blames “a widespread lack of awareness regarding how mobile phones can be used in emergency response”.
The study says humanitarian staff are not sufficiently trained in how to use mobile services in disaster zones. They also lack preparation and have limited room for innovation in the midst of an emergency situation.
Other problems highlighted in the research include how a lack of network capacity can be exposed during an emergency, such as the earthquake in Haiti (pictured).
The network itself could of course be disabled during a natural disaster. Or even if the network itself is intact, it could be brought down by a power outage.
In addition, the most marginalised (generally the poorest) in a society are the most likely to lack access to mobile phones. These are also the people who are typically most exposed to a disaster, such as an outbreak of disease or a hurricane.
To read the full report, see here.