NEW YORK, April 4, 2013 /3BL Media /PRNewswire/ -- Innovative mobile technology can help save lives when conflicts and disasters strike in emerging countries, according to experts at today's high-level panel discussion organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations.
Recent disasters show that the Government of Turkey and Turkcell – the leading communications and technology company in Turkey – are helping to lead the way in this important area.
"In countries prone to disaster or conflict, rapid information sharing about preventative measures can save lives and property," said Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator at the event, which showcased examples of how information technology – particularly mobile phones – have been used in the prevention, response and recovery from conflict and disasters around the world.
"Mobile technology enables citizens to connect to each other and authorities, spreading critical information in times of crisis," she added.
Grynspan, representatives of the Turkish Government and other UN officials discussed disaster recovery measures and mobile communication continuity systems enacted by Turkish mobile phone company Turkcell in the aftermath of the devastating Van Province earthquake that struck eastern Turkey in October 2011.
At the event, Grynspan also praised Turkcell for the role it played in the transmission of life-saving SOS messages as well as its contribution to post-disaster recovery and fundraising.
"It is in times of disaster that corporations can – and must – activate their resources and innovative spirit to come to the aid of citizens," said Sureyya Ciliv, CEO of Turkcell. "Our experience in Van earthquake proved once more that readiness, decisiveness and speed, when met with the power of mobile technologies can save lives."
Turkcell says it helped send more than 10,000 text messages requesting emergency assistance during the quake. In addition, with support from Turkey's Ministry of Education and in association with Turkish Education Foundation, Turkcell created the "Money-Box for Van" fundraising initiative that raised millions of dollars to rebuild quake-resistant housing for teachers and student dormitories.
"I believe that innovation is the transformation of an idea, product or process into social and economic benefit. With its transparent and accountable structure, Turkey's Money Box is an innovative idea whereby public support has been mobilized through technology," added Ciliv. "We hope not only to share our story, but inspire other companies to respond similarly, around the world."
"In the aftermath of the Van earthquake, Turkcell facilitated ICT access enabling people to send SMS messages and request help to be rescued," said Grynspan. "There is no doubt that Turkcell's actions – encouraged and enabled through public policy – saved people lives and livelihoods."
"I am confident that today's event will give us ample opportunity to learn from Turkey's and UNDP's experience," added Grynspan. "I also hope that these examples will give us food for thought about what can be replicated elsewhere in the world."
The event held at UN headquarters featured His Excellency Omer Dincer, Former Minister of National Education of Turkey and Member of Parliament for Istanbul; Yasar Halit Cevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations; Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator; M. Emin Zararsız, Undersecretary of the Ministry of National Education of Turkey; and Mr. Atila Celik, Director General of Communications, on behalf of Habip Soluk, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications of Turkey. The panel – moderated by Cihan Sultanoglu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS – included Jordan Ryan, Director, UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery; Sureyya Ciliv, CEO of Turkcell; and Yildiz Gunay, General Manager of Turkish Education Foundation (TEV).
Turkcell is the leading communications and technology company in Turkey, with 35.1 million subscribers as of December 31, 2012. Turkcell is a leading regional player, with market leadership in five of the nine countries in which it operates with its approximately 69.2 million subscribers as of December 31, 2012. It has become one of the first among the global operators to have implemented HSPA+. It has achieved up to 43.2 Mbps speed using the Dual Carrier technology, and is continuously working to provide the latest technology to its customers, e.g. 84 Mbps in the near future. Turkcell Superonline, a wholly owned subsidiary of Turkcell, is the one and only telecom operator to offer households fiber broadband connection at speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps in Turkey. As of December 31, 2012, Turkcell population coverage is at 99.17% in 2G and 84.02% in 3G. Turkcell reported a TRY10.5 billion (US$5.9 billion) revenue with total assets of TRY18.7 billion (US$10.5 billion) as of December 31, 2012. It has been listed on the NYSE and the ISE since July 2000, and is the only NYSE-listed company in Turkey. Read more at www.turkcell.com.tr.
ABOUT UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP):
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. With offices in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
KEYWORDS: disasters, Turkcell, UNDP, United Nations Development Programme, Turkey, Technology, Innovative mobile technology