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Clickatell provides free SMS services for Haiti aid organisations

Clickatell has extended its free SMS services to organisations providing aid to Haiti. The versatility of SMS has made it the communication channel of choice in the aftermath of the recent earthquake, and Clickatell’s move is sure to be welcomed not just by aid workers and residents in Haiti, but by those donating to the numerous charities providing aid to the country.

 The ubiquity of SMS makes it the obvious choice when it comes to keeping the lines of communications open during emergency services and disaster relief efforts, but this is not the only factor that makes it more disaster proof than alternative communications channels and technologies. The ‘store and forward’ nature of SMS means that messages can be delivered as soon as there is a ‘window’ of network coverage – and this window needn’t last more than a few seconds.

As a result of this, many organisations are using SMS services to communicate even as the capacities of networks are stretched thin. Relief agencies are already reporting the fact that SMS services have strengthened relief efforts in a country where a large part of the infrastructure is in disarray.

The versatility of SMS services is another important factor: for example, victims of the earthquake can use SMS missing person’s services, while aid workers can receive text alerts about the arrival of critical supplies and their corresponding distribution points. It also provides a quick, easy and reliable way for individuals to donate to aid efforts.

“People in Haiti are showing tremendous courage and determination and we are seeing SMS play a significant role in scaling the efforts of the people on the ground and around the world. We invite relief agencies to make use of our SMS Gateway into Haiti and offer such services for the remainder of February as a small contribution on behalf of Clickatell and its staff,” said Pieter de Villiers, Clickatell CEO.

There are a number of ways individuals and organizations can help: World Vision, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, UNICEF (1-800-4UNICEF), Direct Relief, Yele Haiti, Partners in Health, Red Cross, World Food Program, Mercy Corps (1-888-256-1900), Save the Children, Lambi Fund, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee, Care, William J. Clinton Foundation, Meds & Food For Kids, Feed the Children, Habitat for Humanity, Mayor's Fund for NYC, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), Interaction.

Donations from US mobile phones can also be made by texting:

  • SMS “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts
  • SMS “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti's Earthquake relief efforts
  • SMS "GIVE10" to 20222 to donate $10 to Direct Relief

Able to reach more than 4 billion people, and often preferred over voice and email, SMS has been used for a variety of “life saving” connections. Most notably, Clickatell’s real-time alert notification technology was utilized during the Hudson River Airplane Landing emergency last year, helping the US Coast Guard connect with other emergency response systems to alert the authorities of the event as it happened.

Most recently, Clickatell announced its work with Ushahidi to provide SMS services on the ground in Haiti.

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