Case Study

Case study: Team Rubicon UK

Inmarsat gets behind Team Rubicon UK to assist
with emergency response efforts

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About Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon was founded by two US Marines in the wake of the Haitian earthquake in January 2010. Seeing the devastation of that natural disaster, the two defied government and aid organisation advice and flew out to Haiti to put their Marine skills to use in the response and recovery efforts. They quickly realised that military veterans had many skills that could be brought to bear on disaster situations, and subsequently founded Team Rubicon. The organisation now has approximately 60,000 volunteers in the USA, and registered as a charity in the UK in June 2015, where it has recruited nearly 2000 volunteers.

The challenge

Team Rubicon UK deploys response teams to emergencies around the world, having run major operations since the 2015 Nepal earthquake, from Ecuador and Canada to Greece and even closer to home in the UK. Whilst on the ground, the team works with local charities and communities administering life-saving aid and helping to get infrastructure like hospitals, schools and roads up and running again.

Working fast and effectively is dependent on the teams’ ability to communicate in order to coordinate response efforts with other aid agencies, ensure the safety of their teams when they’re in the field and to share images and video describing what is going on for fundraising purposes. However, the emergencies that Team Rubicon respond to often mean that if communications infrastructure exists it is often damaged or overloaded. Moreover in rural areas this may not exist to begin with, making communications a significant challenge to the organisation.

Stuart Lane, Director of Field Operations at Team Rubicon in the UK, explained: “We are developing a wide variety of skillsets, so we can offer a range of emergency response solutions – from the early stages of disaster response, where a lot of the work is the immediate support of communities and assessment and prioritisation of tasks to protect lives, to the latter stages of reconstruction.

“A key part of disaster response and recovery is organisation and coordinating resources so that actions make the maximum impact. Communications are fundamental to establishing this – many people want to help in a disaster, but when they aren’t coordinated effectively they can actually hinder emergency response efforts. Establishing reliable communications methods in disaster situations is vital, so we needed to find a system that worked.”

The solution

To solve its connectivity challenge, Team Rubicon partnered with Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, to support its emergency response efforts with rock-solid data and voice networks.

Through a combination of Inmarsat’s satellite phones and Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), Team Rubicon has a network that can withstand the rigours of a disaster response operation. Inmarsat’s L-band network ensures Team Rubicon experience up to 99.9% uptime,

which is critical when connectivity can mean the difference between life and death. In addition to peerless reliability, the Inmarsat satellite network also provides connectivity on a truly global scale, meaning that wherever disaster has struck, often in remote locations, Team Rubicon staff and volunteers will always have communications capability. Inmarsat’s relationship with Team Rubicon goes well beyond that of technology provider and client. As part of its CSR programme, Inmarsat is encouraging its employees to train with Team Rubicon to become a Greyshirt, a trained Team Rubicon volunteer. This will lead to the deployment of Inmarsat staff to disaster zones to help, specifically with the use of Inmarsat equipment, but also generally with other important jobs, assisting affected communities.

The benefits

Stuart concluded by identifying how the partnership with Inmarsat is enabling Team Rubicon to help more people: “The solutionthat Inmarsat has provided has helped us to overcome the serious communication issues we were experiencing and enables us to coordinate our work internally and reachback to the UK for subject matter expertise and remote support; whilst tying in with other agencies wherever we are in the world. Inmarsat’s technology has already proved incredibly useful in the field, improving both our abilities to help co-ordinate relief efforts and to let the world know what is happening in disaster-afflicted areas.”

Paul Gudonis, President of Inmarsat Enterprise, military veteran and Team Rubicon Greyshirt has led the initiative within Inmarsat. Commenting on the significance of the partnership for Inmarsat he remarked: “Inmarsat’s origins lie with the United Nations, as an NGO created by the International Maritime Organisation to establish a satellite communications network for the maritime community and to therefore help people safely traverse the oceans. This commitment to helping people through technology lies at the heart of who we are, and we’re really excited to bring this capability to an organisation that is doing fantastic work.”

In recent months we’ve ran somewhere in the vicinity of up to 15 separate operations simultaneously with personnel distributed across the Caribbean and Americas, in the aftermath of Marie, Harvey, Irma and the Mexico earthquake. Now here is the amazing metric. I do not have one report of not being able to
communicate with our personnel anywhere. This has never happened before at Team Rubicon, ever. The impact Inmarsat in having on our ability to not only increase the life-safety of our personnel but the improvement in daily coordination is not only remarkable but unprecedented in our seven year history
Stephen Hunt Chief Technology Officer for Team Rubicon Global

Key benefits of BGAN and ISatPhone 2

  • Inmarsat provides connectivity
    where infrastructure is
    damaged or does not exist

 

  • ISatPhone 2 allows responders
    to speak with their team and
    co-ordinate activities on the
    ground or back at base

 

  • BGAN provides connectivity for
    multiple-devices to support a
    mobile operations centre

 

  • BGAN allows fundraisers to share
    images and video back home to
    boost fundraising efforts

Where we deliver

Due to the unique nature of Inmarsat’s geostationary satellite network we can deliver highly resilient, mobile communications services across the world. Global Xpress (GX), our Ka-band service is delivered through our Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellites, while Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) is delivered, through our Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellites.

Where required, our ecosystem of local partners will deliver onsite warranty, support and repairs, and Inmarsat will ensure that all license and regulatory compliance will be in place.

This map depicts Inmarsat’s expectations of coverage. It does not represent a guarantee of service. The availability of service at the edge of coverage areas fluctuates depending on various conditions. Fleet Xpress coverage March 2019.

This map depicts Inmarsat’s expectations of coverage. It does not represent a guarantee of service. The availability of service at the edge of coverage areas fluctuates depending on various conditions. Fleet Xpress coverage March 2019.

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