IT companies in Haiti rush to re-build

Satellite phones are most needed technology

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"It's a country that depends on tourists and agriculture. They're not very advanced from an IT perspective. That's what's going to drive things during this recovery," he said.

Trilogy, which provides service for the Voila Comcel mobile network, said it had restored the network by midnight Sept. 13 and began sending members of its disaster recovery team around to each of the 300 or so cell towers in Haiti to check the infrastructure for damage. Trilogy provides cellular service to about 1 million Haitians, Saxton said.

While the network is up, the power is not sustainable, she said. Even before the earthquake, Haiti's grid only provided for about eight hours of daily power. Diesel generators were required for the remainder of any given day.

Trilogy has so far been able to verify that all of Voila's buildings in the country are has accounted for all of its staff, the vast majority of whom are nationals. "Most of our employees we're just trying to keep safe at this point," Saxton said.

Voila's network continued to operate for several hours through the aftershocks before it was forced to shut down the switch to maintain its integrity until its generators and cooling systems were back online.

Trilogy is now focused on managing traffic and adding capacity as rapidly as possible to aid the humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Saxton said the network is being flooded with traffic.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. More than 60% of its people work in agriculture, and have low literacy rates. Reliance on technology is tied to a business need to continue operating during an incident. For example, during Katrina, there were companies out of business, but their market was also gone, according to SunGard. The market for most Haitian businesses is most likely local with suppliers and customers both disrupted.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, send e-mail to or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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