Zee Uses Technology For Gathering Tsunami Aid

by Amit Tripathi    Jan 04, 2005

In the aftermath of any disaster, as the panic settles down, both government and non-government agencies face the daunting task of collecting and dispatching relief funds. Technology, as always, can play a pivotal role.

An innovative initiative started by Mumbai-based Zee Networks, part of the Essel group, has enabled the common man to contribute without being caught in the quagmire of regular aid giving processes.

To contribute all one has to do is dial 190 2424 500500 from a MTNL or BSNL landline or WLL phone. For each such call, the caller will be billed a one-minute local call charge. The money collected will be sent by the service provider through Zee’s Relief Fund to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Speaking to CXOtoday, an enthusiastic Ishwar Jha, VP, business technology, Zee Networks, informed, “The reason we chose this method and not requesting donations in cheques or demand drafts is that you don’t really have to make much of an effort while contributing. In another initiative, customers of Airtel, Hutch, Idea and Spice Telecom can contribute up to Rs 100 by sending an SMS typing ERF to 7575. If the user doesn’t have Rs 100 as balance then the existing balance amount will be forwarded as a contribution.”

According to Jha, the first day collections have already reached the Rs 36,000 mark. The target is to collect Rs 2 crore within 15 days. “Cent percent of the money collected will be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. We will get a statement from the service providers on the amount collected and the agreement we entered into with them was based on the humanitarian relief that we have been providing all along,” said Jha.

The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund has also enabled electronic transfer of funds for contributions through a tie-up with Sify, among others. Aid in the form of food, clothes, medical supplies, reconstruction funds and information on the missing has been pouring into the affected areas from across the world.

It is a well-known fact as observed from past disaster management experiences that people’s contributions, both cash as well as materials do not always reach the needy. Added to that is the formality involved in the form of documentation of the aid. Although there was the initial breach in not being able to leverage technology to send timely warnings and reduce the extent of damage, the usage of technology atleast to reach the survivors of the calamity can bring in order and efficiency in the whole process.

Tags: Tsunami