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Current and Potential Future uses of Iridium® Tracking Devices in the Fight Against Ebola

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Until recently, there have been roughly 3,000 American troops and 750 civilians aiding in efforts to stop the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Whether it’s building treatment facilities or providing logistical support and medical training of healthcare workers, the U.S. military has been one of the many groups on the frontlines helping to fight the battle. It is imperative that all necessary measures and precautions are taken to monitor and protect everyone working to solve the medical crisis in Ebola affected regions, not just for their own protection, but for the safety and health of those affected as well, and leveraging satellite-tracking technologies is one way American military operations was able to make that happen.

Reasons to continue and expand the use of satellite-tracking devices

Right now, U.S. government personnel are using roughly 30,000 Iridium tracking devices primarily for tracking personnel safety, increasing situational awareness and asset tracking. Iridium tracking devices are cost-effective, easy-to-acquire, and can be smoothly integrated into existing Department of Defense tracking systems.

Expanding the use of satellite-tracking devices in military operations in general could provide a number of benefits and help immensely in protecting and managing troop ground operations. For example, today, tracking devices assist with command and control – but the ability to track an individual dismount (a soldier not in a military vehicle) is difficult. For commanders controlling large numbers of ground troops, having the ability to keep track of an individual dismount would help protect soldiers and help commanders maneuver their forces more effectively and efficiently.

But imagine taking those applications even further to global humanitarian efforts. Pertaining to the work that has been done in West Africa, Iridium tracking devices could be issued to all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local military working alongside U.S. military personnel. This “coalition-force tracking” function would provide a clear picture of where all related assets are located at any given time across multiple organizations and partners working towards the common goal of containing the Ebola virus, and preventing further harm and outbreaks.

Looking ahead, if approved, these devices could also go beyond military and public health personnel tracking, and move towards patient tracking. This type of use would not only protect the health and safety of those who have been in close proximity of Ebola-stricken patients, but would also help the patients themselves. Giving the ability to essentially “track the virus” would be a major innovation in controlling and containing the spread of the current Ebola outbreak and mitigating future risks.

Using the world’s largest and only truly global commercial satellite constellation, Iridium tracking devices can serve a greater purpose beyond typical usage, and expand into global humanitarian, health and safety initiatives.

For more information about Iridium devices and solutions for the federal government and DoD, please see www.iridium.com/emss.

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