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Taiwan: Uninterrupted Communication in Emergencies

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In a proactive move to bolster digital resilience, Taiwan’s Ministry of Digital Affairs (moda) recently conducted its first-ever “disaster roaming” drill in collaboration with the nation’s three major telecommunications providers.

This exercise, held as part of the “2023 National Disaster Prevention Day Large-Scale Earthquake Disaster Response Mobilisation Exercise,” showcased the critical role of cross-network roaming in ensuring citizens’ access to basic and secure communication during emergencies.

The concept of “disaster roaming” differs from commercial roaming mechanisms. It is a government-driven initiative designed to ensure uninterrupted communication services for the public during significant disasters or emergencies.

In essence, it allows individuals to connect to operational mobile communication networks of other providers, irrespective of their original contracts. This initiative addresses a fundamental need: maintaining communication rights when they matter most.

The recent disaster roaming exercise took place in the Hsinchu County Sports Complex area, strategically chosen due to its high population density. Notably, the exercise was conducted without disrupting nearby base stations, using a “manual network selection” method to facilitate cross-network roaming.

Participants engaged in practical scenarios, from connecting with loved ones to accessing real-time news updates and evacuation information.

One of the key takeaways from this exercise is the importance of cooperation between moda and telecommunications providers. By developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and studying international cross-network roaming frameworks, Taiwan aims to further enhance the disaster roaming mechanism.

This forward-looking approach will ensure that the nation’s communication networks remain resilient and robust, even in the face of major disasters.

The significance of disaster roaming extends beyond mere convenience; it’s about safeguarding citizens’ well-being and ensuring they have access to crucial information during emergencies. This initiative is particularly relevant nowadays as societies become increasingly reliant on digital communication networks for information dissemination, emergency alerts, and coordination during crises.

During her visit to moda, President Tsai Ing-wen underscored the importance of such initiatives in enhancing Taiwan’s overall resilience. In an era where digital connectivity is integral to daily life and critical infrastructure, the ability to maintain communication rights during disasters is paramount.

The disaster roaming programme’s continuation from 2024 to 2025 demonstrates Taiwan’s commitment to preparedness and resilience. By studying global best practices and working closely with domestic telecommunications providers, the country aims to establish a robust disaster response framework. This proactive stance will serve as a model for other nations seeking to enhance their digital resilience.

Reports cited that Taiwan’s disaster roaming initiative stands as a beacon of innovation and preparedness. It reaffirms the government’s commitment to safeguarding its citizens’ communication rights and ensuring that vital information flows even when the unexpected occurs.

Many industries and organisations are subject to regulatory requirements regarding data protection and cybersecurity. Digital resilience helps meet these requirements and avoids legal and financial repercussions.

Also, it ensures that critical government systems and communication networks remain operational during emergencies and can withstand cyber threats from adversaries.

As digital technologies continue to evolve, so too must disaster preparedness strategies. Taiwan’s dedication to enhancing digital resilience through initiatives like disaster roaming demonstrates that the nation is not only adapting to the digital age but also leading the way in ensuring that no one is left disconnected when it matters most.

It is a testament to the nation’s unwavering commitment to the well-being and safety of its citizens, setting a commendable example for the world to follow.


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