A volunteer initiative deploying emergency communication

Ericsson Response is a global non-profit activity that supports natural disaster relief and humanitarian operations with no commercial objective. It was founded in April 2000 and is a key component of Ericsson’s corporate responsibility activities.
Example of the Ericsson Response program, launched in 2000.

The Ericsson Response team’s main tasks are to set up mobile networks for voice and data communication as well as supporting partners in training and knowledge sharing. To this day, Ericsson Response has supported more than 40 relief efforts in more than 30 countries.

Ericsson Response works in partnership with the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's Fund, Unicef, and other international and non-profit organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children.

In 2010, Ericsson Response was part of the relief effort following the large earthquake in Haiti. Ericsson cooperated with WFP and Unicef for six months, with 19 volunteers working in shifts to cover communication in the 40 km2 area. A portable container-based GSM network, hosted by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), was deployed on request from the UN to provide several of its organizations with telecommunications and ICT support. Aid workers on the ground made about 3 000 calls on a daily basis, and the effort was one of the biggest in the history of Ericsson Response.

Ericsson Response also supports the ‘One UN’ initiative in Tanzania, Mozambique and Rwanda, a project aiming to make the United Nations a more effective partner to the government with better coordination to maximize the impact of its work in the country.

In 2011, two Ericsson Response volunteers went to Tanzania to provide on-site support for the integration of computer systems for one month. During that time, they analyzed the needs of the UN organizations in terms of what information is critical in humanitarian work. They also set up the applications provided by UN for knowledge sharing and information gathering and trained the organization’s staff.

As part of its long-term strategy, Ericsson Response has established an Ericsson Response Logistics and Training Center in Linköping, Sweden. In 2012, the UN requested that Ericsson Response supplied a network that offered additional functionality. Ericsson then developed a new container for mobile communication and multiple-access technologies which will significantly improve communication in disaster zones. The new container is based on the latest technology for radio-access networks with the ability to include all three standards in the future: GSM/EDGE, WCDMA/HSPA, and LTE.

Long before Response, Ericsson had a history of helping countries afflicted by war and disaster. In the late 1800s, for example, Ericsson had established manufacturing operations in Russia and spread knowledge of telephony there. In countries such as Argentina, Mexico and Turkey, the company built telephone networks, thus helping to encourage communications and to develop the infrastructure.

Over the years, individual Ericsson employees have also made significant contributions during wartime. In 1911, Sigfrid Mohlström protected his employees when the telephone station in Mexico City was bombed during the revolution. And Sigfrid Häggberg’s resistance against the Nazis in Poland 1942 resulted in him being arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo for two and a half years.

Ericsson Response – a highlight of missions 2000-2012

  • 2000 –Ericsson Response was founded by employees who wanted to make a difference.
  • 2000 – Extreme floods in Algeria and severe drought in Tajikistan.
  • 2001 – Flooding in Hungary and earthquakes in Pakistan, Peru, El Salvador.
  • 2002 – Rail disaster in Tanzania and food crisis in Lesotho. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan.
  • 2003 – Earthquakes strike Algeria and Iran. Hurricane in Caribbean. Aid to Liberia.
  • 2004 – Tsunami devastates Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
  • 2005 – Hurricane Katrina hits the US. Earthquakes in Pakistan.
  • 2006 – ICT support for aid workers in South Sudan. Earthquake victims in Pakistan.
  • 2007 – Establish connectivity for aid worker in Central African Republic and in Peruvian Earthquake.
  • 2008 – Establish connectivity for Save the Children in South Sudan.
  • 2009 – Assessment of ICT needs in Philippines. ICT support in de-mining mission in DRC.
  • 2010 – Earthquake strikes Haiti.
  • 2011 – ”One UN” initiative.
  • 2012 – ICT support in South Sudan, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda

Outside the remains of the old PAST telephone station. Sigfrid Häggberg worked during the years between the wars with the Polish concession company PAST. The picture is taken shortly after Ericsson and Sigfrid Häggberg had signed a new treaty with the Polish authorities.


Earthquake rescue work, El Salvador, 2001

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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