After The Nepal Earthquake - A Cisco VIP's Personal Perspective

This is not typically the space for us Community Managers to ramble on but, for the last two posts, it made sense that we post them. In case you missed it, last month, my teammate Kay Berkel did a great job capturing the VIPs’ experiences at Cisco Live 2015 in San Diego.


For this month’s VIP Blog, we wanted to take a moment to connect with Cisco Designated VIP Milan Rai. Milan is a native of the country of Nepal and, as you likely know, the recent 7.8 – 8.1 magnitude earthquake devastated parts of his homeland. As news of the earthquake broke, many reached out to Milan on Twitter hoping he was safe and sound. Luckily, he was. For a bit of perspective on the events, how it has impacted one of our fellow community members, and a few technology considerations, I hope you’ll read below. Please feel free to also ask Milan more questions in the comments section.



Q: Tell us a bit about Nepal, where is it located, what do you know the general population of the country, what sort of economy does the country have, what is the main engine of the economy?

Milan: Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia, bordered by China on the north and east, west and south by India. With an area of 147,181 square kilometers and a population of approximately 27 million. Being one of the developing nations, agriculture is one of the main sources of economy in Nepal. Approx 70% people are engaged and majority of people lies in Terai region. Around 21% are in services and manufacturing/craft-based industry takes over 6%.


Q: Talk about the earthquake, and some of what you’ve seen and experienced.


Milan: Talking about the earthquake to the date, it was the huge and most furious shake I have ever felt. For a few seconds of time I didn't know what was going around. All the people were running and screaming. In my lifetime I will never ever forget this moment. Since I was out of my home, I couldn't reach out to my parents and loved ones due to telecommunication limitations. It took me 30min to reach my home but I felt like I had to go for hours and hours.


CiscoVIP Milan RaiQ: From your perspective, what role have you seen technology play in the initial responses and the follow up recovery process?


Milan: In the initial phase, it might be difficult for every technology to bear the traffic that is generated at the same time. But they could have done some more emergency response.  After a few days, a great initiation was taken by all the telecommunication companies that they provided all their facilities free of cost, which really helped a lot. A few of the other instant messaging apps provided free call facilities. Some of them were Skype & Viber. But as always, these all were revolving all around city areas only. From few of the village areas, people were not able to reach out to the rescue team on time.


Q: As far as you can tell, how have communications systems and technologies been impacted as a result of the quake?


Milan: As a result of earthquake, lots of building were collapsed where the POP were present. Both the internet and cell phone networks were affected. In the absence of quick emergency response team, it took more than a week to bring back the communications. Personall,y as i was working at bank on those days, few of my branches were not able to give services to the clients. If we had a strong wireless backbone, then i guess we didn't have to suffer a lot. Since Nepal is beautiful country with lots of hills and mountains, in my opinion we should built up some strong Wireless Network for all the communication.


Q: What improvements do you think can be made not only in Nepal but around the globe in terms of how we use technology in response to disasters like these and the speed in which systems are recovered?


Milan: In this case of improvements, it totally matters what kind of geographical region is the nation in. If it’s totally like Nepal, then we should take care how we are going to take the internet and cell phone facility to the farthest remote areas of the nation. How we are going to make people aware that the proper use of technology comes over here. Since we have a very low literacy rate, it might be difficult to educate people about the technology available. Since everyone was afraid of getting those aftershocks again and again, we should have to share what kinds of safety measure can be taken by the people through radio, television and phone.  Since one simple announcement on the radio can save the life of hundreds of people. But at first, we have to make this technology reachable to them.


Since technology has already gone to the different level, lets create an emergency rescue team or emergency system which can help any nation in a few seconds of time from anywhere. We have so many satellite systems in these days. We have lots of robots. We have lots of drones. It’s the proper time to bring them up and help the nation. Developed nations and well-equipped nations can play a vital role in this kind of emergency. In this kind of situation i guess moral support is one of the best medicines to heal the afraid people around. Yes, i might not be able to know 1 day before that this kind of disaster is going to happen, but using full efforts of the latest technology can build our nation so that these types of disaster will not affect a single block of bricks. We all are human beings at first, then only comes the other. So let’s unite for the people and help each other.




How Has Cisco Helped?

Cisco Systems, both as a company and as individual employees, has contributed to relief and recovery efforts.


The Cisco Learning Network team interviewed Tiago Silva, Operations Manager for Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) at Cisco Live 2015. Note at 3:15 in the video, Tiago talks about the kits that are deployed in Nepal for emergency relief efforts.


How can you help?

Unicef US lists a few of there suggested ways to assist in this post: Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts: 5 Ways You Can Help


Side thought: Have you ever written a Disaster Recovery Plan for your job, or been involved in that kind of a process before? It's a pretty eye opening experience and one that can be scaled to a regional level for situations like this. It's interesting to think about how our work can play such a critical role in people lives. Share your thoughts on this and Milans perspectives in the comments below. I know he would love to hear from you.