Mobiles, SMS play a role in Afghanistan security

Within months of the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, the first Afghan mobile networks began to appear; today, Afghanistan has four privately-owned networks.

The October 7, 2001, invasion of Afghanistan did more than mark the beginning of the "War on Terror." It also paved way for the introduction of the first mobile phone networks into the country, networks that today find themselves pawns in the fight between the Taliban, the government and security forces.

Within months of the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, the first Afghan mobile networks began to appear. Today, Afghanistan has four privately-owned networks and, according to a recent report by the BBC, mobile phones are the only way most Afghans are able to communicate, especially in remote areas. The importance of mobile technology hasn't gone unnoticed by the Taliban either, who have recently been destroying towers in an attempt to stop security forces using the technology to coordinate night-time attacks against them. That particular game of cat-and-mouse continues.

The dangers facing many in Afghanistan are often in the headlines. Recently news broke of three aid workers and their driver being killed near Kabul. Decades of invasion, war and fighting have run the country ragged. There are fewer more dangerous places on earth to work. As recently as July 2008, the Crime and Safety Report described the security situation as volatile and unpredictable, and warned of the limited ability of Afghan authorities to ensure the security of citizens and visitors who face threats of kidnap and assassination.

In such a challenging and hostile environment, nonprofit organisations expend considerable time and effort limiting their exposure to risk. With improved communication often at the heart of any security strategy, many have turned to the growing influence and availability of mobile phone networks in the areas where they operate, and to tools that give them the ability to communicate quickly, widely, efficiently and effectively.

Facing a continued and growing security threat, in January 2007 a major international humanitarian organisation (that shall remain anonymous for its own protection) began using FrontlineSMS for field communication in their Afghan operations. FrontlineSMS is free software that allows for two-way group text messaging (SMS) using a laptop computer and an attached mobile phone. This makes it particularly useful in situations where messages need to be communicated quickly and in a coordinated fashion. Following the recent attacks, as a representative of the Afghan nongovernment organisation reported, the tool was "essential" to getting the word out quickly: "E-mail was down, voice was spotty but SMS still worked. We also had two female staff at a school near the incident and were able to tell them to stay put till things quieted down. All my staff made it home safe today."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ken Banks

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?