UNWTO Microsoft unveil emergency portal

In its continuing effort to help the tourism sector respond to natural and man made disaster situations, the UNWTO unveiled on Monday the Beta site of its new Emergency Response System developed by Microsoft as part of a long-term cooperation agreed earlier this year.The UNWTO and Microsoft used the occasion of the World Travel Market, with industry and government leaders present, to demonstrate a new comprehensive emergency response portal. The ERS is designed to be a one stop shop for tourism stakeholders to track disasters and to help in response activity. The portal links to major public and private sector networks, as well as the emergency response databases that UNWTO is developing.

“Our goal is to serve the industry and eventually tourists themselves with this new tool which has been made possible through the close working relationship with Microsoft”, said UNWTO Assistant Secretary General Geoffrey Lipman. “In the coming months we will seek expanded industry input as we move from a Beta to a live system which will provide 24 on 7 tracking of major emergencies from a tourism perspective.”

Initial action is related to avian flu, where the information and response system has been focused for the past year. It will house the TERN (Tourism Emergency Response Network) - a loose grouping of global, regional and national industry organizations collaborating to exchange information and develop public messages in relation to a potential flu pandemic.

“As a software vendor we look for ways to apply technology that help people and businesses realize their potential”, said Frank McCosker, Microsoft Managing Director, Global Strategic Accounts.

The co-operation between UNWTO and Microsoft focuses on developing solutions that will help strengthen the tourism industry and address issues of importance to the global tourism trade.

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“The portal is a great example of where software and technology can make a difference In times of medical crisis or natural disasters, tourism operators and tourists will have a place to access reliable information and the guidance of the UNWTO when it is most needed”, Frank McCosker concluded.
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