Meet Marta Moreton, ICT Specialist at Télécoms Sans Frontières

When a crisis occurs, whether humanitarian or a natural disaster, critical telecommunications infrastructure can be partially damaged, or in the worst case, entirely destroyed. This severs the communication that crisis victims have with the outside world, and more importantly, disconnects them from their loved ones, who they may have been separated from along the way. Most people will greatly underestimate the importance of technology until it is no longer available to them, and restoring connectivity to affected populations as quickly as possible when a crisis occurs is essential. This is Télécoms Sans Frontières’ (or TSF’s) raison d’être.

TSF was founded in 1998 and is the world’s first NGO that utilises telecommunications technology to provide crisis victims with the ability to contact their loved ones and regain control of their lives. This technology can also help other NGOs on the scene with their own relief efforts and is often used to help coordinate wider NGO support activities. As you can see, organisations such as TSF play a key role in mitigating the impact of crises and helping communities to recover as quickly and as safely as possible.

My name is Marta Moreton and I am an ICT Specialist at Télécoms Sans Frontières, and I will be discussing my experience in the telecoms and humanitarian industries, what inspired me to work in the humanitarian sector, key diversity issues facing the technology industry and tips on how women can get into the world of technology.


Tell us more about your experience in the world of technology and what inspired you to work in the telecoms and humanitarian sectors

My career in technology truly began after completing my degree in Computer Science. After finishing my degree, I thought that I was 100% certain about what my future in the technology industry would look like and I was clear on exactly what path I was going to take – but this was certainly not the case!

I began working with Ericsson and after four years of working with the team, I was introduced to an important initiative called Ericsson Response. For those of you who are unaware, Ericsson Response was a group of around 150 volunteers who were deployed to respond to crisis situations and assist any crisis victims using technology.

I quickly got involved with this initiative and my first mission involved being deployed to Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. My role involved providing connectivity to the media clinics in the area and helping to coordinate wider humanitarian response efforts. This was a transformative experience for me, and it introduced me to a career that allowed me to put my technology expertise to use in a way that would help others.

After this experience, I joined TSF as my role acted as the perfect bridge between my two passions and also allowed me to help make a difference in the world.

Can you tell us more about some of the missions you have been on during your time at TSF?
I have been deployed to many different crisis zones all over the world, including South America, Mozambique, and Beirut, and I was recently Head of Mission to provide aid for the victims of the Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Since 2017, the number of migrants in the South-North migration in the Americas has increased massively. This is down to several key factors, including a series of natural disasters and high crime rates in Mexico, Guatemala and Columbia which have turned the once-economic migration problem into a full-scale humanitarian crisis. The number of unaccompanied minors and families fleeing this environment forced Mexico to introduce humanitarian visas and ease their existing policies for asylum seekers.

These individuals will have little to no access to vital information about the changes made by Mexico, and tend to have limited knowledge of their rights – and this is where the TSF team and I set out to support them.

We launched an information diffusion project which involved implementing a display system that can remotely manage digital displays showcasing information that can help migrants on the next leg of their journeys. This information could include migrant routes, security information or details about other refuge centres.

The solution itself consists of a network of micro-computers that are connected to a central server via the Internet. The screens are remotely updated by one central administrator whenever required and the web interface can be accessed from anywhere as all of the devices are connected to a Cloud server. These features also allow information to be transmitted in real-time, allowing migrants to be consistently up to date with the latest information which helps to provide a sense of certainty in uncertain and turbulent environments.

As a result of this mission, 86% of migrants have used the information found on these screens to help inform the next leg of their journeys and a further 94% of victims reported that the screens had a positive impact on their lives.

What are some of the key issues being faced by females in the technology sector, and what can we do to resolve them?

I think that the state of the industry has definitely acted as a barrier for many women that are looking to get into the world of technology. Reports revealed that 38% of respondents felt that there was a lack of opportunities for a promotion, with a further 52% of respondents stating that they feel that their gender has limited their career in the technology industry. This research alone just goes to show that there is a big issue in regard to diversity in the sector. But how can we resolve these issues?

I strongly believe that the lack of female role models in the sector is acting as a significant barrier for women that are looking to enter the world of technology. With this in mind, we need more successful women in technology to be given a platform to share their experiences with others and inspire them as a result. With this being said, there also needs to be an overarching attitude change towards women in professional roles and any outdated stereotypes about the types of jobs that women and men can pursue need to be held accountable for the negative impacts they are having on the industry. I hope that as these stereotypes and industry issues are increasingly becoming the topic of conversation we can draw more awareness to the issue and help these conversations to become a thing of the past.

My top tip for anyone that is trying to enter or excel in the technology industry is to never stop learning. The technology sector is constantly evolving and extremely fast-paced, and knowledge can unlock a whole new realm of opportunities. The best way to get ahead is to ensure that you are continuously striving to learn more – and there are so many different ways to achieve this, including reading, listening to podcasts, networking or attending conferences. There are so many great ways of keeping up with changing industry trends and developing your knowledge – so be sure to take advantage of as many as possible.