Telecommunications Security Standards (TESS)

About TESS

Telecommunications Security Standards (TESS)

Ensuring the safety and security of UN and NGO personnel is a basic requirement for all field operations

Security Communications Systems (SCS) are often the only way for humanitarians to communicate in remote areas and under challenging conditions.

Security communications systems are vital for connecting and supporting UN and NGO personnel during security incidents, while dispatching or receiving timely information, and following movements of field missions and convoys.

Providing the right tools - in terms of connectivity systems, applications and procedures - for the Security Communications Systems, is the key goal of a collaborative initiative called “Telecommunications Security Standards” (TESS).


 A standardized solution to keep humanitarians safe

The Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN) and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) initiated the TESS project in May 2018. WFP led the creation of this collaborative, inter-agency initiative.

TESS is the inter-agency coordination structure mandated by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) to make clear recommendations and provide hands-on support to standardize SCS for the UN and non-governmental organisation (NGO) personnel globally.

While TESS consists of a small core team of technical specialists, it depends on collaboration with UN and NGO partners, online networks and partnerships with the private and public sectors as well as academia.

In June 2020, the TESS project transformed into a permanent support service called {TESS+}, coordinated by WFP. The {TESS+} Service Charter is available here.


{TESS+} is divided into three parallel project tracks, called “streams”


  • Stream 1: Support field operations to assess, debug and support their current Security Communications Systems.
  • Stream 2: Standardise current security communication technologies, focusing on several technical areas: radio systems, vehicle tracking systems, and mobile satellite systems.
  • Stream 3: Re-developing and testing new long-term standards based on up-to-date technologies with the objective of delivering a more intuitive user experience and cost-effective solution.

{TESS+} works on three layers for each stream 

  • Connectivity: The hardware that physically connects the users and security personnel into a Security Communications System.

  • Applications: The software components that runs on the connectivity layer and provides security management functions to both personnel and security personnel.

  • Procedures: The implementation of technologies through standardised security procedures.


Read the {TESS+} Service Charter here.


Contact information

Peter Casier
TESS Senior Programme Manager

If you would like to join the TESS online community, please send an email to

Related documents

TESS Stream 3: