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Smart emergency communications boost 3rd nat’l quake drill

by Smart Communications Inc. | Oct 16, 2017
[16 October 2017] PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications (Smart) once again provided emergency communications support at the Third Quarter National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill held recently in Bacoor City, Cavite.

Smart deployed its multi-equipment on wheels (MEOW) portable cell site, issued emergency alerts and provided free calls, charging and satellite communications services during the activity that started in the morning at Bacoor Elementary School. More than 50,000 residents from Region IV-A participated in the drill, which simulated a magnitude 7.2 earthquake situation.

Smart also deployed its SOS Dispatch solution, which is part of PLDT Group’s public safety and emergency response offering. “In times of emergencies and disasters, situational awareness is key. SOS Dispatch enables LGUs to efficiently monitor, record, and dispatch reported incidents while keeping responders connected in near real-time,” said Gio Abaquin, Smart’s category head for machine-to-machine and Internet of Things. “The solution also allows first responders to stream video feeds back to the command center, facilitating better coordination between HQ and on-ground teams,” he added.

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A drill participant tries out Smart’s satellite phone during the third national simultaneous earthquake drill in Bacoor City.

The drill was led by Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr. and Office of Civil Defense-Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (OCD-RDRRMC) Calabarzon Director Olivia Luces.

“This is the third quarter earthquake drill for 2017 regularly initiated by the OCD in collaboration with the Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology). We want to showcase and highlight what the council does after the quake and how to manage the consequences of a disaster,” Luces said.

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Drill participants assume the “duck, cover and hold” position during the third national simultaneous earthquake drill at Bacoor Elementary School in Cavite.

At exactly 2 p.m., after the supposed earthquake hit, an emergency alert was blasted to the residents within the vicinity using the Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) of Smart, the only Philippine telecommunications company to have this technology. ECBS alerts are designed to warn subscribers of calamity threats in their areas. To receive this message, a user must enable the cell broadcast feature of their mobile phones.

During the drill, the participants were urged to assume the “duck, cover, and hold” position and led to an open field outside the classrooms. Responders were posted in several areas inside the school, where rescue operations were also simulated. The entire drill was being monitored at Strike Gym.

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This phone shows an emergency alert issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) using Smart’s Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) during the third national earthquake drill in Bacoor, Cavite.

“(The use of) science and technology, especially applications, would be very critical not only in preparing for, but most importantly, responding immediately after the event. The applications used today would be very important during emergencies. We need correct and timely information so that response could be fast enough and those who need help may receive it,” said Solidum, who is also Phivolcs director.

“The Bacoor Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office has been using the SOS Dispatch technology by Smart. This has been very effective in the past few months we’ve been using it because we can see the actual emergency case while it is happening. The information is immediately sent to our command center. So we know what to do and what to bring when we need to rescue people,” Revilla said.

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The emergency communications services deployed by Smart during the drill include SmartSAT satellite phones and broadband terminal Thuraya IP+.

Smart’s participation in the quake drill is part of its #SafePH advocacy, which promotes emergency resilience and quick response through communications. During 2013’s Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” one of the strongest cyclones on record, Smart provided support to affected areas through satellite communications, MEOWs, free calls and charging, free airtime credits for responders and free SMS bundles for subscribers, among other services.#