In line with final preparations for Typhoon Ruby, PLDT, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Sun Cellular (Sun) have been assisting various local government offices and agencies for their emergency communications requirements.
For the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), Smart and Sun provided wireless broadband devices as well as additional mobile phones and load to be used for hotline coordination for their National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) Operation Center located in Quezon City. PLDT is also installing 5 additional landlines and DSL data link for the OCD and TD-LTE wireless broadband links for the three command centers of Cebu City.
Various units reporting to the OCD have also been posting updates and reports via Batingaw, a mobile application co-developed by the agency and supported by Smart where users can post geo-located status with photos, among other emergency response functionalities such as sending safety status via text to designated numbers. Batingaw is available for free download at Google Play and Apple Store.
Smart’s Infoboard system is being used by the Cebu Province to provide timely bulletins and prayers to local disaster responders via text messages. Smart Satellite phones have also been provided to the Cebu Provincial Office, Cebu Provincial Police Command, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) – Region 6, the Bohol Provincial Office and Borongan City in Samar through Rep. Ben Evardone.
To help in coordination, additional airtime load has also been provided to the various Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices of Borongan City in Eastern Samar, Catarman in Northern Samar and the province of Iloilo.
In Bicol, Smart provided the Naga City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council with Smart Bro wifi units and additional PLDT landline as backup emergency communications.
Meanwhile, the province of Albay is also using Smart Infoboard and Pindot, a mobile app that runs on the same platform as OCD’s Batingaw. Smart Infoboard is also currently being used by other local governments and agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu City, Danao City, OCD-Cordillera Autonomous Region, as well as by the Archdiocese of Cebu.
PLDT, Smart, and Sun are continuously monitoring the updates on the typhoon as network and operation teams have been stepping up preparations to ensure that vital communications services will remain on-air. The companies are also prepared to deploy Libreng Tawag stations for post-disaster response in coordination with the local governments. On top of making their networks more resilient, PLDT, Smart and Sun have been expanding efforts to provide communications solutions for government offices and agencies to assist in crisis management. Recently, the telcos provided voice, SMS and Internet services for the UN Peacekeepers quarantined in Caballo, Island.