Philippines’ mobile operator Smart Communications has provided communications equipment to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The government disaster agency can now access Smart’s Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) and use it to quickly send public warnings to mobile phone users in specific areas.
The ECBS is designed to send urgent messages, such as evacuation notices and earthquake and tsunami warnings to activated mobile devices within the affected area. According to Smart, cell broadcast is effective in disseminating quick hazard alerts because it operates on a radio channel separate from those used by voice calls and text messages or SMS, which may get congested in times of calamities.
NDRRMC, the National Telecommunications Commission, and Smart, launched ECBS on a trial basis in March 2017. It has since been used to broadcast quick alerts during typhoons and post-earthquake situations. Most recently, ECBS messages were sent to Albay residents in the wake of the eruption of the Mayon Volcano. During this trial period, the alert messages were sent by the NDRRMC to Smart which then transmitted the messages. With the turnover, NDRRMC personnel will be trained on how to use the equipment to send out messages themselves, Smart also said.