PLDT’s mobile unit Smart Communications is working with Batangas State University (BatStateU) to enhance tsunami warning systems of seaside communities. Smart is integrating its Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) into the Solar Isotropic Generator of Acoustic Wave (Sigaw) platform to enable faster and wider dissemination of hazard alerts within communities.
Funded by the World Food Programme, Sigaw was created by BatStateU, in partnership with the provincial disaster risk reduction and management office and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), to help warn residents in coastal barangays (villages) of possible tsunami.
Sigaw, which also means ‘shout’ in Tagalog, consists of a 10-foot-tall device, a control unit with a SIM and a siren, and a solar panel. It can send out text broadcasts and issue a siren alert when its sensors detect tsunami activity relayed by Phivolcs.
ECBS is a collaboration by Smart, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the National Telecommunications Commission. It was launched in March 2017, and has since been used to disseminate quick emergency alerts during typhoons and post-earthquake situations. Most recently, ECBS alerts have been sent to Albay residents following the ongoing eruption of the Mayon Volcano, which started last month.
ECBS operates on a channel separate from that used by calls and text messages or SMS. 17 Sigaw units have been installed in 13 Batangas municipalities. The plan is to deploy more units not only in Batangas but also in other provinces.
Smart Communications has successfully tested its cell broadcast technology recently in key areas of the Philippines, including the National Capital Region (NCR). This is in compliance with Republic Act 10639 or “The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act,” which mandates telecoms services providers to send free mobile alerts during times of calamities.
“Unlike SMS or text services, cell broadcast technology has its own dedicated channel, ensuring sustained broadcast alerts even when the network receives heavy traffic from all the calls and messages made during disasters. This makes it a viable platform solution for a mobile-based alert system,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Head of Public Affairs at PLDT and Smart. “We encourage everyone to configure their mobile devices so that they can receive emergency alerts in the future.”
The company invested about P500 million in this messaging platform to enable the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and Phivolcs to quickly send alert messages to mobile phone users in specific areas facing natural calamities or other emergencies.
Shown in photo during a presentation of Smart’s new cell broadcast service, from left, are Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios, Deputy Commissioner Delilah F. Deles, Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba, Ramon R. Isberto, head of Smart Public Affairs; Atty. Joel Peneyra of PLDT Regulatory Group, and NTC Regulation Chief Engr. Imelda R. Walcien.
High-risk communities can now receive quick and timely alerts during calamities [01 SEPT 2016] PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications has invested P400 million in cell broadcast service (CBS) technology that will strengthen the nationwide alert system of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) during emergencies and calamities.
CBS technology enables the delivery of messages on a broadcast so that one message can be sent to a large number of devices quickly and broadcast to all cell-broadcast enabled handsets within a designated target area. It enables location-specific emergency alerts without the need to register or track devices. It also has the capability to deliver messages and alerts from NDRRMC or PHIVOLCS to visitors coming from abroad who’s in the perimeter of the selected broadcast area where an emergency is imminent.
“This is a major investment for Smart as we support the government in its call to further improve emergency communications systems amid the rising threat of disasters. In times of emergencies and disasters, delivering quick and timely alerts to high-risk communities can help save lives. This technology will allow us to rapidly send out alert messages without using up network resources,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Head of Public Affairs at PLDT and Smart.
“Unlike SMS or text services, CBS has its own dedicated broadcast channel, ensuring sustained broadcast alerts even when the network receives heavy traffic from all the calls and messages made during disasters which makes it a viable platform solution for a mobile-based alert system,” Isberto concluded.
Smart’s CBS technology will be tested initially in September in the Metro Manila area and will be fully operational nationwide by December this year. The first area to benefit from this is the densely populated Metro Manila followed by major identified areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Republic Act 10639 or the “The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act” mandates all telecommunication services providers to send free mobile alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities. Working with the government and other partners, Smart has helped build capacities of high-risk communities to prepare for, manage the impact, and bounce back from disasters using technologies appropriate to the community. It has embraced disaster preparedness not only within its ranks but also in engaging various partners as part of its #SafePH campaign.