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Cebu City, Philippines Deploys Network to Improve Connectivity Amid Natural Disasters

The Cebu City government plans to use a point-to-point microwave network to link the City Hall’s communication system with its 80 barangays or villages. The project will strengthen the capability of the city government to connect with the barangays in the event of disasters or emergencies using cutting-edge technology. The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC) made this announcement recently.

Following the damage of Typhoon Odette and the challenges in communicating with village officials for rescue responses, the city’s Mayor Michael Rama issued a solution to improve connectivity among the city district officials. A report stated the Council has plans to adopt the point-to-point microwave network, which it claims is the fastest connectivity offered by telecommunication companies. 5G runs on the same radio frequencies currently used in smartphones via Wi-Fi networks and in satellite communications. Using point-to-point microwave technology, the network will serve as a backbone for radio communication and Internet connectivity for the 80 barangays, especially the 22 hinterland villages and the city’s early warning system.

“When we say connectivity, we are really planning to connect all barangays as far as Buot-Taop in the south and likewise Lusaran in the north,” Carillo said, stressing the technology’s reliability for faster response to incidents. Meanwhile, the CCDRRMC will launch a TV monitoring system in the villages, to fulfil the mayor’s plans to set up a communication tool to improve information dissemination to the barangays. The Council will launch 30 sites later this week, and by the first week of March, it will be able to connect all 80 barangays.

Research has shown that nearly 60% (300,000 square kilometres) of the country’s total land area is vulnerable to natural hazards, in large part due to the archipelago’s location along both the path of the tropical storms in the western Pacific and the Ring of Fire. Around 74% of its population of more than 100 million is subject to various impacts from these disasters, and the country routinely ranks among the top 10 natural disaster-prone countries in the world, as per the World Risk Index.

Mitigation efforts depend on a network of early-warning systems that are constantly being fine-tuned, and on establishing mechanisms to respond more quickly to natural disasters. For example, the National Exposure Database (NED) identifies vulnerable areas so agencies and local governments can come up with real-time analyses and respond quickly during a disaster. It also helps in planning and implementing disaster-ready solutions.

Earlier this month, the Manila Mayor, Isko Moreno, proposed using low earth orbit satellite technology to ensure communications are quickly restored in areas devastated by natural calamities. Low earth orbit satellites or LEOSATs are a new generation of satellites that orbit the Earth at a low altitude, thus speeding up the time data travels from one point to another. This is good for voice calls, video-conferencing, sensitive financial transactions, and operating machines remotely. While traditional satellites provide Internet in a fixed geographic area, LEOSATs can provide continuous connectivity for any given area if there are enough groups of such satellites, called constellations, spread out over the globe.

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