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DICT offers free Wi-Fi and charging services to flood-hit residents

Image credit: Department of Information and Communication

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Cagayan Provincial Office is providing free Wi-Fi access and free cellphone charging services to citizens affected by the recent flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.

According to a press release, the government has been offering the services to the public since 14 November. They are available at DICT Cagayan Provincial Office located at 2 Bagay Road, San Gabriel Village, Tuguegarao City. The department has put in place measures to observe health protocols. Nonetheless, citizens are still advised to observe physical distancing to prevent further transmission of the COVID-19 amid the calamity.

The DICT will be deploying additional assistance in communication and emergency response to the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela through the Free Wi-Fi for All Programme and the Government Emergency Communications System, the DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

Cagayan has already been placed under a state of calamity due to devastating floods which also caused a power outage. Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba made the recommendation to declare a state of calamity on 13 November and was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a special session.

DICT has been ramping up the restoration and deployment of free Wi-Fi in Typhoon hit and flooded areas in the Philippines to aid the national government and local government in disaster response operations and to help citizens communicate with their families and loved ones.

Further, DICT installed free Wi-Fi and the Government Emergency Communications System on the island of Burdeos in Quezon Province as a part of the department’s disaster response initiatives in areas ravaged by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

Through the request of Governor Danny Suarez, DICT installed a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite in Burdeos Municipal Hall to provide Internet connectivity, which has helped citizens in Burdeos contact their families and loved ones online for free. The provisioned Internet connectivity also allowed Governor Suarez to talk to Burdeos Mayor Freddie Aman to discuss the situation in the island. The equipment used was transported to Burdeos with the help of the Philippine Air Force.

In the last two weeks, DICT was able to restore and provide additional free Wi-Fi in typhoon-hit and flooded areas across the country, including Catanduanes, Albay, Cagayan, and Quezon, among others.

Gregorio B. Honasan II noted that communication is one of the most important things during a disaster. Communication does not just allow citizens to contact their families and loved ones to inform them of their situation but also helps authorities and emergency responders in data gathering and site assessment, which will then provide the needed basis for effective decision making and execution.

“Recognising this, the DICT continues to provide assistance to areas severely affected by the recent calamities to help both the national and local government units in disaster response,” he added.

As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, countries are exposed at some point to a variety of threats like natural or manmade disasters, cyber threats, and crime, etc. The current pandemic has not only increased our realisation of the risks but has also generated a sense of urgency for individuals and organisations to be better prepared for the next critical event.

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