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Drones to bolster disaster response in the Philippines

The disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross will be bolstered with the successful development of a drone system.

According to a recent report, the drone system was presented in a field demonstration at the Logistics and Training Centre of the Philippine Red Cross in Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The initiative is from the combined efforts of Smart Communications, the wireless unit of one of the Philippines’ leading telecommunications company, and Nokia.

The innovative non-profit initiative is called Nokia Saving Lives (NSL). It aims to provide communications technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams.

The entire system consists of different parts that perform a function and contribute to help the Red Cross responders assess the current status of lifelines and analyse immediate needs and gaps.

It can, therefore, provide emergency assistance to communities in more timely, effective and efficient ways.

The system has drones, a portable data centre, a mobile broadband network, and applications such as video streaming, gas sensing, mapping and analytics.

The drone will be operating on the telecom’s frequencies during times of emergency. Moreover, the mobile broadband network will be providing a secure communication for the rescue team members.

The remote-controlled drones can also be utilised as they are capable of carrying first-aid kits and can be equipped with different types of cameras as well as sensors and speakers.

The portable data centre, meanwhile, is a computing and storage unit that can be used for immediate data analysis.

The Philippines is at the frontline of climate change and that is something that everyone has to live with. But it does not hurt to be prepared and to find ways to respond to cases of emergency.

This collaboration underscores the telecom’s commitment to use technology for the good.

This initiative is supported by GSMA, which has granted a Disaster Response Innovation Fund for this drone project.

The project was initially presented at the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter (HCC) Regional Workshop for Asia-Pacific last July.

As reported, the HCC has grown to include over 100 mobile operator members and six humanitarian partners across more than 75 countries since its launch in 2015.

It was launched to enable network operators and industry partners to formalise their commitments to enhance their capacity to mitigate, prepare for, and respond to disasters through mobile technology.

The Philippine Red Cross is grateful for the drone and network solution as this can help them gather accurate and up-to-date data on the status of lifelines in disaster situations.

In addition, this, in turn, can provide them with information that is vital in the implementation of rescue and assistance to the affected areas.

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