PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications will provide high-speed connectivity for a drone system that will help boost the disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross.

The drone system, which will operate on Smart’s frequencies during times of emergency, is part of Nokia Saving Lives, a program that aims to provide communications technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams.

The initiative was showcased in Barcelona, Spain, at the recent Mobile World Congress organized by GSMA, an organization of nearly 800 operators and more than 300 mobile companies all over the world.

Drone system

The system consists of drones, a portable data center, a mobile broadband network, and applications like video streaming, gas sensing, mapping, and analytics, which can help Red Cross responders assess current status of lifelines and analyze immediate needs and gaps. This will enable Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to communities in more timely, effective and efficient ways.

Using Smart’s high-speed LTE connectivity and Nokia’s portable Ultra Compact Network, the system can also create a secure communication between drones, other equipment, and rescue team members.

The drone can be equipped with different types of cameras, sensors and speakers, and can also be used to carry first aid kits. The portable data center, meanwhile, is a computing and storage unit that can be used for immediate data analysis.

Smart, Red Cross, Nokia

PARTNERSHIP. Representatives of Philippine Red Cross, Smart Communications and Nokia meet for the drone project. From left, PRC disaster response and chapter support unit head Archieval Molos, operations center manager May Carol Layugan, Finnish Red Cross country delegate Juan Daniel Reyes, Smart community partnerships’ Joyce Panaligan and Mary Jane Francisco, PRC disaster management services manager Resty Lou Talamayan, Smart community partnerships senior manager Nova Concepcion, Nokia Philippines chief technology officer Timothy Senathirajah, and Nokia Manila Technology Center’s Lawrence Madriaga and Kenneth Pingca.

Improve emergency response

Nicolas Bouverot, head of market unit Asia South, said: “Nokia is committed to using technology to make people’s lives better. With our Nokia Manila Technology Center, we’re honored to collaborate with Smart and the Philippine Red Cross in this disaster management enhancement project utilizing LTE connected drones in Philippines, helping the country improve emergency response, and save lives.”

“We are happy to be part of this project by providing vital communications support for the operations of the drones. This project is in line with our commitment to deploy tech innovations for the benefit of communities, particularly during times of disasters,” said PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.

Smart is one of the three founding signatories of GSMA’s Human Connectivity Charter. The HCC aims to provide increased access to communication and information of for those affected by calamities, helping reduce loss of lives and contribute to humanitarian response.

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

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

Smart, Red Cross, Nokia

Smart will provide connectivity support to Nokia drones, which will be used by the Philippine Red Cross for their humanitarian efforts.

Disaster preparedness programs

Smart’s disaster preparedness programs were cited in GSMA HCC’s annual report in 2016. These programs include Smart’s Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS), which sends out location- and hazard-specific alerts; its ICT Bayanihan series of regional summits to institutionalize emergency telecommunications teams; and the Batingaw disaster management app, which has been replicated in the Horn of Africa. In 2017, the report said Smart had sent SMS and ECBS disaster alerts to 10 million people.

The company has also been a partner of the Philippine Red Cross for disaster response efforts and blood donation drives. Smart has extended support to Red Cross chapters all over the country on various occasions and in times of calamities by providing communications facilities and helping set up first-aid stations, among other activities.

Smart’s support to the Red Cross and commitment to HCC are part of the company’s #SafePH advocacy, which aims to help build resilient communities and reduce disaster-related casualties through technology. (Press Release)

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