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Disaster preparedness, response in communities boosted via tech, partnerships

Communication services, technological innovations and partnerships with various organizations—these factors have helped communities all over the Philippines bolster disaster preparedness and response efforts. As the Philippines faced typhoons, volcanic eruptions…

Communication services, technological innovations and partnerships with various organizations—these factors have helped communities all over the Philippines bolster disaster preparedness and response efforts.

As the Philippines faced typhoons, volcanic eruptions and other hazards in 2018, several communities weathered the storm with the help of solutions initiated by PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications.

As part of its #SafePH advocacy, Smart ensured the availability and quick restoration of its services in areas hit by calamities. These areas include Albay, which was affected by the eruption of the Mayon Volcano; Benguet and other provinces in the Northern Luzon, which bore the brunt of Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut) and “Rosita” (Yutu); and other areas all over the country that experienced heavy rains, strong winds and floods.

Smart disaster response Ompong

A resident from Benguet (left) uses the free charging station put up by Smart and Vodafone Foundation at the Typhoon Ompong command center in Itogon.


Free calls, charging, Wi-Fi

In areas where communication services were limited because of damage to infrastructure and power lines, Smart offered libreng tawag (free calls), charging and Wi-Fi services to both affected residents and responders.

Smart also forged cooperation with international organizations to further enhance its emergency communications services and enable these solutions to serve more communities.

When Ompong hit Northern Luzon and triggered a deadly landslide in Benguet, Vodafone Foundation teamed up with Smart to provide emergency solutions for those affected by the typhoon. Smart and Vodafone set up free charging and Wi-Fi stations at the command center and the retrieval site in Itogon for the use of both responders, evacuees and family members of landslide victims and others in need of assistance.

Nokia drone disaster response

Representatives of Smart, Nokia and PRC during the drone and network solutions presentation. They are (from left) Thomas Eder (Nokia), Leonardo Ebajo (PRC), Ramon Isberto (Smart), Nicolas Bouverot (Nokia), Christina Cabrera (Nokia), Elizabeth Zavalla (PRC), Colin Von Hardenberg (Nokia), Ana Mariquina (PRC), Dullip Tillekeratne (GSMA) and Alvin Ilano (Smart).


Nokia drones

Nokia also tapped Smart to be its connectivity partner for a program that employs drones and network solutions for disaster response. The Nokia Saving Lives program seeks to provide communications technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams. In the Philippines, Smart will provide high-speed connectivity to the drone system to help boost the disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross.

For its pioneering and collaborative system, the Nokia Saving Lives project received funding from GSMA, the organization representing mobile operators globally. Early this year, GSMA selected Nokia Saving Lives as a recipient of its Humanitarian Innovation Grant.

On the local front, Smart joined forces with the academe and local government units to help bring disaster preparedness closer to the youth. Through its TNT brand, Smart brought its Tropang Ready disaster preparedness caravans to more state colleges and universities all over the country. TNT Tropang Ready aims to train the youth and their friends (tropa) on disaster preparedness. With their agility and technological know-how, the youth are best suited to mobilize their communities in times of calamities.

The Tropang Ready program recently won in the Community Engagement category at the prestigious Golden World Awards, which recognizes public relations practices that meet international standards of excellence.

Smart Vodafone response Itogon

Vodafone volunteers (in red) get help from Itogon residents as they set up the free charging and Wi-Fi stations for responders and affected residents near the area hit by landslide in Barangay Ucab.


TNT Tropang Ready

Since 2016, the TNT Tropang Ready program has covered more than 10,000 students and school personnel in more than 10 state colleges and universities nationwide. Joining the roster of Tropang Ready schools this year are the following universities: Holy Name University in Tagbilaran, Bohol; University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City; Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte, and Mindanao State University in Marawi City. The students were trained to cascade their learnings to their extension communities, bringing the lessons to more residents and amplifying its benefits.

Smart Naga landslide free calls

A resident of Naga, Cebu, uses Smart’s free calls service to contact a relative following the landslide that hit their community.


Smart also extended support during nationwide earthquake drills by providing various emergency communications facilities, allowing residents and responders to experience first-hand the solutions that are available to them as the need arises. The drills were held in San Mateo, Rizal; Davao City; and in various locations all over Metro Manila.

As Filipinos gear up for 2019, Smart also recognizes the importance of being prepared for the year ahead. Smart continues to ensure the reliability of its services and, in times of distress, offer communications as relief, as part of its commitment to a #SafePH. (Press Release)

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HMD Global launches new Nokia phones in Cebu

Durable and reliable. These are some of the words that come to people’s minds when Nokia is mentioned, said HMD Global Country Manager Shannon Mead. HMD Global is the one-year-old…

Durable and reliable. These are some of the words that come to people’s minds when Nokia is mentioned, said HMD Global Country Manager Shannon Mead.

HMD Global is the one-year-old Finnish startup behind the resurgence of Nokia mobile phones.

NOKIA PHONES. Shannon Mead, Philippines Country Manager of HMD Global, discusses with Cebu journalists and bloggers the lineup of Nokia phones now available in the market.

“Durable, reliable. They’re what comes to mind when consumers are asked what they think about when we say Nokia,” Mead said during the company’s launching of new devices in Cebu.

“We actually dusted off some old phones and they’re still working. So, I think that really brings to life the message of durability and reliability,” he said.

Nokia 7 plus Cebu launch

PRO CONTROLS. Shannon Meads shows the pro controls that come with the camera of the Nokia 7 plus.

Pure, up-to-date Android

A key component of the reliability is Nokia’s approach to Android, their phones’ operating system.

“A strategic part for us is our take on Android. When we introduced our product portfolio in early 2017 to the world, we talked about pure, secure and up-to-date Android. We made that a promise and we’ve kept that promise,” Mead said.

New Nokia phones launch in Cebu

CEBU LAUNCH. HMD Global Philippines Country Manager Shannon Mead and Head of Marketing Gibby Peñaflor launch the new Nokia phones in Cebu.

The Nokia 8, Nokia 6, and Nokia 5 are already on Android Oreo 8.1, which is the the latest release.

“For the Nokia 5 currently on promo at P8,990 to have Oreo 8.1 when some of our competitors are only getting Android 8 on their flagship devices – I think we’ve made that promise and we’ve been able to keep it,” he said.

Nokia 1

NOKIA 1. Shannon Mead talks about the Nokia 1, a 4G phone that comes with Android Oreo (Go edition), a version of Android optimized for devices with 1GB RAM or less. It retails for P4,290.

New Nokia phones

Apart from the OS upgrades, Mead said the monthly security updates that they send out are also important. With these updates, “you can always ensure that the device has got the latest version which optimizes your battery life but also ensures that any malware, any glitches that have come in in the previous month are resolved.”

Mead led the launching in Cebu of the Nokia 7 plus, Nokia 1, New Nokia 6, and Nokia 8110 4G.

Nokia mobile NewSeum

LOOKING BACK, AHEAD. Shannon Mead and Gibby Peñaflor open the Nokia mobile NewSeum exhibit in SM City Cebu. The exhibit takes Nokia fans back in time through old phones while displaying the innovations done by Nokia through the years with newer Nokia devices. The exhibit will run in SM City Cebu until April 30.

“HMD Global is proud to continue the story of Nokia mobile through the qualities that we first loved such as durability and innovation, designed to suit every need and style. As a key market, we are committed to building and strengthening our presence in Cebu,” Mead said in a statement.

“We are optimistic that with the new generation of Nokia Android smartphones and our classic but highly upgraded feature phone, the Cebuanos will get the best mobile experience across all price points,” he said.

Nokia 8110 4G

Year 1 achievements

Mead said that in HMD Global’s first year, they introduced 11 phones which he described as a “pretty amazing feat.” The company was also able to open an office in 80 countries.

“We’re able to be on sale in 170 different markets. For a brand-new company to have a presence in 170 markets and to introduce 11 new phones into the market is pretty great,” he said.

The company also made its mark when Nokia devices were able to enter the top 5 for smartphones in 15 markets.

“We are number one in value shipments when it comes to feature phones. We’re actually making a lot of headway when it comes to our overall ambition, which is to be a top 5 brand in the next 3 to 5 years when it comes to smartphones as well as extend our feature phone leadership and make it the largest brand,” he said.

Expansion outside Manila

This year, Mead said HMD will put more effort in expanding to areas outside Metro Manila.

“When we looked at success of our 3310 and the Nokia 6, Cebu was always at the top. We can’t ignore that. We need to go deeper in those markets and further out into provincial areas,” he said.

Nokia 7 plus

The flagship device combines beautiful design and manufacturing, powerful specs and great cameras, the company said. The phone comes with cameras with Carl Zeiss optics.

Nokia 7 Plus

Key specs

  • Precision machined from a single block of 6000 series aluminium with anodised edges for added style and strength where you need it most
  • Ceramic-feel coating brings a unique tactile feel and comfortable grip while elegantly hiding antenna lines
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform and 4 GB RAM for powerful performance and optimised power consumption and 2-day battery life
  • Rear dual camera with ZEISS optics – 12MP primary camera with large pixel size and wide aperture for great scenic photography, and secondary 13MP telephoto lens for 2X optical zoom
  • 16MP front camera with ZEISS optics and high-quality lowlight capability
  • New Pro Camera mode gives the ultimate intuitive manual control over camera settings for advanced users and shows the impact of your adjustments in real time

The Nokia 7 plus is available in Black/Copper and White/Copper and retails for P21,990.

Nokia 7 Plus


Nokia 1

The device is a “a 4G smartphone for every Juan.” The phone copmes with Android Oreo Go edition, a version of Android optimized for devices with 1GB RAM or less.

The Nokia 1 comes with interchangeable Xpress-on covers.

Nokia 1

Key specs

  • Familiar design and reassuring quality of a Nokia phone in our most affordable package yet
  • All the smartphone essentials – 4G LTE, quad core, rear camera with flash, front camera, dual SIM and voice control

Removable 2150mAh battery which lasts a full day with normal usage

The Nokia 1 is available in Warm Red and Dark Blue for P4,290.

Nokia 1 specs


New Nokia 6

The device is 60% faster than its predecessor and now comes with “enhanced Dual-Sight, ZEISS optics, USB-C fast-charging, a more compact screen-to-body ratio, Nokia spatial audio and pure, secure and up-to-date Android Oreo.”

New Nokia 6

Key specs

  • Crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminium finished with two-tone anodization to stand out from the crowd
  • Robust and made to take everyday knocks thanks to the seamless aluminium unibody and sculpted 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Bright 5.5” full HD IPS laminated display with great contrast in a more compact form
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 Mobile Platform available with either 3GB or 4GB RAM (32GB/64GB ROM)
  • 16MP rear camera with ZEISS optics and dual-tone flash for crystal clear images. 8MP wide-angle front camera
  • Nokia spatial audio capture and playback technology
  • 3000mAh battery with USB type-C fast charging. Get 50% charge in just 30 minutes

The new Nokia 6 features two configurations of 4GB RAM / 64 GB ROM in Blue/Gold color blend for P15,990.

New Nokia 6


Nokia 8110 4G

The latest model out of the Originals family is the Nokia 8110, known both as The Matrix phone because it figured in the movie series and the banana phone.

Nokia 8110

The Nokia 8110 is a 4G phone that can serve as Wi-Fi hotspot.

The phone runs with KaiOS with a standby time of 17 days both using GSM and LTE.

Mead said the Nokia 8110 will be shipping in May. He said pricing will also be announced in the coming weeks.

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Smart powers PH Red Cross-Nokia disaster response solution

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…

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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