Global mobile group to support disaster response cooperation between Smart, Nokia, PH Red Cross

Smart Communications and Nokia today announced that they have received funding from the GSMA, the organization representing mobile operators globally, for a disaster response drone system.

The Nokia Saving Lives drone project, which will operate on Smart’s frequencies during times of emergency, has been selected as a grantee by the GSMA Disaster Response Innovation Fund.

–Photo by JP Manalang

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 for a drone-based system to help boost the disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross.

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 the portable Nokia 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. The initiative was presented to the delegates of the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter (HCC) Regional Workshop for Asia-Pacific during a visit to the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation emergency operations center. Representatives from the GSMA and other telecommunications providers all over Asia attended the HCC meeting, held July 10-11 in Angeles, Pampanga.

“We are proud to present this collaboration with our colleagues here in Asia and the rest of the world,” said PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto.

“Disaster preparedness is one of our priority advocacies. At Smart, we provide continuous network service, as well as multi-platform technology and training, as we work with the government and other partners. We believe our communications support for the drones will help enhance disaster response and, ultimately, save lives,” he added.

“The GSMA Disaster Response Innovation Fund is proud to be supporting projects that use mobile technology to assist and empower individuals or communities who are building their resilience to natural disasters, or who are affected by humanitarian emergencies,” Kyla Reid, head of digital identity and mobile for humanitarian innovation at the GSMA, said.

“This project from Nokia and Smart Communications is an excellent example of collaboration and highlights the positive role the private sector can play in strengthening response in the face of disaster,” he added.

Christina Cabrera, head of Nokia Technology Center Philippines, said: “Nokia creates the technology to connect the world. The collaboration between Smart, Nokia Technology Center Philippines and the Philippine Red Cross brings the innovative Nokia Saving Lives solution for emergency situations into use—right here in the Philippines. To do this we build on the strength of Nokia’s engineering capabilities worldwide and especially on the expertise and motivation of our engineers in the Nokia Technology Center Philippines.”

Smart is one of the three founding signatories of the GSMA Human Connectivity Charter. The HCC aims to provide increased access to communication and information for those affected by calamities, helping reduce loss of lives and contribute to humanitarian response. It supports efforts by network operators and industry partners to formalize their commitments to enhance their capacity to mitigate, prepare for, and respond to disasters, using mobile technology.

Since its launch in 2015, HCC has grown to include over 147 mobile operator members and six humanitarian partners in more than 106 countries.

Smart’s disaster preparedness programs have been cited in the GSMA HCC annual reports. 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.

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.

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