By: Gina V. Rodriguez, Joanna Los Baños, Mar S. Arguelles, June 24th, 2013 02:46 AM
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—An emergency mobile application that would raise disaster response practice to a high level through the use of smartphones will soon be available to the local government of Albay.
The software application would give officials immediate access to disaster warnings, advisories, location data and disaster mappings.
Albay province and Smart Communications Inc. on Wednesday announced their partnership for the tech startup customized for the use of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo), the province’s lead body in disaster response management.
The partnership was announced on June 19 and 20 on the sidelines of a Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA) Disaster Response Program seminar-workshop, which tackled best practices in preparing for and responding to earthquakes and other disasters.
Attended by network operators, humanitarian and nongovernment organizations, the workshop was sponsored by GSMA and Smart, with support from Globe Telecom Inc. GSMA is a global trade association of the mobile industry with over 800 members.
Cedric Daep, head of Apsemo, said in an interview that the new mobile application is expected to be available this year to key officials in barangays (villages) across the province.
‘Tudlo’ means to teach
Ramon Isberto, head of the Smart Public Affairs Group, said in another interview that the mobile application focused on disaster is a first in the country. Dubbed “Tudlo,” a Visayan word that means “to teach, guide and point,” the application is a multipurpose communication platform for disasters and emergencies.
Isberto said Tudlo would raise disaster response practice as the mobile application would report incidents of earthquakes, flooding, landslides, fire, accidents and pandemics, and provide authorities with warnings and advisories as to the location of the disaster.
Isberto cited Albay as having the strongest and most extensive system in place among local government units across the country with regard to disaster management.
Albay has won recognition from the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for its efforts to institutionalize its disaster risk reduction practices.
Albay disaster authorities currently use the “Infoboard” type of mobile transmission, which allows uniform text messages to be sent to officials in communities across the province to give them early warning of impending disasters.
The web-based service conducted with support from Smart was started in Southern Leyte in 2010 and replicated in Albay in June 2011.
Daep said Apsemo monitors the amount of rainfall when a weather disturbance occurs and is able to give evacuation warnings one to two hours before flooding occurs to officials of the 720 barangays through the Infoboard.
He said synchronized messages are sent to members registered in the Infoboard, including barangay captains, mayors, Department of Education division superintendents and municipal agriculture officials.
The same weather advisory and warnings are given to local media representatives from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We give the same exact figures disseminated to print and broadcast outlets so there won’t be room for sensationalized reports,” said Daep.