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Telco pitches in on disaster preparedness efforts

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By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu City – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) received communication equipment from Smart-PLDT that could enable it to access Smart’s Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) for quick sending of public warnings to mobile users in specific areas.

PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto said the ECBS is designed to send urgent messages, evacuation notices and warnings on earthquakes and tsunami in affected areas. It is designed to complement other channels of information such as radio, TV, print, online, SMS, and other forms of media.

Isberto said the system helps the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) broadcast information faster during severe weather situations such cyclones through ECBS.

“In emergency situations, it is important to use all available channels of communications.  Cell broadcast provides another effective emergency alert system that will work very well with print media, radio and TV broadcasting, two-way radio systems and SMS,” he said.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Deputy Administrator Nicanor Faeldon said NDRRMC, warning agencies, and telecommunication companies are essential in the creation and dissemination of emergency alerts and help reduce the damage caused by natural hazards.

Faeldon said ECBS was launched in March last year on a trial basis and it has been used to broadcast quick alerts during typhoons and post-earthquake situations.

Most recently, ECBS messages were sent to Albay residents during the eruption of Mayon Volcano.

The ECBS is part of Smart’s #SafePH disaster preparedness advocacy, which aims to help build more resilient communities through technology and on-ground activities.

Smart invested over P500 million on ECBS to fully comply with Republic Act No. 10639 or the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act. RA 10639 mandates telecommunications service providers to send free mobile alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities.

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