Inmarsat, the global mobile satellite communications company and Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), a humanitarian NGO specialised in telecoms and technology, are supporting the Philippines’ 3rd Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) on 27 September 2017. Through Inmarsat’s involvement with the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme, TSF and Inmarsat will be working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB) to put new emergency communications and information management protocols to the test during the NSED. The exercise will include the deployment of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) service, the world’s first, globally available high-speed broadband network delivered by a single operator. The nationwide exercise will also see ‘out-of-the-box’ Wi-Fi hotspots created for use by the emergency response teams, using Inmarsat’s award-winning BGAN service. BGAN, which is used across the world for mission critical and emergency communications, has L-band network availability exceeding 99.9%, meaning that connectivity is assured wherever operations are based and in any conditions.
The Philippines experiences at least 20 tropical cyclones annually. In addition, being inside the Pacific Ring of Fire places it at risk from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes (and consequently tsunamis). Despite the Philippine Government being highly experienced at responding to disasters, given the country’s geography, resource constraints, and current ICT infrastructure systems, the human and economic cost of disasters remains high.
Director Felino O. Castro V, Head of the Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB) of the DSWD said, “The department has been strengthening its efforts to improve its operational communications capability during disaster response. The bedrock of prompt and effective response is the ability to communicate and access reliable, accurate, and timely information, before, during, and after a disaster, at all levels of response governance.”
During the drill, the Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Teams (RETT) will simulate their earthquake emergency telecommunications response protocols and use the equipment to communicate with the different Disaster Managers in the Bicol Region, which is the first DSWD – Inmarsat Project pilot area, and the DSWD Central Office in the National Capital Region (NCR) from the NSED Ceremonial Venue in Cavite, Region IV-A (CALABARZON).
“The new satellite communications solutions are valuable to the uninterrupted communication between the Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT) reporting to the regional and provincial offices to ensure that affected local government units (LGUs) will receive prompt relief augmentation,” said Arnel Garcia, DSWD Field Office V Director.
“When disaster strikes and terrestrial networks go down, first responders and fieldworkers can rely on Inmarsat’s satellite equipment to communicate,” said Paul Gudonis, President, Enterprise, Inmarsat. “With our voice and always-available broadband data services, we can restore essential connectivity independently of local networks, enabling humanitarian teams to co-ordinate a rapid and effective first response to disasters,” he continued.