Philippines government extends use of satcoms for disaster response

01 August 2018: Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity is central to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Philippines government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and ICT experts the Regional Emergency Assistance Communications Team (REACT) and the Federation of Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT) to establish resilient and reliable telecommunications for disaster response.

The MoU follows on from the work DSWD has been carrying out with Inmarsat to improve the country’s emergency communications capabilities under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP).

The £152 million IPP programme, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), uses UK organisations’ space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

Saving lives

The MoU signing took place during the opening ceremony of the 2018 RETT Jamboree, a four-day exercise in Tanay, Rizal which focuses on simulation exercises using our satellite equipment in a disaster scenario.

“Communication is critical before, during, and after disasters. Establishing reliable lines of communication is very important in delivering aid and most importantly, in saving lives,” said the DSWD Secretary Virginia “Gee” N Orogo, who signed the MoU with REACT and RETT.

Through the IPP project, our high-speed Global Xpress technology, BGAN broadband terminals and IsatPhone 2 satellite phones have been positioned in five pilot regions to provide reliable, secure communications to coordinate emergency response in the event of a natural disaster.

Emergency centres

The kit has already been put to the test by RETT when it was successfully deployed in December 2017 following Cyclone Temblin and used to coordinate the evacuation of over 60,000 people to emergency centres after the eruption of Mount Mayon in January 2018.

Our satellite communications equipment has also just been deployed to Central Luzon to enable the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to respond to mass flooding caused by tropical storms in the region.

A Global Xpress terminal has been positioned in an emergency operations centre outside the affected area to coordinate the evacuation of nearly 800,000 people and BGAN terminals are being set up at Clark Airport.