Satcoms aid Philippine government response to cyclones

03 January 2018: A UK Space Agency-funded project to improve disaster response in the Philippines saw Inmarsat equipment deployed when two deadly cyclones hit in two weeks.

Aid worker on IsatPhone2 at scene of mudslide

Inmarsat and a consortium of partners, including Télécoms Sans Frontières, are working with the Philippine government to reduce the impact of natural disasters. The island nation’s location in the Pacific Ring of Fire makes it vulnerable to tropical storms and earthquakes.

In December, cyclones Urduja and Vinta brought heavy rain, flooding and mudslides to the southern Philippines, killing at least 200 people and forcing up to 50,000 to seek shelter in evacuation centres.

Restore communications

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) deployed its Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Teams (RETT) with Global Xpress (GX) and BGAN broadband data terminals and IsatPhone 2 satellite phones to restore communications so recovery and relief efforts could be coordinated quickly and effectively.

In a statement reviewing its activity in 2017, the DSWD also referred to a successful simulated earthquake drill in September which put the new emergency communications equipment to the test.

Under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme, the two-year Philippines project will see regional staff trained to use Inmarsat terminals strategically located in five pilot regions.