LOCAL government units are the first line of defense in a natural or man-made calamity.
They are expected to keep their constituents safe, prevent loss of life, and lessen economic casualties amidst earthquakes, typhoons, flooding, drought and extreme heat, LGUs depend on communications to quickly coordinate and collaborate.
These days, digitization, not only communications, possess a greater potential to change the way LGUs handle the aftermath of a disaster, according to technology provider Cisco Philippines.
“The way we address emergencies has benefited from technology’s development to help save lives when disaster strikes, like we’ve seen in the use of social media to help disseminate critical information during calamities,” Karrie Ilagan, Cisco Philippines Managing Director emphasized.
When super typhoon Yolanda hit in 2013, Cisco deployed its disaster response team, TacOps.
TacOps experienced and learned from the critical challenges on coordination, communication, and collaboration during the typhoon. The lessons allowed the IT giant to develop the Rapid Response Kit (RRK), a portable and easy-to-use network and device designed to be the first line of communication for first responders. The RRK’s first deployment was in 2014 and has since been used in many disaster and crisis situations all over the world.
“Technology’s potential can now be further harnessed to help shift reactive disaster response to one anchored on prevention through the creation of a more robust disaster plan, before it’s too late,” Ilagan said.
Years later and with disaster mitigation still high on the agenda, Cisco has put together a new solution that can aid all four stages of the country’s disaster risk reduction and mitigation plan.
“In 2013 and the years that followed, we focused on communication technology that could help expedite response to and recovery from disasters. While these are important stages on disaster management, Cisco is shifting its focus to developing a solution that will help LGUs to be more proactive, addressing challenges before disaster strikes, saving more lives and preserving the economy through prevention and mitigation as well as preparedness,” Ilagan pointed out.
Cisco’s PH developed Konektado, a solution specifically for disaster-prone LGUs chronically exposed to risks due to natural calamities.
Konektado has several disaster-resilient components that allows for faster communication and collaboration between LGUs. The all-in-one connectivity, communications, and collaboration solution can be used to establish or strengthen connections between these high-risk LGUs and their respective municipalities, as well as with national government bodies that oversee disaster preparation and response.
“Cisco Konektado was built with components that are easy to scale as Cisco’s experience during Yolanda underlined mobility was key when it came to disaster response. It is capable of establishing a reliable network that can aid tactical deployments for immediate disaster response with little to no downtime,” Ilagan said explaining how the system allows stakeholders all over the country to communicate via video even in areas where communication infrastructure may be lacking or has yet to be developed.
Through its “video in a box” functionalities, risk-prone LGUs can facilitate training and shorten critical meetings with their stakeholders by video conferencing. This also quickens strategic planning sessions by improving information sharing between parties for intel-gathering and up-to-the-minute updates. Another important component of the solution is its capability to establish networks when infrastructure is down—a vital necessity during calamities in disaster-stricken municipalities.
“Each high-functioning component of the solution is made to be easily installed, programmed, and used by non-technical people, eliminating the need for dedicated specialists and cutting down time for staging and deployment when action is crucial. And outside of disaster response, the suite can help increase productivity in any municipality’s day to day business as well,” Ilagan concluded.