Technology Crucial to Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation - Cisco

Clarke Velasco
For a disaster-prone country like the Philippines, communication technology also plays a crucial role in disaster risk reduction and mitigation.

Cisco Philippines: Technology Crucial to Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation
Cisco Philippines: Technology Crucial to Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation

As crucial as survival kits and emergency transport systems are, early warning systems and effective information management before, during, and after a disaster could make or break a disaster reduction response.

This, in turn, is largely anchored on the availability and most importantly, the reliability of platforms for communication in place, according to Cisco Managing Director for the Philippines Karrie Ilagan.

"While preparation may involve tasks like having survival kits ready at home or LGUs (local government units) readying early warning systems and transport systems like rubber boats and trucks, technology is a powerful tool that also plays a crucial role in DRRM and in fact, cuts across all stages of our disaster approach," Ilagan said.

Based on Cisco's multinational partnerships, Ilagan forecasts communication technology greatly benefiting each DRRM aspect the government has in place, including prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation and recovery.

In order for the development of DRRM plans to be accurate, Ilagan believes communication technology must aid community assessments through solutions that facilitate end-to-end monitoring.

"Evaluating municipalities will need continual monitoring of areas exposed to natural or man-made risks like flooding or even vehicular accidents," she said.

Ilagan also highlighted that the reliability of these surveillance solutions is hinged on cloud platforms that allow seamless data gathering, storage, and exchange, easing the generation of vital community reports. Likewise, continual communication on surveyed areas is dependent on communication solutions that facilitate consistent exchanges between LGUs and their communities to ensure these reports are updated.

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She further discussed that strong partnerships and coordination among all key players like LGUs and their constituents rely on collaboration solutions that expand from traditional telecommunication platforms.

To Ilagan, Video Conferencing will innovate communication between these LGU's, giving critical meetings full context while maximizing the time of each stakeholder through an all in one platform.  With advanced video conferencing technology, stakeholders will be able to utilize all the benefits of reliable audio conferencing with the added value of visual aids.

Collaboration among stakeholders facilitated by reliable communication solutions carries over to the next DRRM aspect of the response. Integrated and Coordinated search, rescue, and retrieval capacities are fortified with resilient, uninterrupted communication among municipality Network Operation Centers.

On the other end, mobile IP-based communication systems will aid on-ground operations using small-scale, independent Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)—using the internet to facilitate phone calls. These can be enforced to bridge possible communication gaps caused by damaged or destroyed infrastructure.

Finally, on the road to recovery and rehabilitation, communication technology can aid reconstruction efforts for disaster and climate change resilient infrastructure through faster exchanges. Quick relay of data from small municipalities to national government offices like the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRRMC) has the potential to hasten assistance. Tactical solutions can ease reporting on potential or new hazards each region must take into account and can help facilitate monitoring for rehabilitation progress.

While recovery efforts are underway, mobile VOIP solutions can also provide interim connectivity infrastructure for constituents as communication tower reconstructions take place.

"We have plenty of use cases from different countries for our communication and collaboration solutions, Meraki Wifi, Webex, and Emergency Communication Kit -- but all of them contributed to the effectivity of each nation's disaster plan and we see the same potential in the Philippines," Ilagan concluded.

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