The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Nokia and PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) conducted a series of test flights for drones in areas recently hit by calamities.
The drones are part of Nokia Saving Lives (NSL), a nonprofit initiative that provides innovative communications technology and technical-expert assistance to emergency response teams like the PRC. The NSL solution, which is a recipient of global mobile group GSMA’s Disaster Response Innovation Fund, includes a portable LTE network, which connects to drones equipped with cameras and sensors, a high-performance server, and analytics applications.
In the Philippines, NSL uses the LTE frequency assigned to Smart.
To test the NSL solution, a team of engineers and volunteers from the three organizations performed a trial flight in Sagnay, Camarines Sur. The province was placed under a state of calamity last year following the massive flooding and landslide brought about by Tropical Depression “Usman.”
Another trial was held in Porac, Pampanga, which was severely affected by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that jolted Luzon in April.
Utilizing the Smart LTE network, the drone with cameras was able to connect real-time to the PRC control center, allowing volunteers to assess remote and inaccessible areas, including those too dangerous for responders to reach. Aerial insights and data analytics generated by the NSL drones will not only help improve ascertain the situation but also assist disaster response groups in prioritizing the deployment of resources.
Information gathered by the NSL solution will be valuable inputs in PRC’s rehabilitation and risk reduction plans, in coordination with the local government and municipal disaster risk reduction and management offices.
Nokia and Smart are both signatories to the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter (HCC), which aims to provide increased access to communication and information to those affected by calamities, helping reduce loss of lives and contributing to humanitarian response.
Smart’s support to the PRC and its commitment to GSMA HCC are part of the company’s #SafePH advocacy, which aims to help build resilient communities and reduce disaster-related casualties through mobile communications technology.