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DICT uses Typhoon Odette experience in disaster preparedness training

DICT holds a two-day training on ICT risk reduction and management with the representatives from the 12 member agencies of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster Visayas Cluster. (MYP/PIA7 Cebu)

CEBU CITY, Cebu (PIA) -- When Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) hit the country in December 2021, engineer Ira Bermudez recalled how the storm knocked out electricity and telecommunications services and slowed down disaster response efforts in the affected areas. 

Prior to the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, most disaster response teams have been reliant on the internet and on cellular networks for their communications needs, explained Bermudez who is the disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) focal person of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) in Region 7. 

“But these are useless during natural calamities like typhoons and earthquakes,” he said. 

With the communication lines rendered useless by the storm, DICT was swamped with requests to provide emergency telecommunications services in the affected areas. 

“During Odette, we in DICT got overwhelmed. We had to assist the Visayas cluster in putting up VSAT units from December 14 to 25,” said Bermudez. 

A Very Small Aperture Terminal or VSAT is installed to ensure connectivity in rural, coastal, and island areas. 

It is a satellite ground station equipped with a compact dish antenna, typically under 3.8 meters in size, capable of both sending and receiving signals.

Although there were augmentation teams from other regions, Bermudez said they had to help them during deployment as they were not familiar with the area.

DICT7 DRRM Focal and Energy Conservation Officer Engr. Ira Bermudo (center) demonstrating the IP radio and satellite configuration on the usage of solar system during the two-day training at the DICT office in Cebu on February 7 and 8, 2024. (MYP/PIA7 Cebu)
ICT training

The need to ensure the continuity of communication during emergencies and calamities prompted the DICT7 to hold a two-day training on Information and Communications Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. 

DICT is the lead agency of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with the Department of Social Welfare and Development as the co-chair. 

The training, held February 7-8, 2024, trained the cluster members how to effectively and safely provide timely emergency telecommunication services to affected areas after a disaster or during planned events.

The participants were also trained on the basics on networking and IP radio. 

Internet Protocol radio system

In the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, Bermudo said more local government units (LGUs) have recognized the need to establish their two-way radio system. 

“As far as DICT is concerned, the local government units are now eager to put up their two-way radios after typhoon Odette,” said Bermudo.

DICT provides technical assistance to LGUs in putting up the Internet Protocol (IP) radio system. 

DICT reminded the ETC members to secure a two-way radio licensing certificate from the National Telecommunications Commission with the necessary permits prior to its usage.

The training also discussed the use of renewable energy like the Solar Energy System, which could be used as an alternative energy source for communication transmission during calamities because of its battery/energy storage feature.

The training was attended by representatives of the national government agencies under the ETC, namely: Department of Agriculture, Department of National Defense,  Office of the Civil Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, DSWD, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection,Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, National Telecommunications Commission, and Philippine Information Agency. (MYP/PIA7 Cebu)

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Myrtle Pasigan

Information Officer

Region 7

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