Gov’t urged to invest on hi-tech disaster response tools

The remains of a home destroyed by a storm in Tacloban City (Wikipedia)
The remains of a home destroyed by a storm in Tacloban City (Wikipedia)

Disaster response agencies have urged the government to invest on the modernization of their communication equipment in order to make more efficient services.

This was among the topics during the recently concluded Radshow 2016 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City that highlighted communication tools as a critical component for disaster management and response.

Engr. Cecile Oreta-Rivera, president of Commercial & Amateur Radio Transceivers and Dealers Association of the Philippines Inc. (CARTDAPI), said communication is an aid that a must have during disaster response.

“Two-way radios have proven to be reliable tools that helped us reach victims and communities in emergency situations,” she said.

Ritchie Angeles, chief of Pasig City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM), added that the disaster-response tools should adapt to the evolving kinds of calamities.

“Two-way radio has been there for many years, but disasters are evolving. I believe that communication should also evolve. We should also use latest technologies of communication out there if we want to ensure our constituents that help would arrive,” he said.

Today’s two-way radios offer a lot of modern features but the national government is not keen on spending for this technology, Angeles said.

He lauded the Pasig City, which slammed by the disastrous typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009, for having a modernized disaster management where the local government allots some five percent of its annual budget to reduce the risk and mitigating the impact of disasters.

Pasig has its City Command Center to centralize response to incidents, and over 200 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and weather gauging sensors.

Angeles said the national government could do the same if they do not have the mindset of purchasing cheap equipment.

“The Philippines is not lagging in terms of technology because all the modern models are already here. The only question is who will buy them, who have the political will to invest to ensure good services?” he said.

“Our government has always had the mentality to buy cheap equipment. But if you want a very robust, a really strong and ready to go communication technology, you really have to invest to it. Let’s aim for something better,” he said.

David Lum, director of Asia Pacific & Middle East Regulatory, product and support operations for Motorola, said modern two-way radios have been significantly effective in the US, Europe and Australia to save lives.

The communication device also helped the counties to bounce back from any disaster because it minimized the loss of life and impact on the economy.

“…because a lot of respondents use this technology, it helps them improve on the decision-making and allows for the first person to immediately report what are the situation on the ground so the government officials can then make orders very quickly,” he said. (MJD)

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