12 November 2019 – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) strengthens its capacity for disaster response through the launching of the Government Emergency Communications System-Mobile Operations Vehicle for Emergency (GECS-MOVE). GECS-MOVE is a rapid deployable emergency communications system that aims to provide ICT-enabled support to disaster-stricken areas in the country.

“When there is a disaster, the first thing to go down is the commercial communication services. So there is a need for the government to put up at once a communication service that will be used before, during and after a disaster,” Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said.

GECS-MOVE serves as the intermediary connection between the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)and the Regional DRRM Unit. The team shall be composed of five (5) technical members coordinating alongside the DICT Regional Clusters, who shall plan, execute and provide connectivity services where it most needed.

At the core of the integrated communications system is the MOVE Hub, which will be synced with the NDRRMC Operations Center to enable wired and wireless connectivity for data and voice communications. The MOVE Dispatch provides extended coverage for responders at ground zero by providing video and image data to the Hub for cross-validation. Moreover, the MOVE Motorbike will access disaster stricken areas that are inaccessible by the dispatch.

DICT has partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in the conduct of capacity-building activities for the GECS-MOVE deployment team. NTC shall provide radio training and certification while CAAP will handle drone training and licensing. Moreover, the deployment team will undergo a series of focus group discussions (FGDs), occupational safety trainings, basic life support and survival, among others as preparatory measures.

Initial rollouts of the mobile emergency vehicles are strategic areas in the National Capital Region, Clark, Batangas, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro and Davao City where easier access to nearby provinces is possible. The sites were primarily chosen based on aggregate data indicating the most typhoon-hit areas in recent years. They also serve as possible evacuation areas for people from neighboring provinces.

The DICT also targets Bicol, Tuguegarao in Cagayan, Samar and Zamboanga City as roll-out sites in the future. Relative to this, the GECS shall be conducting the Information Caravan and Communications Exercises (ComEx) at these sites prior to the deployment.

GECS-MOVE targets the completion of capacity-building activities for responders to manage and maintain GECS Systems by 2020.

Free Wi-Fi for All services installed in earthquake-hit areas in Mindanao

“To complement our DRRM initiatives, we are also continuously updating and upgrading our connectivity programs, such as the Free Wi-Fi for All program, to provide Internet connectivity in the country even during disasters,” Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II stated during the GECS-MOVE unveiling ceremony.

In response to the recent earthquakes that hit parts of Mindanao, the DICT installed Free Wi-Fi for All access points in command centers, emergency operation centers and evacuation areas in parts of the region severely affected by the disaster such as Tulunan, Makilala, M’lang Kidapawan City in Cotabato. Said Wi-Fi access points were made readily available for first-responders and affected communities to communicate as needed.

Ang inyong DICT ay nakikiisa sa pagtulong, sa pagbibigay serbisyo. This is part of our continuing service to the different local government units for them to be connected with each other. This is part of our non-material relief to the people that are affected,” said Assistant Secretary for the National Broadband Plan Backbone and Free WI-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Felino O. Castro V.