On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines leaving more than 6,000 dead, 26,869 injured and more than thousands missing and infrastructures wiped out. A destructive 7.2 magnitude earthquake likewise hit Bohol, Visayas on October 15 of the same year that recorded 222 dead, 8 missing, and 976 people injured.[1] These are just two of the unpredicted calamities that hit the country in the past five years, wherein lives and properties could have been spared if a faster and richer information dissemination system has been in place.

The Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS) complements the risk-reduction efforts of the government because this feature of the adopted Japanese Standard Digital TV will enable its users to receive early warnings and real time information during earthquakes, typhoons, and other calamities.

This Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) standard called Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T) has proven its capability to transmit emergency warning data for faster emergency response in a natural disaster-prone country like Japan. Transitioning from analog to digital TV will open up better emergency response coordination for the Philippines.

“Digital TV is an inevitable technology that we must embrace. It was developed specifically to enhance aside from the normal viewing experience of the people but [also] for us to attain real time information that affects our lives,” said Engr. James Rodney P. Santiago, Consultant of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on the DTTB Migration Plan.

There are several standards available in the market but ISDB-T is found to be the most suitable for the Philippines because it does not just provide a clearer visual experience and a crisper auditory encounter for the televiewers but it also enhances the disaster preparedness of the country through its EWBS feature. In short, Philippine topology is one of the strategic considerations on the choice of ISDB-T.

With EWBS, the country can provide a more efficient information dissemination system during calamities that can improve disaster response and act as a decision support platform.

“The bottomline is that the government will have the facility now to deliver this kind of urgent and pressing information to the people,” Engr. Santiago added.

For Engr. Santiago, transitioning to Digital TV is an inevitable exercise as the Analog TV technology has been there since 1953 and the country is still using the same technology.

In line with this, the DICT has launched the DTTB Migration Plan last 14 February during the Digital TV Summit 2017, marking the country’s forward march to the digital TV era.

The plan details the policies, regulations, and technical issues that are involved in the country’s migration to Digital TV including the strategies to prepare for the Analog Switch Off (ASO).

The DTTB Migration Plan is crafted to guarantee smooth transition into Digital TV and ensure nationwide public reception and universal access to information.

The DICT, together with the private industry and civil society partners, is committed to bring the country to the digital TV age joining more than 60 other countries that are now reaping the benefits of digital TV.

Soon, the 14 million Filipino TV households will bid its farewell to the 1953 analog TV broadcasting technology, as the Philippines migrates to digital TV not just for a richer televiewing experience but also for a more disaster-prepared citizenry.