Provinces, rescue groups and other stakeholders in the Cordillera were urged to capitalize Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) innovations during disasters and calamities in the two - day Cordillera Emergency Telecommunications Summit dubbed as ICT Bayanihan.

The Office of Civil Defense, in partnership with Smart Communications Inc., Rappler and eBayanihan conducted the summit on 3-4 March at Azalea Residences, Baguio City. Aside from the promotion of ICT innovations for disaster, the summit aims to create Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Teams and institute disaster communication plans and protocols.

OCD-CAR Regional Director Alexander Uy stressed that a successful communication plan has the ability to save lives and properties of many individuals

 “We [have] to enhance and boost every communication we have. It makes us more equipped and ready. We want to be more proactive, and disaster resilient,” Uy said.

Various ICT platforms were presented on the first day of the Summit.

Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center Executive Director Dr. Reena Estuar discussed Data Science in Disaster Management and Mitigation, and presented the E-Bayanihan, a phone app where you may send images and videos to local Search and Rescue groups nearby in order to inform them of the severity of the disaster. 

“In a matter of three images, in three seconds you can make a decision that saves lives,” Estuar explained.

The said app also included a map for shelters and sanctuaries for people in need. Volunteers can also announce their availability to any places that need them the most. E-Bayanihan assists in narrowing down to more specific details, locates social media reports, simplifies social media reports, allows for direct action and announces volunteer requests.

Smart Communications, Chikka Philippines and Rappler also launched Project Agos, an initiative that harnesses the power of using SMS and Twitter to send quick messages for help and information. Through SMS, with the use of a syntax, you will be able to send and/or ask for help. While for Twitter, with the use of hashtags and basic information about your whereabouts, tweets may now be grouped into what actions should be done next.

The importance of the innovations of social media was emphasized by CEO and founder of Rappler Maria A. Ressa. She spoke about how social media could be moving and used as a way to empower people especially in times of crisis. The advantages of internet connection and crowdsourcing made Search and Rescue information dissemination quicker and easier for the people who need it the most, “Move from authority to move to authenticity. Embrace the crowd. We embrace the community. You help create.” Ressa said.

Rappler Operation Head Rupert Ambil II pointed out the role of media and Citizen Journalism during disaster and how it can help uplift rescue and relief.

The highlights of the 2-day summit also include the creation of six Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Teams under the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster. The teams will help be deployed for disaster assessment needs and to serve as bridges in the restoration of services that might be lost.

“Communication is aid,” stressed Darwin Flores, Senior Manager of Smart Public Group Affairs. Response measures will not be fully effective and efficient without communication. This is why various sectors need to enhance ICT to save lives.

CAR is the 3rd region in the country to conduct an ICT Bayanihan Summit.