Digital Technology Aids Disaster Relief

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Recognizing the need for quicker and more efficient emergency response when calamities strike the country, a church-based, Jesuit-led organization and one of the country's telecommunications networks launched a disaster management system using the convergence of mobile and Internet capabilities.The E-Ugnay Disaster Management System of the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) and Globe Telecom aims to take advantage of the digital age in consolidating information from all over the country to allow on-ground personnel to act immediately during natural disasters.Erik John J. Gerilla, SJ, acting director of SLB revealed the importance of using digital capabilities in times of need. "The potential of the Internet in this field of disaster relief is largely underutilized. On the side, the utilization of mobile phones for communication is heavy during disasters. But without a web portal to consolidate these vital information being exchanged through the mobile phones, coordination for timely action is not possible," he said.He expressed confidence that the system will enhance coordination among volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries. "With this innovation, we are confident in our ability to respond to emergency situations anywhere in the country. The system will become our main vehicle to disseminate information to our volunteers and potential donors, thereby maximizing our limited resources during calamities and disasters. It is also an effective way of preventing or lessening duplicate efforts among the response groups," Gerilla said.E-Ugnay, an imperative to "connect" donors and beneficiaries, is the new portal for the Filipino spirit of "bayanihan" in the digital age since it allows partner organizations to send disaster assessment forms, request for relief goods, and other data through a mobile phone application which will be consolidated by web-based application accessible online.The same data, tagged with the geographic location of the user, can also be sent to the E-Ugnay server via a mobile application. The system would then save the data, organize the information geographically and display it on a map. …