Smart, Nokia get funding to deploy drone system for disaster response

Local operator Smart Communications and Nokia have announced that they have received funding from the GSMA, the organization representing mobile operators globally, for a disaster response drone system.

The Nokia drones will operate in the Philippines using the LTE frequencies of Smart

The Nokia Saving Lives drone project, which will operate on Smart’s frequencies during times of emergency, has been selected as a grantee by the GSMA Disaster Response Innovation Fund.

The Nokia Saving Lives program seeks to provide communications technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams. In the Philippines, Smart will provide high-speed connectivity for a drone-based system to help boost the disaster response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross.

The system consists of drones, a portable data center, a mobile broadband network, and applications like video streaming, gas sensing, mapping, and analytics, which can help Red Cross responders assess current status of lifelines and analyze immediate needs and gaps. This will enable Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to communities in more timely, effective and efficient ways.

Using Smart’s high-speed LTE connectivity and the portable Nokia Ultra Compact Network, the system can also create a secure communication between drones, other equipment, and rescue team members.

The drone can be equipped with different types of cameras, sensors and speakers, and can also be used to carry first aid kits. The portable data center, meanwhile, is a computing and storage unit that can be used for immediate data analysis.

Representatives of Smart, Nokia, and the Philippine Red Cross sign an agreement for the operation of the Nokia Saving Lives drone system in the Philippines

The initiative was presented to the delegates of the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter (HCC) Regional Workshop for Asia-Pacific during a visit to the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation emergency operations center. Representatives from the GSMA and other telecommunications providers all over Asia attended the HCC meeting, held recently in Angeles, Pampanga.

“We are proud to present this collaboration with our colleagues here in Asia and the rest of the world,” said PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto. “Disaster preparedness is one of our priority advocacies. At Smart, we provide continuous network service, as well as multi-platform technology and training, as we work with the government and other partners. We believe our communications support for the drones will help enhance disaster response and, ultimately, save lives.”

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