Smart, Nokia show use of drones as disaster tool for PH Red Cross

By Crista Quintos

Technology companies Smart Communications and Nokia came together last November 23 in Subic, Zambales to demonstrate the use of drones as a disaster management tool.

At the event, the two tech firms presented drones and network solutions that can help boost the efforts of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

The drone solution, which will operate on Smart’s frequency, is part of the Nokia Saving Lives program that aims to provide communication technology and technical assistance to emergency response teams.

“This collaboration with the PRC and Nokia underscore our commitment to use technology for good and enhance our capabilities, mechanisms and partnerships toward a shared goal — that is strengthening disaster response, mitigating risks, and saving more lives,” said PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.

Nokia has already provided the PRC team with drones, a portable rescue application center, a private mobile broadband network, and applications like video streaming, mapping and analytics.

The drones themselves are equipped with cameras and microphones that can capture the needed information in disaster areas in real time. It can also carry items that may be needed on-site, including first aid kits.

The portable rescue application center, on the other hand, will be close to the disaster site computing and storing information that can be used for immediate data analysis.

Using Smart’s LTE network that is based on the Nokia Ultra Compact network, the system can create secure communication between drones and the rescue team members.

“We are happy to be part of this collaboration in support of the local community. We should always remember that the aim of technology is to do good for people. Nokia Saving Lives is a great example of how to use advanced technology like our drone solution exactly for that. But that is not all, we have many skilled engineers involved, who have invested time and effort to become volunteers and work alongside PRC personnel,” Isberto said.

These solutions help PRC personnel analyze the needs of specific rescue/emergency situations, enabling them to provide the most effective form of assistance needed in timely situations.

“This drone and network solution can help us gather accurate and up-to-date on the status of lifelines in disaster situations. This, in turn, can provide us with information vital in the implementation of rescue and assistance to the affected areas,” said PRC secretary general Elizabeth Zavalla.

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