Philippines, Japan team up on disaster comms

eGov Innovation editors
eGov Innovation

The Philippines and Japan, along with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), recently signed a cooperation agreement for the development of a Movable and Deployable ICT Resource Unit (MRDU), which can provide broadband communications before, during, and after natural disasters.

Research and development (R&D) on the MDRU started in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 with the support of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan (MIC), Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), and other Japanese ICT organizations.

The MRDU is a unit that can be quickly deployed to restore communications in communities in the aftermath of a disaster. It is self-reliant running on its own power source, and is able to harness other power sources such as power generators or local active power lines. Now on its final R&D phase, it measures approximately the same size as a 12-foot-long shipping container and is equipped with communications equipment, servers and storage devices.

“Within approximately one hour of being set up, the MDRU is operational and providing services such as harnessing the wireless LAN of nearby areas to enable people in the affected area to make phone calls. It also efficiently supports on-site evacuation shelter operations," said Toshikazu Sakano, project leader of the MDRU R&D.

The MDRU, which will be donated by the Japanese government with the support of the ITU, will complement the R&D for an all-weather communications system not dependent on cellular networks, which is currently being developed by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The project has an initial budget of PHP10.6 million and once completed will be tested and deployed in San Remigio, Cebu, a town that still lacks an ICT infrastructure after the onslaught of Typhoon Haiayan.

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