By Erwin M. Mascariñas
Cortes, Surigao del Sur — A non government organization, together with the local government unit here, has successfully implemented and launched the first mobile phone application in Caraga Region aimed to assist and save life during disasters and other life threatening situations.
Avegaile G. Escano, project head of Tuklas Mindanao Innovation Lab with Action Against Hunger, said the technology-based innovation project is called the People’s Initiative and Involvement in the Development of Technology or Pindot. She said the initiative is being implement through the partnership of Cortes town in Surigao del Sur.
“Pindot is an off-line mobile application that people can use even without the access of the Internet as long as you have a mobile phone network coverage. With just a press on the screen of your mobile phone, you can immediately access the nearest and safe distance from your location to the emergency response unit or services,” Escano said.
Pindot is one of the 10 project innovations implemented by the Action Against Hunger in Mindanao under the Tuklas project. This is part of a consortium project from four NGOs, which is headed by Plan International, in partnership with NGOs like Action Against Hunger, Citizens Disaster Response Centre, and Care Philippines.
In their presentation, Action Against Hunger said the Tuklas Innovation projects is aimed towards finding solutions in creating a more disaster-resilient Philippines.
“In times of huge natural hazards like typhoons, earthquakes, floods, fires, and landslides, communities are ready and can rebuild more easily afterwards. These hazards happen to us all the time and we can’t change them, but what we can change is how we deal with them and how we prepare for them,” the statement said.
In the entire Philippines, the Tuklas Innovation Lab is distributed in the following areas; one in North Luzon implemented by CDRC, then in Central and South Luzon being implemented by Care Philippines, another in Visayas under Plan International and then Action Against Hunger is the one implementing the project for the entire Mindanao.
Arnel Areglado, team leader of Pindot Project in Cortes Town, Surigao del Sur pointed out the significance of the project.
“With just two press on the screen the emergency units will be able to automatically see the person’s location. Any of the first responders who will be able to receive the notification message will now be able to directly go to the location,” said Areglado.
The next best thing about this app is that we will be able to see in real time where the location on the map as all of those who will have their mobile phone installed with the app will have their phone and home geo-tagged and then we will update the map of Cortes to have it accurately on our data base, he added.
Areglado said that those who want the application installed on their mobile phones with have to register with the local government of Cortes. This, he explained, will deter any unauthorized use or a flood of prank emergency calls.
Vincent Dueñas, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management officer of Cortes town, is hopeful for the success of the project after holding an emergency disaster drill last Saturday afternoon.
“We just had our emergency drill which incorporated the use of the mobile app into our response capability. Our target site right now is Barangay Poblacion, and we are very lucky to have our town as a test bed for the prototype of the project,” said Dueñas.
About 500 people from Barangay Poblacion participated in the drill that includes a fire scenario with injured residents, a vehicular accident scenario and then a massive evacuation of hundreds of residents from towards the municipal gymnasium all based on the mobile phone app’s communication capabilities.