PLDT and Smart strengthen rapid emergency dispatch systems in Ilocos Norte
“Time is of the essence.”
Today this adage holds even more true for public service, especially in the critical area of emergency response. And with the world spending over USD 25 billion in humanitarian aid annually, the United Nations noted that next-generation tech can maximize limited time and resources.
Effective and rapid emergency response is crucial in countries like the Philippines, where natural and manmade disasters are only projected to intensify. The demanding terrain and climate of provinces like Ilocos Norte can hinder efficient disaster management, as explained by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos – “It’s always an extra challenge here because it has mountains, the sea, and strong winds.”
As part of the provincial government’s roadmap to step up its emergency response systems, it implemented PLDT’s Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) and Smart Enterprise’s SOS Dispatch solution to consolidate and streamline the province’s Public Safety Answer Point (PSAP) and Public Emergency Response System (PSER). “Ilocos Norte is truly moving faster to ensure citizen safety in natural or man-made emergencies. We at PLDT are working closely with local government officials to provide efficient response systems and public service through solutions like the Smart SOS Dispatch system,” remarked VP and Head of PLDT ALPHA Vic Tria.
As a timely digital emergency response mechanism, the Smart SOS Dispatch solution ensures effective, end-to-end incident management. Command centers can use it to evaluate information and provide first responders with the right equipment on time. PLDT’s CCaaS technology will power Ilocos Norte’s PSAP network, consolidating calls using hotline numbers 166, 160, and the Provincial Incidence Response Management (PIRM) 911.
The 24-hour facility immediately queues inbound calls to a call responder, who encodes details into the incident management system. These agents directly dispatch first responders from emergency services and the police. CCaaS also comes with 100% call recording functions and one-month storage of data on every incident for future reference.
First responders receive all key details on ongoing incidents in near-real time via dedicated handheld sets. The device’s Push-to-Talk (PTT) function allows responders to communicate with dispatchers on-the-go. In addition, the solution also makes it possible for citizens to use mobile devices to quickly transmit photos and live-feed videos to responders.
Solutions and Operations Save Lives
Constant communication in an emergency is key to saving time and lives. This is why governments are securing multiple open communication lines for citizens, dispatchers, and responders. The northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which is also the South Asian country’s most populous state, has deployed its Dial 100 project in partnership with state police and telecommunications provider Avaya. The 24/7 hotline takes emergency reports sent by any of the state’s 204 million inhabitants – including those in rural areas – whether these are sent by phone, mobile, e-mail, or social media. While responders may field a flurry of calls, it might be hard to get to places where numbered addresses are rare. This is what led Accra-based startup Find Me to develop its mobile application that creates a detailed location page and shares it online. This makes it easier to determine the exact site of an emergency. And as the world becomes more connected and mobile first, even ordinary citizens can become rescuers. For United Hatzalah of Israel, the combination of a mobile app, the latest GPS technology, and medically-equipped motorcycles (called “ambucycles”) makes it possible for the group’s volunteers to easily reach medical emergencies – all in around three minutes.
Expanding Rapid Action
“We really need robust and reliable technology, which is not always as easy as in central urban areas,” Governor Marcos said of their system, noting that Davao City’s model was their benchmark. “Even so, we have been able to respond in five to seven minutes,” she added, thanking the local police force which had helped set up the project. Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Angelo Marcos Barba was optimistic, saying that they “look forward to a very good partnership with PLDT and Smart as their service will help us act faster during crises.”
PLDT and Smart’s collaboration with Ilocos Norte – the first in the region and the second nationwide after their partnership with Bacoor City – was finalized in Laoag with a contract signing ceremony before the province’s 23 mayors. It coincided with the official launch of PIRM 911 which, with the help of these solutions from PLDT and Smart, will also serve nearby provinces in Northern Luzon. “We are glad that the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte chose us as their trusted, end-to-end ICT and digital solutions partner for this pioneering endeavor,” said FVP and Head of PLDT and Smart Enterprise Groups Jovy Hernandez. “As we enable swifter and more precise response teams for Ilocos Norte, we also look forward to working with LGUs across the country towards ensuring quality public services.”
This project could very well become a lynchpin of the Ilocos Norte government’s Makaay-ayo a Pagnaedan or “Livable Province” campaign for seamless, sustainable, world-class public services. With PLDT and Smart Enterprise as its partners, the province enters an era of faster, more future-forward public services in the region and throughout the country.