Wednesday, August 1, 2012

OCD, PIA-III to utilize SMS in saving lives during disasters

PIA-III director Robert Baldago (center) and PIA Director General Jose Fabia


 MALOLOS CITY—Knowing that information is power, the Office of the Civil Defence (OCD) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Central Luzon joined hands in harnessing that power to save lives and property.

This is through information text blast with the support of  major telecommunications companies.

In a media briefing in Pampanga on Friday, Robert Baldago, director of PIA in Central Luzon said they will compose messages appropriate for the needs of about 10 million residents of the region and send it directly through the use of new media like short messaging system (SMS), Facebook, and Twitter.

“Short messaging or texting is arguably the fastest and most practical way of reaching a wider population nationwide, empowering them through the information sent to make intelligent decisions,” he said.

Among the messages that PIA plans to send out are alerts on typhoons, floods, tsunami, earthquakes, and advisories on dam release, high tide and low tide, class suspension and even schedules of brown outs.

Jose Fabia, PIA director general, said such information will serve as decision-making tools that would help people make more informed choices.

He said timely and accurate information can save lives especially in times of disaster, citing incidents last year when lives were saved after the victims were able to send out a text message informing the PIA of their situation.

Fabia said that information served as key to mobilize assistance from 
Officials of the Office of the Civil Defense
different government agencies.

For her part, Josie Timoteo, OCD-III director, said advisories are part of early warning systems during the times of disaster. She said that people can avoid going to areas where their lives will be in danger.

Timoteo added that that information text blasting can also help in increasing awareness and knowledge on how to adapt and address hydrometeorological hazards and other disasters.

As a valley, she said that large areas of Central Luzon are prone to flooding during the rainy season.

She said that through text blasting which is supported by Smart and Globe Telecommunication, majority of the about 10 million residents of Central Luzon can easily be reached by alerts and advisories.

The PIA said they already have the numbers of local officials from barangay to provincial levels in their data base along with police officers, members of the Social Security System (SSS) and beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya and Pantawid Pasada programs of the government.

Even leaders of transport sectors from buses to jeepneys and tricycle operators are in their data base, along with urban poor leaders and leaders of senior citizens’ organizations. (Dino Balabo)