By: Nicholas Kerastas, NetHope Business Analyst, NetHope Disaster Telecommunications Training Philippines, Participant
Photo credit: Stephanie Siy
Thanks to NetHope, with generous support from the ISOC Foundation, local humanitarians professionals are prepared when the next disaster strikes the Philippines.
The Philippines withstands a wide range of natural disasters that pose challenges to its communities. Among these, two notable events are Typhoon Odette and Typhoon Yolanda both of which NetHope and our Members responded to.
In December 2021, Typhoon Odette struck the Philippines, causing significant damage and disruption. The typhoon brought intense winds and heavy rainfall, resulting in extensive flooding, landslides, and infrastructure destruction. In November 2013, the Philippines faced one of its most devastating disasters in recent history. Typhoon Yolanda also known as Haiyan unleashed its fury with wind speeds surpassing 300 km/h (186 mph). The impact was widespread, resulting in loss of life and the displacement of millions of people. Communication systems in both disasters crumbled under the force of the storm, severing critical connections and impeding relief and aid operations. The aftermath of Typhoon Odette and Yolanda serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for resilient communications infrastructure along with preparedness measures.
Yolonda and Odette are just snapshots of the crisis and disasters that occur in the Philippines. Situated in the heart of the ring of fire, the country endures earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and tropical storms.
NetHope’s Disaster Telecommunications Training held in the Philippines in June plays a critical role in empowering local humanitarian professionals to bolster expertise and their personal understanding of network installations and disaster telecommunications during a crisis. With these newly acquired tools and knowledge, individuals from across the Philippines are now poised to respond swiftly and efficiently to a wide range of disaster scenarios.
SETTING THE STAGE FOR RESILIENCE
Three cohorts of humanitarian professionals participated in an immersive training experience focused on connectivity and networking solutions in disaster contexts. Participants were mostly based in Southeast Asia and came from a diverse group of organizations including NetHope Members, The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and other local humanitarian organizations.
The training is designed to equip participants with the knowledge necessary to navigate the complexities of disaster telecommunications. Through peer collaboration, hands-on technical modules, and sharing of best practices, attendees formed a solid foundation for learning and growth. It began with a comprehensive overview of the humanitarian system, ensuring that participants were well-versed in the principles and protocols necessary for effective emergency response. Technical proficiency was then honed through hands-on modules designed to address real-world needs. Attendees developed the ability to assess ICT situations, evaluate potential solutions, and adapt their strategies to different contexts, ensuring their preparedness to handle diverse disaster scenarios.
A vital component of the training centered around backhaul, which serves as the backbone internet connection into a network. Participants explored a range of backhaul options, gaining a comprehensive understanding of their respective strengths and limitations. From satellite to fiber connections participants delved into various backhaul solutions. The program highlighted the value of VSAT systems for rapid deployment in disaster-affected areas, offering reliable internet connectivity and enabling communication among multiple users for efficient information exchange. Emerging solutions like Starlink (low earth orbit satellite technology) also sparked inspiration among participants, presenting new possibilities for enhancing connectivity in the most challenging of environments.
The training program also encompassed power solutions and networking devices, recognizing their critical role in disaster telecommunications. Participants gained insights into power solutions such as solar and electrical systems, which provide sustainable energy sources in disaster-stricken areas. They learned about cabling techniques and best practices that ensure proper infrastructure for connectivity and networking. Network devices like firewalls, switches, and access points were explored to understand their significance in establishing secure and efficient communication. Firewalls play a crucial role in protecting networks from cyber threats, while switches enable network connectivity and data transfer. Access points facilitate wireless connectivity, allowing users to connect to the network seamlessly.
Armed with this comprehensive training, participants are prepared to leverage a combination of digital solutions, power solutions, and network devices to establish reliable and resilient connectivity in disaster-affected areas. By adapting to evolving technologies and employing best practices, these humanitarian professionals are ready to make a significant impact in disaster response efforts.
FORMING A NETWORK FOR LOCAL COLLABORATION
Collaboration plays a critical role in acquiring knowledge and understanding concepts related to disaster telecommunications and network installation or management. By leveraging available best practices and concepts, individuals and organizations can enhance their collective understanding and develop effective strategies to address the challenges posed by disasters. In addition to learning vital skills, the Disaster Telecommunications Training focuses on forming connections between trained individuals, so collaboration can occur during the next emergency response. After the training, these dedicated individuals are poised to make a significant impact in disaster response, enabling timely and effective support to those in need.
NetHope’s Disaster Telecommunications Trainings have been made possible with generous support from the ISOC Foundation. The final series of trainings will occur in Panama in July 2024. This training follows on from successful trainings in the Philippines, Guatemala and Ghana. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on NetHope’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Program, click here.