Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mesh Network to the Rescue!

Posted By: The Mail Man - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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Marikina City has leveled up a notch when it comes to Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM). Knowing that communications are crucial during disasters and emergencies, Marikina City has just introduced an emergency communications network that covers the entire city that is designed to function even during times of natural disasters.

In cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) under its Project NOAH (Nationwide Assessment of Hazards), Open Garden Inc. and the Marikina city government, a P2P (Peer to Peer) “mesh network” will provide communications coverage for the entire, city.

FireChat is a mobile messaging app that functions even without a telco network signal of Internet connection. This was developed and created by Open Garden, Inc.

 “I’m thrilled that Marikina is the first city in the world to create a free network for citizens that will serve Marikeños to communicate every day, as well as during natural disasters when networks are destroyed,” Vice Mayor Cadiz disclosed. This will help Marikina City to achieve the holy grail of DRRM which is “zero-casualty”.

The worst-case scenario for any DRRM plan is to expect that power, telecommunications and other utilities to be severely affected during disasters and emergencies. Thus, the ability to coordinate the response is dependent on a stable communication platform. In such a case, FireChat has the ability to convey messages without Internet and telco network signals using peer to peer WiFi and Bluetooth connections that are available in mobile devices.

Useful and critical information can be relayed and disseminated to all emergency responders and citizens during the time of disasters and emergencies. In the case of Marikina City, messaging beacons across the city’s baranggay officials called “Agimat” will also ‘harden” the communications network.

Marikina City was one of the hardest hit by TS Ondoy in September 26, 2009. This prompted the local government to prioritize Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

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