[25 March 2020] PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. is supporting COVID-19 response initiatives in Visayas and Mindanao through its various communications solutions.
Inter-agency task force groups and local government units have been using the Smart Infocast platform to broadcast text updates to officials and employees, health workers, and barangay and police authorities.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, these groups are using Smart Infocast to disseminate important information and advisories and receive feedback and reports from constituents regarding the disease. Smart Infocast is a web-based broadcast solution that can send out text messages or short message service (SMS) alerts to registered mobile users.
“During emergencies, redundancy is important. So in addition to our cellular phones, radios, and internet-based platforms, the Smart Infocast is valuable in giving timely information to a group of intended recipients in a single blast,” said Surigao del Norte provincial disaster risk reduction and management office operations and warning head Gilbert Gonzales.
The platform also ensures message recipients that only correct information is sent to them. “We know that social media can be a source of fake news and disinformation, so we use the Infocast to adequately inform our partners in the response. We can send SMS to all 335 punong barangays with approved information coming from the governor, vice governor, and the IATF, in one instant. This information includes curfews, checkpoints, coordination, etc.,” he added.
“With just one click, information pertaining to disaster or any calamity can be disseminated to a wide range of recipients,” said Philippine Information Agency Region X information officer Jasper Marie Rucat. “Among the information we produce and release are executive orders, Department of Health advisories, dos and don’ts, and many others,” she added.
Smart also turned over mobile phones and LTE SIM cards with airtime credits to be used as additional hotlines for COVID-19 regional command centers, LGUs, and hospitals. Landline and mobile phone users may contact the following numbers for concerns regarding the coronavirus disease in their respective areas:
Emergency Operations Center, Department of Health–Region VII 09617912222 and 09618157777; Cebu PDRRMO 09283126000 and 09231584888; Iloilo City 09491043333 and 09291706363; Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao City, 09396133779 and 09396133767; Davao Regional Medical Center, Tagum City, 09077777981; Mati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, 09123454666; Davao de Oro Provincial Health Office, 09513840879; DRRMC, 09518414555; Asuncion, Davao del Norte, emergency hotline 09610734316; LDRRMO, 09094493312; GenSan COVID-19 hotlines 09510888801 to 05; Zamboanga City, 09981758705 and 09981758709.
The company also provided PLDT Home Prepaid Wi-Fi kits, pocket Wi-Fis, SIM cards, and load credits for the use of medical staff and various LGUs, such as Cebu PDRRMO and Cagayan de Oro COVID-19 command center. Free Smart Wi-Fi also continues to be available at some hospitals, such as SPMC.
“In these trying times, we are called to work together and pool our resources and expertise,” said Smart Public Affairs Visayas-Mindanao head Maria Jane Paredes. “Through communications support, we hope to extend assistance to the medical frontliners and local authorities so they can provide immediate help to those who need it.”
Smart also turned over phones and SIMs with load credits to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Cebu City for the use of officials at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Cebu City Jail, and BJMP7 Mandaue City Jail.
Some groups and LGUs also received supplies such as tarpaulins and tents in support of their respective COVID-19 response efforts. Smart turned over tents to be used at quarantine check points in Aklan, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro.