Disaster relief work in the typhoon-hit Davao Oriental province of the Philippines is being assisted by a portable mobile phone network provided by Vodafone’s charitable foundation. This is the first time the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network has been used in an emergency disaster situation, although it was deployed earlier this year to help humanitarian work in Northern Kenya.
Typhoon Pablo (also known as Typhoon Bopha) hit the province on 4th December, causing damage to property and disrupting the telephone network. Over a thousand people are believed to have died as a result of the typhoon.
The Instant Network was developed in collaboration with Huawei and packs into three suitcases, enabling it to be taken on commercial flights. Once set up - a process that can take as little as 40 minutes - it can cover an area of up to five kilometres. A connection to an external network is optional; in this case Télécoms Sans Frontières has arranged an emergency satellite link to the mobile network run by Smart Communications. Smart Communications is also providing mobile phones to be used by relief agencies and local government officials. In addition it’s enabling local residents to make free calls on these phones.
Andrew Dunnett, Director of the Vodafone Foundation, said “The Instant Network is part of our Mobile for Good programme, where the Foundation is combining funding with mobile technology as an enabler. Providing mobile communications in a disaster situation enables aid agencies to work faster and more effectively, helps reunite families and saves lives.”