CVISNET Foundation, Incorporated
The MDRU is a unit that can be quickly deployed to restore communications in communities in the aftermath of a disaster. The unit is self-reliant running on its own power source, and/or is able to harness other power sources such as power generators or local active power lines.
It has the ability to accommodate communication and information processing functions that can be rapidly transported or moved to the disaster zone, and can be deployed within a reasonable short time to establish the network at the disaster site and launch ICT services.
An ideal MDRU is equipped with an array of communications equipment, servers and storage devices, and is designed to bring not only a communications infrastructure but also data center functions to a disaster-stricken area in a very short time.
The MDRU system is capable of expanding by connecting to another MDRU and thereby creating an MDRU network. This extends the coverage as big as the number of units is connected. The project extended the MDRU to Designated Evacuation Areas using Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). The project implements an FWA IPAS (Wireless IP Access System), a broadband wireless point-to-multipoint communication system operating at 26 GHz that provides high-speed IP access up to 80 Mbps transmission rate.
CVISNET Foundation is a non-profit organization in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology that focused in providing ICT solutions to government and private members.
The main challenges of the project is how to provide an immediate communications to the affected communities during in time of disaster. How the community can communicate within its locality to the responders and government officials for rescue and fast delivery of goods. How the locality can communicate to the outside world during disaster period utilizing existing communication infrastructure that survive the disaster or via satellite phones.
The problem that the project will address, is to provide an easy to setup and easy to use ICT communication equipment utilizing Wifi access for the community. To conduct training and social preparation to the community in how to use their existing smartphones that can be used as the medium of communications during disaster.
The MDRU project started in May 2014.
NTT and CVISNET were awardees of the ITU Telecom World 2013 held in Thailand for separate projects. Discussions started with the team leaders of the MDRU project and how it can be tested to another country outside Japan.
Coincidentally, Typhoon Haiyan affected the Philippines and it is one of the biggest motivation of CVISNET that it requested NTT to conduct a pilot area for the country. The bitter experience from Haiyan and how helpless and isolated a community can be during disaster encourage the team to pursue more the Japanese government for the approval of the project.
The MDRU Project started in Japan as a result of an R&D effort by MIC and NTT due to the experience of the 2011 Great Japan Earthquake. Two years later in 2013 the Philippines was also hit by super typhoon Haiyan that devastated the entire Central Philippines and this is the reason that CVISNET initiated and requested NTT for the MDRU Project to be tested in the Philippines with the help and thru the channels of MIC, ITU and DOST.
The MDRU pilot project in Cebu, Philippines focused on the actual implementation to the community level using ICT (Wi-Fi) as the main source of communications when disaster occurs. With a large number of the population using smartphones it is being leverage by the MDRU project to connect as many residents as possible with minimal training due to the familiarity of the Android applications.
The pilot site is located in a tropical area that is constantly being hit by typhoons and severe weather disturbances. It is also a good location for the MDRU equipment to be tested in a hot and humid environment that can be replicated to other areas in the Pacific. Aside from the equipment, the project will also gather more information with the experiences and results from the disasters that Japan and the Philippines encountered in 2011 and 2013.
One of the relevant results of the pilot testing is the use of the MDRU equipment during non-disaster period or during normal times. It was noticed the MDRU can also be used to isolated island communities where there is no voice and data infrastructure. The output of this study is now called a "wireless IP PBX System".
CVISNET was in charge for the initial proposals and project implementation, social preparation and trainings of the MDRU project in the Philippines. The Japanese government thru MIC provided the funding in cooperation with the UN-ITU. The Philippine government thru DOST was the recipient of the project. NTT as the main technology provider was the one in-charge for the technical deployment of the equipment.
For the pilot area, the Municipality of San Remigio located at northern Cebu was identified as the site for implementation. San Remigio was one of the localities that was devastated during Typhoon Haiyan.
The project aims to strengthen the ability of countries exposed to several disaster every year such as typhoon and earthquakes. It will restore/provide ICT services in disaster-affected areas, which need to be also long term and sustainable.
The strategy is: To test the feasibility of the MDRU in disaster affected areas. To provide adequate training to local key members for sustainable operation and management of the MDRU network. To enhance disaster management planning structure to local communities for disaster preparedness. To gain feedback from government organizations and local communities on the activities powered by the MDRU.
The Municipality of San Remigio, in northern Cebu is the pilot area of the MDRU project with the municipal hall designated as the command and control center during disaster. In order for local residents to communicate using their smartphones a construction of a Wi-Fi based network or Access Points (AP) will cover the entire municipal hall and its surrounding areas. Approximately a radius of 250 meters that has a Wi-Fi signal that the residents can use during disaster. The service to be delivered first is voice communication.
In order to extend the communication service to the evacuation center a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) with a point-to-point connection was established between the municipal hall and the evacuation center which also happens to be the National Highschool (NHS). The NHS or the evacuation center is also being provided with AP's so that the evacuees and disaster victims can accessed.
Municipal Hall Side:
The equipment involves the MDRU facility that has computer servers running on Linux OS with IP-PBX applications, virtual machines and gateways. Other data services includes evacuation monitoring systems, remote monitoring and residents profiling.
The wireless infrastructure involves 5 units of outdoor AP's running on 2.4Ghz frequency that will communicate with the residents smartphones using the MDRU applications. The estimated radius for the AP wireless signal is approximate 250 meters. A FWA connection running on 24-26.5Ghz frequency is used to bridge the evacuation center to the municipal hall.
One unit outdoor Wifi AP on 2.4Ghz frequency is installed with a radius of 100 meters.
Procedures for the Residents in how to utilize the MDRU system:
1. Proceed to the nearest MDRU Wifi Signal (municipal hall or evacuation Center) and download the IP-PBX applications.
2. Install application to the smartphones
3. Register the smartphone to the MDRU database for profiling
4. Smartphone can now communicate with local residents or outside world
Installation and testing of the wireless facility within the municipal hall and the evacuation center. Completed
Installation of the MDRU facility in the municipal and testing of different servers and network equipment. Completed
Installation and configuration of the wireless IP-PBX system within the municipal hall and the evacuation center. Completed and running.
Testing of the voice communication equipment within the command and control center and evacuation area. Completed and running
Conducted social preparation training to 50 local residents. Conducted.
Conducted technical and detailed training to 50 local residents in the usage of the MDRU applications. Software and applications were installed by the participants and calls were conducted.
Documentation of the manual and activities of the MDRU project.
Installation of a full wireless connections involving FWA's and AP's within the command and control center and the evacuation center.
Propagation and testing of the wireless signal with information coming for the MDRU servers for communication.
Testing and connection of the residents smartphones to the MDRU wireless connections.
Preparation of the community to adapt the new technology. Acceptance from the residents on the usage of the MDRU equipment.
Conducted series of training that involves leaders to train the trainers for sustainability purposes.
Information dissemination involves the MDRU official website, newspaper press releases, radio and TV interviews like CNN and local stations. Brochures and promotional materials were also used.
Awards received by CVISNET Foundation: United Nations – International Telecommunications Union (ITU-MCC) Award for Promotion of Transformational Power of Broadband – Connecting at the Roots, Bangkok, Thailand, December 2013 http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Conferences/connect/Asia-Pacific/Pages/connect-at-the-roots.aspx Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Digital Award for the Best E-Practices, Taipei, Taiwan 2005
Jeffrey Natividad Llanto