MANILA, Philippines – To intensify its information campaign on disaster preparedness and response, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the country’s lead government agency during disasters, has partnered with Project Agos, Rappler’s online disaster platftorm.
Project Agos is a collaborative platform that combines top-down government action with bottom-up civic engagement to help communities learn about climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It harnesses technology and social media to ensure critical information flows to those who need it before, during, and after a disaster. It is operated by MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. (WATCH: Project Agos)
OCD and Rappler signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday, October 16, in a simple ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo attended by OCD Undersecretary Alexander Pama and MovePH Executive Director Rupert Ambil II, among others.
The two organizations have been coordinating with each other in the last two years, especially during disasters.
During Typhoon Ruby in 2014, OCD set up a command center in Camp Aguinaldo where volunteers gathered by Project Agos, came in shifts to monitor social media for reports of typhoon damage, flooding, local weather, and calls for rescue. (READ: Online humanitarians respond with Project Agos)
The information would be relayed to disaster coordinators at the Ruby Response cluster command center of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in the next room, where disaster officers would decide if deployment would be needed. Everthing was done in real time.
Since then, this workflow is activated every time there is a major disaster. (READ: NDRRMC chief: ‘Be a digital disaster risk reduction volunteer’)
“Hindi maipagkakaila yung laki ng tulong ng Rappler sa atin. Hindi lamang sa ating effort sa pag-disseminate, hindi lamang tamang impormasyon, kundi sa tamang panahon.” Pama said. (It cannot be denied that Rappler helped us in a big way. Not only in our efforts in disseminating right information, but also in disseminating at the right time.)
He added that accuracy and timeliness of information before, during and after a disaster, as well as coordination, are crucial to proper disaster response and management.
Ambil agreed. “Project Agos is getting information from citizens and bringing it out there. It’s about getting people to help and assist others. We also want to show that you don’t have to belong to a big organization, you don’t have to be rich to help during disasters. We simply have to help each other,” he said in Filipino.
– Gwen de la Cruz/Rappler.com