The MDRU Project Wins ISIF 2016 Awards
The MDRU Project wins 2016 Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) for Community Impact.
The ISIF Asia is a program designed for communities in the Asia-Pacific reqion to implement Internet based solutions for the social and economic development.
In the aftermath of disaster, the anguish of not knowing the fate of loved ones, as communication lines are down, can be heart-wrenching. Thus, a deployable device that restores communications following a disaster is a welcome solution.
Such device, the Movable and Deployable Resource ICT Unit (MDRU) is Philippines entry to the 2016 SEED Alliance Award and one of the eight winning innovative initiatives given international recognition for its contribution to the region’s social and economic development.
SEED Alliance offers to assist developing innovative Internet solutions to address and challenges and is a collaborative partnership by IP registry organizations in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The alliance includes FIRE Africa (AFRINIC) for Africa, FRIDA Program (LACNIC) for Latin America, and ISIF Asia (APNIC) for Asia. The alliance has supported 116 projects in 57 economies around US$ 2.2 million helping them to strengthen and promote the Information Society.
The awarding was done during the Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico on December 6 to 9, 2016. The eight winners were: AgriNeTT by the University of West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago); Mexicoleaks (Mexico); Restoring Connectivity: MDRU by CVISNET Foundation (The Philippines); Towards A Fairer Electoral System: 1 Person, 1 Vote, 1 Value by Tindak (Malaysia); All Girls Tech Camp by Give1ProjectGambia (The Gambia); DocmeUP (Ghana); Kids Comp Camp (Kenia) and Tobetsa and WiFi TV Extension Project (South Africa).
The Philippine entry dubbed “Restoring Connectivity through the use of Movable and Deployable Resource ICT Unit” (MDRU) is a project by the Central Visayas Information Sharing Network Foundation Inc. (CVISNET). CVISNET is a non-governmental organization that undertakes and implements information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to government, non-government and the private sectors in the Philippines.
“It is an honor to represent the country and even more fulfilling that the project was recognized for its valuable contribution,” said Jeffrey Llanto, executive director of CVISNET who presented the project and received the award in Mexico.
Llanto said the MDRU can be quickly deployed to restore communications in communities following a disaster and within a reasonable short time to launch ICT services.
The 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, said LLanto. It supports communities to improve their disaster management, planning and preparedness.
San Remigio, a municipality in northern Cebu was the pilot area of the project with the municipal hall designated as the command and control center during disaster. Residents can use their smartphones to connect to the Wi-Fi network to communicate around the municipal hall and its surrounding areas, said Llanto.
The large number of the population using smartphones is leveraged to connect to as many residents as possible with minimal training.
San Remigio was chosen as the pilot site as it is constantly hit by typhoons and severe weather disturbances to test the MDRU equipment that can be replicated to other areas.
Llanto said one of the relevant results of the pilot testing is the use of the MDRU equipment during non-disaster period or normal times. It was noticed the MDRU can be used in isolated island communities where there is no voice and data infrastructure of which the output of this study is now called a “wireless IP PBX System”.
The project is an inter-regional and multi-stakeholder collaboration which started in Japan as an R&D effort by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) after the experience of the 2011 Great Japan Earthquake. Two years later in 2013, the Philippines was hit by super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) that devastated much of the Central Philippines.
Llanto said to implement the project, CVISNET partnered with the NTT and the MDRU was set up with the collaboration of the MIC, the International Telecommunications Union of the United Nations (ITU) and the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines (DOST).