New App Turns Smartphones Into Disaster Preparedness Kits

MANILA, Philippines (June 16, 2014) — Your smart phone or tablet might just save your life.

The government and its private sector partners have developed a mobile application that could transform smart phones and tablets into disaster preparedness kits.

“Batingaw” can turn mobile devices into a siren, a compass, a flashlight and even a directory containing contact numbers of agencies involved in disaster response.

Users can also access the latest reports about disasters as well as information about the locations of the nearest responders, evacuation centers and hospitals.

“The software can provide easy access to safety tips in times of disasters. It can also be used as a siren or flashlight, allowing users to ask for help,” Office of Civil Defense (OCD) spokesperson Mina Marasigan told The STAR yesterday.

“The application can save lives,” she added.

Named after the Tagalog term for bell, “Batingaw” can be downloaded for free and is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

The software is the brainchild of OCD, Smart Communications Inc., and the developers of “Tudlo,” a program that alerts users about road conditions, catastrophes and emergency situations.

The OCD will update the database and other resources while other state agencies will provide relevant links. Smart, meanwhile, shouldered the cost for the creation of the mobile application.

“Batingaw” can also serve as a handy reference tool as it contains the texts of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, national disaster response plan, national crisis management core manual and other relevant readings.

The Philippines ranked third among global disaster risk hotspots in the 2012 World Risk Report, with more than half of its population exposed to natural hazards.

Around 20 tropical cyclones, five to seven of which are destructive, enter the Philippines every year.

A United Nations report released recently said disasters seriously threaten the growth of vulnerable countries like the Philippines and could result in heavy losses and debt burdens. - Philippine Star

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