GPINDOT, an offline mobile application for emergency reporting and mapping of vulnerable families by OBXS
Barangay Poblacion, Cortes, Surigao del Sur
Arnel Arregaldo, Joseph Rico, Jolito Rico, Charly Mejorada, Vicente Dueñas, & Necta Fewee Kitche
Geo-PINDOT or Geo-People’s Initiative and Involvement in the Development of Technology (PINDOT) is an online-offline mobile application for emergency reporting, information sharing, and mapping of vulnerable families during dangers and emergencies.
GPINDOT aims to provide residents in the disaster-prone areas a faster and easier way to communicate with responders during disasters or emergencies.
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The innovation team hopes to secure institutional support from LGUs, NGAs and other financing institutions to be able to replicate this innovation in other barangays.
We have to know these details to better respond to them when they call for help.
We want to be prepared and the PINDOT app helps us to be prepared. This is really a big step for the community.
PINDOT is the first mobile application in the CARAGA Region that aims to assist emergency responders during disasters and other life-threatening situations.
The PINDOT app only needs cellular service to work. A single tap on the app’s interface can help the user find the nearest safe location he or she could run to. It can also help users pinpoint their exact location for emergency response units.
The app is one-of a kind because the community is involved with its design and functionality. PINDOT was developed and tested in partnership with Barangay Poblacion in Cortes, Surigao del Sur.
BACKGROUND AND CHALLENGE
Cortes is a seaside fishing town in Surigao del Sur that experience over 20 typhoons in a single year. Vincent Dueñas, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (MDRRMO), recalled how these wreak havoc in their community.
“A lot of the houses were destroyed. The floods damaged crops and other property,” Dueñas says.
Despite years of experiencing floods and typhoons, Dueñas admits that his office is still ill-equipped to respond to emergencies. “What will happen if a storm signal number 4 comes and the people are not prepared?” He knows that their capacity and action plans leave much to be desired.
These concerns prompted the creation of an offline mobile application as tool for disaster response: PINDOT or the People’s Initiative and Involvement in the Development of Technology.
In June 2018, a technical working group (TWG) was formed to discuss the app. It had a multisectoral make up: representatives from the the Rural Health Unit, barangay officials, purok leaders, Department of Education, MDRRMO, women’s group, and the innovation team themselves.
Four months later, October 2018, a prototype the PINDOT app was launched in Cortes. Residents of Barangay Poblacion participating in the drills that accompanied the launch.
From the very start, the people of Poblacion were involved in the development of the application. They gave suggestions on how the icons on the app should look so it’s intuitive even children and for people who didn’t have a formal education. They also gave inputs on how the logos should be placed on the interface. They also decided that the app should be in their vernacular language.
They also decided that the app should send a user’s exact location automatically when they ask for help so first responders can be there at a moment’s notice.
PINDOT also has a detailed database about the residents of Cortes: where they live, how many people are in their household, if they have housemates who have special needs. These details are vital for emergency responders so they know what to bring when they respond to calls for assistance.
“We have to know these details to better respond to them when they call for help,” explains Reynante Balili, Poblacion Community Disaster Chairman.
However, only the local government can install the app on the residents’ phones and they will need to register before they could get it. It’s part of the measures they’re taking to deter unauthorized use of the app, as well as prank emergency calls.
The app’s ambitious vision has also prompted a disaster preparedness information drive. District by district, the innovation team went to gather the data they need for the database. At the same time, the people of Cortes also need to learn how to use the app for the innovation to succeed. They also need to be taught how to handle emergency situations on their own.
The TWG and the innovation team are continuously conducting workshops on disaster preparedness and contingency planning in every purok, both for the residents and the responders. “We’ve done various skills trainings like fire response, basic life support, and search response, among others. These are regularly done so people won’t forget it,” states Dueñas. Regular simulations are also done at the purok level.
A central operation center that traffics the information received from the app to various responders like the Department of Health, Bureau of Fire and the Philippine National Police.
Balili says the PINDOT app now has about 15-20 rescuers on standby and around 20 people as part of the search team. “So, we’re really ready now if ever there will be a big calamity that will come.”
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND IMPACT
Dueñas estimates that 90% of Poblacion, Cortes residents already know about the app. “They’re very participative during the drill. They went to the venue with their emergency kits ready,” he adds.
The people of Poblacion welcomed this innovation with open arms. “Everyone agrees that it’s better to have this app in case of disasters. Everyone wants to have this app on their phones,” reveals Marylou Lorono, Cortes barangay secretary. She adds, “People are confident that wherever they go, they just bring their cellphone people would come immediately when they call for help.” Balili says PINDOT made search and rescue efforts a lot easier.
Cases of violence against women and children (VAWC) can also be reported through PINDOT. “If there’s domestic violence, or any other problems that involve or affect women, we can ask for help and people will respond,” says Lorono.
PINDOT also empowers fisherme to report activities that jeopardies their community’s marine conservation efforts. “Illegal fishing is also a disaster. We can immediately respond because the fisherman can report it right away with just a press of the app,” narrates Dueñas.
“We want to be prepared and the PINDOT app helps us to be prepared. This is really a big step for the community,” Lorono adds. It also pushed the LGU to allocate more funds for DRR in their Annual Investment Plan. The additional budget will be used to support the barangay’s disaster preparedness information drives and other DRR-related activities.
PINDOT is still in its infancy and it needs a lot of upgrades. Innovators are planning to add locations of concrete houses per purok. These houses will serve as evacuation sites should disaster strike the town. The TWG also recommends including female responders in the rescue team.
Once the innovation team comes up with an improved app, they’re hoping to roll out PINDOT to 11 other barangays in Cortes and eventually the entire CARAGA region. “Our purpose is to help people within our municiplaity and beyond so they, too can be resilient,” declares Dueñas.
Cortes’ MDRRMO also recognizes the need for more support from local government units to achieve its vision.