MANILA, Philippines – Construction of the country’s new disaster command center – which will begin in August of this year – kicked off with groundbreaking ceremonies on Tuesday, July 8, at Camp Aguinaldo. Officials of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) such as Chairperson and National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Usec Alexander Pama, and private donors were on hand for the event.
Designated as the new control and command hub for the disaster response council and its various agencies, the 600-square meter NDRRMC Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) is scheduled for completion in April 2015.
The building, designed as a 3 – level facility, will feature state-of the-art communication equipment to strengthen the council’s capabilities toward disaster response and relief management.
Usec. Pama explained that the ground floor will house different disaster response agencies, as well as a briefing room for the media to enable real-time information dissemination to the public.
The second floor, the main operations center, will be equipped with have large screens for monitoring purposes; while the third floor will serve as the board room with facilities that will allow officials to view the monitors from their command centers
The IOC will be supplied with improved bandwidth, real-time video, and enhanced audio and data transmissions.
“Before the year 2016 ends, we look forward to having the latest state-of the-art nerve center for DRRM in the entire Asia-Pacific Region,” Gazmin said.
He added that although the facility will cost a pretty penny, the government will not spend a single centavo for the construction.
The center is expected to cost approximately 250-300 million pesos ($5.8 million – $6.9 million,) 100 million pesos ($2.3 million) of which has already been pledged by IT and telecommunications systems integrator and solutions provider SMS Global Technologies Inc. (SMSGT Inc.) .
Christian Angeles, President of SMSGT Inc., who was also present at the ground breaking, said that their partners from the US, Canada and New Zealand are also willing to help.
“We don’t want to waste the goodwill of the people who want to help, while they are interested,” Angeles said.
Given that large sums of money will be donated, Usec. Pama emphasized that whatever funds they receive will be under close monitoring, and that the NDRRMC itself will be in charge of communicating the needs of the government with financial partners and donors.
“We welcome help. Para naman ‘to sa mga Pilipino, maraming gustong tumulong sa atin,” Gazmin interjected.