History of E-Ugnay
Right after Ondoy and Pepeng ravaged the country last 2009, Mr. Edsel Ramirez, Task Force Noah co-convener, called SLB to ask if SLB was interested to meet a certain Mr. Sergio Gregorio, an Ateneo de Manila University alumnus. Mr. Gregorio was responsible for using the internet, more specifically Google maps, to try to bridge families separated by the floods and help assist the rescuers of the locations of those needing rescue. During the entire Ondoy ordeal, Mr. Gregorio and company realized the potent force of the Internet to send messages across using cellular phones. They realized that at the height of Ondoy, when people were evacuating and others were trapped on their rooftops, they had with them their phones. With the trunk lines of the different rescue agencies and even the media overwhelmed with the volume of frantic calls, many turned to the Internet to ask for assistance. Twitter and Facebook were the two major sites that people desperate for rescue utilized the most. Mr. Gregorio and his group would use these two sites to mark locations and prioritize need for rescue basing on the online assessment of the situation pertaining to accessibility, danger level, water level.
Listening to Mr. Gregorio recounting the story, we played around with the idea of adapting his model of consolidating information and coordinating rescue and relief efforts in a customized “distress call system” that used modern technology. The potential of the internet in this field of disaster relief is largely underutilized. On the side, the utilization of mobile phones for communication is heavy during disasters. But without a web portal to consolidate these vital information being exchanged through the mobile phones, coordination for timely action is not possible. Hence, a system that would facilitate our immediate, more efficient and effective response is a tall order for us in this line of service.
Fr. Ismael Jose Chan-Gonzaga, SJ
Former SLB Executive Director