Batingaw shortlisted for Glomos

A CEBUANO-MADE disaster app has been shortlisted for an international award.

Batingaw, which is Filipino for siren, is a mobile application that turns mobile phones into safety tools during disasters. It has been nominated at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards (Glomos) under the category of world’s best mobile innovation supporting emergency or humanitarian situations.

Glomos is an award-giving body dubbed the “Oscars” of the mobile industry.

The Batingaw app was developed by Cebu-based startup Tudlo Innovations Solutions in partnership with Smart Communications and the Office of Civil Defense-National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (OCD-NDRRMC).

Vince Loremia, Tudlo’s managing director, welcomed the nomination, saying this would put Cebu’s tech startup industry on the map.

“From day one, we wanted to lift the Cebu startup brand, not just in the Philippines but globally. This recognition is just one part of the whole effort to boost our local startup ecosystem,” said Loremia, in an interview yesterday.

He hopes this recognition will encourage and inspire his fellow startups to continue developing apps despite the lack of resources and minimal support from the government and the private sector.

“We can thrive,” he said. Loremia believes more doors of opportunities await them following the nomination. He said this will allow global investors and innovators to look for talents in Cebu.

Batingaw provides government agencies, organizations, and individuals with immediate access to disaster warnings, advisories, location data, and disaster mappings.

It features step-by-step instructions that can guide users to safety during disasters. The app also enables users to contribute information to emergency agencies easily and quickly.

The Tudlo team is composed of eight Cebuanos who are graduates from University of Cebu and University of San Carlos. Four are core developers and four are interns.

According to Loremia, it took them six months to develop the app and since then, they have been continuously upgrading it.

Competing for the same international award are projects from Ericsson, the United Nations World Food Programme, the Government of Bangladesh, and Turkcell.

The winner will be announced in late February during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

“As always, the calibre of entries is extremely high, so to be shortlisted for the Glomos today is quite an achievement in itself,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer of GSMA, in a statement. GSMA is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.

The country’s vulnerability to extreme weather has prompted the team to develop a mobile app that would enable users to get and share information in times of emergencies.

It has an offline section that contains disaster preparedness information and a phone directory of significant government agencies. Those with internet connection can receive tweets and reports from government and disaster-related agencies through the app.

The Batingaw app also has a reporting tool that enables users to send messages and photographs like they would do on social networking sites. Their posts are immediately geo-tagged and added as pins on the Philippine map so that other users concerned about a certain location could tap the pins for themselves.

The app has a radio that users can listen to for news updates; survival tools such as a siren, strobe light, flashlight, and compass to help facilitate rescue; and an “I am Safe” button that will enable users to inform family and friends of their location and situation.

The app uses the phone’s global positioning system (GPS) to pinpoint the location of users and help rescuers track precisely where assistance is needed.
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