Ericsson, Smart on mission to re-connect displaced Filipinos via REFUNITE

Ericsson, in partnership with Smart Communications and REFUNITE, has announced the launch of a new family tracing and reconnection service in the Philippines.

The new SMS service, the first of its kind in Asia, will help Filipino families separated by Typhoon Haiyan unite, the company said.

After the typhoon hit the Philippines in November 2013, many families in the region were displaced. The UNHCR estimates there are still around 4 million displaced persons in the Visayas region.

With REFUNITE, a mobile and web platform, families can search for missing relatives by sending an SMS through any mobile and web-enabled device.  More than 350,000 people have already registered on the global platform.

Erisson will provide the technology support for the platform.

the mobile service will soon be accessible to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

By the end of 2014, families will be able to search, reconnect, and communicate with missing loved ones in the aftermath of Haiyan.  This will also benefit Filipino victims of emergencies and disasters in the future.

Smart will popularize REFUNITE family reconnection platform through SMS campaigns and/or cell broadcasts.  The joint response will be piloted in Tacloban City, which was among those hardest-hit by Typhoon Haiyan, and then scaled to other regions.

An SMS-based service that enables people to search for their missing loved ones will be very useful, especially in countries like the Philippines that is frequently affected by natural calamities, said Orlando B. Vea, chief wireless advisor of Smart.

Sam Saba, Ericsson Head of the Southeast Asia and Oceania region, says: “We continue to seek new ways to leverage technology for good.  This new partnership will aid the displaced Filipino population, and bring them closer to their goal of reconnecting with lost loved ones.”

Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of REFUNITE, says, “Everyone has the right to know where their family is. The Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons each year. Our goal is to leverage new technology to bring separated families back in touch.”

[email protected]