The Barangay Hall received this base radio and two handheld radios as donations recently. The Barangay Chairperson, who is the highest level of authority in the barangay governing unit, has primary access to the radio. In a disaster, she is responsible for staying at the Barangay Hall to receive updates from the City Mayor, City Disaster Risk Reduction Director, local fire station and police station. She then must ensure this information is passed down a communication chain of barangay leadership so that all 3,000+ residents of the barangay are efficiently updated on whether they will need to evacuate. Barangay Kagawads (or Barangay Councilors) each visit 2-3 puroks (neighborhoods) within the barangay to announce updates via megaphone, and also interface with purok leaders and residents to ensure their questions are answered and evacuation needs are met. This last leg of disaster communication can get tricky because it depends on physical travel when the roads will likely be filled with evacuees. For this reason, the Barangay Chairperson has put in a request from aid agencies for a siren, which would quickly alert residents to the need for evacuation. #vignette #ethnography #anthropology #research #disaster #communication #radio #technology #resilience #vulnerability #risk #typhoon #bagyo #kalamidad #supertyphoonyolanda #supertyphoon #storm #stormsurge #tsunami #tidalwave #drr #governance
Communicating earthquake preparedness. This Earthquake Preparedness Guide is painted on a building located at a busy crossroads of a Tacloban City neighborhood. From left to right, the pictures describe what to do before, during and after an earthquake. The guide, however, neglects to address the differential experience of coastal residents, who additionally prepare for the possibility of a tsunami after an earthquake. Some coastal residents I’ve spoken to are equally as nervous about their safety in an earthquake as in a typhoon. Both events could trigger a sudden rush of seawater onto coastal areas. These are differentially referred to as a “storm surge” during a typhoon, and a “tsunami” during an earthquake—a storm surge arrives as a rapid elevation in sea level, while a tsunami arrives as immense sea waves. Talking with the Monitoring Group member of a village’s DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) committee, I learn that through media and communications, it is possible to monitor the area’s danger to a potential storm surge even a few days in advance. He says, however, it is more difficult to monitor the area’s danger to a tsunami. I asked what they would do if a earthquake happened in the ocean nearby. He said that he and the HOA (Home Owners Association) President would rotate watching the ocean overnight to see whether the tide moves far out from the coast–a sign that a tsunami is coming. #vignette #ethnography #anthropology #inthefield #fieldnotes #research #disaster #kalamidad #risk #vulnerability #communication #media #communicationinfrastructure #earthquake #tsunami #tidalwave #stormsurge #disastercommunication #disasterpreparedness #DRR #disastermitigation #philippines #pilipinas #pinas #QuakePH #ReliefPH
A research participant showed me that it’s possible to listen to the radio on a cellphone. She listens to the radio this way, sometimes accompanied by her husband. Most households in the village have an antennae radio set, though, and many are solar powered. Some who don’t have a radio will still listen at a family member’s or friend’s house. Or, when a neighbor’s radio is on, it’s often loud enough to be heard through an open door #soundscape . There are multiple routes people use to stay informed #polymedia . #ethnography #anthropology #disaster #kalamidad #risk #vulnerability #mobile #communication #media #philippines #pilipinas #bagyo #weatherupdate #inthefield #vignette
I’ve been thinking about how people categorize their phones. Here I mean how people imagine the phones they use to fit into the larger array of available phone types.
In my interviews on what communication technologies people use, and how they use them, a question we often encounter snags on is: “What type of cellphone is it?” [Ano klase hin cellphone?] Interviewees often pause at this point. Many say “simple,” as in your standard or basic cellphone. Others will take out the phone and show me so that I can decide for myself what the type is. I’ve caught myself saying: “Oh, it’s Samsung”, revealing how I understand phones to be categorized. While some people don’t know their phone by its brand name, however, others do. I’ll get immediate answers of “CherryMobile” or “MyPhone”.
I realize I have only been operating on two categories of cellphone until now: keypad and touchscreen. I am not quite sure why these are the major categories in the way I understand cellphones, and I wonder if it is shared with others. I associate keypad phones with affordability and access to basic services like texting and calling. I associate touchscreen/ smartphones* with access to internet, apps, and other digital content like photos and music.
I’ve noticed that people in what I’ll call a young adult educated middle-class (NGO workers, government workers, educators etc) will often have both a keypad phone and a smartphone. Some people have said they do this because the keypad phone’s battery will last a week, while the smartphone’s charge can only last a day. In a place that experiences frequent brownouts, it is useful to not have to worry about at least being able to contact friends, family, and work. Other times, I’ve seen people with two keypad phones. I’d like to know why. It could be that one phone is for work, or that they use different service providers. Many phones here, however, already offer dual SIM card slots. These are useful for many people to ensure that if reception is hard to find on one service, it will be available in another.
In curiosity, I searched how more technically oriented people might categorize cellphones, and I found this blog post listing particular cellphone innovation from 1983 to 2009. The blog lists only some “popular and unusual” phones, since it would be another project altogether to include the “sheer number” of cellphone models in the world. (A particularly interesting entry for me is the 2003 Nokia 1100 which is, “rumoured to have sold for up to $32,000 in online criminal communities due to its ability to intercept one-time banking passwords.”) I came away from the blog thinking that in a technical perspective, it would still be very hard to categorize cellphones into types. As the blog says, rather these are “evolutions”.
*I’ve started using the word “touchscreen” instead of “smartphone”, because often people think I am talking about the Philippine service provider, SMART.