Smart, Ericsson partner to protect ecotourism area in Pampanga
[12 December 2017, Sasmuan, Pampanga] I was one of the fortunate members of the media who were invited to witness the launching of the Connected Mangroves Project in Sasmuan, Pampanga. This project is an Internet of Things (IoT) program and is made possible by Smart Communications, which partnered with Ericsson. This is the first IoT joint venture project of SMART and Ericsson in Pampanga, and it is groundbreaking.
The idea behind IoT is to connect all kinds of devices to a network of connectivity. These devices are not limited to smartphones or computers alone, contrary to the common idea of how the Internet works. The IoT aims to connect technology like showerheads, coffee makers, refrigerators, vehicles, and other non-computer machines into a massive network of information exchange.
This is the concept used for the Connected Mangroves Project. The objective of the project is to protect and conserve the mangroves of Sasmuan, Pampanga. The Connected Mangroves Project is spearheaded by Ericsson, and Smart, its exclusive mobile network partner, vows to provide wireless connectivity to gather relevant research data from the different installed devices in the site that record water level, humidity, soil moisture, and temperature to detect potential threats to the lives of mangroves. This information is then relayed in the network to focal organizations, like the local government, fishermen, and residents.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), almost half of the number of mangroves in the world have perished in the last 50 years, and the estimate continues to decrease in amount every year.
Ericsson originally began the project in Malaysia, where illegal logging, pollution, and other rampant activities have greatly endangered the mangrove population in the country. The increasingly positive outcome of the project has gained international recognition.
The Sasmuan Bangkung Malapad Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (SBMCHEA) in Pampanga, which is the chosen site for the IoT project, is one of the last mangrove sanctuaries in this part of Asia. Seeing the positive effects of the project in Malaysia’s mangroves, Ericsson decided to expand to the Philippines.
Mangroves, especially the Pagatpat species, are very important in the Sasmuan ecosystem as it protects the seaside municipality from the threats of floods, soil erosion, and other natural disasters. Furthermore, the mangroves of SBMCHEA, which make up 13 hectares in the area, is home to several species of migratory birds and fish. The fruit of the Pagatpat species is also used by locals for making candy.
Aside from being enlightened by the presentations during the launch, we were also entertained by Kusinero’t Kusinerang Kapampangan chefs by showcasing their skills in preparing and cooking Pampanga heirloom recipes like the stuffed Bangus dish Bobotung Asan, and the intricately designed San Nicolas Cookies.
It was an honor to see how the advancements in technology were being used for such a community-oriented project. I sincerely believe that the new Pampanga-based project will be as successful as the one started in Malaysia, which has increased the maturity rate of Mangroves from 20-40% to 70-80%.
With Smart promising its commitment to support the program, I am sure that SBMCHEA mangroves will be well-protected, and perhaps be propagated for future generations.