A collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Microsoft has won this year’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Impact Award.
The TV White Space Partnership aims to improve both the lives of Filipino fisherfolk and coastal fisheries management by extending internet access to remote and underserved communities.
The project utilizes Microsoft’s TV White Space technology, which allows long-range wireless internet connectivity via the use of empty television UHF and VHF broadcast channels. Schools and community centers in six remote municipalities were connected to the internet, benefiting more than 250,000 people.
“Leveraging public-private partnerships is a critical pillar of how USAID operates,” said Dr. Susan Brems, USAID Philippines’ mission director.
“Our work with Microsoft and the Philippine government demonstrates how innovative partnerships can provide targeted assistance, in this case, to the environment and fisheries sector, as we pursue our shared vision of inclusive and sustainable growth for Filipinos,” Brems added.
The TV White Space partnership also supports a new mobile online system to register fisherfolk, helping the government better manage precious and threatened fish stocks.
The success of the partnership has prompted also prompted the government to incorporate TV White Space as a key element of its universal broadband access strategy.
TV White Space hubs have also helped save lives. When a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol in October 2013, TV White Space was the only means of communication when mobile phone service went down, helping relief workers coordinate their work and survivors to contact loved ones.
The partnership was forged out of USAID’s five-year Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project. Launched in 2012, the ECOFISH project aims to protect biological diversity and boost livelihoods in eight key marine biodiversity areas: Lingayen Gulf, Verde Island Passage, the Calamianes Island Group, Ticao-San Bernardino-Lagonoy Gulf, Danajon Reef, South Negros Island, Surigao del Sur and del Norte, and the Sulu Archipelago.
The P3 Impact Award was created by the US State Department’s Office of Global Partnerships, the Concordia organization and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business to recognize public-private partnerships that are changing the world in innovative and impactful ways.
The P3 Award was announced at the Concordia Summit in New York City last October 2. US Vice-President Joe Biden attended the summit and Secretary of State John Kerry offered his congratulations to the Philippines, USAID and Microsoft for improving livelihoods and supporting sustainable fisheries management in the Philippines.