TV White Space
Tetra Tech is using innovative technology and public-private partnerships (PPP) to help create sustainable fisheries in the Philippines. This work builds on our nearly 20-year history supporting U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) projects to improve the health and strengthen the viability of this important part of the Philippine economy. The Tetra Tech–supported FishR online registration and TV White Space pilot initiatives are excellent examples of our leadership in using science, technology, innovation, and PPPs to solve some the world’s most complex problems.
As one of the seven Coral Triangle countries, the Philippines is a global center of marine biodiversity. Excessive and unsustainable fishing practices, combined with limited private-sector investment and significant development and population growth, have resulted in smaller-than-average fish sizes, shifts in species composition, and a steep decline in the abundance of valuable species. These declines are felt most acutely in poorer communities where small-scale fishing provides a primary means of survival.
As the Philippine government works to create sustainable fisheries management policies and regulations, it needs to know the total number of fishermen and women (fisherfolk) and understand what they are extracting from the fisheries. One of Tetra Tech’s tasks under the current Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project is to increase the number of fisherfolk registered with the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Increased registration is especially important in isolated island regions where fisherfolk previously had to travel long distances over difficult terrain to register with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Our ECOFISH project team, led by Dr. Gina C. Green and Chief of Party Gerry Silvestre, spearheaded the FishR online registration pilot program—employing technology to rapidly boost the numbers of registered fisherfolk.
While FishR allows fisherfolk to register online in just minutes; however, those in remote areas continued to lack computers and internet service necessary to access the FishR system. Tetra Tech’s team met this challenge by implementing the PPP-driven TV White Space program to bring high-speed “super Wi-Fi” to pilot sites through unused television frequencies. One of the first programs of its kind, TV White Space requires minimal infrastructure to provide extremely low-cost Wi-Fi over ranges several times greater than traditional methods.
The FishR and TV White Space programs quadrupled the number of registered fisherfolk—from 250,000 to more than 1 million as of September 2014. Between March and July 2014, the number of registrations in TV White Space pilot sites increased by 500 percent, compared to approximately 100 percent in areas outside the pilot sites.
To create and implement these two programs, Tetra Tech and our partner, SSG Advisors, established a PPP consisting of USAID, Microsoft Corporation, and the Government of the Philippines Department of Science and Technology.
Through the implementation of these two technologies, Tetra Tech is helping the Philippine government gain a more accurate picture of how many fisherfolk are operating in the area, and this understanding enables more informed decision making and facilitates improved fisheries management.
In 2014, TV White Space and FishR received global recognition at the USAID Global Development Lab’s Innovation Marketplace and Secretary of State John Kerry’s Our Oceans Conference.