Bike Scouts Philippines is an organization of volunteers that serve as bicycle messengers to provide an alternative means of communication for people affected by natural and man-made disasters. We collect survivor data, gather personal messages from survivors that are forwarded to their loved ones, and we help deliver critical emergency supplies to isolated places. The work of the Bike Scouts help“to bring courage where it is needed and hope where there is none.”
Bicycles are at the core of the Bike Scouts’ work because they provide the most efficient way to go anywhere in all kinds of weather and terrain. Bicycles do not require fuel and are incredibly easy to maintain and repair. The first deployments of Bike Scouts teams for the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan, 2013) response served as proof of concept for what bicycles can do in providing access to isolated areas for communication and data collection.
Bike Scouts Philippines is possibly the first and only organized initiative that makes use of the simplicity of bicycles and the functionality of mobile technology to serve the very vital human need for contact in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Rappler and its community engagement arm MovePH has been a committed partner of Bike Scouts Philippines from the very beginning. Working directly with the decision makers of Rappler has made it easy for the Bike Scouts to organize a modern and effective approach to its work. In particular, Rappler provides Bike Scouts teams with access to its Satellite IP Van that allows Bike Scouts teams to access the internet in places where mobile and internet service are unavailable. In addition to media distribution of Bike Scouts materials and content, the partnership gives Bike Scouts access to equipment like satellite telephones, 360 cameras, and radio communications. Rappler has also been instrumental in making Bike Scouts Philippines a feature of the Social Good Summit in Manila.
Goozam is a California-based emergency response mobile app company and has been a partner of the Bike Scouts for a year. Goozam is a cloud-based supplemental first-response app that allows users to signal for help or be alerted about other users’ emergencies (within a one mile radius of the sender) where they can provide first-response assistance.The Goozam app has become the standard safety app for all Bike Scouts projects and activities that involve volunteers and community supporters.
The PRIMARY goal of Bike Scouts Philippines for 2017 is to grow its community of support among the mainstream audience and expand its network of core and local volunteers through events, activities, and content through the launch of the Bike Scouts newsletter, SpokesNation.
The SECOND goal is to launch data collection initiatives and expeditions to gather route maps, gps-coordinates, and other important information that will be useful for Bike Scouts projects, community initiatives, and disaster response deployments. The final output for these initiatives is a print and digital route map for cycling around the Philippines and a publicly available data file of gps-plotted land routes to selected isolated communities for disaster response access.
THIRD goal for 2017 is to professionalize the management and operations of Bike Scouts Philippines and establish a sustainable economic component to support its community initiatives and disaster response and preparedness work. This goal is essential for the Bike Scouts initiative to be relevant and effective in the short and long term, the work of the Bike Scouts requires a certain level of ability to respond to disasters immediately and also maintain a sustained engagement with its community partners and volunteers. After three years of operation with teams and community projects throughout the Philippines, the Bike Scouts initiative has outgrown its reliance on public contributions. Although contributions are still an important source of funds, the initiative must now make a serious effort to gain a means of sustainability that can support the quality of work that it means to achieve. To this end, the three primary purposes for the effort to be economically sustainable are the following:
- Achieve a level of readiness for at least a deployment team of five volunteer bicycle messengers at all times. The main requirements for this target includes the cost of spare parts, uniforms, basic safety equipment, and a ready budget for transportation and supplies in the event of a deployment.
- Maintain administrative capability over projects, community, and volunteer network as well as manage social media channels, website, content, and an online merchandise store for Bike Scouts apparel and other products as a regular source of funds.
- Sustain engagement with existing community partners throughout the Philippines and volunteer teams in those areas through regular activities and supply of materials.
There is a need for the Bike Scouts Philippines name to be developed into a brand that can represent a specific set of ideals for its community and volunteers. The idea is to transition the Bike Scouts image from that of a standard social benefit organization into a socially-relevant brand for public participation in social benefit initiatives through responsible consumption.
The idea is to drive a higher level of responsible commercial and corporate marketing strategy by focusing consumer support for brands, products, and services that benefit or support social benefit initiatives, specifically Bike Scouts Philippines events and projects.
The selling point for businesses is that Bike Scouts combines four very attractive elements in doing its advocacy: (1) Social Good (2) Bicycles (3) Travel and (4) Adventure which are also things that the public naturally associate with personal image, aspiration, fun, and passion.
The most important thing is to turn the Bike Scouts from a mere advocacy into a social platform where people participate in the things that identify them as participants in social good by simply doing the things that they love and supporting the brands that support their passion.
COMMUNITY AS MARKET
The three years that the Bike Scouts has been in operation has provided many interesting insights, primarily the fact that even in the service of good people will eventually begin to ask if there is a tangible benefit for them in exchange for their participation. No matter how devoted a person is he will eventually suffer from fatigue as a consequence of being constantly bombarded by content and other noise coming from something that he initially loved.
To address this, Bike Scouts will take a new approach through its brand-in-development to engage with people in a more ambient manner, rather than through a traditional marketing approach. The way to do this is to maintain engagement with people through things that make them deeply happy. The key is not to sell them anything but simply give them a portal in which they can find, by themselves, the freedom, joy, and optimism they need through well-crafted imagery, experiences, and exceptionally positive stories related to the Bike Scouts’ work. A key element, of course, is engagement which will be managed through a merchant-sponsored incentive system that rewards community members for participating in something they love. In this way, the Bike Scouts brand can achieve its objective of driving a higher level of responsible commercial and corporate marketing strategy that benefits the initiative.
The Bike Scouts brand is unique, in the sense that its value through its mainstream-market-friendly social good advocacy concept cannot be duplicated without extensive investment in money and effort. Though the Bike Scouts content, imagery, and stories are very market-oriented they are also real things that are genuinely being achieved by actual volunteers in the real world. None of the materials that people see about the Bike Scouts are manufactured or choreographed, this is the advantage of having a core team of people who can actually perform very high levels of adventure and advocacy work that create the epic nature of the material.
Therefore, there is potential in continuing the quality of the activities and stories of the Bike Scouts through well-planned deployments, community activities, and expeditions that can generate public awe, wonder, and interest. The main reason for this focus is that passionate curiosity generates a passionate need for inquiry which, in turn, creates engagement.
In 2017, Bike Scouts Philippines will officially launch a set of concept events that have been in careful development in the past two years. These events include the following:
The 1,000-Kilometer Ride – a team event that requires participants to participate in a stage ride of a thousand kilometers starting from the capital city of Manila to the southernmost tip of Samar Island in the Visayas. The event will pass through places like Quezon Province with its old colonial houses and rich history, the Bicol region which is known for being a place of fire because of its volcanoes including Mount Mayon but also because of the local love affair with extremely spicy food, Sorsogon with its rolling hills, and Samar Island with its largely undiscovered natural beauty and challenging roads for cycling. The ride promotes the need for greater awareness of disaster preparedness in places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters because of economic constraints. The full length of the event route has been tested twice with a network of support in place for a first-of-its-kind cycling event in the Philippines.
Pathfinder Expeditions – a made-for-video and social media event which will be presented as a web-series comprised of digital stories with photography and video and a live broadcast from the field segment, where available. The Pathfinder Expeditions series will be a first-of-its-kind online program that will take viewers to some of the most isolated places in the Philippines as a Bike Scouts core deployment team undertakes the work of mapping land routes to communities that are geographically isolated to aid in future disaster response efforts.The program will also feature the environmental and cultural aspects of the different places it will visit, which will include tribal customs and forgotten colonial history in some places. Initial locations for the expedition include Maconacon, Isabela (Sierra Madre Mountains), Sibuyan Island, Romblon, Abra de Ilog, Mindoro, and the Eastern Samar Coastline.
Community-Based Disaster Preparedness Project – A flagship project of Bike Scouts Philippines that has been running for the past three years. The projecthelps communities learn about the value of bicycles and mobile technology in preparing for natural disasters, including basic riding skills, road safety, and bicycle maintenance in preparation for bicycle donations to be given to the community once a local volunteer team has been established. The local Bike Scouts Volunteer Team takes the lead in organizing regular events and activities that continue the learning process about community-preparedness. A key component of the project is the donation of a connectivity kit to the local volunteer team that includes a desktop or laptop computer, wifi connection, mobile apps and devices, and a solar kit. The connectivity kit allows the local volunteer team to stay in touch and post updates to Goozam and Rappler’s Project Agos platform in addition to educational uses for local students who have no access to the web.
At present, Bike Scouts Philippines has Local Volunteer Teams in Manila, Pasig, Makati, San Pedro, Santa Rosa, Sariaya, Caramoan, Sorsogon City, Catbalogan City, Tacloban City, Guiuan, Cebu City, and Leboon Island in Sulangan, Eastern Samar.
The Midnight Ride Project – An annual community ride that allows participants to give back to their community by riding out on Christmas Eve to personally deliver gifts of food, toys, and clothing to the homeless and the less fortunate. Now on its third year, participation has grown into a nationwide movement with rides happening simultaneously in places like Manila, Pasig, Quezon City, Makati, Cebu City, Alabang, San Pedro, Santa Rosa, Calamba, Caramoan, Davao, and Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The idea is for participants to join the main ride in San Pedro, Laguna or to organize their own Midnight Ride in their own community. The various rides are connected through social media using #bikescoutsph #thisiswhyweride and #midnightride.All participants of Bike Scouts community events are required to download the Goozam app for added safety on the road.
Bike Scouts Mapping Parties – A new community project where Bike Scouts volunteers and community participants will map the safest cycling routes around the Philippines and the collected data will be opensourced to all cyclists using a print-map to be distributed once a year and a digital (mobile) version that will be updated regularly. The frequency of the mapping parties will be on a weekly schedule and will include a very short bicycle clinic at the start of each micro-event to teach road safety and bicycle maintenance. All participants of Bike Scouts community events are required to download the Goozam app for added safety on the road. #maptheworld
Bike Scouts TeamUp! Events – An updated version of the regular meet-up bicycle rides that happen every week among clubs, groups, and among friends. The TeamUp! event is a weekly activity that will give Bike Scouts volunteers and community members to catch up with food, music, bicycles, films, and other relevant things. The event also includes small friendly competitions to promote bike skills and fun. All participants of Bike Scouts community events are required to download the Goozam app for added safety on the road. #teamup
The Bike Scouts Cycling Club – A new project which is a formalized version of the regular bicycle skills, road safety, and maintenance clinic which will also include regular community rides meant to encourage more people to ride bicycles by providing a venue with a safe group environment. Club rides are scheduled on weekends to allow participation of more people and their families. The rides are for beginners and weekend cyclists. #bikescoutscc
MONTHLY BUDGET OUTLINE
Bike Scouts Philippines operates without a fixed budget and primarily depends on contributions to sustain its monthly operations that include events and community projects throughout the Philippines. As of December 2016, the Bike Scouts maintains a total number of twelve (12) active sites that involve local volunteer teams and small community projects such as the annual Midnight Ride, Bicycle Clinics, as well as various Sports, Education and Nutrition projects that involve community tournaments, school supplies distribution, and community feeding activities to maintain constant community engagement. The monthly expenses for the operation of Bike Scouts Philippines include the following:
Administrative and Office Supplies
Team Supplies and Equipment (Tags, Stickers, Inner Tubes, Patch Kits)
Travel Expenses (Community Projects, Meetings, Training, Events)
Utilities (Telephone, Internet Connection, Electricity)
TOTAL P20,000.00 ( $430.00/Mo)
Not included in this outline is the cost of operations for field deployments, when necessary, which cost (estimated) P45,000.00 ($980.00) for a team of five to sustain operations for 10-15 days without replenishment. Cost covers cost of transportation to point of embarkation on government or sponsor provided air or sea transport only (outbound), commercial transport (inbound), food and water supplies (team use), medical supplies and safety equipment (team use), water filtration, spare batteries, spare bicycle parts and repair kits, and contingency fund.
Bike Scouts Events and Community Projects – Regular events require constant support in terms of funding to sustain them. In return, sponsors logos, brands, and products will be included in all event materials and media content. Title Sponsorships can be arranged to give sponsors’ brands maximum coverage. As of now, there are two kinds of events: PRODUCTION EVENTS like the 1000Km Ride and the Pathfinder Expeditions which require funding for cost of production, post-production, and travel expenses. We would be very happy to send a detailed outline of the production schedule and costing, if requested. COMMUNITY EVENTS such as the Midnight Ride, Mapping Parties, TeamUp!, and Bike Scouts Cycling Club require a budget every month.
IMMEDIATE NEED: Midnight Ride (December 24) cash sponsorship for supplies and materials production needed for volunteers and participants.
Production Equipment –The requirement is for a dedicated Bike Scouts desktop computer specifically for HD video editing and high-resolution layout work and design as well as for two (2) 1Tr external storage drives – Essential for ongoing projects that require social media, design, photography, and video content materials.
Deployment and Safety Equipment – Essential gear for deployments such as helmets, gloves, shoes, climbing harnesses, ropes, and assorted bicycle and climbing hardware.
Portable Audio Equipment and Video Projector – Essential for community events in communities where the local schools or community centers do not have their own event equipment necessary to present to a large crowd of people.
Bike Scouts Demo Bicycles – A project to purchase two bicycles that will be used for community events, exhibits, and other presentations that require bicycles outfitted with Bike Scouts decals and color theme. The Bicycles will also be loaned to partner organizations and communities for pilot projects that require bicycles for demonstration and exhibits.