Monday, March 14, 2011

Prioritization of ICT-infused ?disaster science? pushed

After the devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan and the worldwide tsunami warnings that it triggered, a lawmaker has called for the development of an ICT-led “disaster science” in the Philippines to make the country better equipped to face natural calamities.

Photo courtesy of Kyodo News/The Associated Press

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (Comste), said disaster science could capitalize on the use of the Internet and SMS to request and send relief goods and donations.

Angara noted that there is also a system that can monitor rain in real-time, as well as a low-cost wave monitoring system that automatically sends an alarm when there is an indication of vertical acceleration.

“It is reasonable to assume that it is only a matter of time before we are stricken by another great catastrophe. The science is there telling us that the risk is real. Our experiences in the past couple of decades alone has shown us the fact that our country is prone to disasters, and as such I believe our efforts to create the Disaster Science and Management Center should [be] fast-tracked,” Angara stated.

The Disaster Science Management Center (DSMC) is a project of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology, and Engineering (Comste), which is primed to become a regional training center for disaster preparedness.

“This will not be the run of the mill, classroom-lecture type of learning, but an innovative center that harnesses the experiences of nations used to dealing with disasters, like Japan, that will help teach their hard earned lessons to our LGU’s and those of other countries as well,” said Angara, who chairs Comste.

The DSMC recently announced that that Sentinel Asia, an international project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has appointed Manila Observatory as a Data Analysis Node (DAN).

Sentinel Asia aims to support disaster management in the Asia-Pacific Region by applying and promoting Remote Sensing and WEB-GIS technologies among its partners.

The Manila Observatory (MO) partnered with COMSTE in the planning and development of the DSMC. Now that the MO has been appointed as a Data Analysis Node, the Manila Observatory will provide analysis and interpretation of satellite data in aid of disaster management in the Philippine’s and the Asia Pacific Region.

Angara said that the availability of satellite data will boost the capabilities of the DSMC to better understand the mechanics of managing disasters with the cooperation of neighboring countries that have experienced similar storms and natural calamities as the Philippines.

The MO maintains research programs in geomatics, regional climate systems, solid earth dynamics, space weather and air quality. The Manila Observatory promotes the advancement of science-based decision support systems in aid of climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

A joint study by Columbia University and the World Bank entitled ‘Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis’, which identifies countries which are at high risk for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought, and cyclones, has the Philippines pegged as one of riskiest countries in the world.

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