Project Noah: Surviving the floods

Posted at 07/02/12 3:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will launch over the next few months the integrated flood early warning system in communities along 18 major river systems.

"End of July, we're aiming for six river systems: Marikina, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bicol, Pampanga, Agno, and enhancing what's there," Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said on ANC's "Headstart."

The move is part of DOST's efforts to improve the country's capability to deal with disasters via “Project Noah,” a website (http://.noah.dost.gov.ph) that allows the public to see weather developments, the amount of rainfall and potential flooding in a particular area.

With data from doppler radars and rain gauges, color-coded maps indicate areas’ vulnerability to flooding.
Created, developed and implemented by Flipinos, Montejo said "Project Noah" is designed to address the public's needs.

"Yung visualization we do it ourselves.  Filipino scientists are doing this so we can reprocess it further to make it even more friendly. That's why were discussing with stakeholders...We are still communicating with the local government units (LGUs) and the public for other information they would like us to put in,” he said.

PNoy: Make it more user-friendly

Montejo said President Benigno Aquino III has issued instructions to make the website more efficient and user-friendly.    

"It's quite accurate for areas wherein may coverage kami ng aming doppler...We're aiming na sana maging 80-85% yung actual,” he said.

"Very specific yung instructions ng Pangulo na dapat six hours before ipapakita na natin yung baha... Una, six hours. But if there's a typhoon coming…that six hours can be lengthened."

"We're focusing first on communities along the major river systems, areas experiencing high floods... Eventually meron din kaming programa like in España. Low-lying area siya talaga. Yung ulan sa surrounding area papunta sa kanya. They can't cope with it.  Part ng program yung magkaroon ng topographical map in those areas,” he said.

Montejo said they hope to enhance the mechanism with the help of technical support from the United Kingdom.
They are also now preparing to launch more doppler radars by the end of the year.

"What will be coming in this year will be the one in Mindanao, Baler, Aparri. Later part of this year, we will have five operational, six including the one recently inaugurated in Virac, plus three or four more operational next year,” he said.

Montejo added these additional radars will cover more areas vulnerable to disasters and heavy rainfall. He noted they are currently meeting with Japan International Cooperation Agence (JICA) officials for the doppler radar in Virac, one of the most modern dopplers anywhere.

Montejo added they also intend to address different types of disasters, and to incorporate and enhance vulnerability maps as part of government's early warning program.