Tracking typhoon 'Pablo's' onslaught

Posted at 12/04/2012 2:13 PM | Updated as of 12/04/2012 6:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Internet search giant Google on Tuesday has set up a crisis map to help Filipinos, especially those in disaster-affected areas, keep track of typhoon "Pablo" (international codename "Bopha").

The tool, which was made through Google Maps, gives real-time updates on the strength of the typhoon and the storm signals being raised in different parts of the country.

Engr. Anthony Baxter of the Google.org's Crisis Response Team said they put up the map to make sure typhoon-related information is available for everyone.

"Anyone can get online to actually find the information and find real-time updates from the government on what's going on. It's available for everyone," he said on ANC.

"During a disaster, it's really important that people know exactly where the shelters are, where the evacuation centers are, what's going on right now. 'Cause it (typhoon "Pablo") is gonna keep going on for a while. It's not over," Baxter added.
 
The map, which is in English and Filipino, shows the location of the eye of the typhoon and its track.

It also provides links to emergency hotlines, and the location of all shelters and evacuation facilities in the country.

People can also get information on how to help residents in disaster-prone areas using the Google crisis response page.

Aileen Apolo, head of the Google's Outreach Team for Southeast Asia, said they have applied what they learned from their experiences with typhoon "Ondoy" in 2009 in improving the crisis map.

"One thing I realized back in 2009, we needed to improve the maps that we have in the Philippines. In the past few years, we have been dedicated to working on improving maps in the Philippines," she said.

Apolo added, "I work a lot with the local communities. (With the crisis map), it is now easier for users to find the shelters and where they can bring relief goods."

Globe users can access the tool for free using Free Zone in their mobile browsers.

Typhoon "Pablo" is the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

It made landfall in the coastal town of Baganga in Davao Oriental on Tuesday morning. Storm signals remain hoisted over 40 areas across the country.

Typhoon "Pablo" is projected to move west-northwest at 24 kilometers per hour (kph), according to PAGASA.