DOST steps up flood monitoring and forecasting in MIMAROPA

By: Charlotte F. Pizarras, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office

       Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (middle) and DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Josefina P. Abilay (right) with the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME) CEO Arcelio “Junjun” Fetizanan Jr. (left), an incubatee of Palawan lnternational Technology Business lncubator (PITBI), inked partnership on the installation of transponders to upgrade the early detection and warning systems in MIMAROPA during the press conference for the celebration of “Changing Lives Through Science” on 10 October 2018 at the Seasons Hotel and Convention Center.

After years of suffering devastating impacts of floods, the MIMAROPA region will soon have a stable early detection and warning system for impending floods with the incorporation of aviation and maritime communication technologies.

Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina Abilay recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME) in a press conference last October 10, 2018 at Seasons Hotel and Convention Center, coinciding the MIMAROPA regional S&T week (RSTW) celebration. The signing was witnessed by DOST Secretary Fortunato De la Peña.

Mainly used for the aviation and maritime communication, FAME offered a wireless, low-power and telco-independent technology called LoRaWan, short for Long Range Wide Area Network. The said technology is intended to upgrade the existing hydrometeorological sensors of DOST in MIMAROPA.

Previously, the DOST have already deployed hydrometeorological sensors such as the Automated Rain Gauge (ARG) and the Water-level Monitoring Stations (WLMS) for flood monitoring in certain critical sites.

Collected data from these technologies are sent wirelessly via cellular sites, as text message, to the DOST-developed central server. DOST saw such dependence on the strength and availability of telecommunication signals could hobble the existing early detection system.

In the case of the MIMAROPA region, there are still identified critical sites—usually far-flung areas—which have intermittent cellular signal to no signal at all. Further, cellular signals are being weakened and disrupted during unfavorable weather conditions.

Filling in the gap, the LoRaWan transponders allow transmission of data from digital and analog sensors to a gateway via radio frequencies sans any telco connectivity.

Unlike cellular signals that cannot penetrate large obstructions i.e., mountain ranges, the gateway used by FAME can be installed numerously to effectively route the signals to the central server. Hence, the transmission and forecasting can traverse even the most isolated places in the region.

Moreover, this technology allows government agencies like NDRRMC to send messages to the public without relying to the present conditions of cellular signals.

With this technological fusion, it is expected to empower both the LGUs and citizens make better and informed decisions in times of catastrophic floods. In this way, disaster-related risks will  be reduced, if not prevented.

As of now, an initial site identification has been made by the DOST in close cooperation with the Office of the Civil Defense and selected LGUs in the region. The installation of transponders is set to be completed this year.