MANILA, Philippines — Scientists and researchers of Project NOAH are planning to start the 3D mapping of the entire Philippine topography on Sept. 17 with the arrival of a P200-million high-technology equipment from Ontario, Canada.
The LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) equipment is made of a high-resolution 3D mapper for land and a low resolution 3D mapper for water and land.
Dr. Mahar Lagmay, director of Project NOAH, announced in one of his tweets the arrival of the LIDAR equipment.
“Lidar equipment to survey the entire topography of the Philippines at very high resolution has arrived,” his tweet on the micro-blogging Twitter site revealed.
President Benigno S. Aquino III has been very keen on developments about the planned 3D mapping of the country.
Project NOAH stands for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, touted as the national government’s high-technology response to flood disasters.
Aquino had ordered the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other government agencies to come up with flood prediction within six hours of its coming to warn communities and residents to save lives.
That was after the devastating onslaught on Dec. 17, 2011 of Typhoon “Sendong” in Northern Mindanao.
The Sept. 17 schedule of 3D mapping is still tentative, though, one of those involved in Project NOAH said, as scientists and researchers are still undergoing training in handling the LIDAR equipment.
Director Raymund Liboro of the Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) confirmed that training for LIDAR is now ongoing at the Academy of Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman, Quezon City.
NOAH, costing about P1.6 billion, has eight components, such as Hydromet Sensors Development; DREAM-LIDAR 3D Mapping Project; Flood NET-Flood Modeling Project; Hazards Information Media; Enhancing Geo-hazards Mapping through LIDAR; Doppler System Development; Landslide Sensors Development Project; and Storm Surge Inundation Mapping Project.
The Manila Bulletin contacted one of the young scientists behind Project NOAH, Dr. Enrico Paringit, of the UP-College of Engineering (UP-CE). He heads Project NOAH’s 3D Mapping and Flood Modelling.
“Yes, in fact, we are now here at ASTI having the training to operate the LIDAR equipment,” said Paringit.
ASTI is a Research and Development Institute (RDI) on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Microelectronics.
He the equipment has a high-resolution mapping tool for land, and a lower-resolution tool for land and water that can be used to see land underwater at 12 meters deep.
Paringit said the arrival of the LIDAR equipment will now enable Project NOAH to go on with the 3D mapping of the country, after two weeks of training on land and another two weeks training on air.
He said the target date for starting the 3D mapping is on Sept. 17 on the country’s 17 major river basins.
Marikina River was no longer included, he clarified, because they already have a flood mapping of the river.
Paringit said that due to the weather in Luzon, they may start 3D mapping in Mindanao where the weather is more permitting, particularly in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.
With the highly-accurate 3D mapping, he said the government can then offer solutions based on correct and accurate data.
The data from the LIDAR equipment can be used for flood early warning, for infrastructure development, and for planning, among others, he said.
Paringit said with the second component of LIDAR, with its “baphymetrics” (topography of water surface), the underwater land surface, its corrals, water hazards, etc., can now be 3D mapped.
“Finally, we can get highly reliable information on how high or low is our areas,” he said, adding with accurate data from LIDAR flood prevention solutions can be determined if they are effective through simulation even before they are constructed.
He said this mean an accurate solution can be proposed based on the LIDAR data.
A Canadian firm, Optech Inc. of Ontario, Canada, supplied the equipment after winning in a re-bidding as the first winner did not have the needed specifications, he said.
The budget was for P300 million, but during the re-bidding Optech Inc. lowered its offer to P200 million because they want to maintain their presence in the region, Paringit said.
Thailand, which also needs a similar equipment, has not yet obtained its own LIDAR equipment, it was learned.