DREAM wins international excellence award (Manila Bulletin)

By Edd K. Usman

The DREAM team led by Project Leader Dr. Eric Paringit  (Photo from http://www.dream.upd.edu.ph/)

DREAM Project Leader Dr. Eric Paringit and Al Duncan of the UK Environmental Agency with participants of DREAM’s Flood Modelling and Mapping Training
(Photo from http://www.dream.upd.edu.ph)

One of the components of Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) has won the 2014 Geospatial World Excellence in Policy Implementation Award in Geneva, Switzerland.

This is the Disaster Risk Assessment, Exposure and Mitigation (DREAM), or more completely, the DREAM-LiDAR 3-D Mapping Project.

LiDAR stands for Light Ranging and Detection, a technology that has uses in atmospheric physics, geology, forestry, oceanography, and law enforcement.

DREAM introduced the use of LiDAR in the Philippines in 2012 to acquire high-resolution images of the country’s topography and the data turned into 3D Maps and Flood Hazard Maps that identify safe and danger zones on a particular area.

The program leader of DREAM-LiDAR 3-D Mapping Project, Dr. Enrico “Eric” Paringit, has confirmed the award to the Manila Bulletin.

“We still don’t have the award, but that is correct,” said Paringit, a professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

He said DREAM was nominated to the international award last year.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the award will be given to DREAM on May 8, 2014 in Geneva.

“The award goes to show that the international community acknowledges our local capability-building efforts to attain self-sufficiency when it  comes to dealing with natural hazards and disasters,” said Paringit.

The international recognition has made the men and women “dreamers” of DREAM-LiDAR to “become more inspired to do their best in delivering timely and relevant information.”

Paringit said the DOST “sees the policy award as a confirmation that the government is heading towards the right direction in setting its priorities.”

NOAH has nine components, including the DREAM-LiDAR 3D Mapping Project, which has been using LiDAR equipment worth P200 million on two Cessna planes to map the country’s major river basins and its tributaries to create 3D Maps and Flood Hazard Maps for early warning on impending floods, landslides, and storm surges.

Paringit said the high-resolution maps are now being distributed to local government officials through the nationwide “Iba na ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities” disaster information and preparedness campaign of the DOST, which kicked off in Angeles, Pampanga, on March 3-4.

“Thus far, flood maps and early warning systems have been done for 48 provinces, 612 municipalities and about 40 million residents,” the DOST said.

In winning the Geospatial World Awards, DREAM joins an elite club of notable awardees in the last four years, such as the Standards Agentschap voor Geografische Informatie Vlaanderen (AGIV), Belgium for geospatial standards; Coordinating Agency for Federal Geographical Information, Switzerland for SDI; United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and NASA (Earth Science Division-Applied Sciences Program) for knowledge transfer; Indonesia Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) for Geospatial Information Act; and Kadaster, The Netherlands and Geonovum, The Netherlands for 3D Standards.

DOST said the Geospatial World Awards has been bestowing awards and recognition for exemplary innovations and practices in the geospatial industry.

It quoted Dr. Hrishikesh Samant, Geospatial World Awards coordinating judge, as saying that the “Geospatial World Excellence in Policy Award is given to policy makers and implementers whose work directly impacts in development of geospatial science technology and business.”

With a budget of P2 billion from 2012 to 2014, DREAM is now expanded and its life lengthened until 2016 with an additional fund of P1.4 billion.

NOAH’s DREAM will cover practically the whole Philippines in the topographic mapping of the 18 major rivers systems and the additional minor rivers across the country, as well as low-lying areas prone to flooding.

It is DREAM which introduced Filipinos to the LiDAR technology, which Paringit’s team of “dreamers” has been using to generate the high-resolution 3D Maps for hazard assessment and flood modeling.

This article was originally published on Manila Bulletin website on 11 March 2014.

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