Tablets Could be Philippines' New Tool Against Natural Disasters (TECHINASIA)

This article was written by Phoebe Magdirila and originally published in on June 24, 2013.


Rainy season is back in the Philippines, as well as the worries about thunderstorms and their after effects. The worst of them all is flooding. But the good thing is that the government is now preparing for it. We have previously reported how citizens and organizations have worked together through online platforms in the aftermath of floods. This time, the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is taking this to the next level, announcing it will provide tablets to aid Filipinos in the event of natural disasters.

This is not the first time technology is being used to inform citizens, and preventing further loss of lives in floods. Last year, DOST launched Project Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH), a web-based monitoring tool that tracks the weather, rainfall densities, and floods across the entire country.

Moses and his tablet

This year, the head of Project NOAH, Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, says that they will be distributing tablets – they call them Monitoring and Operating System for Emergency Services (Moses) – to make people more informed about hazards during the upcoming rainy season. These Moses tablets – nice Biblical reference there – are locally assembled and no brand manufacturer is mentioned, but Dr. Alfredo describes them as tablets with a water-proof casing, antennas, and long-lasting batteries.

These will not be for public consumption, though. Local disaster managers and community officials will have access to the tablets and they will use the gadgets to exchange information with the Project Noah command center. By July, during a scheduled convention of disaster preparedness, the tablets will be distributed to the relevant officials.

Citizens can continue using the the Project Noah mobile app for iOS or Android.

Saving lives and crops

Dr. Alfredo says that “Information will be critical in saving the lives of people.”

In August last year, the World Health Organization reported that 250,000 people left their homes and 68 citizens died due to flooding caused by a typhoon in the Philippines. This typhoon is said to have poured down a half month’s worth of rain in only 24 hours. This crisis affected many to the extent that different organizations like UNICEF, and countries like Thailand, have reached out to help the victims of the calamity.

The death and destruction did not stop there. Even as late as December, a month when typhoons are rare, another typhoon struck a Philippine province, Compostela Valley, and left many people homeless and jobless. The storm hit thousand of hectares of banana plantations, the main livelihood of residents in the region.

This just goes to show how huge the effect of every typhoon that hits the country. And with these scenarios comes confusion and worry due to a lack of accurate and timely information.

Dr. Alfredo notes that, for information to be relayed, communication “is very important during disaster situations.” By using these tablets, he adds:

“Communication is two-way, from the control center we can deliver information to the people in the field, and we can receive info coming from the area stricken by hazardous events.”

It is true that there is really nothing we can do to prevent natural occurrences such as heavy rains and flooding. But disseminating tablets to provide information seems like a good move that we hope can lessen or hopefully eliminate deaths due to floods. It seems that with the allocation of these Moses tablets to the many small communities within every city, there will now be a leader or a provider of weather information that can help residents prepare for what may come.

It looks like a good thing if implemented properly.

(Source: ABS-CBN News)

Editing by: Steven Milward, Ahn-Minh Do)

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