Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor
THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the University of the Philippines (UP), with assistance from the British Embassy, on Thursday oversaw the maiden flight of two aircraft carrying state-of-the-art Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) instruments at Clark Airbase to begin “scanning” the Pampanga river basin.
The event started the country’s first three-dimensional (3D) mapping program billed as the Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) Program as a solution to the country’s disaster preparedness problem.
DREAM is one of eight components of DOST’s groundbreaking Project Noah (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), the country’s flagship program in disaster mitigation.
Science Secretary Mario Montejo, who was present at the ceremonial flight at Clark Airbase, thanked the UK for providing additional expertise to the program through the British Embassy.
Montejo said the LiDAR technology would enable them to make more accurate flood models that will be the basis to warn communities in advance of potentially deadly floods.
“Together with the other components of Project Noah like the deployment of locally made Hydromel sensors and rainfall forecast modeling, we are slowly building the infrastructure of how we will be able to issue at least a six-hour warning to vulnerable communities against floods and other rain induced hazards for entire country,” he added.
The DREAM Program, said the British Embassy will be a vital cog in the forecasting and early warning system being set up by the Philippine government to address disasters. “We are delighted to be working together with the Philippine government in developing an effective system that will help save lives and property. The LiDAR mapping system is already making a difference in the UK, and we are optimistic that this technology will make a genuine contribution to the Philippine government’s efforts to decrease the risk from natural disasters,” said Steph Lysaght, first secretary at the British Embassy.
This is the first time that an all-Filipino technical team will acquire, process and develop applications for LiDAR data.
To support the use of the LiDAR system, DOST and UP entered into a knowledge sharing agreement with the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency (EA).
Two LiDAR experts from the EA Geomatics Group, Alastair Duncan and Patrick Hogarth, are currently in the country to share their expertise and experience in LiDAR data processing with local technical specialists.
This phase of the program is funded by the UK government through the British Embassy.
All LiDAR data will be processed at the project office located on the third floor of the UP National Engineering Center at the UP Campus.
The office houses high-performance workstations are located that process gigabyte-size LiDAR data to generate Digital Elevation models, the main output of the project.