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Digitalisation to Boost Disaster Resilience in the Philippines

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The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has taken a momentous step by hosting the inaugural “HANDA Pilipinas: Innovations in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Expo 2023” in Cagayan de Oro City that showcased 81 innovative technologies from Filipino inventors and innovators across the nation.

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These technologies were organised into four thematic areas, aligned with the National Risk Reduction and Management Plan: Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Response, and Disaster Rehabilitation and Recovery.

DOST Secretary Dr Renato U Solidum, Jr cited that earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, and even climate change are natural hazards; and these are natural phenomena. Disasters may happen because of people’s inaction or inappropriate action on the risks posed by natural hazards.

DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations, Engr Sancho A Mabborang, echoed this sentiment, emphasising that incorporating science, technology, and innovation in disaster prevention and mitigation is the key to empowering Filipinos to become victors rather than victims when faced with natural hazards.

At the forefront of this exposition is the GeoRisk Philippines initiative, spearheaded by DOST’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS). This multifaceted agency also presented PlanSmart PH and the Seismic Activity Monitoring System, which are pivotal in early warning and monitoring systems.

The event also provided a platform for the display of other ingenious innovations, such as DOST PAGASA’s Interactive Display Information System and DOST – Industrial Technology Development Institute’s (ITDI’s) Collapsible Toilet Bowl for Emergency/Disaster Operations, among several others. Local startups, non-governmental organisations, State Universities and Colleges, and grassroots inventors were also part of the event.

One such standout was GeoPindot, an offline mobile app designed to empower citizens to reach out for help or report critical situations to local government response teams. It is these local innovations that are making a tangible impact on disaster management in the Philippines.

The nation’s resilience against these unforeseen disasters has been strengthened by these technology applications. Hence, disaster preparedness receives a significant boost from digital technology through mobile apps and SMS alerts that provide critical information on safety measures, evacuation routes, and emergency contacts.

Additionally, digital training and simulations are instrumental in equipping disaster response teams, volunteers, and the general population with the knowledge and skills necessary to confront potential disasters head-on.

During the crucial phase of disaster response, digital technology plays a pivotal role in facilitating real-time communication and coordination among response agencies, emergency services, and local government units.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including drones, take to the skies for aerial surveys, aiding search and rescue missions and damage assessment. This exposition underscores that digital technology is the linchpin of disaster management in the Philippines. It empowers the nation to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters with far greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that these technologies are accessible to all segments of society, including the most vulnerable communities. Moreover, the establishment of robust backup systems to address power outages or infrastructure damage during disasters remains a crucial priority.

The “HANDA Pilipinas” expo is part of a nationwide initiative led by DOST, spanning three key regions in the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. By raising awareness in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), informing and capacitating stakeholders, and accelerating the practical application of DOST-developed technologies, this event paves the way for a more resilient and disaster-prepared Philippines.


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