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Strengthening Innovations on Disaster Preparedness in the Philippines

In the Philippines, Typhoon Paeng’s onslaught in Visayas and Mindanao, as well as many earthquake episodes in the Ilocos Region, caused significant destruction in several areas of the country in recent months.

As the consequences of natural disasters, including casualties and property losses, become increasingly visible, government agencies, local government units, and vulnerable populations must prioritise disaster management and mitigation.

“Every year the country experiences the most devastating disasters. It reminds us how disasters result in losses of lives and livelihoods. And how it takes back our economic gains, growth, and development,” says Renato U. Solidum Jr., DOST Secretary.

In response, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) organised the “Handa Pilipinas: Innovations in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Expo 2022,” which included the Philippine technologies on digital and application innovations.

With this, the DOST-PAGASA revealed the new Lighting Alert System placed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which monitors and sends cautions on potential lightning strikes from a reference point within the airport. To guarantee the safety of airport personnel and passengers, the system delivers yellow or red alerts. Similarly, the VolcanoPh Info App gives early warning information on the current volcanic conditions and, more critically, identifies the appropriate safety preparation and response steps.

DOST also actively promotes climate and disaster data governance using GeoRiskPhilippines – the geospatial Information System developed by the Department in collaboration with other mandated government agencies to harmonise fragmented exposure information, gather and share multi-hazards information, and thereby improve vulnerability and risk assessment, and disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery planning.

On Innovations for Food Security, Project SARAI, or the Smart Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, is a programme that gives site-specific crop recommendations to agricultural stakeholders. It combines local meteorological data and drought forecasts with agricultural management.

On Innovations in Human-Built Infrastructure, the Universal Structural Health Evaluation and Recording System (USHER) is a “doctor” for evaluating the structural health of buildings. It enables structural integrity and compliance with construction codes.

Secretary Renato has recognised that it is important to hold dialogues with his fellow Filipinos to raise awareness about hazards and what hazards can do to them. And discuss how they can strengthen their ties towards a more efficient and effective disaster risk reduction and management in the country in the service of the Filipino people. “These innovations are our pathway towards resilience. The power and influence of science, technology, and innovation, bring the realisation that the Philippines is not powerless against hazards and risks.”

DOST has translated lessons into innovations and technologies. Although, it is not only the past experiences that fuel their pursuit but rather the hopes that they can further prepare for future disaster and climate risks. These technologies are made possible through the success stories of scientists, researchers, innovators, leaders, and the Filipino community.

“Let us recognise and honour our own Filipino innovators for delivering us this technology. As a result, we are urging everyone to use, embrace, and promote the commercialisation of locally developed catastrophe technologies,” Secretary Renato asserts.

Through DOST, the Philippines is one of the top nations for digital transformation disaster reduction, and as part of its ongoing efforts, the DOST scholars will use their computing expertise to increase the digital transformation journey of the country.

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