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Weather Monitoring App to Help Fishing Community in the Philippines

Image credits: www.gov.ph

The Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) will introduce the “ISDApp” in the coastal community of Dingalan, Aurora to enhance the fishermen’s understanding of the environment they work in. At least 300 fisherfolk in Dingalan, Aurora will soon be able to properly monitor weather conditions for safe sailing, especially during the typhoon season.

ISDApp, which was developed by an IT solutions company and powered by a local telco converts collected localised weather data into simplified weather forecasts and sends them to the registered mobile numbers of fisherfolk. Since it uses text messaging, fishermen can receive timely weather alerts even without a smartphone. This will help them decide whether to set sail and take the necessary precautions.

This is part of the commitment of the institute to scale up the project and transfer technologies to more coastal communities in the country, particularly in Dingalan where fishing is considered as one primary source of living. Equal access to information is more crucial than ever, especially in times of crisis, said the NFRDI acting executive director.

ISDApp was first launched in Sariaya, Quezon in January this year. Its success prompted the proponents to expand the service to Dingalan given the high typhoon incidence in the province. Aurora is facing the Pacific Ocean and has a shoreline of 45 kilometres. Fishing is the townsfolk’s secondary means of livelihood next to farming.

The initiative will cover three coastal barangays in Dingalan — Aplaya, Butas na Bato, and Paltic. The IT company has conducted the training of the local government unit (LGU) on the use of the ISDAapp, in collaboration with the municipal government and the Municipal Agriculture Office.

The BFAR regional director said that the ISDApp is an effective way to share weather forecasts and it will serve as an early warning system so that our fisherfolk can conduct self-weather monitoring before deciding whether they will continue with their fishing activities for the day.

The developers noted that the province’s fishermen are among the most hardworking citizens of the nation. As they sail in rough seas for a living, the developers aim to support their livelihood by providing them with the latest weather information via the app.

The fisherfolk community leaders will also be trained on how to subscribe to daily advisories. They will work closely with the LGU and will be instrumental in ensuring all targeted fishermen are onboarded for the initiative.

The tech developers emphasised that technology can be a great partner to keep the country’s fisherfolk safe. They are aware that in some communities, access to information and resources may be limited. Therefore, ISDApp was made as simple as possible so that alerts can reach those people who continue to use low-end phones.

In the coming weeks, the NFRDI also intends to equip fisherfolk of Dingalan with mobile phones to help them safely navigate seas. Some 100 mobile phones will be distributed in a separate ceremonial activity that will be complemented by free credit support from the local telco.

The Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) executive director Enrico Paringit said that the partnership between the private and public sectors is the key to the success of ISDApp. These partnerships will help the apps gain traction. The private sector can help in the development, maintenance, and updating of the app, while public institutions, on the other hand, can vet the information to ensure correctness and reliability.

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