DOST, Smart install rain gauges to boost disaster preparedness

Friday, January 06, 2012

DOST, Smart install rain gauges to boost disaster preparedness

CEBU, Jan 6 (PIA) -- With the number of typhoons visiting the country each year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) believes in strengthening the country's weather monitoring system.

DOST-6 regional director Rowen Gelonga noted that before 2000, the Philippines is visited by powerful typhoons every three to five years. Now, devastating typhoons are experienced every year, citing the recent storm Sendong that killed more than a thousand people in Northern Mindanao.

Most of the lives lost during these typhoons are not because of strong winds or storm surges. It's really because of the flooding, Gelonga added.

This propelled DOST and wireless service provider Smart Communications, Inc. to complete the installation of five Automatic Rain Gauges (ARG) in the towns of Alimodian, Cabatuan, Maasin, Pavia and in Jaro, Iloilo City.

The new installations complement the other ARGs installed by DOST across the Western Visayas region.

Gelonga said Smart also pledged to help fund the installation of Automatic Water Level Sensors that will alert the communities once the river reaches critical level.

DOST's ARGs track rain water volume and rainfall duration. Through the Smart SIM card, the equipment transmits rainfall data for further analysis, every 15 minutes.

This speeds up and makes more accurate the previous process of manually gauging rainfall through a measuring stick and sending the data at least once every 24 hours.

The DOST says the ARGs are just "part of one system that will benefit Iloilo, and eventually the whole country" in terms of preparing for disasters and helping save lives.

"We hope that over time, we can actually generate more data and come up with better correlations between rainfall and flooding. With the ARGs in consortium with other equipment plus the water level sensors that we are installing all over the region, the LGUs will be more prepared for adverse weather events," said Gelonga.

Smart's Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto meanwhile reaffirmed the company's commitment to help government institutions and LGUs in times of disasters.

"Aside from ensuring the continuity of our communication services in times of disasters, we are also committing to explore the use of our technologies to help our government improve our weather monitoring system, in all ways possible," said Isberto. "The ARGs in Iloilo are just some of the rain gauges we have installed in several high-risk areas all over the country."

Mayor Juanito Alipao of Alimodian, one of the municipalities that received an ARG, meanwhile thanked Smart during the turn-over ceremony held recently.

"The rain gauge is a guide for us, and it will help us keep our communities alert to possible calamities brought about by heavy rains and typhoons," Alipao said.

Iloilo is one of the calamity-prone provinces in the country. In 2008, it was among the worst hit by typhoon Frank that caused mudslides and flooding in Iloilo city and other municipalities, displacing thousands of families. (MBCNewman/PIA-7 with reports from SMART) - Timeline 2012