DOST ensures Pinoys stay one step ahead of disasters

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    WHETHER you are planning to build a skyscraper in Visayas or Mindanao, starting a business near Manila Bay, or just eyeing an apartment in a crowded urban center, there is a group of Filipino scientists working quietly to ensure you and your money are safe.

    Your homegrown eggheads and engineers are using cutting-edge science and locally developed technologies to nudge people and businesses out of the path of local and man-made disasters.

    Over at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), they call it end-to-end monitoring, forecasting, and early warning system and it is being applied to improve government response to fires in the city, floods, earthquakes and typhoons.

    Better yet, DOST is coming up with apps that you may soon download and activate on your mobile phones and computers.

    These were all contained in the 2018 Consolidated Report on the Audit and Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) released by the Commission on Audit last September 5.

    Among the highlights were DOST’s Urban Fire Hazard Mapping and Fire Spread Modeling in Mandaue City and Lapu-lapu City in Cebu; mapping of geological faults by radon gas measurements in Bohol; and seismic resiliency study of medium to high-rise buildings in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

    The Mandaue/Lapu-lapu City fire hazard maps do not only identify where the closest fire stations and hospitals are, or which streets and alleys will take you out of the danger zone fastest. They also predict where the fire might spread quicker by creating a database of structural footprints and materials used.

    An application for a patent has also been filed for the mobile app to access the map – in 3D format.

    DOST scientists have also completed a survey of the North Bohol, Maribojoc, and East Bohol faults to pinpoint potential earthquake generators in the future.

    Baseline data are now established for monitoring radon gas distribution and its potential as an indicator of shallow or near surface activities.

    In Luzon and Metro Manila, DOST has undertaken high-resolution bathymetry of Lingayen Gulf and Batangas shores, and upgraded monitoring of Ambuklao, Binga, San Roque, Magat and Pantabangan dams, and coastal flooding prediction due to storm surges in Manila Bay.

    The list of accomplishments on these projects include fault mapping of the coasts of Lingayen Gulf and Batangas; collation of data on several typhoons that triggered storm surges in Manila Bay with ongoing analysis on depth, terrain elevation and flooding; and the creation of a website prototype on automated real-time monitoring system (ARMS) on major dams in Northern and Central Luzon.

    Also in the works are increased accuracy of weather research and forecasting, enhanced landslide and flood susceptibility maps, and the application of technology made available by the Taiwanese government for better prediction of tropical cyclones and seasonal climates.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council credited these efforts together with the work of other government agencies in the reduction of damage to properties from P190.41 million in 2017 to just P35.67 million last year or an 81 percent drop.