Smart co-founder gets ?personal? in DOST flood monitoring system

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[/caption] Fernando was one of the early fatalities of Typhoon Ondoy when the perimeter wall of his house in Loyola Grand Villas in Quezon City collapsed on him at the height of the storm. ?I have a personal reason in pursuing this project because of what happened to Dave,? recalled Vea, referring to Fernando?s nickname, during the launch held at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. ?He and I started Smart and it?s very unfortunate that he passed away as one of the victims of the typhoon.? After selling the then fledgling company to telco giant PLDT, Vea and Fernando pursued separate ventures with the former investing on IT start-ups while the latter continued his involvement with Philippine Electronics and Telecommunications Federation (PETEF). Vea would later on make a comeback at Smart. Vea said the project, dubbed as ?National Flood Hazard Monitoring and Mitigation Program?, will not give Smart a return on investment in a strict business sense. ?But if you look at it, this is the best public-private partnership project because it is beneficial for all us in the long run,? said Vea, who also serves as president of Sun Cellular. In the event, Vea, along with DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, Smart President and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno, signed a memorandum of understanding under which the DOST will co-locate 600 automated rain gauges (ARGs) and automated water level sensors in strategically located cell sites of the two wireless operators in 18 major river systems all over the country. Both the rain gauges and river sensors will use the wireless networks of Smart and Sun to transmit their sensor readings at least four times every hour to the central data base of the DOST. Using the data from these instruments and detailed information to be gathered through advanced mapping technologies, the DOST aims to eventually develop computerized flood forecasting models that can predict the impact of rainfall on communities in these 18 major river systems. During the launch, University of the Philippines (UP) professors Mahar Mangahas and CP David also gave an impressive demonstration of a locally developed cloud monitoring software, as well as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology for mapping and detecting water flow. ?We are very happy to support the government?s efforts to set up this improved early warning system. Once operational, this system will help the country better prepare for floods brought by storms and monsoon rains in different parts of the country every year,? Nazareno said. He pointed out that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has already installed automated rain gauges in 63 Smart cell sites under a 2011 agreement. ?Smart was able to keep its cellular network running in the midst of the country?s worst disasters like Typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila, Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and the recent earthquake that struck Oriental Negros. We will thus be able to provide the high degree of resiliency and reliability that the DOST program requires,? Nazareno said. Smart also said it has been working with the Ateneo de Davao University in setting up a rain and river level monitoring system in Davao City. It has also backed the efforts of DOST Region 6 to set up a flood monitoring system in the province of Iloilo. Smart has worked with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to implement a World Bank-funded disaster preparedness project in Southern Leyte which utilized a text-messaging-based disaster alert system. Provincial disaster preparedness officials have successfully used this Web-based SMS communications system called ?Infoboard? to respond to disruptions caused by recent typhoons and earthquakes. The same system is being used by disaster officials in Albay province which has one of the most comprehensive disaster preparedness programs in the country. Infoboard enables disaster officials to receive and pass on online weather or disaster bulletins. It also lets officials and volunteers from different barangays to send real-time incident and situation reports to the provincial authorities.]]>

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