UP team secures first PH finals stint in Google global solutions contest

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A disaster risk management system for an island in Bohol created by a team of four students from various University of the Philippines campuses emerged as one of the Top 10 Global Finalists of Google Developer Student Clubs’ (DSC) 2021 Solution Challenge, an annual competition which invites students to develop a solution for one or more of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) problems using Google products or platforms.

Photo shows from L-R: [First row] Gonçalo Vitor, product technology manager at Google (team mentor); Joerian Gauten, UP Open University; Rex Ronter Ruiz, UP Diliman; [Second row] Patricia Marie Garcia, UP Visayas (Miag-ao); and Jian Hurl Asiado, UP Los Banos

UP SysTeam is composed of Jian Hurl Asiado from UP Los Banos, Joerian Gauten from UP Open University, Patricia Marie Garcia of UP Visayas (Miag-ao), and Rex Ronter Ruiz from UP Diliman. Since the challenge was launched in 2017, this is the first time that the Philippines was named as part of the Top 10 Global Finalists. UP SysTeam was among 800+ teams who joined the competition and were shortlisted as part of the Top 50 in May 2021, before entering the Top 10 in July.

The team developed Project Island Response and Intervention for Systemic Evacuation (i-RISE), a disaster risk management system that aims to bridge the information gap between local government units, disaster risk management offices, and the island communities of Tubigon, Bohol.

The system, which uses Google products such as Google Cloud Functions, Flutter, Cloud Firestore, and IOT Core, allows people and the government to view pertinent information including tide information and other inclement weather announcements through a dashboard.

Residents of the islands can also be informed of evacuation plans or request an evacuation or rescue from the same dashboard. The same system also features information and curricula about climate change.

The team said the system they developed has the potential for scale and adoption for the other islands in Bohol and eventually, the entire Philippines.

“This project envisions a resilient and inclusive Philippines where Filipinos anywhere in the archipelago are able to participate in an effective disaster risk management system,” shared UP SysTeam.

“We are happy to have been able to represent the Philippines this far into the competition. Programs like Google’s Solutions Challenge are important as they not only open up opportunities for young developers like us in the global stage, but also allow us to help and address key challenges in our local community such as disaster preparedness.”

Bernadette Nacario, country director of Google Philippines, congratulated the UP contingent for being the first Philippine team to be part of the global finalists.

“Beyond being shortlisted, we believe that it is far more important to encourage and support young developers in using their talents and skills in developing solutions for the betterment of local communities — and this is one of the goals of the Google Developer Student Clubs. Filipino student developers are passionate to make a difference and Google is committed to helping them bring their ideas to life,” Nacario said .

As part of the Top 10 finalists, they will be awarded an opportunity to showcase their entries to Googlers and developers all around the world during the virtual 2021 Solution Challenge Demo Day on August 26, 2021. They will also receive one year of Pluralsight subscription, customized swag kit, and tailored mentoring from Googlers and experts.

From the top 10 finalists, top three entries will be selected and declared as winners. They will receive all the prizes as the top 10 listed above and a Chromebook. They will also have an opportunity for a private team meeting with a Google executive.

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