DOST gets P1.6 billion for disaster mitigation

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MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has directed the release of P1.6 billion to the Department of Science and Technology DOST to tap state-of-the-art technology for more accurate weather and disaster information and improve the government’s disaster planning and response system.

Satelite image of weather

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said the released funding issued to DOST would be used for its Nationwide Disaster Risk Exposure, Assessment, and Mitigation (DREAM) program.

“The Aquino administration is beefing up its capacity for disaster planning and response. Through the use of the latest technologies, DOST – under the leadership of Secretary Mario Montejo – is beefing up its capacity to produce weather information, flood maps and other critical data accurately and rapidly,” Abad said.

Abad said the move is part of efforts to beef up the government’s capacity for disaster planning and response.

Under the DREAM program, DOST will acquire geospatial data gathering technologies, particularly Light Intensity Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and Airborne Radar Interferometry (INSAR).

These technologies will produce detailed topographic information that will enable the creation of more accurate flood inundation maps.

Identifying flood-prone areas would be useful in rescue and relief operations, Abad stressed.

The DOST said LIDAR is more updated than other existing technologies because it has the capability to see through forest canopy cover. This feature also makes it a critical tool for forestry applications and environmental monitoring.

The vertical accuracy provided by this particular technology makes it an essential tool for producing rapid and accurate height data, a critical requirement needed for updating flood hazard maps. Integrating LIDAR with an aerial camera maximizes its geospatial accuracy and information content capability for detailed data extraction.

Besides identifying future flood prone areas, flood inundation maps will also be useful in rescue and relief operations. Furthermore, the resource information to be generated in this DOST project aims to respond to information requirements of development planning, natural resource and environment management, including forestry applications.

The DBM also released P150 million to the Department of Tourism’s National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) to retrofit the Rizal and Paco parks in Manila with energy-efficient lighting fixtures and make city parks more tourist-friendly and environment-friendly.

“Brighter and safer Rizal and Paco Parks await the public in 2012 for the government is set to improve lighting system in the area beginning January of next year,” Abad said, noting that this project was implemented upon the initiative of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, who he said was pushing for safer, cleaner and more energy-efficient tourism.

In particular, Abad said the funds would be used to replace the 733 existing lampposts in Rizal Park and 41 in Paco with solar-powered lights; as well as the 456 incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with 534 light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

Abad noted the use of solar-powered LED lights being advocated by the government is more energy and cost efficient. The retrofitting project will reduce the electricity consumptions of NPDC by 83 percent yearly, or about P16.11 million from its present electricity utilization rate of P19.36 million.(Aurea Calica/Philippine Star)

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