Smart, Pagasa partner to modernize weather update

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Monday, November 14, 2011


THE Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has started installing more than 70 automatic Smart-powered rain gauges across the country through partnership with Smart Communications Inc. to efficiently gather data on rainfall.

In 2010, Smart, along with other service providers, entered into an agreement with Pagasa to allow the co-location of its weather monitoring devices in cell sites strategically located nationwide under a program of the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation to help upgrade the country's flood forecasting system.

The automatic rain gauge apparatus being installed in Smart cell sites is designed to catch rainfall through a tipping bucket mechanism that measures and logs water content and automatically send the data to Pagasa’s database in the central office by telemetry at a frequency and according to parameters set by the country's weather bureau.

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Because of its innovation of the modern technology today, the apparatus being solar-powered saves power in its internal battery, making it run on environment-friendly energy.

Pagasa partnered with Smart Communications Inc. being the leading wireless provider to provide solar-powered rain gauge by using SMS solutions and nationwide network coverage to transmit rainfall data from Pagasa’s specified locations to the weather bureau's head office.

According to Pagasa administrator Nathaniel Servando, rainfall data monitoring is very crucial in the operation of all meteorological services. The data gathered are utilized in the formulation of weather and flood forecasting and warnings.

Servando said they are also into data gathering for their research in support of the operational forecasting services, resulting in saving lives, livelihood, properties and infrastructure.

Ramon Isberto, head of Smart Public Affairs office, said the project is a component of the company's programs in supporting the government in its disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts.

Isberto said the co-location of Pagasa rain gauges with its cell sites is just part of the plans to help improve the country's weather forecasting and warning systems through the use of these technologies.

"Aside from the telemetric rain gauges, we are also studying the possibility of up-scaling the Weather Monitoring and Disaster Alert System (WMDAS), which Smart developed with Ateneo de Davao. The system now operates in the Davao Region and we intend to replicate the technology for use all over the country," he said.

Pagasa’s automated rain gauges have already been installed in Smart cell sites in Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Zambales, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon, Mindoro, Sorsogon, Bohol, Camarines Norte, Northern Samar, Marinduque, Negros Occidental, Leyte, Surigao Del Sur, Surigao Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Sarangani and Biliran.

The weather bureau's designated contractor said they aim to finish working on all sites before the end of the year.

Last year, Pagasa and Smart installed an automatic rain gauge in Montalban, Rizal to improve monitoring of rainfall and flood forecasting system in the area badly devastated by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

Smart has also been spearheading Project Rain Gauge where students from different schools nationwide are trained to monitor and send rainfall data via manual rain gauges deployed by the telecommunications companies. (NJM)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 15, 2011.

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