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Pagasa, Smart tie up for weather forecasts

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Pagasa, Smart tie up for weather forecasts

Manila Times
Thursday, 07 October 2010 00:00

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) can now issue timely and reliable weather forecasts and flood warnings through the use of Smart Communications Inc.’s cell sites nationwide.

The country’s largest mobile phone provider and Pagasa through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Tuesday night signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to co-locate the weather bureau’s telemetric rain gauges in 63 Smart cell sites nationwide.

At present, the country’s largest telecom firm has more than 9,000 cell sites nationwide, covering 99 percent of the population.

Napoleon Nazareno, Smart president and chief executive, said the co-location will help ensure uninterrupted power supply for the instruments, enable efficient data transmission by Pagasa since equipment will be in secured locations and installations costs for the instruments will be reduced.

He added that the rain gauges will automatically send rainfall data to Pagasa via text message.

Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, who represented Pagasa at the memorandum signing, said the co-location of its telemetric gauges in Smart cell sites will complement to the government’s on-going program to strengthen the capacity of the country’s weather bureau in issuing weather forecasts and flood warnings.

“We hope that members of the private sector will continue supporting the business of saving lives,” Montejo said.

Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that between 2007 and 2009, a total of 148 typhoons entered the country.
Early this year, a high-grade automatic rain gauge was set up at Smart cell site in Montalban, Rizal making it the first rain gauge in Asia to be co-located in a cell site.

Pagasa and Smart engineers have identified ideal sites for co-location of the rain gauges. In Luzon, these sites include Ilocos Norte, Ilocus Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Benguet, Bulacan, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Northern Samar, Mindoro Oriental and Marinduque.

Smart cell sites in Negros Occidental, Aklan Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Bohol, and Leyte as well as those in Mindanao, particularly in Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Misamis Orietnal, Sarangani, Davao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigal del Sur are also being eyed for the co-location project.

“We are happy to follow through on the commitment we made earlier this year to have the rain gauges installed in our cell sites as part of our commitment to help prepare communities in flood-prone areas for disasters,” Orlando Vea, Smart chief wireless adviser said.

The installation was part of an agreement between Pagasa and the country’s three telecommunication companies for the accommodation of the weather instruments in selected cell sites nationwide.

The co-location project is an initiative under the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) to help upgrade the country’s flood forecasting system. PDRF, which is headed by Manuel Pangilinan, PLDT chairman, is the private sector arm of the Special National Public Reconstruction Commission created in the wake of the devastation brought about by the typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Frank.

Smart is also supporting the PDRF’s Marikina Watershed Initiative. The telco adopted 12 hectares of the watershed for rehabilitation. PDRF launched the Marikina Watershed Initiative to reforest at least 600 hectares of the 28,000 hectares watershed in 2010 or at least 9,520 hectare in five years.