A smarter people

Talk about the best of both worlds. Filipinos are well-known for their adherence to old-world tradition and their capability to innovate for new-school thinking. Most timely and commendable then is the new government program, fittingly named “Smarter Philippines,” to push science and technology (S&T) for the population’s greatest benefit.

According to Science Secretary Mario Montejo, the program is the Department of Science and Technology’s “trademark for the next five years,” and is “anchored tightly on the DOST’s goal of using S&T to improve the quality and productivity of every Filipino’s life.” The program puts emphasis on locally developed, technology-oriented solutions to many longstanding problems.

On Wednesday, the DOST will formally launch Smarter Philippines in Davao City, highlighting some of its ongoing projects: Project Noah (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) and its major component, the Disaster Risk Exposure and Assessment for Mitigation-Light Detection and Ranging (Dream-Lidar) flood forecasting system; the Integrated Government Philippine (iGovPhil) project, which is designed to connect all of the government’s systems; and the Smarter Farms and Smarter Healthcare projects. The others are the P350-million Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (Admatel) and the experimental Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) mass-transit project.

Particularly noteworthy is that the program covers such critical areas as healthcare, disaster mitigation and agriculture—only three aspects of Philippine reality that, in their current state, serve to pin the country in the dark age.

The most high-profile of the Smarter Philippines initiatives is Project Noah, which has had a meaningful impact on the lives of Filipinos. Project Noah seeks to provide the public the most accurate and up-to-date information on possible flooding using an interactive website and various components. Learning from the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009, the DOST developed and employed its new automated rainfall and flood predictions systems last year. Project Noah was able to predict floods in August, allowing the Marikina City government to evacuate its constituents. “As Marikina has shown, the concept works. Filipino technology works. We have proven it. We were effective in giving the advisory,” said Enrico Paringit, who heads Project Noah’s flood hazard mapping component. Through the Dream-Lidar system, the project’s staff members accurately predicted the Marikina River’s flooding; they put the system to work next on the Agno and Pampanga rivers.

Project Noah not only coordinates with local government units but also makes the information readily available on its website. Now, LGUs listen when Project Noah talks—a triumphant example of Filipino science smarts saving lives.

Another project worth keeping track of is the AGT train system set to be built in Bicutan, Taguig City. It is a P40-million joint venture between the DOST and the Taguig government and is expected to help meet the transportation needs of a continuously growing public on the move. The DOST has a prototype running on a 465-meter elevated track in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines. The AGT prototype costs only a fifth of what it will cost to buy a foreign-made train, Montejo says. “Why is it cheaper? It’s like using generic against branded,” he says.

Smarter Philippines will also serve to display the innovation and brain power of Filipino scientists and experts, who have time and again held their own on the world stage. (Only last month, Filipino students won 11 silver medals at the 14th International Robot Olympiad in South Korea, just the most recent of many international honors S&T-minded Filipinos have received.)

This is just the beginning, promises Montejo. “We will brandish world-class products and processes that are conceptualized by local talents and experts and developed using local technologies.” Indeed, Smarter Philippines is a perfect opportunity to showcase Filipino ingenuity and how science and technology can positively impact the lives of others where and when it matters. It’s deserving of all support, both public and private.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=47499

Tags: DOST , editorial , opinion , project noah , science and technology , Smarter Philippines

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • US weighing military exercises in Eastern Europe
  • Rains loom in Surigao as LPA nears
  • Sub search for missing jet to be finished in week
  • 2 suspected victims of summary execution found dead in N. Cotabato
  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken ferry in Korea
  • Sports

  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace