Flood Monitoring? There's a (Non-US) App for That

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 11/09/2012 10:05:00 AM

Certain weather events reminded me of the tribute band Zepparella's remake above of Led Zeppelin's own cover of bluesman Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks." Robert Plant's powerful banshee wailing was remarkable insofar as he was, er, a man. So the impact is diminished even if you have an accomplished female singer. But, this tribute band exempted, little girlie man behaviour that doesn't rock is unfailingly common Stateside--which is especially evident after Hurricane Sandy.

Rotund, recliner-bound Yanks have a well-deserved reputation worldwide for wussy behaviour, thinking that what happens to them is somehow worse than what happens elsewhere. Whether it's financial crises and overreacting with a tsunami of stimulus that's worse than useless or even weather disturbances, it doesn't really matter. And so the endless news reports about climate Armageddon started to grate. Out of interest, I read the weather reports concerning this alleged climate Armageddon--and found out that the magnitude of Sandy was exaggeration of supremely American proportions. Over the course of the entire storm, the worst-affected areas experienced, at most, rainfall slightly over the double digits. To put matters into perspective, I myself experienced Typhoon Ondoy which dumped over thirteen inches of rain on Manila in six hours in 2009:
A record 13.43 inches of rain fell in Manila in the six hours between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time, which is equivalent to about a month's worth of rain for the area. The enhanced rainfall over on the Manila-side of the island as the storm approached was because of an interaction between Ketsana's [the international name for Ondoy] circulation and the seasonal southwest monsoon.
As I said, storms in the Pacific are of a magnitude greater, making us wonder what the fuss was all about Stateside after a spot of rain. Some big deal. Actually, much damage in America owes to its decrepit infrastructure bettered by any number of ostensibly "third world" nations, but I digress.

So while the American whingers complain about minor, transient inconveniences alike a lack of water, electricity or petrol, people in the Pacific are actually doing something about preparing for such events. The boffins at my alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila Univeristy, have teamed up with the Philippines' major telecoms providers to develop an Android app that can help map out the magnitude of flooding in various locales:
Weather forecasting and disaster monitoring just got an upgrade as the mobile weather information app of the government's Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) has been expanded with another application."Flood Patrol," developed by the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center (AJWCC), allows people to report floods to Project NOAH.

"The application extends the flood monitoring and flood mapping service of Project Noah spearheaded by Dr. Mahar Lagmay by allowing people to report floods via the mobile phone and send it to NOAH for mapping," read a description of the project on Google Play. The Project NOAH app was earlier launched by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Smart Communications Inc. It will be initially available for smartphones and tablets running Google's Android.
By all means, download the app and give it a whirl if you live in the Philippines and have a device running Android. My only qualification so far is that it would be better if they could use GPS functions to ensure that flooding at the reported location is accurate, and that photographic evidence matches accordingly. While I do appreciate that technological fixes cannot entirely mitigate the difficulties associated with storms of this magnitude, some folks are simply better prepared to deal with them than others. It is unfailingly common nowadays that the US--supposedly the world's most advanced nation--is left behind in practical mobile applications alike mobile banking and whatever else have you. In other words, my dear readers, "Angry Birds" won't save you from Sandy, as the "can't do" spirit reigns Statesnide.
Hopefully, though, those Yanks can catch up and use similar technologies. Rest assured that the rest of us are sick and tired of their apparently endless blathering about exceptionally unexceptional weather events when seen from a global perspective. So get out your cell phone for crying (like a wussy American) won't do you no good...when the levee breaks, you gotta whip out your app.