Gov't saves P20 B by hiring UP scientists

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 02 2014 08:59 AM | Updated as of May 02 2014 04:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The government had saved around P20 billion by hiring scientists from the University of the Philippines to do the flood and hazard mapping using cutting edge Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology.

Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), said in a recent presentation on the government’s use of the Internet in saving lives, that the Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation or DREAM program that involved the setting up of a comprehensive flood early warning system has successfully scanned 18 critical river basins in the country through LiDAR.

LiDAR is a state of the art technology that could generate high-resolution, up to date and 3D flood hazard maps.

Lagmay said that this was done on the DOST’s initial funding of the DREAM-LiDAR project of only P1.6 billion.

“P1.6 billion sounds like a big amount of money, but it’s actually cheap,” Lagmay said.

Lagmay said DOST and Project NOAH were able to do this because they tapped UP professors and research assistants “who do not know how to charge.”

Lagmay said that before Project NOAH pushed ahead with the DREAM Project, there was an estimate that the effort would cost millions of dollars, or billions of pesos, if done by foreign groups funded by overseas development assistance (ODA).

“The cost if it was done by others is P22 billion. So the government saved as much as P20 billion,” Lagmay said.

Lagmay said that the P22-billion estimated cost was computed from a cost of a parallel LiDAR mapping project on Metro Manila funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and conducted by Geoscience Australia, which cost P260 million (A$6.5 million) for an aerial survey of the greater Metro Manila area using the LiDAR technology to generate a high-resolution three-dimensional model as well as detailed imagery.

Lagmay said that the P1.6-billion DREAM LiDAR project covered 100,000 square kilometers and included the flood mapping for the 18 priority river basins.

The DREAM Project team has produced LiDAR-based flood models for Mandulog in Iligan City, Pampanga, Davao Oriental, Marikina, Cagayan de Oro and Compostela Valley.

The rest of flood models are to be completed by June 2014, or next month, the project’s original end date.

Data gathered under the DREAM program is also included in the Project NOAH website.