Private weather monitoring initiative picks up pace in PHL

The race is picking up between the public and private sectors to provide a Philippine-wide weather monitoring system.

The Privately-funded Weather Philippines Foundation's (WPF) announced on Thursday that 400 of its planned 1,000 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) are already online, according to WPF General Manager Celso Caballero.

Of the 400 already in place, 130 are in cities; 80 in provinces, and the rest are in key meteorological sites, Caballero said.

“The weather stations essentially transmit information every 10 minutes. So you can imagine, that's a far cry from the past when we only had to monitor weather at fairly farther time ranges,” he said.

Data used in weather forecasts are calculated by supercomputers. Measurements from weather stations like sunlight, wind direction, wind speed, temperature, pressure, humidity and rain are all calculated by a supercomputer using different mathematical algorithms.

“If you have data points which are specific, and (are delivered) every ten minutes, it now churns out a more accurate local weather forecast.”

WPF was founded by Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. and Swiss-based company Meteomedia in February 2012.

Not competing with PAGASA

“These automated weather stations are not unlike that of Project NOAH. And just to be clear, we are not competing with PAGASA or Project NOAH,” Caballero said.

Aside from the 400 weather stations of the WPS, PAGASA also has weather stations scattered all over the country.

Project NOAH, on the other hand, has around 600 weather stations and automatic rain gauges as well. They also in the process of installing 400 more all over the country.

WPS also partnered with the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI). They are helping in the development of a data logger that receives information from WPS' AWS.

“We want to cover as much of the Philippines as we can. So we have meteorological information on all corners of the Philippines. And alone, one entity would find it hard to do because there are budget constraints. But together, government and private sector can actually cover the country very well.”

Information dissemination

Aside from having the information posted on their website (weather.com.ph), WPF has recently partnered with the League of Cities of the Philippines, an association of local chief executives of 143 cities.

“The next phase was to partner with the (local government units), to have public information officers, and a network. The League of Cities, they have actually access to all the mayors. So they can get the information to all the mayors,” Caballero said.

WPF is also looking into collaborating with its newest partner iAcademy in engineering ways to disseminate information locally.

“Definitely we are considering not just one but several ways wherein we can maximize the reach. It could probably be an app that can be downloaded, it could be by SMS. We really are still exploring but we really want to maximize the coverage, get the information to as many people as possible,” said Dean Mitch Andaya of iAcademy's School of Computing.

Discussions are also being done with media for partnership programs, Caballero said. — TJD, GMA News