Legarda: Use Technology in Building Resilience

May 1, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda urged the use of technology in building the country’s resilience, stressing that making critical information on disaster risks and vulnerabilities available in the Internet could significantly boost the campaign to educate and inform citizens about natural hazards and how best they can prepare and prevent disasters.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the call during her keynote speech at the Google Crisis Response Summit held at the SMX Convention Center on April 30, 2014.


The Senator highlighted the importance of Google’s Crisis Response tools that were presented at the forum and suggested that a “risk finder” tool would help strengthen efforts towards disaster resilience.


“Google’s crisis response tools—Person Finder, Crisis Map and Public Alerts—offer improved efficiency in early warning and disaster information dissemination by early forecasting with the aid of the Internet. While we appreciate the importance of these tools, I hope that demand for their use is taken over instead by a growing demand for—if I may suggest an application—a ‘Google Risk Finder’ that informs and encourages proactive interventions by all sectors and early action by everyone,” Legarda said.


She also stressed the need for convergence, vital not only among government agencies but also among stakeholders across all sectors, citing that the Department of Science and Technology’s Project NOAH, or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, of which Google Crisis Response is part, has been greatly helpful in disaster risk reduction and management efforts.


Legarda said that there should also be stronger partnership in information dissemination to ensure that these tools are used effectively.


“We have to make use of geohazard maps in urban and rural planning, including the relocation of vulnerable communities to safer places. We recall the tragedy that happened in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley. Residents could have escaped the danger had they been aware that their community was located in a purple area in the geohazard map, which means it is highly susceptible to flooding, and had community and local officials addressed such risks way ahead,” she said.


Barangay Andap suffered the most number of casualties when Typhoon Pablo made landfall in Mindanao in 2012.


“Building resilience requires a risk-informed population. We could help our government sustain our country’s socio-economic gains, make a difference in poverty reduction and eventually ensure the achievement of sustainable development goals when perennial disaster losses are substantially reduced,” she said.


“There will be more typhoons, earthquakes and other natural hazards that will come our way. But, let us not be content in just having these systems for disaster response and relief. The challenge at hand is to do more and to do better in prevention and risk reduction,” Legarda concluded.