Pushing DRRM forward in the Philippines: Project NOAH’s open data, real time use, and a look on human behaviour

“We have our data. It’s open. We teach you how to use it, so in times of danger, you know what to do. But the problem is the Filipino’s willingness to learn about disaster risk. There are 10.2 million tweets on Aldub, but there are less than a hundred thousand downloads of the NOAH mobile app.” – Dr. Mahar Lagmay

Dr. Mahar Lagmay

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be part of the third out of the four DRRM workshops held by Project NOAH to teach the mass public how to use the NOAH websites and tools for DRRM. It brought together disaster risk reduction practitioners from both the government and development organisations at UP-NIGS, and you can still catch the last one on the 5th of October, 2015. Check out the NOAH blog or contact their staff at info@noah.dost.gov.ph for more information.

This isn’t going to be a how-to entry, since Project NOAH’s blog covers that in detail. What I’m writing about is the usefulness of the tools and data provided by NOAH, which can be helpful not only to planners but to everyone else, especially when anticipating hazardous events. There were also lessons that hit home during the workshop, and I just find that these points are worth reflecting on.


There are two websites used: the old Project NOAH website, and the beta version. The difference between the two is that the old one gives you the basic data provided by the sensors and systems, such as the weather outlook, rainfall, temperature, humidity, and pressure. The beta version, on the other hand, gives you the data on hazards. Let’s look at the two of them closely, and how we can use them.

The original website

The original NOAH website

The original site can show the user different types of data within different locations in the Philippines. These data can be loaded on the base map through simply clicking layers. In layman’s terms:

  • MTSAT and processed MTSAT show the satellite feed. The processed MTSAT shows the colder parts in the map.
  • The amount of rainfall, the measurement of temperature, pressure, and humidity can be displayed. How are these useful? The amount of rainfall shown is what the country has experienced in the past 3 to 24 hours. It can also be used to check the possibility of landslides in your area. Temperature is indicated in a red to yellow scale, where the redder parts are the hotter areas. Pressure shows whether your area is experiencing high or low pressure, and can be useful in indicating storm paths.
  • The site features a weather forecast, which shows the chance of rain in the next four hours, which is useful in telling whether you’d proceed to the morning meeting or the dinner you planned tonight. The weather outlook, on the other hand, shows the chance of rain in the next four days, which is useful for planning your trips and schedules ahead, so that if you see heavy rains, you can avoid getting drenched or, in extreme cases, experiencing floods.
  • The Doppler layer shows the nine stations in the country and display the rainfall intensity, or simply, how much rainfall is going to fall in an hour’s time. The redder or pinker the clouds, the heavier they are, and the more likely to rain where they are hovering on.
  • The weather stations layer shows weather, stream, tide, and rain gauges, and provide a summarised information bubble in every area where the stations are present. A person living in the coastal area can use the tide stations to monitor the rise and fall of the water tides near his or her residence.