FLAREMOB AGAP. LIKAS. SAGIP: A Story of Crossing-over

Barangay Nangka, Marikina City

Felizardo Reyes, Jr., Gerald Cayabyab, Christine Baradero, Nikko Jaca, & Randy Leal

Our innovative solution is to develop a systems framework for catastrophic disaster guidance and response

To build disaster resilient communities starting from Barangay Nangka and slowly engaging local government units that are prone to flooding in pursuit of disaster resilience in the Philippines

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Support to deploy the Disaster Preparedness Simulator to as many schools as possible

flaremob.tipqc@gmail.com

Know more about our story!

In Nangka, we undertake various disaster preparedness activities. There are various committees in-charge of mobilization, transportation, relief operations, and rehabilitation. However, we are faced with limitations - particularly in reaching those who are not covered by our paging and communication systems. With FLAREMOB, we see that its features can bridge the gap between the responders and the community.

Our institution caters to different students coming from Marikina and nearby towns. When Ondoy came, there were a lot of students affected.

Building disaster resilient communities has never been an easy job when it requires synergistic collaboration – with all sectors taking part in building solutions. Oftentimes the players seen braving the struggles and danger of relief and response operations are humanitarian NGOs. But who are the other players working behind the scenes? Putting the academe in the spotlight, we ask – is their contribution to disaster risk management limited to providing a roof above evacuees’ heads; a place for dropping off relief goods; a source for volunteers who can station relief hubs?

Hailing from the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP) – a school established in 1962 specializing in the field of technology – an innovation team has been brewing ideas on efficiently and effectively using mobile and web applications to aid community members in organizing preparedness and response efforts during emergencies.

Moved by the unfortunate events faced by their university constituents during Ondoy, Gerald Cayabyab (Expert on Computer Vision, Internet of Things (IoT) and Human-Computer Interaction Expert) relayed how their innovation team heeded the call for action to make a difference. “Our institution caters to different students coming from Marikina and nearby towns. When Ondoy came, there were a lot of students affected,” he shared. Initiated by a group of students specializing in Human-Computer Interaction and Networking, FLAREMOB – a bundle composed of a web and two mobile applications for catastrophic disaster response and guidance.

Nikko Jaca, team lead for FLAREMOB, and a B.S. Information Technology student proudly shared the epistemology of their innovation’s brand, as well as their overall objective. “The name is inspired by the term ‘flare gun’ – a tool used to signal disasters and emergencies; and ‘mobile’ – as we are team focused on developing remote applications easily used by people we cater to. For me, the main objective of FLAREMOB is to make disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities technologically-oriented,” he explained.

NANGKA’S DISASTER FILLED LIFE

“Being a low-lying area, Barangay Nangka serves as a catch basin during disasters,” Randy Collado, Brgy. Nangka’s secretary shook his head as he recalled the fact.

Offering us a glimpse of his community’s disaster-filled life, Randy shared a story of how desensitized the community was to disasters, “Nangka residents have already become too familiar with flooding, to the point where they feel reluctant to do anything unless they actually see the waters creeping towards their homes.”

Staring into the distance, Randy began telling a now familiar story. “Usually, regular flooding will just take over the first floors of our households – a situation which we have already outgrown. Ondoy was different. Houses were completely submerged, with flood waters reaching beyond the top of the second floors sparing nothing,” he said.

NANGKA DRM GOES HIGH-TECH

“In Nangka, we undertake various disaster preparedness activities,” Randy reported with enthusiasm. “There are various committees in-charge of mobilization, transportation, relief operations, and rehabilitations. However, we are faced with limitations particularly in reaching those who are not covered by our paging and communication systems. We see that its features can bridge the gap between the responders and the community.”

FLAREMOB is composed by a web platform and two mobile applications. “The first module, AGAP, has the mobile learning feature which educates the user of different types of hazards, as well as best ways to approach the situation,” Nikko explained. “It also features a flood map so the user has a general sense of where to go respective of their location during a disaster. If there is a sounded alarm, or notification of flooding, you will also know whether or not your area will experience flooding or not,” he  explained.

Transitioning to the next module, Nikko took more time to simplify technical terms. “LIKAS focuses on donation management during disasters. Donors can use the application to pledge their donations so the barangay knows that someone is going to give them help. It also becomes useful if the barangay does not want to manage vehicle pick-ups manually,” he explained. The innovation team stressed that the incorporation of transparency and traceability of donated goods and funds is the primary value addition for this application. “The app features delivery status: where it came from, where it is delivered, and at what time, preventing corruption and misalignment during disasters,” he rationalised.

Recognizing the need to oversee the activities and transactions made possible in the two mobile applications, the innovation team created SAGIP – a web platform that serves as an administrator’s panel that allows barangay officer to monitor, track, and seamlessly report status updates. “Flood prediction is its most important feature. It automatically sends flood forecasted warnings to the mobile application users so that they can know if there’s a flood coming. Further, DRM officers in-charge of donations,” Nikko ended.

TECH FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE

Along these lines, the team recognized that innovation objectives can only be achieved when correctly used and maximized by community members and barangay officials. Given FLAREMOB’s huge potential to support the barangay DRRM team, Randy expressed the importance of making it as community-centred as possible. “My primary concern focused on the participation of the most vulnerable members of our community which included the senior citizens, women, persons with disabilities (PwD), and the youth in disaster preparedness,” he communicated.

“In October, we held our last community engagement activity where we conducted house-to-house visits,” Randy said. “We were greeted with positive feedback regarding FLAREMOB was it showed them how gadgets such as cell phones can also be useful in urgent times of disasters.” In addition, offline interventions such as monitoring visits and trainings were rolled out to increase awareness and gather feedback for the applications’ use. During these activities, barangay officers, DRRM staff, and people’s organizations  were present.

FLAREMOB 2.0

To date, the applications are working perfectly, with approximately 90 active users from the barangay. Hoping to build a sustainable future for this technology, the innovation team looks to develop an updated version of FLAREMOB.

Learning from their experience in Nangka, the team also aims to widen the reach of FLAREMOB by covering two other barangays in Marikina and take institutional alignment to the municipal level. “We aim to also engage municipal DRRM staff to gain insights on improving our technology and scope,” Gerald announced. Moving forward, the innovation team imparted some recent developments to secure follow-through funding and technical support. “We have come up with a portfolio that we intend to submit to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as they are keen to support innovations relevant to community development,” Gerald stated.