No more excuses; Geohazard maps soon in the Internet | Inquirer News

No more excuses; Geohazard maps soon in the Internet

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 01:15 AM January 08, 2012

There’ll be no more excuses.

Very soon, with the click of a mouse, you’ll be able to access government geohazard maps and tell if you should move because your village lies within a danger zone.

The Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) has agreed to upload on its website, www.essc.org.ph, the geohazard maps of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for everyone to see and heed, and avoid becoming a statistic in an unavoidable disaster, officials said on Saturday.

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This will be launched before the end of the month, MGB Director Leo Jasareno said.

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“We just want to raise the awareness of everyone to disasters such as floods and landslides. We want to reach out to the LGUs and the people. We want to maximize the use of the information to the lowest unit of society given the technology,” Jasareno said in a phone interview.

Jesuit research group

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The ESSC is a Jesuit research organization that promotes environmental sustainability and social justice through the integration of scientific methodologies and social processes.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN and GMA News have been furnished digital copies of the maps and agreed to upload them on their websites, according to Jasareno.

In the aftermath of last Thursday’s landslide in Compostela Valley that killed at least 25 people and the Dec. 16 flash flood and mudslide in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities that has left more than 1,000 dead, the use, or nonuse, of the geohazard maps has come to the fore anew.

The issue is not whether the local government units used the maps, but whether they heeded the MGB’s recommendation to move residents away from mountain slopes, river banks and waterways, Jasareno said.

“It was partially implemented. They forced the evacuation of people from danger areas, but after some time the people went back,” he said of Pantukan town, where the landslide occurred in Compostela Valley.  “If the maps were followed, we would not have had casualties.”

Downloadable

On geohazard maps, color-coded natural hazards—landslides, floods and flash floods—are superimposed on topographic maps of every area of the Philippines, from the provinces down to the last barangay, said Jasareno.

“You can access it anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. It’s viewable, printable and downloadable for free,” he said. “Where you’re staying, you can tell which hazards your barangay is vulnerable to.”

So there won’t be any more excuses for public officials and residents to ignore the maps and its recommendations, he said.

The geohazard maps, which take up 60 gigabytes and cover 700 sheets, have a “high resolution” unlike the maps currently posted on the MGB website, www.mgb.gov.ph, Jasareno said.

The maps would come in handy in weather forecasts. TV or online news could flash the geohazard maps of provinces, towns and barangays that are in the path of a storm and are vulnerable to landslides or floods, and promptly warn the people, he said.

“They can be used interactively,” he added.

Lifesavers

The maps have a scale of 1:50,000 (1 cm on the map corresponds to 500 meters on the ground). The MGB is doing a remapping to magnify it more, to a scale of 1 to 10,000 (1 cm to 100 meters on the ground), he said.

Jasareno said the maps were “lifesavers” but they’re only effective if they’re adopted on the ground.

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“Our maps are straightforward, scientific and technical. But beyond the maps are the social issues that local officials have to deal with. They have to evacuate hundreds of people. We can make recommendations but these require resources,” he conceded.

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