WEATHER APP.  Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather app, "Payong PAGASA", available via Google Play, is currently being upgraded. PAGASA administrator Vicente Malano is also encouraging inventors and startups to develop simple weather apps. (Screenshot

MANILA – Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Administrator Vicente Malano is encouraging inventors and startup firms to develop simple weather applications (apps), and also seek the agency's assistance in the development process.

"We encourage them to develop simple apps, but it is important to involve PAGASA so the information to be shared will be clear and properly understood," he told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.

PAGASA, he said, could provide the inventors with technical assistance. They could also ask assistance, such as for funding, from other attached agencies of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

A Filipino team called "iNON" won the Best Galactic Impact category in the 2018 NASA Space Apps Challenge for the development of ISDApp. This community-based app provides weather information to fisherfolk without the need for a smartphone or an internet connection.

Localized weather data is being converted to simplified weather forecasts and sent daily via SMS to registered mobile number of fisherfolk. This helps guide the fishermen before they venture to the sea. Further, the app allows them to send an SOS message to their community and include a registered emergency contact number.

Malano said iNON did not consult PAGASA on the development of ISDApp. He noted that "it is very important to simplify the forecast, but the meaning or message must not be changed".

PAGASA sends warnings via bulletins posted online, as well as via SMS and Viber message to local government units (LGUs), according to Malano.

The weather bureau has also developed a weather app, "Payong PAGASA", that can be downloaded on Google Play.

Payong PAGASA is currently being upgraded, he said.

Daily monitoring of rainfall and temperature; weather forecast; rainfall and temperature for a specific municipality; and accumulated data for the past three days have been accessible in the Payong PAGASA app. The upgraded version will include a more detailed weather forecast, tropical cyclones and flood warnings.

Meanwhile, as the country deals with an average of 20 tropical cyclones a year, the private sector also does its share.

Globe has partnered with the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region IV-A (BFAR IV-A), and the local government of Sariaya in Quezon for the launch of ISDApp last January.

Mobile phones were provided to 93 fishermen in Sariaya, Quezon, in support for the province's disaster management teams' preparation for Tropical Storm Auring, the first tropical cyclone that hit the country last month. (PNA)