MANILA – Surpassing global universities, the Samar State University (SSU) highlighted on Thursday the significance of its international winning project piece in terms of community disaster mitigation.
During the Laging Handa public briefing, SSU President Dr. Marilyn Cardoso explained how their project secured the top rank in the 2023 World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI)'s 4th Industrial Revolution category.
In particular, the SSU's “3D Visualization of Citywide Geohazard Mapping and Simulation of What-if Scenarios Using Geospatial Research and Data Analytics” topped the said category for this year.
"Sa pamamagitan po nito ay nadadagdagan ang kamalayan at pagpapahalaga ng publiko sa mga panganib ng kalamidad sa pagbigay-daan naman para sa mga city development planners na mag-mitigate ng mga potensyal na negatibong epekto ng iba’t ibang mga panganib (This will increase public awareness and vigilance against calamity risks and help city development planners to mitigate the potential negative impact of calamities)," Cardoso said.
She added that the model also provides an "interactive and dynamic" lens to understanding the effects of changes in the environment and facilities within the community.
Cardoso also underscored its relevance in aiding the local government units (LGUs) and private stakeholders in terms of disaster planning and response.
"Ito pong (This) innovative software application can lead to better decision-making that is evidence-based, that is based on data. Kasi ngayon (Because now), data now is the new oil," she said. "So, this will lead to more comprehensive mitigation planning, monitoring, forecasting, and sustainable use of resources.”
Cardoso noted that this winning project is already being implemented by the SSU's Center for Engineering Science and Technology Innovation in partnership with the Samar Island Center for Geographic System and Data Analytics Center.
It also contributed to the locality's creation of a geological map.
"The Geo-Map Samar is an outgrowth of this project. The Geo-Map Samar is currently implemented in about 14 municipalities," Cardoso said.
Using the Geo-Map Samar, farmers are provided with a soil profile that helps determine the most appropriate crops for boosting productivity.
To date, the SSU has 10 operating research centers in the province which are currently implementing numerous "innovative projects."
These banner projects are implemented in partnership with the LGUs, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Cardoso said the SSU's winning software application is not only limited to typical hazard mapping.
Unlike traditional two-dimensional (2D) flat renderings, the project offers detailed three-dimensional features.
"Nakalikha ang naturang application or software application ng mga detalyadong 3D maps and models na maaaring gamitin upang maipakita ang iba’t ibang mga land-use plans sa mas interactive and dynamic way tulad ng (The software application created detailed 3D maps and models that can be used to display various land-use plans more interactively and dynamically like) 3D angles, 3D perspective, 3D simulations," she said.
Included in these 3D displays and simulations are population information in select locations, types of communities, potential resettlement areas, and geohazards like floods, earthquakes and landslides, among others.
Cardoso added that the application used geospatial research in data analytics to come up with such displays and simulations.
Two-peat in WURI
This year's performance in WURI, meanwhile, is not new to the SSU.
In fact, this was its second time to bag the highest rank in the global arena for its innovative project.
In 2022, the SSU's “Smart Edubox─A Wireless Sensor Based Educational Service Delivery” project garnered first place for its relevance to higher digital demands amid pandemic constraints experienced in the province.
"Kasi nga po mountainous iyong Samar, malapit lang sa isa, about two kilometers away, mayroong internet pero after that ay wala na (Samar is mountainous, near to each other, about two kilometers away, there's still internet but no more after that)," Cardoso said.
"Minsan, nalaman namin, iyong ibang mga estudyante po ay umaakyat ng puno para lang magkaroon ng malakas na connectivity (Sometimes, we learned, there are students who climb trees just to access stronger [internet] connectivity)," she said.
According to the SSU, the SMART EduBox is a "portable low-cost wireless sensor powered by a battery that is capable of data processing and data acquisition over a dedicated network of sensors with a varying distance from approximately 3 km to 22 km without a need of an internet connectivity."
It was invented by Engr. Jon Alvin Macariola to help students communicate with the university via wireless mode.
Cardoso said the wireless sensor may also be utilized even without electricity.
"The teachers can send the learning packets to their students; the students can send back their answers via the Smart EduBox," she said.
To date, the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) is working with the SSU for the one-year grant of PHP3.1 million worth of startup grant fund program.
Through this, the SSU's SMART EduBox's wireless sensor technology will be further improved and commercialized.
It is also set to be rolled and tried out in seven schools in Samar.
Amid all these accomplishments, Cardoso encouraged other Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs) working on their global rankings to remain steadfast in elevating the quality of education.
"I know fellow presidents are really doing their best for their universities and for their students... Huwag lang po tayo mapagod kasi nga po (Let's not be weary because) achieving or being ranked one or just being one of the top 50 together with other known universities all over the world is something that cannot happen overnight," she said.
Likewise, she also urged other non-participating HEIs to have the courage to apply and try the international rankings to assess the university's yearly performance.
"Of course po, good governance and ensuring that we apply, iyong sinabi ni Sir Popoy (just what like [Commission on Higher Education Chairperson J. Prospero de Vera III] Sir Popoy said) be courageous... Anyway, if we don’t get the award, we will learn something from the process, and surely magbabago po talaga iyong operations (the operations will surely change) in the university if we submit to all lenses of ranking," Cardoso said.
As of May, there are 52 HEIs included in the global rankings of WURI, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS World, Asia, and Stars), and Times Higher Education (THE World, Asia, and Impact Rankings).
Earlier, De Vera said the CHED eyes to increase the number of participating schools in the global ranking to 75 by the upcoming year.
Besides global ranking, the CHED also vowed to boost internationalization efforts to help Philippine HEIs provide world-class quality education. (PNA)