Philippine Information Agency (PIA)
Tacloban City, Leyte – The recently- conducted GIS 8 Network 6th Conference and 14th Regional Assembly underscored the benefits of optimizing the use of geospatial information in support to disaster risk reduction and management.
Held on November 15-16, 2012 at the Leyte Park Resort Hotel, the conference which was hosted by the Department of Agriculture Region 8, centered on the theme “GIS in Aid for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.”
It was attended by more than a hundred participants from the different government agencies, academic institutions, people’s organizations, non-government organizations and several local government agencies, Mr. Rodel G. Macapañas, DA8 Info Officer 1 informed.
Dir. Arsenio A. Fortin, DA-8 Regional Technical Director and Concurrent Regional Coordinator of the Region 8 Geographic Information System (GIS) Network, expressed his elation that the Network’s efforts in promoting awareness on the benefits of optimizing the use of geospatial information system in support to a wide range of rural development initiatives in Eastern Visayas, is paying off.
Director Fortin said GIS is proven as an effective tool particularly in coming up with realistic resource-based planning and management.
“The continued improvement and sharing of geospatial information becomes even more relevant this time when we are faced with the issues of climate change. The use of the technology could help prevent or at least, mitigate the ill-effects of the occurrence of disasters and calamities,” Fortin added.
Dir. Fortin pointed out that this event, in particular, provided an avenue for government officials, people in the academe, NGOs, and other private stakeholders to share initiatives and applications of GIS in scientific investigations, resource management, governance and development planning.
“In so doing, we aim at harmonizing our overall efforts towards disaster prevention and risk management,” he said.
Activities during the conference included paper presentations on relevant studies conducted and some impact-based programs implemented focusing on disaster prevention and risk management using geographic information system as well as discussions on several issues and concerns geared towards further development of the network.
The GIS Network of Eastern Visayas is composed of Geospatial Information System practitioners from different government agencies and state universities and colleges.
A GIS is a computer system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information; that is, data identified according to location. Practitioners also define a GIS as including the procedures, operating personnel, and spatial data that go into the system.
The power of a GIS comes from the ability to relate different information in a spatial context and to reach a conclusion about this relationship. Most of the information we have about our world contains a location reference, placing that information at some point on the globe. When rainfall information is collected, it is important to know where the rainfall is located. This is done by using a location reference system, such as longitude and latitude, and perhaps elevation. A GIS, therefore, can reveal important new information that leads to better decision making.
Different kinds of data in map form can be entered into a GIS. A GIS can also convert existing digital information, which may not yet be in map form, into forms it can recognize and use. For example, digital satellite images can be analyzed to produce a map of digital information about geo-hazards, land use and land cover. Likewise, census or hydrologic tabular data can be converted to a map-like form and serve as layers of thematic information in a GIS.
A GIS function called network analysis may be used to calculate the time necessary for emergency vehicles to travel from the fire stations to different areas of a local government unit. The network analysis function considers two elements: (1) distance from the fire station, and (2) speed of travel based on the type of road. The analysis shows that under normal conditions, how soon will most of the area within the LGU will be served based on density of fire stations and the continuous netwoek of roads. GIS can also depict the blockage of the road network that would result from an earthquake, assuming that any road crossing the fault trace would become impassable.