By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
Project PaWiKAN and Project Aedes will be competing in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) 2019 International Space Apps Challenge.
The two apps developed by Filipinos triumphed in the Philippine edition of the competition conducted on October 18-20, 2019 at De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila Campus, Taft Avenue, Manila, Metro Manila.
Vice President Leni Robredo welcomed Space Apps’ potential in finding solutions to problems in the Philippines.
It is “where some of our country’s brightest minds can collaborate in finding and creating solutions to our most pressing problems,” she said.
An email the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD) sent to SDN — Science and Digital News said the two winning apps will join other problem-solving apps in the global finals of the NASA Space Apps Challenge in the United States.
The Philippine edition was staged in collaboration with DOST-PCIEERD, technology business incubator (TBI) Animo Labs, PLDT InnoLab, American Corner Manila, the U.S. government, and part of the Design Week Philippines, as well as the Department of Trade and Industry-Design Center of the Philippines (DTI-DCP). Other countries also held their edition of the contest designed to solved problems on Earth and in space.
Project PaWiKAN (Filipino, ‘pawikan’ means turtle), developed by Ocean’s 4, seeks to solve the proliferation of garbage on the ocean.
It works as a deployable and autonomous ocean waste collection system that leverages space data in locating nearby garbage patches. DLSU students built the app.
Project Aedes, on the other hand, was developed to help solve the dengue problem that has been killing people across the world. The app is an automated information portal correlating dengue cases with real-time data taken from satellite, climate, and search engines.
The developers of PaWiKAN are DLSU electronics and communications engineering students, namely, Samantha Maxine Santos, Antonio Miguel S. Alejo, Grant Lewis Bulaong, and Janos Lance L. Tiberio who dubbed their team Ocean’s 4 (yes, you know where it came from).
PaWiKAN works by using NASA’s Ocean Surface Current Analysis Real-time (OSCAR) data to determine possible locations of patches of ocean garbage using GPS. To do this, it counts on a pair of deployable, dynamically reconfigurable boats that can trap and return the waste back to ground.
It has an extended-range radio system based on LoRa technology and Arduino to communicate with sensors and controlled by a deployment station.
Dominic Vincent D. Ligot, Mark Toledo, Frances Claire Tayco, and Jansen Dumaliang Lopez comprised the Project Aedes team.
Their app focused on the Philippines’ problem with dengue illness that had already rose to 271,480 cases, with 1,107 deaths reckoned from January 1 to August 31, 2019 as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Project Aedes works through a forecasting model of dengue cases that uses climate and digital data and then pinpointing possible hotspots from satellite data.
The forecast counts on correlating information from Sentinel-2 Copernicus and Landsat 8 satellites, DOST-PAGASA for climate, and trends from search engines to determine potential dengue hotspots that are the displayed in a web interface. (PAGASA is Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.)
Furthermore, Project Aedes also leverages indices like Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to identify areas with water. When the indices are put together, the result reveal potential areas of stagnant water that can be a breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
PCIEERD Deputy Director Raul C. Sabularse sees Aedes impacting not only the Philippines, but other parts of the world.
He said it “benefits the community, especially those countries suffering from malaria and dengue, just like the Philippines.”
“I think it has a global impact. This is the new science to know the potential areas where dengue (cases) might occur. It is a good app,” said Sabularse.
Meanwhile, Dr. Paula S. Bontempi, Space Apps leader and acting director of the Earth Science Mission, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, was impressed with the two Manila solutions.
“The top two are really good. There were definitely a few projects right behind them. There is a lot of good talent out there. It was nice to see,” she pointed out. (SDN)
Videos and photographs from DOST-PCIEERD.