For the second year, the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) held a three-day virtual celebration of the MIMAROPA Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) last October 26-28, 2021.
It is a pre-event to the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration this November 22-28, 2021. With the theme “Agham at Teknolohiya: Tugon sa Hámon ng Panahon,” the said celebration aims to highlight the importance of science, technology, and innovation (STI) in the country’s response to the ever-changing needs of the various sectors amid different challenges that affect them, especially the current pandemic.
DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Pena with Undersecretary for Regional Operations Sancho Mabborang and DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina Abilay formally opened the annual celebration.
Under the banner of “Smarter MIMAROPA,” headlining the event were the technology launchings that include the following: 1.) innovative water technologies for the region’s disadvantaged communities; 2.) digitalization systems for selected MIMAROPA micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and the 3.) Artificial Intelligence-based system for disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). DOST-MIMAROPA also launched the fifth volume of its annual publication, titled “MIMAROPA Stars,” which contains a collection of success stories of the agency and its assisted MSMEs and community-based enterprises (CBEs).
Dr. Abilay said that such initiatives were aimed at laying the foundation for the smart transformation of the MIMAROPA region.
The launching activities also coincided with the groundbreaking ceremony of the new office building of the Provincial Science and Technology Center-Oriental Mindoro that will soon rise in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. The new establishment will also serve as a satellite office of the DOST MIMAROPA’s regional office, which is currently situated in Bicutan, Taguig City.
For the remaining days of the celebration, two technology forums were conducted to discuss the applications of artificial intelligence and data science in DRRM and to showcase and facilitate the adoption of ready-to-eat foods and emergency food reserves.
More than 500 attendees from the MIMAROPA state colleges and universities (SUCs), local government units (LGUs), regional line agencies, DOST attached agencies and regional offices, industry and business sectors, and media took part in the celebration.
Dr. Abilay shared that water scarcity has long been a persistent dilemma in the MIMAROPA region. This, according to her, propped the agency to bring the much-needed innovative water technology solutions, particularly to the hardly affected Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA).
These technologies include the following: 1.) Solar-Powered Water Pumping, 2.) Purification and Filtration Systems, 3.) Rainwater Collector/Harvester with Filtration System, and 4.) Water Desalination System. To date, there are already nine (9) communities, more than 1,900 households, or 9,500 individuals in the region who have benefited from the agency’s interventions.
Featured beneficiaries during the launch shared that they used to endure traveling long distances, climbing up and down hills, sailing across the sea, and storing rainwater for their daily water requirement for domestic consumption. According to them, their lives have significantly changed after the agency provided them with guaranteed access to cleaner and safer drinking water, saying they now have more time to do more productive activities. They also said that they are now free from the constant worry of acquiring water-borne diseases. These communities were also reported to have saved about P91,000 per month so far, equivalent to the transport cost of having their water delivered.
DOST-MIMAROPA also revealed that four (4) more communities are expected to benefit from the technologies in the next few months. On the other hand, it has partnered with the Palawan State University to develop a technology based on the Portable Photovoltaic-assisted Solar Desalination System of the Universiti Teknologi Petronas in Malaysia using local materials to ensure clean and affordable water for Palawan’s small island communities.
“By employing these technologies, we can surely outsmart water scarcity,” said Abilay.
Accelerating Digital Transformation among MIMAROPA MSMEs
The agency also announced that it is currently in the initial phase of the development of bespoke digital solutions, in partnership with the MIMAROPA State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), to improve the business processes, operations, and productivity of its assisted MSMEs.
“While still bearing the brunt of the restrictions caused by the pandemic, local business owners are also forced to keep up with the accelerated rise of digitalization to stay afloat. That’s why we want to provide our assisted MSMEs easy access to digital transformation to compete,” said Abilay.
She revealed that four (4) different inventory systems for the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan are now in the development stages such as the following: iProSES or Inventory Processing System for Food Enterprise Sector of the Occidental Mindoro State College (OMSC); SIMS or Sales and Inventory Management System Based on Production Monitoring of the Marinduque State College (MSC); MIMS or MSMEs Inventory Monitoring System of the Romblon State University (RSU); and WIMLMS, short for Web-based Inventory Monitoring and Logistics Management System, of the Palawan State University (PSU).
Meanwhile, as the aquaculture sector in Oriental Mindoro has recently seen sustained growth and development, the agency has partnered with the Mindoro State University to develop an integrated web server-embedded technology to further help the assisted MSMEs in the sector. Dubbed as eH2O, it allows owners and staff to monitor water quality in their aquaculture farms in real-time, whether through a desktop or mobile phone.
Boosting Disaster Management through AI
The agency said that flash flood is among the frequent hazards affecting the MIMAROPA region every year, however, the local government units (LGUs) still struggle with their management and response strategies due to the lack of appropriate resources.
To address this concern, DOST-MIMAROPA has coordinated with the LGUs and participating agencies of the MIMAROPA Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to develop an artificial intelligence-based technology called AIM4DREAM, short for Artificial Intelligence-based Management for Disaster Risk Evaluation and Monitoring.
The agency stated that the said technology can monitor, record, and evaluate microclimate data to help local authorities and communities access real-time weather information. It said that it can assure reliability as it will integrate the data from local weather monitoring stations, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-PAGASA), and DOST-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS).
“We believe that AIM4DREAM will empower local government as leaders in disaster reduction and recovery to save people’s lives and the economy,” said Abilay.
DOST-MIMAROPA also launched the newest addition to its MIMAROPA Stars volume series, the MIMAROPA Stars Volume 5. The fifth volume features 30 success stories of DOST-MIMAROPA-assisted MSMEs, CBEs, and GIDAs and its other unique regionwide science and technology interventions. It serves as a testament to how its programs help empower individuals and communities in the region. According to Dr. Abilay, the agency hopes it can inspire more entrepreneurs, community groups, and individuals from all walks of life to partner with the agency.
“Responsive to the needs of the times, I appreciate how DOST-MIMAROPA has continuously reinvented itself to stay relevant and indispensable. From implementing national programs and activities cascaded to them to initiating new and unique interventions to enhance the capabilities of our stakeholders and partners and uplift the condition of the most vulnerable, DOST-MIMAROPA has worked to bring science and technology even closer to communities and make DOST’s tagline “Science for the People” come to life,” said Sec. De la Peña in his opening message.