Smart, partners bag telecom award for Project NOAH app

Project NOAH smartphone app

Smart Public Affairs Head Ramon Isberto receives the Best Community Telecom Project Award for the Project NOAH Android app, jointly developed with Davao-based developer Rolly Rulete. Handout file photo

MANILA, Philippines — For its innovative use of technology in helping Filipinos prepare for natural disasters, the Project NOAH app as jointly created by Smart Communications and Davao-based developer Rolly Rulete, was awarded the Best Community Telecom Project during the 16th Telecom Asia Awards.

The app, which is a mobile version of the Web-based Project N.O.A.H. (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) developed by the government’s Department of Science and Technology, aims to bring up-to-the minute weather updates to the hands of the more than 30 million smartphone-toting Filipinos.

It gives the government and citizens real-time weather information – such as location-based probability of rain, intensity of rainfall, projected typhoon track, flood model maps, among others – wherever they may be. The information allows them to detect and monitor potential danger, predict the course of a weather disturbance, warn people, and take the necessary actions to ensure the safety of the community.

“This is an excellent example of a mobile application that was designed to serve the needs of the community,” said Ramon Isberto, Smart Public Affairs head, upon receiving the award. “Smart will continue to support such initiatives taken by what we like to call ‘apptivists’ — developers who make apps for social good. We will step up our cooperation with agencies like the DOST and PAGASA to help the country better prepare for the threat of extreme weather disturbances.”

This is the second time that Smart won the specific award from Telecom Asia, the first being a recognition for its Secured Health Information and Network Exchange (SHINE) project in 2012. This is also the second award accorded to Project NOAH, the first being a citation from the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines, also known as Cyberpress, for being the best IT product produced in 2012.

From personal experience

The initial prototype of the Android app was developed by Rulete during the first HTML5 hackathon organized by the Smart Developer Network in Davao City back in July 2012. Rulete, along with teammates Pablito Veroy and Jay Albano, received the “Best Use of Smart APIs” award during the event.

After developing the prototype, Rulete partnered with Smart Communications, which forged connections with DOST to further develop the app based on the agency’s specifications.

“In a way, it is not surprising that [Rulete] spearheaded the development of this app,” remarked Isberto. “He comes from a family of fishermen who must face daily the hazards of weather. One of his uncles perished at sea because of bad weather. He knows from painful personal experience how valuable timely, accurate weather information can be.”

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, in an earlier report, said the app seeks to create awareness among Filipinos, particularly those residing in disaster-prone areas, as knowledge about weather systems affecting the country gives “more reason to prepare against the impact of hazards.”

“We chose Rolly Rulete to develop the official mobile version of the DOST’s Project NOAH website for Android devices because we want Davao and Mindanao to be represented in the nationwide effort to mitigate disasters,” added Montejo, who harped on the “participation of all Filipinos” in helping solve the country’s perennial disaster-related problems.

With more than 50,000 downloads, the app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. An iOS version had already been developed by a different entity.