The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) will soon have a silent partner in some of the SM malls nationwide.
SM Investments Corp. (SMIC), the holding company of SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI), is taking another step forward in promoting disaster risk reduction among private establishments by helping monitor the country’s weather conditions through a device called Automated Weather Stations (AWS).
The project was started by Weather Philippine Foundation Inc. (WPFI), a private organization that provides weather forecast over the Internet. The group aims to deliver critical and accurate weather forecasts to the Filipino community to help improve nationwide disaster preparedness and timely response to variable weather conditions. This involves installing 1,000 AWS units throughout the country this year.
Under the agreement between WPFI and SMIC, SMPHI will host 49 of these devices in selected SM shopping malls nationwide. Furthermore, SMIC donated P25 million to fund the project.
“There had been a number of AWS projects by other groups in the past, and we hope to augment their efforts by hosting more of these devices,” said Liza Silerio, Program Director of the SM Cares Environment Committee. “We hope that this project improves the country’s capability in weather monitoring and forecasting, especially now that extreme weather conditions are seriously disrupting more lives and property.”
SM Supermalls, the chain of shopping malls owned by SMPHI, has been actively pursuing mitigation and relief efforts to aid its immediate communities from the destructive impact of natural calamities. Earlier, two SM malls in Marikina and Muntinlupa where featured in the recently concluded UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platform for Disaster Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland. These malls served as examples of best practices in disaster risk reduction, readiness, and resilience for businesses.
Silerio said choosing the proper location for AWS, also known as “siting,” is an important factor in ensuring the accuracy of these weather instruments. “There are many aspects that may cause biased readings, such as low-lying obstructions like trees,” she said. “Since the rooftops of our malls does not have such kinds of obstruction, these became ideal to help achieve accurate measurements.”
An AWS is a device that measures wind velocity, wind direction, atmospheric pressure, humidity, amount of rainfall, temperature, and UV radiation. These environment factors will be used in forecasting weather, as well as assist in the study of weather and climate. The AWS gadgets will collect all measurement data, which will in turn be sent to Meteomedia—a Canadian weather service provider. Data collected will be used to analyze weather patterns and make predictions.
The data will be made available to the public via online at weather.com.ph, which is updated in real-time. News updates, both in text and video, can be also viewed for free.