Piloting an environmental monitoring system
PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Centre for Biodiversity have signed an agreement to deploy an environmental monitoring system in Southeast Asian heritage parks.
The Biosentinel monitoring system is an intelligent and user-friendly solution that can monitor and analyze ecological information. It will be piloted in the Philippines, at Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve, in partnership with the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems.
The Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve was named an Asean Heritage Park (AHP) in 2013. AHPs are selected protected areas known for their unique biodiversity and ecosystems, wilderness, and outstanding values.
Biosentinel has three components. First, the Biosentinel dashboard allows authorized users to set up and define conservation areas, designated patrollers, flora and fauna archives, and possible ecological threats.
Second, the Biosentinel app can be used by local personnel as they patrol around their areas. Using the data generated by the dashboard and uploaded onto their smartphones, the patrollers can record any relevant wildlife, threat, or geographical information. Authorized users can use the app to store information, eliminating the need for manual record-keeping which is prone to loss or damage.
Third, the Biosentinel analytics data software is where information collected from the app users is uploaded and analyzed.
The system was developed by Instigators, a team of developers that won in 2014 the grand prize at “Hack the Climate: Manila,” which was supported by Smart. Their winning project was called “Tanaw,” an application that promoted awareness, tracked reforestation sites, and helped sustain local communities through ecotourism.
According to ACB biodiversity information management director Sheila Vergara, the nongovernment organization is engaging in this collaboration to facilitate data collection in Asean heritage parks. “The Biosentinel system will help enable the recording of biodiversity information and improve data analysis,” she said during the signing of the memorandum of agreement at the ACB headquarters in University of the Philippines, Los Banos, Laguna.
The partnership also aims to guide policymakers by helping ensure that their decisions are based on facts and available data, said ACB executive director Roberto Oliva. “This project aims to contribute to global sustainability by enhancing environmental well-being. The specific objective is to enhance conservation of biodiversity and effective management of forest areas in Southeast Asia,” he added.
Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto emphasized the role of technology in environmental conservation. “The core of our community service programs is called tech for development. We try to search for every opportunity to use mobile phones and digital technology to address issues and problems, one of which is environment protection. The Biosentinel system makes it easier to gather information, which is important in guiding and directing the activities that we do, especially in forest conservation,” he said.
As part of the company’s “technology for development” initiatives, Smart supports efforts toward environmental protection by implementing solutions and collaborating with partners.