Name of the Organization
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
Name of the Office/Unit that leads the implementation of this best practice entry
REDAS Team of the PHIVOLCS Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division (SOEPD)
Focus Area of the Best Practice
Strategy, Citizens / Customers, Digitization and New Technologies
Date the best practice was first implemented
6 March 2006 – up to present
Summary of the Best Practice
The PHIVOLCS-developed Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS) is trying to save as many lives as possible through real-time hazard monitoring, database development, and multi-hazard impact assessment coupled with the accompanying innovative and tailored training for the intended users.
The concept of REDAS germinated after the nation’s dreadful experience after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on 16 July 1990, which left more than 1000 people dead. The PHIVOLCS’ REDAS software developers thought that if the nation had a reliable system that could immediately identify potentially damaged areas, prompt rescue and relief operations might have saved more lives, thereby lessening the number of casualties during that particular earthquake. However, such software/system was not readily available or needed to be customized to suit the Philippine settings. Such an approach is also often expensive and has a steep learning curve. This prompted the experts to conceptualize REDAS. Initially designed for earthquake simulation only, the REDAS has grown through the years to include other capabilities like real-time hazard monitoring, database development, and multi-hazard impact assessment.
REDAS was conceived to provide immediate science-based information on the extent and severity of hazards such as ground shaking, liquefaction, earthquake-induced landslide, and tsunami through real-time simulation. The use of REDAS can be used for emergency preparedness, meaning at the onset of an earthquake, the user may right away simulate an impact scenario that may happen. At the same time, the tool can also be used for planning and risk management purposes by calculating potential impacts such as collapsed structures, injuries, fatalities, and economic loss a particular earthquake can incur. Knowing this information beforehand makes preparations more realistic and optimized because they are science-based. Only REDAS can provide up-to-date and verified information in the Philippines through solid partnerships with its stakeholders. This unique capability makes the REDAS attractive to various users in the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) field from all sectors of society.
The main challenge of a developing country like the Philippines is its high vulnerability brought about by its physical location and socio-political and economic situation. Since the country’s physical location cannot be transferred, much can be done to improve its physical vulnerability through proper land use, development planning, and strict building code implementation. This can be done by producing multi-hazard maps, continuous capacity building, provision of early-warning tools/systems, and developing tools and procedures for engaging LGUs on disaster preparedness. It is with these problems that REDAS was developed. There was a need for a tool that LGU officials could easily use with essential features designed for their local needs.
There was a need for a reliable source of information during emergencies, especially after typhoons or earthquakes, when communication facilities and power lines break down. This was the situation when REDAS was first envisioned. There was a need to have a tool that could tell us about the impacts of an earthquake so that relief and rescue operations could be guided accordingly. Oftentimes, there is a delay in information, which is especially needed for timely and appropriate relief operations.
Although REDAS started as a tool for earthquake damage simulation, it has also branched out to other hazards. This was brought about by an almost regular onslaught of more frequent hydrometeorological hazards such as floods, storm surges, rain-induced landslides, and severe wind. The continuing onslaught of death and destruction brought about by Typhoons Yolanda, Sendong, and Ondoy aggravated by our rapid population growth and unabated increase in exposure, lack of proper land use and development plans, lax implementation of the building codes and other regulations that can reduce the risks, lack of contingency/emergency planning and lack of understanding about hazards and risk by stakeholders all contribute to the problem. Therefore, a system like REDAS would aid in addressing these common problems on the ground by various stakeholders.
Solution and Impact
The REDAS tool was originally just internally used by PHIVOLCS, mainly to simulate earthquake intensities to provide pertinent information to the public when needed. Various partners who learned of the tool convinced us to share this with local government units, initially as a tool for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into the local planning process. Through the years, many other LGUs and other partners opted to avail of this tool seeing its applicability to their functions. The tool itself needs to be installed in one’s computer as the hazard simulation and impact estimation modules are memory intensive and require high processing power, which is difficult if implemented in a web-based setting. It is an “independent platform” that doesn’t require an internet connection to run the tool.
At present, REDAS is already multi-hazard in scope. This was achieved through partnerships with other NGAs like the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), and Office of Civil Defense (OCD), which were important steps to ensure a one-government approach in disaster preparedness. Other partners were added along the way, including the partnership with State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) of Regions II, III, and XI, the University of the Philippines Diliman – Institute of Civil Engineering (UPD-ICE), and the Geoscience Australia (GA) that the earthquake impact assessment (SHAke module) was developed. The modules for Flood (FLoAT) and Severe Wind impact assessment (SWIFT), which later evolved into (SWERVE) were co-developed with MGB and PAGASA, too. The REDAS Exposure Database Module (EDM) benefited from exposure to GA, while the REDAS Earthquake and Tsunami Alerting Module (ETAM) benefited from collaboration with the RIMES, which is initially funded by UNESCAP and now supported by the Indian government. The Satellite Rainfall Monitor (SRM) and the Quick Lahar Impact Simulation Tool (QLIST), two recent modules, were offshoots of a PCIEERD-funded project mainly targeting risk reduction from lahars. The development of REDAS is replete with collaboration, learning, and partnerships with the government, SUCs, and international partners.
To date, the REDAS is being used extensively by the Seismological Observation and EarthquakePrediction Division (SOEPD) of PHIVOLCS in its round-the-clock earthquake monitoring and issuance of earthquake information to the public. The Geology and Geophysics Research and Development Division (GGRDD) of PHIVOLCS uses REDAS as one of its hazard simulation software in producing earthquake hazard maps. The REDAS SRM is being used by the Volcano Monitoring and EruptionPrediction Division (VMEPD) in monitoring real-time rainfall for lahar monitoring and warning, particularly in Pinatubo, Mayon, and Bulusan volcanoes. A key strategy to the sustained interest is the “patikim” approach, where first-timers are invited to experience the training firsthand, after which the same participant brings in their organization to undergo the REDAS learning. This has happened so often that slots are always given to “sit-ins” which eventually become the “natural” REDAS advertisers and its products. Special attention is also given to the number of women participants, and several persons with disabilities have been trained before, too.
The main drawback in sharing REDAS happened when the COVID-19 pandemic set in and when face-to-face training was not allowed. The REDAS Team resorted to creative ways to conduct training by doing the original six-day training into seven modularized and ladderized four-day courses. The team devised ways to make the training interactive despite being online in modality. As a result, despite the pandemic, the requests for training were sustained, and for 2022, the training schedule is already full.
When REDAS was first introduced in 2006, external stakeholders still needed to be included. To date, a total of 52 provinces, 689 municipalities/cities, 17 NGAs, 38 SUCs, 78 private companies, and 10 NGOs have been trained in the use of the software. Through REDAS training, PHIVOLCS can reach grassroots communities and disseminate its products and services through actual interaction and simplifying scientific information for their mainstreaming DRR efforts, contingency planning, and emergency preparedness. The software and training approach is unique in that no similar system exists in the Philippines. To ensure sustainability, REDAS partners with SUCs benchmarking on their technical capabilities and presence at the local level. There are also plans to produce easy-to-follow instructional videos to reach more stakeholders.
The REDAS has won various awards. REDAS was awarded the Outstanding R&D award by DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research Development in 2005. It competed at the national level and won First Prize. In 2019, the REDAS Team was awarded a 21st Gawad Kalasag Special recognition for Group Category. REDAS exhibited the value of partnership and innovation in disaster risk reduction.
From a simple earthquake simulation tool, REDAS has grown multi-hazard in scope–hosting two real-time hazard monitoring modules, two database development modules, and six multi-hazard impact assessment tools. Recognizing the REDAS platform’s potential, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) granted it as a Locally-Funded Project assuring its continued budget through several years. This trust compels the REDAS team to perform better and improve its craft. Through the years, REDAS has spread into other hazards such as floods, severe wind, tsunamis, lahars, and agricultural damages. REDAS is free, and so is the accompanying training. Requests for availing of the software and accompanying training continue to be received, and the schedule is almost complete for 2022. In various instances, REDAS modules had been selected by partners/LGUs as the platform of choice in their mainstreaming DRR efforts (ex., RDC Region XII in 2018 and Lanao del Norte in 2021).
In 2022, working silently and with a bit of fanfare and expense, the REDAS has gone beyond the Philippine borders through international partners. An example is through a current Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project (the DRRMCEP), where REDAS is already being considered as one of the tools to calculate earthquake impact in its pilot sites. Another is tapping of REDAS by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) as the platform of choice to develop a gender and human rights-based questionnaire tool from a DRR perspective.
To attest to the usefulness and power of the REDAS system, current stakeholders include local government units (LGUs), State universities and colleges (SUCs), national government agencies (NGAs),non-government organizations (NGOs), and private companies.
For the LGUs whose users consist mostly of DRRM officers and planners, common feedback received includes the tool being helpful for their pre-disaster preparations, such as evacuation planning, formulation of contingency plans, and incorporating it in their DRRM and comprehensive land use plans. LGUs find the valuable tool because they can plot province/municipal data in REDAS, and not just simply rely on project presentations provided by other offices or agencies.
The private sector sees the application of REDAS in preparation and responding to disasters that will affect their company’s service areas, operations, or infrastructures. For instance, a light rail company would like to use REDAS in assessing the intensity of an earthquake scenario to the light rail system and how much damage it will cause to nearby infrastructure to prepare for a response and recovery strategy. Additionally, a power-generation company uses REDAS for seismic hazard assessment and determining damaging earthquake intensities to assess dam safety.
Similarly, NGAs use REDAS in line with their mandates, functions, or projects. They see the map generation capabilities of REDAS helpful in preparing feasibility studies of their projects. Moreover, for NGAs providing emergency assistance or relief services, REDAS helps them simulate hazards to identify or visualize affected areas for decision-making in allocating resources or prioritizing augmentation support.
For the SUCs, the most common use of REDAS is for their research and extension activities and for producing theses and dissertations, mainly focusing on vulnerability assessment, exposure database development, and hazard analysis. In 2022 alone, PHIVOLCS, through REDAS, has partnered with several SUCs, with several thesis topics using REDAS.