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If you live in Southeast Asia, you’re probably no stranger to the odd natural disaster here and there. From typhoons, to flash floods, and even hail storms, we’ve seen it all. Some places experience these things more than others. Okay, probably not blizzards.

To put things into perspective, 25 natural disasters occurred in this region in the 12th week of 2021 alone. The numbers from the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance don’t lie.

Yet, natural disasters are something that we’ve all been taught to prepare for – especially in places that are prone to them.

But even with the most stringent preparation, it’s hard to avoid damage and the unfortunate set of casualties.

Cauayan Public Market. IMAGE: Isabela Info

Take a look at Cauayan City in the Philippines, for example. The city experiences approximately 20 strong typhoons each year. Though local officials prioritize zero casualties when the typhoons do make landfall, manually assessing affected areas is generally unsafe, inefficient, and inaccurate.

And when that damage does happen, it often takes several days, weeks, or sometimes months to assess damage and rebuild cities.

But what if there was a way to drastically shorten that recovery time, thus making a city much more resilient against natural disasters in a way that one couldn’t have imagined before?

Singapore startup Graffiquo built the first integrated digital twin system for disaster resiliency for Cauayan City.

If that sounds like a whole load of mumbo-jumbo to you, don’t worry.

The digital twin software allows the city to accurately profile land area, infrastructure, bridges, houses, and population density. It also accurately predicts where and when flooding will occur. It does this by monitoring important factors like soil erosion and river height.

Cauayan flood areas. IMAGE: Graffiquo

With the software that Graffiquo built, damage assessment (after a natural disaster strikes) is now reduced to just one day. Let that sink in for a bit.

This speed and efficiency really benefitted Cauayan City when it was hit by Typhoon Ulysses back in November 2020, allowing its mayor to dispatch emergency resources to affected areas with pinpoint accuracy.

People in Cauayan sit on their rooftops, waiting to be rescued in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses. IMAGE: Cauayan DRRMO / ABS-CBN

Of course, once every resident was accounted for, the software also allowed for local authorities to assess which parts of the city needed to be rebuilt.

During COVID-19, the digital twin software also allowed the city to easily detect areas to put on lockdown.

This was done with drone-captured images of the city, produced into a convenient 3D view. The way it works is surprisingly simple: A team from Cauayan City operates the drones, and then uploads the images of the city’s profile to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. Think cloud computing.

When you look at things from a wider perspective, the software has helped Cauayan City protect and even save lives.

IMAGE: AFP / Reportr

“Just last year (2020), four super typhoons hit the city consecutively, resulting in major downpour and damage,” Cauayan City Mayor Bernard Faustino Dy told Mashable Southeast Asia.

“Before Graffiquo, it could take months to assess the damage before the city council could request the national government for assistance or respond with greater policy and decision making.”

IMAGE: Dimsum News

During the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses back in November 2020, Graffiquo was able to help Cauayan City figure out just how much damage would occur in infrastructure, agriculture land area, the status of major bridges, flooded areas and communities, and the number of evacuated families in just a few days.

All this data was provided without the need of physical inspection, which would have otherwise taken weeks, or even months to complete.

When you know how much damage will occur, it’s also heaps easier to estimate the cost of rebuilding and recovery.

On average, it takes two weeks to capture drone images of a one-square-kilometer area of a city.

Graffiquo CEO Goh Seok Mei. IMAGE: Graffiquo

Speaking to Mashable Southeast Asia, Graffiquo CEO Goh Seok Mei said it only took a few online training sessions with a team of Cauayan City drone pilots to get things running smoothly. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and border closures, every aspect of the training was done virtually.

In no time, the drone pilots were able to work independently to capture detailed images of the city.

One of the most popular tourist hotspots in Cauayan City is Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church. IMAGE: Vic Mayor / Trip Advisor

Goh points out that Cauayan City is a good example of how smart technologies are not just limited to “first-world cities”, but also to developing areas as well.

In total, Graffiquo has mapped out at least 636-square-kilometers in Southeast Asia, spanning across Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, with plans to expand to Indonesia, too.

Do you think your city would benefit from Graffiquo’s digital twin system?

Read more tech stories:

Singapore approves COVID-19 breath test that shows results in 60 seconds

Malaysian startup Finology beats rest of world to win global funding competition

What is it like to be a female leader in the tech industry?

Follow Mashable SEA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Cover image sourced from Philippine Coast Guard / ABS-CBN and Reuters.

ที่มา : Mashable

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