Filipino-made app for fishermen catches grand prize in NASA challenge
The mobile app sends fisherfolk real-time weather and sea condition reports via text messages
Feb 26, 2019
The long weekend saw a big catch for the Philippines as a community-based mobile application made to update Filipino fishermen on the conditions of the weather and sea bagged first place in an annual challenge by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The app, cleverly named “ISDApp,” won in the Best Galactic Impact category of the NASA challenge, besting 1,395 other innovations by teams around the world. This is the first time the NASA challenge, usually joined by more than 2,700 teams from 75 countries, saw a Filipino group get shortlisted and emerge as champions.
The five-member winning team call themselves iNON, which stands for “It’s Now or Never.” Creatives and information technology professionals Julius Czar Torreda, Matthew Concubierta, Leandro de Guzman, Revbrain Martin, and Marie Jeddah Legaspi compose the team.
The app they developed provides fisherfolk through SMS (or short messaging service) real-time information necessary for fishing, such as the day’s weather and cloud coverage, wind speed, sunrise and sunset schedule, and sea condition. It works even on analog phones since the app only has to be installed in the smartphone of the town official in charge with communicating with the fisherfolks.
“ISDApp” also has emergency alert features and an emergency signal which a fisherman may activate through a coded text message. The group has yet to announce which digital distribution platform it can be found.
“This is proof that even technology needs a heart,” Legaspi says in an article by Inquirer.net. “ISDapp is a simple solution with an important purpose, which we believe helped it swim to success.”
Martin, another member, added that their concept was fueled by the goal of doing something to “help the lives of coastal communities around the world.”
Other Filipino-made technological developments that entered the NASA challenge are a wildfire monitoring and mitigation program, a virtual reality experience of planet Mars, and a disaster preparedness application.
Apps like this are what we need now more than ever. The movement of technology may seem too fast for us who are highly exposed to urbanization in the metro but in rural areas, almost everything is still done the way it’s done decades ago—manually. Access to information is still a challenge to some of the people living in far-flung areas, where ironically most of our everyday needs are sourced from.
There’s still a glaring digital divide among us. As much as possible, let us make our developments like how the young team made “ISDApp,” more inclusive and compassionate, especially for those who need it the most.
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