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Cauayan City implements 3D digital map for disaster responsiveness

By Patricia B. Mirasol

Cauayan City is implementing Graffiquo’s Integrated Digital Twin System to enhance its disaster resilience. The system’s georeferenced platform provides visual information of the city, supporting development activities in the infrastructure and building sectors. 

The highly agricultural city is visited by around 20 strong typhoons a year, according to Mayor Bernard Faustino M. Dy. 

“Four supertyphoons hit us last year,” he said at a recent press conference. “We are used to addressing typhoons, but this time the flooding caught us off guard. It was the worst flooding we experienced in 40 years. Before this technology, it would’ve taken days or months to assess the damage to properties and crops.” 

Policy-making, as well as the delivery of assistance, became a challenge to the local government. 

“With Graffiquo, we get snapshots of the extent of the crop damage, or of the bridges that are still passable,” Mr. Dy added. “It made our lives easier, because now we can efficiently and effectively deliver help as needed.”

Graffiquo is a Singaporean software solutions provider that provides geospatial visual information through the aggregation of ecosystem data. A photo-realistic, three-dimensional (3D) georeferenced platform integrates the data, making the technology useful for smart cities, environmental impact and assessment, and asset inspection of energy and communications infrastructure. 

In the technology company’s website, it shared that Cauayan City’s disaster management teams were remotely trained via Zoom calls on how to capture pictures utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Within two days, the team was able to capture 0.5 square kilometer of waterfronts surrounding the Cagayan river and adjacent residential infrastructure. These photos were uploaded to the platform, processed into 3D landscape models, and then deployed using Graffiquo’s software tools for use by Cauayan City officers,” said Cornelius A. Dalog II, Rescue 922’s drone team head, on the same website.

The Integrated Digital Twin System is named as such, said Graffiquo CEO Goh Seok Mei, because its 3D representation makes it a twin of a city. Drones, pilots, and the cloud service of Amazon Web Services (AWS) are needed to set up the system. Cauayan City’s 3D digital map from the said technology is the first in the Philippines.  

“We’re very thankful we have AWS cloud service and its team behind us,” Ms. Goh said. Graffiquo, which was introduced to the city through a mutual Smart Cities Network contact, won The Gamechangers Award at AWS’s City on a Cloud competition last year for its work with Cauayan. The award recognizes innovative and ground-breaking ideas being tested in cities around the world.

Tuguegarao City, said Mr. Dy, has already shown interest in the system. “We’ve already had a meeting with the [Tuguegarao City] mayor together with Graffiquo,” he said. “Cauayan City will help them.”

“Data is the new oil,” added the Cauayan City mayor. “The efficiency of how data is gathered creates a domino effect. It affects decision-making, and can help governments plan ahead. If a small, highly agricultural city like ours can do it, then other places can do it.” 

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