Decision support system using near cloud for disaster and risk management: an interview with Dane Ancheta (BS APS-ACS 2017)


“Design and development of decision support system using near cloud for disaster management and risk reduction” by E. D. Ancheta (right), J. A. Dela Cruz, and A. J. Domingo. Advisory committee: N. Libatique, PhD, G. Tangonan, PhD, D. Solpico, and D. Lagazo. Department of Electronics, Computer and Communications Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University.  Interlinks 13.0 was held last 5 May 2015, 1:00-5:00 p.m., at Convergent Technologies Center (CTC) Rm 413.

by Dane Ancheta and Quirino Sugon Jr

Dane Ancheta is a graduating student of BS Applied Physics and Applied Computer Systems (BS APS-ACS) of the Ateneo de Manila University and is one of the four last BS APS-ACS majors taking this course. After graduating High School from Ateneo de Zamboanga University in 2012, she went on to Ateneo de Manila University on a 100% financial aid scholarship, and a DOST merit scholarship. She worked at Manila Observatory (MO) for her physics thesis entitled “Temporal variability of localized rainfall events in metro manila over 2 years (2013-2014).” She also worked in Ateneo Innovations Center (AIC) for her Applied Computer Systems (ACS) thesis entitled “Design and development of decision support system using near cloud for disaster management and risk reduction.” Her co-workers are April Domingo (BS Computer Engineering) and Jane Dela Cruz (BS Electronics and Communications Engineering). They presented a poster of their work last 5 May 2017 at Interlinks 13.0, an annual research poster exhibition organized by the Ateneo Innovation Center for the School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University. The abstract of their poster reads as follows:

In disaster scenarios, the lack of wireless internet or weak cellular network signal poses a very real threat to crucial information gathering and sharing. Using Near Cloud to store, load and upload information, this project has designed and developed decision support nodes that is able to to gather and distribute intelligent information before, during, and after disasters. These nodes are cached in with key information and data needed for disasters, i.e. maps, message reports, and images. The nodes serve as the command and control in early warning and disaster management systems. Key capabilities featured in for the decision support node include: broadcast mode that is broadcasting message via RF, mapping and visualization, data mining, near cloud, and the medical decision support system. A decision support node architecture is then developed and proposed as the main command and control as mobile kiosks. This mobile kiosk architecture is developed with a number of Raspberry Pi 3‘s, each of which are connected to perform and handle one application in a grid pattern.

Below is an interview with Dane Ancheta by Ateneo Physics News:

1. Why did you choose physics?

I could not imagine myself not taking physics.  I chose physics in all colleges that I applied. I don’t want to live my life wondering, “What if I had taken physics?”  

I love science. When I was a little girl, I would watch National Geographic. I’m naturally inquisitive. My teachers were great and supportive, but it was generally my curiosity that drove me to take physics.

2. Can you tell us about your your physics thesis?

I worked at the Manila Observatory for my thesis entitled “Temporal variability of localized rainfall events in metro manila over 2 years (2013-2014)”. My thesis adviser is Dr. James Simpas and Ma’am Genie Lorenzo. The data comes from the, at the time, newly installed dense network of weather stations around Metro Manila. For my thesis, I used at around 24 stations that are at a 5 km radius apart each. Basically, what I did was characterize localized rain events such as thunderstorms and precipitation; bigger events such as monsoons and typhoons are not included. We found out that the most amount of rainfall is experienced in Tayuman, Manila, though Makati City and Quezon City also experience high amounts of rainfall. The probability of rainfall is highest in middle and western Metro Manila, while it is lowest in southeastern Metro Manila. The study characterizes for the first time the areas of likelihood, rainfall and temporal correlation for the localized rain events in Metro Manila. It does not, however, explain such behavior, so we are still looking for an explanation  This work will definitely be continued or taken over.

For this thesis, all data were being sent to Manila Observatory. It is hard work to make sure that the data we are preparing are usable. We don’t get the data “clean”, that is why we have to check if they are healthy or anomalous. The data come from the weather stations that are exposed to the elements. But I did not have to go out as data from these stations were directly received by MO. I used QGIS and a little Python. I had learned many things working on this project.  This August 2017, we shall go to Singapore for the Asia Oceania Geoscience Society ( AOGS) conference. I shall present a poster of my physics thesis there. A good number from the research team is going because we have both the AQD-ITD (Air Quality DynamicsInstrumentation and Technology Development under Dr. Obiminda Cambaliza and Dr. James Simpas) and RCS (Regional Climate Systems under Dr. Narisma) researchers presenting.

3. Can you tell us about our Applied Computer Systems thesis?

In our 5th year, we start working on our ACS thesis under a thesis group with the ECCE (Electronics, Computer, and Communications Engineering) Department. I got involved in Ateneo Innovation Center where I became part of a big research team. On-going projects were laid out and discussed for us. The bigger research team is currently working on Multi-platform ICT Decision Support System UAVs , Vehicle Hubs, Ubiquitous Computing for Disaster Risk Reduction. We settled on the mission control end of the system. There are three of us in the thesis group- April Domingo is from CoE (Computer Engineering) and Jane Dela Cruz is from ECE (Electronics and Communications Engineering). Basically what we do is we receive all information from the responders and UAVs, and develop a system for this flow of information.

In the event of a disaster scenario, communication lines may be cut off due to damages to infrastructure, making information sharing difficult. Information that may be crucial for damage assessment and rescue operation would be lost or would not be transmitted effectively. In the research, we used the near cloud to store, load and upload information, this project has designed and developed decision support nodes that is able to gather and distribute intelligent information before, during, and after disasters.

We built upon the thesis of those who worked on near cloud before us. The previous team used Ionics plug computer, however, since this product was discontinued, we decided to make our own near cloud using Raspberry Pi 3 and terabyte hard drives. Our architecture is as follows: there is a raspberry pi node which serves as a serve/gateway. All other Raspberry Pi units with their corresponding applications are connected to this node. The architecture itself is an enabler: it enables all the applications to run in the same network.

The system also has near cloud capabilities. It acts as a cloud storage, but for a local network. This is done by configuring a Raspberry Pi for hotspot capabilities, while connecting the terabyte hard drive storage to it. Therefore, anyone can connect to the Raspberry Pi network and access all the files stored in the hard drive. Devices such as phones and laptops can access, download or upload (with permissions) files into the hard drive through this network as long as they are connected to the hotspot. The system also has drop box capabilities. This technology will be useful in evacuation centers. Given that communication lines could be cut off and there might not be enough power, it is hard to get information through. But the Raspberry Pi is low maintenance and low power, but powerful enough to make information available for access via the preloaded data in the hard drive. We tried to test this system by connecting about 10 devices, and it can work well in accessing files and streaming videos.

Another capability is our war room display with multiple screens where the interface is shown. This is how it works: responders and UAVs are on the ground send data to the mission control. The communication is done by radio frequency module at 900 MHz, which reach about 5km point to point without walls. If the messages from a responder is being sent, the message will be relayed to the different phones until it reaches mission control. For the responders sending a message to the mission control, the message and location of the responder will show up in the Google Maps API, so it will be easier to visualize where the responders are. This is how information will be received and instructions will be sent out from the mission control.

The most difficult part of the thesis are the times we have to learn the language then and there. We try to solve problems not encountered in class. We used a lot of different languages for different functions, such as C#, HTML, PHP and mySQL. We used Raspbian for the Raspberry pi the Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) core, Visual Studio for the interface, PHP for the chatroom, and Google API for the mapping. We have to learn using internet and the kindness of people.

4. Were you under a scholarship?

I am a Financial Aid scholar. Our kind benefactor is a BS APS-CE (Applied Physics / Computer Engineering) graduate and he gives scholarships to students who are pursuing the same course. I am lucky to have a benefactor like that who is passionate about supporting students interested in physics.

I am also a DOST scholar ever since sophomore year. So that makes three or four years. My failure in one class did not impact my scholarship that bad. It had to be put on hold for a time until I passed, but I did eventually get it back. The failure in that class is just a bump. I did study and did well in my other classes, so I did not feel like I was in danger. My QPI was 2.89 even with the failed class. I survived.

5. What are your plans for the future?

I am not sure yet if I want to take engineering or masters. I am thinking of going to China to do my masters, but I still have to consider the requirements, e.g. fixing papers and submissions. I am very nervous, since it is really an open field.  There is no one direct path to go to. There is so much freedom to choose from. So I have not decided yet on what to do.

6. Any parting words to our Physics majors?

The most difficult part of being a BS Physics/Computer Engineering major is the rigor that comes into the work. It is both a difficulty and a blessing. Not everybody undergoes that kind of rigor that is required of physics. We had to learn a lot: even failure is a learning process. I learned to shift focus from just getting good grades to learning something and growing in the course. I did fail one class: Electromagnetics. I try to look on the bright side and say it was not that bad because it pushed me to do better in my studies.

Physics and Computer systems go very well together. As a physicist, it is really important to work with computers and use them for your advantage. It was sad that the course had to be discontinued. We do learn to program using C++ in PS 130 Computational Physics; however I think it is not enough programming for physics. Even if the course does create excellent and competent students, after college they get into web develop or work in IT related fields. Now, there’s no ACS. It is a shame. Programming is so useful.  In today’s age, if you can program, you can hold the world on a string.

Stay curious. Be inquisitive. Never stop asking questions.



Ateneo physics faculty Juan Paolo Bermundo and Jennifer Damasco-Ty are now Ph.D. in Materials Science students in NAIST, Japan

by Cindy Cease

Mr. Juan Paolo Bermundo and Ms. Jennifer Damasco Ty went to Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Ikoma City, Japan last October2012, to pursue PhD in Materials Science. Mr. Bermundo would be part of the Information Device Science Laboratory to work on Thin Film Transistors (TFT) research. TFTs are electrical components found in display devices which act as active switches controlling individual pixels. Specifically, he will work on improving the electrical characteristics of TFTs by using novel materials and techniques. On the other hand, Ms. Damasco Ty would work on bulk heterojunction solar cells research.

Prior to their doctoral studies, Mr. Bermundo and Ms. Damasco Ty went to NAIST as interns during their graduate and undergraduate studies, respectively, in Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU). Below is an interview with Juan Paolo and Jennifer by the Ateneo Physics News:


Jennifer Damasco Ty with her sensei at NAIST

1. When will your studies start?

I will start as a research student on December. If all goes well, I will start as a PhD student on April.

2. Why did you choose NAIST?

Because of the opportunity available to me as an Ateneo alumni and faculty. The partnership between AdMU and NAIST makes me eligible to apply to the Screening of International Students by Special Recommendation. Also, as an undergraduate student, I was fortunate enough to participate in the NAPI internship which invites AdMU teachers and students to NAIST. During that time, I was able to observe the research in two laboratories and get to know the professors.

3. What will be your research area there?

I will be working on bulk heterojunction solar cells.

4. What will be the pros and cons of your studies in this university with your chosen field?

It is very easy to do research in NAIST because of the availability to many research equipment. Furthermore, NAIST also has good relationships with universities and research institutes abroad.

5. What are your future plans?

In the near future, I hope to work in a company pursuing similar research to gain experience. But I am also open to other opportunities that may be available to me after NAIST. Pursuing post-doctoral studies would be ideal.


Juan Paolo Bermundo at NAIST

Juan Paolo Bermundo at NAIST

1. When will your studies start?

I started my PhD studies last October 1, 2012 at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST). The institute is in Takayama Science Town in Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture—in the countryside but relatively near to big cities such as Osaka (45 mins by train), Kyoto (45 mins) and Kobe (2 hours), and the historic city of Nara (30 min).

2. Why did you choose this university?

I went to NAIST last March 2012 as an intern and I found the research environment to be top class. I also liked how people are focused with their research. Ateneo also has a very good partnership with NAIST. In fact, there are a lot of Ateneo graduates here in NAIST especially from the ECCE department.

3. What will be your research area there?

I am now part of the Information Device Science Laboratory in the Graduate school of Materials Science in NAIST. I am currently working on Thin Film Transistors (TFT). TFTs can be found in display devices and they act as an active switch that controls individual pixels. I am specifically working on improving the stability of TFTs (such as IGZO TFTs) and developing doped ZnO using novel materials and techniques to improve its electrical characteristics. The goal is to develop new materials that can be used for next generation flexible displays.

4. How did your employment in Ateneo as faculty member help you to get into the PhD program of your chosen university?

An advantage of being an Ateneo student is that there are a lot of opportunities to go to several partner universities. Ateneo has a lot of International mobility programs such as the JTA and internships to other universities. Because of this, I was able to apply and get accepted as an intern student in NAIST last March 2011.

The scientific training that Ateneo provided in the Physics and Materials Science Engineering programs is also helpful in making it easier for me to keep up, adjust, and adapt to a new research environment. Being a faculty member is also an advantage because I can review the basics. Teaching develops one’s discipline and patience.

Ateneo Physics Department now has an Electronics Laboratory at the Science Education Complex

Ateneo Electronics Laboratory

Electronics Laboratory at SEC C 107

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

At Science Education Complex Building C Room 107 is the Physics Department’s new Electronics Laboratory. The entrance of the laboratory is near the Mateo Ricci Study Hall.  But the normal way to the lab is through SEC C 106 via a narrow door.

In the Electronics Lab are three tables.  Each table is equipped with oscilloscopes and function generators.  Oscilloscopes are used to see how the voltages vary in time between two points in a circuit.  Function generators, on the other hand, are used to generate voltages varying in a particular way in time defined by amplitude, frequency, and phase.  The wall across the tables contains power supplies, resistors, diodes, and transistors.  The opposite wall is a large white board.  Between the walls is a sink and a window that opens to a view of the  JGSOM Student Enterprise Center (JSEC) where students run food stalls.

Ateneo Physics News interviewed Numeriano Melaya, the Physics Lab Technician who supervises the Physics Laboratories in SEC C, regarding the new Electronics Laboratory.

1.  How did the Electronics Laboratory came about?

In 2001, the General Physics Laboratory transferred from Faura Hall to the Science Education Complex . There are two rooms in the General Physics Laboratories: the preparation room and the maintenance shop for the laboratory. In 2004, it was decided that the preparation should be located between the two labs, leaving the end room vacant. This room became the extension of the workshop.  Because the workshop is small, we requested for one machine shop: a small building outside the General Physics Laboratory.  The machine shop was built in 2005 during the time of Fr. Daniel McNamara, SJ. After two years, the JSEC was built. In 2010, the work shop was demolished and transferred to Faura Hall. The preparation room became vacant and became a stock room of old equipment.  Later, it became the research room of Fr. David Skelskey. When all equipment was transferred to the new machine shop in Faura, such as the lathe and milling machines, we requested that the other room in SEC C 108 be renovated.  This was done in 2011 and Fr. Skelskey transferred there.  Then we requested  that the storage room be made into an  into an electronics lab. Our request was approved.

2.  Were there any difficulties when the Electronics Lab was proposed?

When we applied for the renovation, we submitted quotations from the contractors, but the budget was not included in the 2011 budget.  This 2012, we were asked to coordinate with the Office of Adminstrative Services for the remodeling.  I thought our request was disapproved.  Coincidentally. Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ came during the recruitment for his AJSS (Ateneo Junior Summer Seminar). He asked why is there a storage room. I said it was proposed to be made into an Electronics Lab.  Two days later, the Director of Purchasing informed me that he wants to meet with me, Mr. Ivan Culaba, and Architect Canlas.  We met and we agreed to push through with the Electronics Lab before the start of classes on June 2012. After three weeks, the renovation was finished.  Now the students are using it.

3.  What is the significance of the Electronics Lab?

Before, the teachers of the ECCE Department handles the teaching of the electronics course, because we have no facility for the Electronics Lab.  Now, the physics department offers this course for its students.  We still need ten function generators and oscilloscopes.  Yesterday, we asked for quotations for digital oscilloscopes–not necessarily high end. The Lab is small, just good for 12 students with a maximum of 15.  But the lab is now similar to that of the ECCE department.  We will still update the lab equipment every year.

Mr. Lyndon Olaguera (right) teaches a student how to use the power supply

Mr. Lyndon Olaguera (right) teaches a student how to use the power supply

A student checks out the cabinet for spare resistors, diodes, and transistors

A student checks out the cabinet for spare resistors, diodes, and transistors

Numeriano Melaya and Roel Agas

Laboratory technicians Numeriano Melaya (left) and Roel Agas (right)

Students assemble a circuit in a breadboard

Students assemble a circuit in a breadboard

Ateneo Physics Department faculty Joel Tiu Maquiling to take doctoral studies on geologic hazard modeling at University of Padua

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Joel Maquiling before the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi

Joel Maquiling before the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi

Joel Tiu Maquiling, faculty of the Department of Physics, Ateneo de Manila University, received a study grant through the Erasmus Mundus Mobility with Asia (EMMA) program. The grant is a 10-month doctoral exchange program starting from Nov 15, 2011 to Sep 30, 2012.  Mr. Maquiling will study at the Dipartimento di Geologia, Paleontologia e Geofisica, Universita degli Studi di Padova, in Padova, Italy. His adviser will be Prof. Rinaldo Genevois.

During his stay in Padua, Mr. Maquiling shall work on the Dynamics of Gravitational Processes as applied to snow avalanches, landslide processes, and ground water processes. This involves the analysis of triggering mechanisms of geologic hazards and their potential effects on the territory, in order to develop physical models capable of forecasting the spatial and temporal probabilities of hazard occurences. The research also involves characterization and monitoring of surface and subsurface geological and hydro-geological processes of the Italian northern-eastern region that may be of danger to the inhabitants. This is in line with Mr. Maquiling’s research interest in modelling large scale mudslides and landslides in Guinsaugon, Leyte, Southern Philippines.

Below is an interview of Mr. Joel Maquiling by the Ateneo Physics News:

1.  What are your perks and benefits?

There is a modest stipend that covers roundtrip airfare, comprehensive medical insurance, subsistence and accommodation allowance, not to mention getting to be in Galileo Galilei’s university, which is the University of Padua, and being in the cold region of the northern-eastern region of Italian Alps.

 2.  Will you do skiing there?

I hope so. I am not particularly good at skiing. My first skiing experience in Seattle was total disaster, but I expect my skiing skills to improve in Italy. Hahaha. I have more maturity now. This is the same feeling I had when I bungee-jumped the second time around.

3.  What do you do to prepare for the trip?

I psyche myself up for a lonely December in a foreign land–just kidding. It is my first time to spend the Christmas season officially away from home. And I’ll miss my mom, my brothers, my sister, Cristy-girl (our househelp), Miming (my cat), Melchizedek and Faustina (Doc Jerrold Garcia’s cats under my intensive care and expense), and everyone else associated with Ateneo. So I guess preparation is one of an emotional aspect, like detaching myself temporarily from my comfort zone which is the Ateneo, a place where I have grown accustomed to for the past 10 years or so. Well, at least now, I am gearing for hardcore research work. So I just focus my mind, heart, and soul to my research interest in geophysics, specifically landslide, mudslide, and avalanche modeling. I try to be happy at the thought of going to Padua, because it seems everyone is happy for me about it. So I guess there is little room to be lonely at some point.

The other day, a nice lady named Noemie sent me a photo of Christmas in Italy and it looked really, hmmm, solemn. She also sent me a photo of panettone, a traditional Italian bread served during Christmas. It really looked yummy. So I guess there are many things to look forward to during Christmas in Italy. I am hypnotizing myself now. Hahaha.

4.  Any special food that you would like to bring to Italy?

I am bringing with me five boxes of Lucky Me! and Nissin’s Ramen noodles. Just so I won’t miss so much the scent and flavor of my favorite foods. I hope I would grow accustomed to Italian food and cuisine. They say the best cuisines in the world are French, Morrocan, Italian, and Chinese—in no particular order.

5.  Do you know some Filipinos there?

There are many Ateneans in Italy doing graduate work and further studies. There is Cheska Songco, a former undergraduate research student of Dr. Nofel Lagrosas, who is taking up a diploma course on Earth System Physics at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste. There is Jerome Unidad who graduated BS Ps-MSE (2009), who is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Naples. There is Sunshine Indias (BS Ps 2007), our former junior faculty, taking up her M.S. in Physics at the University of Trento. There is Lance Go, a graduate of BS Chemistry, who is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Padua. And lastly, there is Dr. Reese Macabebe (BS Ps 2002 and BS CEng 2003), a faculty of ECCE, who is on an EMMA six-months-postdoctoral-exchange program at the University of Padua. I am sorry if I forgot anyone else.

6.  Any special places where you wish to go to in Italy?

I have always felt I have connection with Venice, with Venetian ports, and goods. Hahaha. And I don’t know why. It is always nice to take a stroll in Venice, or ride the gondola, or just the water taxi, which is less expensive. And Venetian masks are wonderfully and exquisitely made. I don’t know. Maybe I’d like to visit some quaint Italian town, milk some cow, and just live a rural life out there in the Italian Alps–of course while doing my landslide and avalanche monitoring and research and modelling.  Hahaha.

7.  What do you plan to do after your studies?

I wish to establish a geophysics research laboratory housed in either the Ateneo Department of Physics or at the Manila Observatory. I hope this becomes part of some kind of an official disaster and risk management research group in the university.

8.  Any parting words for our students in physics?

I guess the best advice is to really prepare oneself academically first and foremost. Nothing beats excellence in the sciences, mathematics, and languages. It is like layers of skin that you “wear” no matter what part of the world you are in.

The next thing would be to find one’s research interest, one that does not feel like you are actually doing research, but rather one that makes you feel like you’ll be able to contribute to this field of interest, be of genuine service to others, and at the same time gain loads of fun, knowledge, and insight.  After all, I think this is one very important goal of hard core research—to be able to find some mechanism or principle to understand the laws of nature and make life better for our world without destroying our environment most especially during these precarious times.

Ateneo Physics News: Thank you, Joel, for the wonderful interview.

Joel Maquiling: Well, that was nice.

Ateneo Innovation Center uses ordinary videos as rain monitoring sensors via RGB plots

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Dr. Greg Tangonan giving a lecture in an Innovation class at Ateneo de Manila University

Dr. Greg Tangonan giving a lecture in an Innovation class at Ateneo de Manila University

Two weeks ago, Dr. Greg Tangonan and I met by chance at the College Cafeteria for lunch.

“We have a new project at the Ateneo Innovation Center.  We are studying the rainfall through the blur in the images.” Dr. Tangonan said.

“Yes, the image will blur,” I said. “But how do you measure rain from it?  You’ll need to measure the blur and calibrate it.”

“Of course, we shall calibrate it,” Dr. Tangonan said.  “We are looking at the shift in image per pixel.  Our students are simulating these shifts.   We hope some physics guys will come over and see. ”

I was silent.  I was trying to find some physical model that the students can use.  The theory of random walks that simulates the motion of a pixel like a drunk man whose probability to walk in any direction is the same?  But why will that model work?

“If you have time, come with me to my office, and I shall show you our project,” said Dr. Tangonan.

“I can go there now,” I said.

We already finished our lunch, so off we went.

When we reached his office at the Ateneo Innovation Center, Dr. Tangonan opened his laptop.

“This is the image of the rain,” Dr. Tangonan said as he showed me a video clip.  It’s an image of an island across the sea.

“Now, I can choose a box in the image and plot its RGB values.”  Using the mouse cursor, Dr. Tangonan selected a square on the image, clicks on a program to run a software, and out came a display for the average intensity of red (R), green (G), and blue (B) as function of time.  The display looks like three snakes–red, green, and blue–going out of their hole on the left and racing towards the right.

“This is the image when there is no rain,” Dr. Tangonan said as he selected an image box above the clouds.

The blue is more intense than the red, so the graph of the blue is higher than that of the red.  This is not obvious in the video, because the sky appears white.  But the predominance of blue is  is expected:  The sky is blue because the air is made of molecules which scatter more blue light than red light.  So what we are seeing is scattered blue light.

“Now, this is the image when there is rain,” Dr. Tangonan said as he selected an image box below the dark clouds.

I looked at the RGB display.  My jaw dropped: the red is now more intense than the blue.

“Unbelievable!” I said.  “This is really something!”

What I am seeing is the  typhoon forecasting counterpart for rain.  More than a hundred years ago, Fr. Federico Faura, SJ of Manila Observatory noticed the drop in height of Mercury in the barometer before the coming of the storm.  Padre Faura assumed that the hurricanes of Antilles and the cyclones of Indian Ocean are no different from the typhoons in the Far East.  So it is only a matter of applying the equations in the former two phenomena, and Padre Faura predicted the first typhoon that hit Manila in November 18, 1879.  But how do we associate the drop in blue and the rise of red to rainfall content?

“Of course, it is something.” said Dr. Tangonan.  “We plan to study the stratification of clouds and determine where rain starts.  We can even use the data of MMDA–those videos of daily traffic–effectively transforming MMDA’s cameras to a rain forecasting instruments.”

I nodded.  Maybe we can also have a constant light source, e.g. a lamp post,  as reference and take its video continuously during sunny and rainy days.  A  rainfall measuring instrument such as a tipping bucket can be placed between the camera and the lamp post.  The inversion of the red and blue intensities in the RGB display can then be correlated with the rainfall volume.  This is straightforward.

But the theoretical physics part is tough.  Rainfall varies in different places.  We need to have a theory to make sense of the data.  We have to know the size distribution of the raindrops and the raindrop distribution density.  We have to determine the scattering of light in the raindrop: how much light is received by the camera and how much light is scattered away from the camera.  The size of the particles would determine the equations used for modeling their scattering properties.  Mie scattering is the electromagnetic wave theory for spheres.  If the raindrops are much bigger than the wavelengths of light, maybe I can use the ray tracing approximation, which treats light not waves but rays.  But even this is also tough, because this requires statistical ray tracing, if we allow for multiple scattering.  Maybe we can use Beer-Lambert’s law instead, and lump up all the complex phenomena of light absorption in a simple exponential decay.

“I am sold to the idea,” I said to Dr. Tangonan.  “This method for rain forecasting and monitoring is really feasible.”

“Of course, it is feasible,” said Dr. Tangonan. “We don’t do stupid things.”