The Philippine Space Agency has started the pre-implementation of a new project designed to capacitate and enable various sectors to sustainably access and use space data according to their needs. The project, named PINAS, which stands for PhilSA Integrated Network for Space-Enabled Actions towards Sustainability, will be implemented by the PhilSA Space Information Infrastructure Bureau (SIIB). The PINAS project envisions a community empowered through space data mobilization wherein the full value chain of space data will be utilized. 

“PINAS will be an active community of national government agencies, local government units, research institutions, the civil society, and the private sector, working collaboratively on the socially-responsive use of space data and information.” SIIB Director Dr. Ariel C. Blanco explained. 

PINAS will have three phases: network building, capacity building, and buildup and expansion. The SIIB has initiated the network building phase, beginning with the Province of Iloilo. The country’s third Ground Receiving Station (GRS), operated and maintained by the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), is located in Dumangas, Iloilo.

On 17 June 2022, PhilSA SIIB conducted a pre-implementation workshop of the PINAS Project at the Esca’s Garden, Iloilo City, which was attended by over 100 representatives from the province’s LGUs, regional government agencies, and non-government organizations. The participants are from offices involved in agriculture, disaster risk reduction management (DRRM), urban and rural planning, and environment monitoring and natural resources management–sectors where space data would be valuable for data-based policymaking.

Director Ariel C. Blanco presenting remote sensing and geographic information systems applications (RS-GIS)

In her opening remarks, PhilSA Deputy Director General Dr. Gay Jane Perez emphasized the importance of space data obtained through satellites for planning, monitoring, and local policymaking. She underscored that collaboration with LGUs as direct users of satellite data would further strengthen on-ground efforts. 

Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., in his message, expressed PhilSA’s interest in building a community of diverse, responsive, and cooperative members that will ensure sustained knowledge sharing throughout the country through the use of space products. 

Ms. Shielo Muta, Chief of the Space Mission Control and Operations Division (SMCOD) of PhilSA SIIB introduced the bureau’s downstream projects. One of these downstream projects is  DALOI, or the Data Allocation and Operational Information Flow. PINAS Project Leader and PhilSA SMCOD Senior Science Research Specialist Ms. Jamaica Pangasinan explained that DALOI will serve as PhilSA’s central distribution system of data that will manage data requests from end users, such as the LGUs, and distribute the raw or processed data products. 

Dir. Blanco, meanwhile, gave a presentation on remote sensing and geographic information systems applications (RS-GIS). This provided an overview of RS-GIS and how information from these images are used for land cover change detection, flood mapping, ocean and marine ecosystems monitoring, and air quality monitoring efforts, to mention a few.

During the workshop, Mr. Alan Moscoso, a researcher at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), highlighted how space science and technology applications are utilized by UPV to detect changes in the environment. An example of this is detecting topographical changes in the UPV Miagao Campus by studying enhanced vegetation index through time.

The workshop allowed participants to identify the problems and challenges faced by their sectors, the efforts and plans to address the challenges, sites of interest, and opportunities for capacity building and networking. They were also asked to accomplish a baseline survey to determine the position and capabilities of LGUs on space-related programs and projects, utilization of space data products, ICT infrastructure and human resources, learning opportunities, and resource allocation. 

From Iloilo, the project will target other LGUs in Luzon and Mindanao to conduct similar workshops. “The aim of the workshops is to identify their needs and capabilities. Based on these needs, PhilSA would be able to collaboratively develop a customized capacity-building approach and eventually enable end users to set up a system of space data access, sharing, and utilization. This would allow them to more efficiently perform their functions and respond to the needs of the communities,” Ms. Pangasinan explained.

Capacity-building activities will begin in 2023. The creation of the network data-sharing system and expansion of the said system to other LGUs and sectors in the research community and civil society are also set for next year.