App Review: NOAH LIfesaving App
Natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and landslides can cause substantial loss of life and property, but a new generation of mobile apps is helping keep people safe, with real time updates and early warnings of dangerous circumstances. One of the most prominent of these is the NOAH PH app, developed in the Philippines to provide both residents and governmental bodies the information they need to stay safe during disastrous weather events like cyclones, tsunamis, and landslides.
The Philippine government’s Department of Science and Technology developed Project NOAH (National Operational Assessment of Hazards) in 2013. The Project NOAH website combines data from numerous sources such as Doppler radar, meteorological devices, landslide detection monitors, and more to provide a constantly updated, real-time picture of weather events and their effects on land and coastlines. The NOAH website also provides information about other kinds of natural disasters, such as volcano eruptions and earthquakes.
Anyone can access NOAH’s site to make informed decisions about what to do when a typhoon or other natural disaster strikes. NOAH can also help local governments and disaster management organizations plan strategies for responding to potential risks, such as deciding whether to evacuate residents from danger zones.
Project NOAH proved so effective that in 2015, the International Data Corporation in Asia Pacific named it the Top Smart City Initiative in Public Safety. But in 2017, NOAH was defunded as a project of the Department of Science and Technology and eventually taken over by the University of the Philippines, which now administers its website and the NOAH app.
How Does the NOAH App Work?
Project NOAH’s website is free and open to everyone, and its accompanying iOS app can make most of the website’s tracking tools and other information available on any tablet or smartphone. The NOAH PH app by Pointwest Technologies accesses the website’s databases and weather tracking tools to provide a real-time look at weather conditions and the risk of tsunami, flooding, or landslide in specific areas, or the entire country.
They developed the Noah App in 2016 and it’s available as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play for iPhone and iPad. It provides users with nearly all the weather information available on the website except for certain maps. With the app installed, users can directly access virtually all real-time data on the website.
The Project NOAH app is the first of three disaster apps launched by NOAH’s developers to generate real-time disaster updates. The second, ARKO, provides rainfall updates, flood hazard warnings, and maps of areas vulnerable to landslides. The last of the three, WebSAFE, provides information on the impact of natural disasters on property and infrastructure as well as the usual real-time updates on weather and other potentially dangerous natural events. All are free to download for iOS devices.
Who Needs the NOAH App?
The Noah site and app are available to both government agencies and ordinary citizens, so that anyone with the app installed on a smartphone or tablet can get detailed and current information about disaster risks, and plan accordingly. That has made it a valuable tool for disaster preparedness teams and government officials. In the Philippines, Project NOAH helped officials in low-lying Marikina City reduce the risks associated with flooding and landslides from a 2013 typhoon, and save lives with early warnings and precise mapping of vulnerable locations.
NOAH has also helped individuals plan for disasters like typhoons and storms with detailed information about weather systems, rainfall, and the risk of local dangers. NOAH’s data can help people make vital decisions to stay safe and protect property, so the NOAH app allows anyone with an enabled device to get the latest information at any time, updated in real time.
Alternatives to the NOAH App
Project NOAH’s app is one of many “disaster apps” that provide essential support during emergencies and natural disasters of various kinds. Most use Google mapping data, satellite weather information, and other research-backed data sources to pinpoint locations and offer up to date and highly customized information about weather and other events.
As its name indicates, Quakeapp focuses on news about earthquakes anywhere in the world. This free app for both iOS and Android gathers data from seismic monitors, research stations, and a variety of other sources to provide detailed, customizable alerts and notifications about quakes, tsunamis, and related events as well as customizable weather alerts.
With over 50 million downloads, MyRadar is one of the most popular radar-based weather tracking apps in the world. It’s available for iPad, iPhone, and even the Apple Watch, and uses radar data collected from around the world to provide detailed information about weather conditions and events like hurricanes and blizzards. Users can customize the app to receive specific notifications about any areas they want.
Disaster Alert is a free, global notification app for Android, iOS, and any online device that tracks nearly every human-made or natural hazard in the world, such as wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, and floods. Users can customize the app to receive alerts about specific areas or events.
Disaster Alert also has a companion app for government agencies and disaster management organizations and teams, called Disaster Aware. This version uses real-time geospatial data from a variety of sources to support disaster planning efforts and the reduction of risk from a variety of dangerous events.
What People Say About Project NOAH and the NOAH PH App
Along with recognition as a Smart City technology, Project NOAH has received praise for its ability to reduce the loss of life and property damage in the Philippines, thanks to its detailed alerts that include information about rainfall, maps of areas at risk to landslides during typhoons, and more.
Users of the free NOAH app between 2018 and 2020 gave it a 3.1 rating on the Apple App Store. Some users complain that the app is slow to update and runs behind actual typhoon conditions in the country. Others cite problems connecting to the NOAH weather website and glitches with loading and running the app itself. Overall, users say that the NOAH app can be a useful tool for staying updated on potentially dangerous weather conditions, but that the quality of both the app and the NOAH site declined after the Philippine government stopped funding the project.
Although the NOAH app and website have changed considerably in the switch from government support to management by the University of the Philippines, the app remains an important tool for saving lives and reducing damages from severe weather in the Philippines.