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Staff members of the Emergency Operation Center in Kaohsiung showed the mobile app developed to help people contact them during disasters. (Photo grabbed from Dr. Bagarinao's FB Page)

Members of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Committee visited Taiwan on 8-10 November to explore possible collaborations on offering a UPOU program on Disaster Preparedness and Management.

Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao, Dean of the UPOU Faculty of Education and former Chair of the UPOU DRRM Committee, and Dr. Consuelo Dl. Habito, Program Chair for the UPOU Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management (MENRM) program and the current Chair of the UPOU DRRM Committee, met with Dr. Min-Hao Wu, Director of the Science and Technology Center for Disaster Prevention and Reduction and concurrent Chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the National University of Kaohsiung (NUK) to discuss areas of collaboration in developing an online course on disaster preparedness. The program is envisioned to offer state-of-the-art knowledge on natural disasters to equip students with adequate skills and ability in developing disaster management systems; and to provide a venue for effective exchange of first hand experiences about Taiwan and Philippine disasters and how these disasters will be managed through open and distance elearning platforms.

Dean Bagarinao and Dr. Habito also visited the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) of the City of Kaohsiung. The staff-in-charge explained that in major emergencies or disasters, the Mayor of Kaohsiung acts as the commander in chief and directs all operations using 80 computers and phones linked via the internet or via satellite. The EOC building is earthquake-proof and is provided with backup systems for power and water, and a satellite dish for communication and data transmission. The 119 Emergency Response Center is manned 24 hours with 27 personnel on two shifts to respond to all types of emergencies. Another staff showed an application that they developed which allows any person requiring assistance such as ambulance to call or send them SMS in case of any disaster.

The NUK has earned its reputation in disaster prevention and management by continuously providing technical and professional advice in disaster prevention and management for the City Government of Kaohsiung.