#PinoyPride : Two Filipino Teams among Global Space Data Competition for COVID-19 Finalists

Two teams from the Philippines, GiveSight and World MAQI, are selected by the United States space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as global finalists for the all-virtual Earth Observation Dashboard Hackathon held last June 23-29. With 4,300+ participants from 132 countries and territories, the week-long event featured 233 projects to solve challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic using data from the Earth Observing (EO) Dashboard, an interactive data resource giving policymakers and the public a unique tool to probe the impacts of pandemic-related restrictions implemented around the world through the lens of Earth observation satellites.







The Geo-Intelligent Visualization of Earth Systems in Graphical and Historical Timelines (GiveSIGHT) seeks to improve the current EO dashboard by highlighting significant changes of the COVID-19 pandemic through visualizations and guided insight for prospect users. The proposed dashboard is intended to visualize economic proxies through night lights, economic activities, and lock-down timeline in the Philippines. 


The team is led by Gabriel Kristopher "Cricket" Soong, an electrical engineer and emerging technologies consultant, and members include software engineer Mark Barretto and Adamson University computer engineering students Angelica Mhay Salazar, Karl Adrian de Guzman, and Joshua Bungcaras.


Mobility over Air Quality Index


The Mobility over Air Quality Index (MAQI) is derived from the fusion of mobility statistics provided by Google with air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from Earth observations.  While the COVID-19 pandemic initially led to decreased mobility and improved air quality, countries around the world have begun to lift their quarantine restrictions, triggering air pollution once again. Through MAQI, areas and communities with improved mobility and air quality may be identified and recognized. 


The team is composed of space data researchers and hackathon veterans. Data analyst Dominic Vincent "Doc" Ligot and data engineer Mark Neil Pascual led the conceptualization and prototype development, while Michael Lance M. Domagas, a computer science Master’s student, reunited with his undergraduate thesis adviser, Arturo "Art" Caronongan III, an assistant professorial lecturer from De La Salle University, to do research and concept validation for MAQI. 



Pinoy pride and ingenuity


In 2020, Art Caronongan’s team placed as global finalist in the NASA Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge for Snail Space, an app giving a "safe space" by providing mental care and comfort during times of social isolation brought by COVID-19 pandemic.


In 2019, Doc’s team developed Advanced Early Dengue Prediction and Exploration Service (Project AEDES) which used Earth observations for data-driven dengue detection and nowcasting, bagging the global award for the best use of data in the prestigious NASA International Space Apps Challenge. Since then, the initiative has garnered more accolades: recognized in 2020 by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) for applying Earth observations towards the achievement of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and more recently last May 2021, vetted and approved by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as a Digital Public Good (DPG), putting the Philippines on the map as a DPG pathfinding pilot country.


A team from CirroLytix Research Services, a Philippine-based startup leading the charge in using big data for social impact founded by Doc, developed Global Impact Detection from Emitted Light, Onset of COVID-19, and Nitrogen Dioxide (GIDEON), a data portal that used satellite data and news feeds to measure economic and social impacts of lockdowns and pandemic interventions. In 2020, GIDEON also won the best use of data global award in the NASA Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge.


Cricket Soong and Mark Pascual are also from CirroLytix, and in late 2020 were Space Apps global nominees for Global Hazard Exposure and Resiliency Trends by Earth observation and Analysis Tools (Global HEARTBEAT), an interactive tool providing geo-located information on natural and human hazards surrounding communities within the Philippines and Canada.


Winners of both space hackathons are invited to visit NASA and partner agencies’ facilities but are responsible for covering their own costs. Although travel has been on hold since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, invitations shall resume once travel is deemed safe. 


Michael Lance, a lead local organizer of Space Apps, appeals for support in recognizing these global winners and finalists, "Having both led and participated in these hackathons, I can attest to the world-class quality of our local innovators but sadly support for these innovators has been minimal. In the same way we Filipinos love to cheer our athletes and beauty queens who represent our country, I hope we can find value in supporting our Philippine technologists, who also bring our country pride through their innovation.”




EO dashboard hackathon winners shall be announced in early August 2021.



About EO dashboard hackathon


From June 23- 29, coders, scientists, entrepreneurs, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, artists, technologists, and space enthusiasts from around the world joined National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the all-virtual, global Earth Observation Dashboard Hackathon.


During this week-long event, participants will create virtual teams and solve one of 10 challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic using data from the Earth Observing Dashboard (the "EO Dashboard" for short). The EO Dashboard is an interactive data resource that gives the public and policymakers a unique tool to probe the short-term and long-term impacts of pandemic-related restrictions implemented around the world through the lens of Earth observation satellites.


During the hackathon, participants will have the opportunity to form virtual teams, interact with experts from NASA, ESA, and JAXA in our chat channels, and submit projects. The winning teams will have the opportunity to incorporate their solutions into the EO Dashboard – making a lasting impact on its long-term legacy!


The EO Dashboard Hackathon celebrates the one-year anniversary of the EO Dashboard's launch and builds on the success of the Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge.




About CirroLytix


CirroLytix Research Services is a social impact data analytics company. Its mission is to help governments, non-profits, researchers, international and local organizations succeed at addressing collective social problems around the world by harnessing the full power of their data. CirroLytix strives to enable social impact professionals and entities make positive data-driven change on the lives they seek to uplift.



About Dominic Vincent "Doc" Ligot


Dominic Vincent "Doc" Ligot is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of CirroLytix Research Services. A former bank risk manager and technology executive turned data scientist and researcher, Ligot has made it his life’s mission to push data-driven innovation for the Philippines and apply data to social development areas such as public health, human rights, education and fighting disinformation. 


A co-founder of the Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP), and co-developer and active faculty of the Master in Applied Business Analytics (MABA) program of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), Doc envisages the Philippines as a global talent pool for data science and artificial intelligence. According to him, "What we’ve always tried to do, ever since we started our work at CirroLytix, is show that social problems are data problems, and our local talent is up to the task in solving these data problems. Data science and AI are great equalizers, and the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is the glaring opportunity for the Philippines to flex its muscles in STEM and we should make a massive effort to push data education and literacy for all."


Doc is also a key resource of Smarter Philippines through Analytics R&D Training and Adoption  (Project SPARTA), a nationwide initiative to train 30,000 Filipinos in Data Science and Analytics funded by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD), and implemented by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), the Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP), and Coursebank with key partnerships in the national government and local government units.

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