A geographic information system (GIS) used for monitoring the country’s road system proved effective at keeping motorists away from potentially dangerous roads when Taiwan was struck by Typhoon Fanapi late last month, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) said.
The first-hand information provided by the system allowed the DGH to monitor many vulnerable road sections and bridges prior to and during the storm and reduce the risk of casualties, said Chen Shou-chiang (陳守強), an engineer with the DGH’s Central Emergency Command Center.
The DGH said that 18 road sections were completely blocked by landslides and other natural obstacles triggered by the typhoon, and another 48 suffered minor damage. All of the affected sections were tracked by the system.
Because of the GIS, the agency was able to close off some roads and bridges before the storm hit to prevent motorists from being caught in sudden road or bridge collapses and it also monitored the roads in real-time to warn vehicles away soon after problems occurred.
The DGH added that all 66 of the affected road sections were open to traffic by the end of last month.
The installation in April of the NT$1.3 million (US$41,000) cloud computing system was aimed at integrating information from relevant government branches to enhance the government’s response to natural disasters, Chen said.
He said the system has encouraged cross-department collaboration. Agencies with access to the platform’s database are all able to share instant typhoon information to improve response efficiency.
Participating agencies include the Central Weather Bureau, the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction, the Water Resources Agency, as well as the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, the DGH said.
Until now, however, the system has been only partially open to the public because of the Computer-Processed Personal Data Protection Act (電腦處理個人資料保護法).
“Technically speaking, the system is ready to go online anytime,” Chen said. “We hope a public edition without specific information is launched soon.”