New community app for fishermen launched

Published January 21, 2021, 5:35 PM

by Roy Mabasa

No smartphone? No Internet? No worries for Filipino fishermen. 

The United States Embassy in Manila on Thursday joined the launching of  a one-of-a-kind community app that will communicate important safety and weather information to fisherfolk who do not have smartphones or mobile internet.

Called ISDApp, the app was developed by Filipino creatives and IT professionals under Team iNON (It’s Now or Never) during the 2018 NASA Space Apps Challenge, and was the Philippines’ the first-ever NASA Space Apps global champion entry, beating out 1,395 entries worldwide to win the Galactic Impact category. 

The app pulls together scientific data on local weather forecasts and sea conditions to provide the 
fisherfolk community with important safety information sent as SMS messages through the local government. 

In many rural areas in the Philippines, analog phones are still common access to technology, not smartphones. 

“The vision for Team iNON is to be known for connecting fishing communities to the government, NGOs, and to the rest of the country so that they will be given the information they need, and at the same time build a community,” said ISDApp Solutions Designer JC Torreda.

Torreda pointed out that the NASA Space Apps Challenge helped them in the ideation of ISDApp, where there’s a “collaboration between idea, data, and technology.” 

U.S. Embassy Counselor for Public Affairs Philip Roskamp congratulated iNON for the success of the app’s launch. 

“Today demonstrates that U.S.-Philippine collaboration in science and technology can transform lives,” the US Embassy official said. 

 The NASA Space Apps Challenge encourages talented coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, and technologists to use NASA’s open data to create open source solutions to address key challenges on Earth and in space. 

Since winning the NASA Challenge in 2018, the U.S. Embassy and other Space Apps organizing partners continued to support iNON as it developed ISDApp, including facilitating a July 2019 visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to meet NASA officials. 

Team iNON, for its part, mentored more Filipino teams joining the NASA Space Apps Challenge in 2020. 

The launch was co-sponsored by Globe Telecom, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region IV-A, the National Fisheries 
Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), and the Sariaya Municipal 
Agriculture Office in Quezon.