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    Scientists in the Philippines Design Affordable Landslide Sensor

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    An affordable landslide sensor designed to save lives is being developed in the Philippines. The device measures soil erosion in mountainous areas and signals residents that a landslide may be in the making. Let's find out more.

    Students and faculty at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) are developing a landslide warning device that can prompt early evacuations and prevent casualties.

    In a cyclone-battered country where landslides take countless lives every year, the research is considered crucial to improving disaster management and risk reduction.

    The prototype sensors are cylindrical nodes planted 2 meters (1.24) deep in the foot of a mountain.

    They measure soil movements and send the data to terminals via instant messaging.

    Mark Zarco, a geodetic engineer and one of the developers, says landslides occur on a slope before being visible to the naked eye.

    [Mark Zarco, Geodetic Engineer & University Professor]:
    "It's only when there are large movements that they become visible, but very often measuring even just the small movements, that eventually become big movements, give you a lot more lead time to warn people."

    The device incorporates a moisture sensor and an accelerometer to measure the direction, speed and moisture content of the soil when it rains.

    It is similar to but much less expensive than the conventional inclinometer that measures earth movements via a casing which moves from its initial position when the ground moves.

    But at around 45 thousand dollars U.S., inclinometers are much too expensive for poor communities whose priorities are food supply, farm materials and road infrastructure.

    The university team's sensing device will sell for around 11 hundred dollars U.S.

    Meanwhile, the team is incorporating other measuring devices inside the sensor.