PRRC, tech startup forge partnership to revive Pasig River
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) and local cryptocurrency startup Cypher Odin have joined hands to save the Pasig River using Internet-of-Things (IoT) and blockchain technology.

With the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU), Cypher Odin chief executive officer Mariano Villafuerte IV said his company and the PRRC can start linking their networks by sharing and exchanging data vital to the restoration of the 25-kilometer river.

Using blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT),PRRC and Cypher Odin can enable the Pasig River to regain its former splendor, Villafuerte said. 

“There are so many opportunities in this river,” Villafuerte said. “Thinking about Pasig River, you would never even imagine that jumping in the water with your mouth open is a possibility – but it can be a reality. Just like how the River Thames in the UK was recovered from being dead, now they have dolphins, turtles and fish,” Villafuerte said. 

“France did an excellent job with the River Seine and also in South Korea with the Cheonggyecheon River. It is possible to have a new Pasig River. A river that can rival the beauty of similar areas in Hong Kong or Singapore,” he said.

The Thames, located in the center of London, is the world’s cleanest river that flows through a major city. This is significant considering that 50 years ago the river was so polluted that it was declared biologically dead. From 1830 to 1860 tens of thousands of people died of cholera as a result of the pollution in the Thames. Today, the longest river in England is so clean, dolphins can be seen swimming in the water.  

Under the deal, the PRRC and Cypher Odin plan to cooperate within the framework of their respective mandates and authority in the implementation of activities. Aside from linking both their networks, the parties also agree to meet regularly and identify problem areas while providing solutions. 

To effectively monitor the amount of garbage, mainly plastic that saturates Pasig River, Villafuerte plans to deploy modern IoT and even Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT) devices to monitor the water quality, tide levels and other relevant data points. 

The access to significant data under a trusted, peer to peer and inter-agency platform is a significant use-case for blockchain as it will be able to provide more accountability, transparency and consistency and reduce barriers of entry towards recovery of the river.

In addition, Cypher Odin is launching a cryptocurrency called BOTcoin to reward communities and companies along the river to help in the cleanup. Villafuerte believes that creating incentives and rewarding people to stop polluting the river is the best way to quickly bring about change.

“Through BOTcoin, we plan on following a Smart City approach which will create even smarter citizens. The Smart River Initiative will put the Philippines on the forefront of creating solutions… to problems in waste management, afforestation, clean water, marine transport and retrieving lost remnants of our culture,” Villafuerte said.

Data showed Pasig River dumps over 63,700 tons of plastic every year into the ocean and Laguna de Bay. The river connects the lake and Manila Bay and was once used as a major transport route. 

Villafuerte said the raw data collected in Pasig River would be processed, analyzed and turned into information to create a more permanent solution to the plastic and garbage problem plaguing the river. 

“We must realize that the cost of the recovery of waste increases as you prolong the cleanup,” he said.

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