DAVAO CITY — The national government picked this bustling city to launch its new flagship program anchored on ICT (information and communications technology) dubbed “Smarter Philippines”, which seeks, among others, to develop “smarter cities” and “smarter countryside” across the nation.
Top officials from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and various national ICT organizations were in attendance at the Marco Polo Hotel for the unveiling of the ambitious program.
ICTO (Information and Communications Technology Office) executive director Louis Casambre said the government chose Davao as the launch site to demonstrate the importance of the countryside in the program’s implementation.
“It’s also fitting that we are launching this program in Davao because this progressive city is about to roll out its smarter city initiative? from IBM,” said Casambre.
In their presentations, DOST officials took pains to point out that the Smarter Philippines is not merely a conglomeration of ICT-related projects but also an initiative to change the old mindset of the people with regard as to how attain progress and address age-old problems.
For instance, DOST secretary Mario Montejo said common folks could consult ICT tools such as Noah (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) during weather disturbances to avoid casualties instead of putting themselves on harm’s way.
The ICT strategy is composed of six core areas: Smarter Government, Smarter Economy, Smarter Environment, Smarter Mobility, Smarter Living, and Smarter People.
“We believe that these intelligent ICT-enabled systems combined with scientific knowledge and local know-how will provide more solutions to our persistent problems, and result in better lives for our people,” Montejo said.
Casambre said the ICTO is spearheading to enable Smarter Government, particularly the Integrated Government Philippines or iGovPhil project which aims to address the government’s need for interconnectivity and more efficient public service.
ICTO deputy executive director Alejandro Melchor III, who has been designated as overall director of Smarter Philippines, said the program intends to focus on the twin economic goals of sustained inclusive economic development and poverty alleviation.
“We aim to do this by prioritizing development of tier two cities and the countryside, as well as enhancing the capabilities of individuals, communities as well as SMEs,” said Melchor, who will report directly to Montejo on the progress of the initiative.
Melchor said the program’s structure draws heavily upon the European-wide smarter cities initiative in structure. He explained, however, that it has been tweaked to suit local conditions.
“Having a smarter city is phase one of the shift to a knowledge-based economy,” he said. “In a knowledge-based economy, success is based on what you know and not what you own.”
The DOST has also designated project heads for the various initiatives: Dennis Villorente of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (Asti) for iGovPhil; Dr. Enrico C. Paringit of UP Department of Geodetic Engineering for Dream LiDAR, Dr. Mahar Lagmay of Project Noah, Dr. Portia Marcelo of the National Telehealth Center and Rowen R. Gelonga of DOST Region VI for the DOST Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (Set-Up).