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EXCLUSIVE – Encouraging collaboration and sharing of knowledge within the government and beyond at the City of Quezon

Quezon City is the biggest city in Metro Manila, occupying one quarter of its land area and population. Based on the results of the National Competitiveness Council’s 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) project, Quezon City is the most competitive city in the Philippines, besting 1389 other local governments in terms of three pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency and Infrastructure. OpenGov caught up with Mayor Bautista over an email interview to learn about Quezon City’s latest ICT infrastructure developments, government collaboration projects and using ICT technologies for greater social and environmental outcomes.

What are some of the major ICT infrastructure initiatives and projects that the City Government is working on now?

A recent initiative under the Quezon City Government’s Information Systems Strategic Plan (ISSP) is the establishment of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) under its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Office. The EOC is a 24/7 monitoring system for tracking traffic, security and other emergency-related issues throughout the city. It has a quick response mechanism linking action units of key operating units of the city government such as the DRRM, the Department of Public Order and Safety, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Quezon City Police District, the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, the City Engineering Department, and the Department of Health.

In 2017, the EOC ICT infrastructure system is being linked to the city’s 141 public schools, 65 public health centers, fire stations, district offices and other critical government installations.

Other projects include the development of eGIS or Quezon City’s spatial digital maps linking the parcel and etax maps maintained by the City Assessor, the Local Building Official’s data on structures, and the City Planning and Development Office’s zoning and urban planning data.

For tracking patient data on those treated at the city’s health centers, the health workers use the Community Health Information Tracking Systems (CHITS), which is an electronic medical record system which allows quick retrieval of medical records of individuals.  A variation in use is rCHITS, which is a maternal referral system which enables lying-in clinics to quickly arrange for hospital acceptance of pregnancy cases beyond its capacity to handle.

For convenience in revenue payments, the city government offers online and mobile money payment options, including the printing of electronic receipts. It also offers those applying for business permits for corporations, partnerships and cooperatives, a system of applying online through the city government portal, www.quezoncity.gov.ph.

Being fully completed is the city government’s electronic financial system linking the city government’s financial processes, from budgeting, inventory control, procurement, accounting and fund disbursements.

Are there any long-term digital strategies or plans in place for Quezon City?

The Quezon City government’s digital strategies are provided for in the updated 2016-2019 QC ISSP which provides the city government’s digital road map towards the strategies for “Adopting and Sustaining Smart City Initiatives.” This will include providing for the inter-operability of the local government system with those of the national government, under the guidance of the Philippine Government’s Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). This will remove duplication of ICT resources and promote efficiency in government services.

Increasingly, it is important for agencies and ministries within the same government to collaborate and work together to provide better services for their citizens.  Are there any steps taken to encourage more collaboration and sharing of information within the city government?

Included in the QC ISSP for 2016-2019 are major programs pertaining to the collaboration of various operating units and institutions within the Quezon City Government. One of such programs is the Unified Medical and Health Record System for city health facilities and hospitals for faster referral and monitoring, centralization of data bases to promote transaction processing and simplify service delivery.

Another collaborative system is that for electronic payment systems, which links private and government financial institutions with different networked city government operating units: the Information Technology Development Office, the City Treasurer, the City Assessor, and the Communications Coordination Center’s web managers.

The eFinancial system is also a widely linked system connecting all city departments involved in financial transactions.

What do you think are the milestones and achievements in your role as Mayor so far?

In recent years, I would say that it would be the back-to-back recognition by the private sector of the accomplishments of the Quezon City Government. These were by way of the conferment in 2016 of Quezon City as “The Most Competitive City in the Philippines,” and on the same year, as the “Most Business Friendly Local Government Unit.”

These were the results of significant improvements in innovations in governance services that have promoted pioneering use of digital transactions for government, and in massive improvements in public infrastructure that have benefited the business community.

But the City Government has also marked achievements in promoting inclusive growth, by modernizing health services for the poor, and in an aggressive housing and resettlement program that has prioritized the movement of informal settlers out of danger areas. The housing program has been multi-pronged and well recognized as a sustainable model by international and local institutions. It is creating more than 20 new, well-constructed socialized housing communities within the city for more than 5,000 families; it also consists of partnerships with national government housing and finance agencies, for the generation of more than 23,000 housing units and for financial sustainability, as well as partnerships with other local government units for a productive and cooperative arrangement for the proper resettlement of new families.

Quezon City also has a pioneering and multi-awarded environment management program based on the foundation of creating a Resilient Quezon City through better resource management and utilization, through conservation and protection and through waste management and pollution control.  Environment management and disaster-risk reduction underpin the city’s urban development strategy. The City Government operates the first clean development mechanism from biogas emission reduction from solid waste management, in Southeast Asia. The facility is registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

It generates electricity through its methane gas deposits at its landfill, and has engaged in a recycling program for used tires as refuse-derived fuel for cement production.

The city government is a signatory to various international conventions including the Kyoto Protocol, the Global Cities Covenant on Climate (Mexico City Pact), the 2015 Paris Pledge of Action, and the commitment to Deadline 2020, which is the Mexico 2016 initiative that ramps up action programs provided for in the Paris Agreement on global warming. Quezon City has also promoted among other Philippine mayors, commitment to the Compact of Mayors, which is a global coalition of city leaders committed to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions.

You are a keen advocate of sustainable urban development and protecting the environment.  How do you think the use of ICT technologies can help in achieving these goals?

The increasing use of ICT technology and tools are both good and bad for the environment. As a channel for communicating and promoting advocacies and good environmental practices, it offers multiple types of media and allows the easy spread of communication locally and globally.  It allows the City Government to network continuously with such international bodies as C40, ICLEI, CityNet and UNISDR on the adoption and progress of various common environmental initiatives and disaster mitigation programs.

Through emails, social media communication and ecommerce, technology allows savings in greenhouse gases that would otherwise be used for transportation and deliveries.

The Quezon City Government also uses handheld Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for its Biodiversity Profile Projects, taking photos of trees with their corresponding coordinates on their location and geotagging. The output is an integrated city map that shows the city’s green spaces and different kinds of trees.

The City government keeps track of its carbon emissions and reports this regularly to the Cities Climate Registry (cCCR).

Technology-based environmental observation and analysis has also enabled the City Government to produce its Disaster Risk and vulnerability maps of all its communities, which has become a most useful basis for the city’s disaster-risk management programs, especially those at the community levels.

On the other hand, technology instruments yield an increasing amount of electronic trash. Presently, the city government promotes the operation of trading stations that enabling the recycling of electronic trash.

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