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‘Digital Philippines’ to lead government digital transformation

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is set to lead government digital transformation to respond to the multi-sectoral call for enhanced public service delivery and improved internet access under the new normal.

The Department has a roadmap for digitalisation, but it will require robust and wide-reaching ICT infrastructure buildup, a press release has said.

DICT will be focusing on its four-point agenda with the following key objectives:

  • Safer, protected, and reliable ICT
  • An ICT-enabled government
  • Greater public reach
  • ICT capacity development

An official explained the agenda as the objectives of the overarching ‘Digital Philippines’ vision upon which DICT’S digitialisation programs are now anchored on.

ICT will be embedded in how governance is handled, public services are delivered, the population is educated, and industries work.

The vision of a Digital Philippines will be realised with solutions tailored after the Department’s identified four components of the national ICT agenda. Chief among these efforts is redesigning public services to be more efficient by revisiting long-term digitalisation efforts to reflect reforms for greater public reach enabled by accelerated ICT infrastructure buildup.

To this end, the Department is focusing on two of its major programs: the National Broadband Program (NBP) and the Free Wi-Fi for All Program.

The National Broadband Program

NBP aims to improve internet speeds through increased broadband capability for broader, faster, and more affordable access for Filipinos.

The Department is fast-tracking the activities for this program for the remainder of 2020 until 2021.

These target activities include the operations and maintenance of the two cable landing stations, four repeater stations, and a 240 km fibre highway.

Also, accelerated fibre build by providing fibre optic cable (FOC) connectivity to six GovNet projects in 2020 and fourteen in 2021—totalling 1,273 agencies connected by the end of 2021.

Free Wi-Fi for All Program

The initiative will enhance internet accessibility to bridge the digital divide and bolster socio-economic opportunities for the public.

The Department targets 10,069 live sites by the end of 2020, with 2,588 sites to be established in government hospitals and rural health sites to help efforts on the COVID-19 recovery front.

For 2021, 23,100 sites are targeted. The program also adapted its implementation to the most pressing need during the pandemic—installing around 50 government-designated quarantine facilities nationwide with internet. They will provide connectivity for both patients and doctors in these areas.

Once the basics of high-speed internet access have been laid down, economic productivity, innovation, inclusion, and better e-governance shall follow, a government official noted.

The Department is looking to fund vital priority programs to respond to the immediate needs of the people under the new normal. The proposed 2021 budget is based off five key strategic programs to drive swifter digital transformation in governance:

  • Digital connectivity and access

This component encompasses the NBP, Free Wi-Fi for All, and Government Emergency Communications System (GECS). It will focus on building and enhancing the existing digital infrastructure in the country.

  • Digital government

DICT aims to promote information exchange and improve the efficiency and accessibility of front-end public services.

It will boost the overall user experience of the citizens availing these services. This component shall focus on recalibration efforts in line with the recommendations of the NEDA-led Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Technical Working Group (TWG) for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (AFP) “We Recover as One Report”.

  • Digital education and the digital workforce

Under this component, DICT will improve citizens’ access to digital opportunities through ICT capacity development. Initiatives will involve inter-agency collaborations, particularly with the education sector to connect schools, colleges, and universities for the implementation of online and blended learning systems for the upcoming school year.

  • Digital cities and provinces

This program is in line with the BalikPag-asa Program. It consists of initiatives to help boost the local economy and to strengthen local governance systems.

  • Cybersecurity

This component aims to promote safer ICT and protect the systems of the country’s critical information infrastructure (CII). The greater need for online transactions is making people more prone to cyber threats, and there is an urgent need for cyber-safe infrastructure and governance to address these risks.

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