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Data-driven governance through ICT statistics in the Philippines

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is initiating a variety of statistics-generating initiatives and research after the success of the National ICT Household Survey (NICTHS) last year. The step was announced by the department last week during the 31st National Statistics Month Celebration.

The National Statistics Month is an annual celebration under a presidential proclamation that aims to promote, enhance and instil awareness and appreciation of the importance and value of statistics. It is also designed to elicit the cooperation and support of the general public in upgrading the quality and standards of statistics in the country.

Under the ICT Statistics Roadmap 2020-2022, the DICT is mandated to conduct surveys as part of the Digital Philippines initiative. These include the Women and Development Index Survey 2020, NICTHS Expanded Data Analysis and Policy Research, Education and ICT Survey, Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) Survey 2021, National Government Agencies (NGA) – Local Government Units (LGU) Survey, and the National ICT Household Survey 2022.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said that data and ICT statistics serve as a guide to ensure the government keeps national ICT development initiatives on the right course. Data gathered can help government agencies monitor programmes and develop evidence-based projects and policies geared towards improving the lives of Filipinos, especially now as the country transitions to a new way of life.

The NICTHS last years was the first survey of its kind conducted by the DICT in partnership with the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute (PSRTI) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). It assesses the country’s status in terms of ICT and offers baseline data on ICT access and usage in households and communities across the country.

The main goal of the survey is to gather baseline household and individual ICT data that are necessary for producing internationally comparable core ICT indicators. This would serve as an input in the monitoring of existing programs, development of prospect projects, and formulation of future policies all geared towards the advancement of ICT in the country.

A total of 43,838 households from 2,617 barangays were surveyed using household and individual questionnaires. Barangays were also surveyed using a community questionnaire.

The household questionnaire centred on Filipino households’ access and usage of ICT devices and services. The individual questionnaire, on the other hand, measured individual knowledge, access, and usage of ICT.  Lastly, the community questionnaire focused on ICT infrastructure and equipment present in the community.

The results show that over 90% of the surveyed barangays have cellphone signals present in their barangays and more than half of these can access a 4G (LTE) signal. However, only 30% of the barangays have fibre optic cables installed and just 13.0% have free public Wi-Fi.

Other statistics revealed the level and range of online activity. Of the 43% that use the internet, many used a cellphone to do so. More than 50% of the interviewed individuals were not aware that financial transactions can be done online while only about 6% have online bank accounts, electronic or mobile money accounts. Less than 2.5% sell goods and services online.

Image credit: https://dict.gov.ph/ictstatistics/nicths2019/

Such information allows the government to have a better understanding of the level of ICT access and usage in the country. The government can improve the formulation of evidence-based programs and policies; can perform targeting more efficiently, and can effectively monitor existing and upcoming programs now that baseline data is available.

Diana May V. Cabrales, OIC Assistant Secretary and Director of DICT’s Legal Service said the survey results have triggered the exploration of emerging policy areas. Through the partnership with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the DICT is looking to promote data utilisation to identify policy directions for sound ICT infrastructure development and promoting the use of digital technologies by every citizen.

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