NewCities, together with partners Novartis Foundation, Novartis US Foundation, and the City of Montréal, today announced 16 finalist cities for the first edition of the Wellbeing City Award.
The prestigious international Award is the first of its kind. It recognises cities placing wellbeing at the centre of urban design, planning, and policies.
The Award was launched in September 2018. More than 100 cities from 27 countries and six continents were considered. The finalist cities for the 2019 Wellbeing City Award, in their categories, are:
- Community: Bogotá (Colombia), Milan (Italy), New Haven (USA) and Santa Monica (USA)
- Economy and Opportunity: Amaravati (India), Chicago (USA), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Pune (India)
- Public Health: Gothenburg (Sweden), Kigali (Rwanda), Los Angeles (USA), Vancouver (Canada)
- Sustainable Environment: Avià (Catalonia) (Spain), Curridabat (Costa Rica), Lisbon (Portugal), Moonee Valley (in Melbourne metropolitan area) (Australia)
As part of the final phase of the Award, NewCities has brought together an esteemed Jury of Experts, including Arianna Huffington, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Daniel Libeskind, and Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez to judge detailed applications from finalist cities. One laureate in each of the four categories, and one overall 2019 Wellbeing City laureate will be announced April 2019.
A formal ceremony and international urban wellbeing forum will be held in Montréal in mid-2019; bringing together mayors, senior government leaders, and entrepreneurs and innovators from private and non-profit sectors.
John Rossant, Founder and Chairperson of NewCities says: “Too often cities are reactively addressing wellbeing as a silo issue, rather than examining ways to holistically improve the quality of life for citizens for the long term and from a social perspective.
Just as buildings, cars, and schools have enforceable and measurable standards, so should cities when it comes to wellbeing for urbanites. The Wellbeing City Award will help create data points and key performance indicators around wellbeing within cities that can be applied on a global scale and for cities of all sizes.”
Cities judged on activities and investments that promote wellbeing
“With improving the standard of urban life as the ultimate goal, cities must be judged on activities and investments that promote wellbeing. We want to increase the mandate for and recognize cities prioritizing wellbeing. And that is why we launched this important Award” he added.
Valérie Plante, Mayor of the City of Montréal said: “I would like to congratulate the finalist cities, and I am glad to see how diverse they are. Their innovative practices will certainly contribute to enrich our thinking on our citizens’ wellbeing.”
The annual Award has been developed by NewCities in partnership with the Novartis Foundation, the Novartis US Foundation, and in collaboration with the City of Montréal, Toyota Mobility Foundation, Transdev, and the US Green Building Council. OpenGov Asia is a proud supporter of these awards.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has expressed complete support for the vision of e-governance as outlined in the Senate Bill 1738 (E-Governance Act of 2020) as a means of institutionalising e-Governance in the Philippines to cope with the transition to the new normal and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 threat.
“In an age where almost everything can be done online and through other digital platforms, the government must harness the power of information and communications technology to better serve its purpose and bring the government closer to the people,” Senator Go, who filed the Bill on 27 July 2020.
The DICT was confident that the Bill when enacted, would complement and enhance the current efforts it has undertaken to transform public service delivery through prioritisation of digitalisation initiatives.
“We are ramping up our digitalisation plans to accelerate solid client-responsive reforms, and the filing of Senator Go of the Bill is a welcome development towards an apparently shared vision between the Executive and the Legislative when it comes to national digital transformation,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said. “Digital transformation should be done with interoperation as a long-term goal and with client experience always as a top consideration.”
The proposed legislation aims to establish an integrated and interoperable information system for the whole of government, an internal records management system, an information database, and digital portals for government services. The bill also aims to do away with paper-based and outdated models of bureaucratic work within government agencies and units to improve efficiency.
It envisions the establishment of the Integrated Government Network (IGN) which would serve as the primary mode of information and resource sharing among the government and function as the government’s focal information management tool and communications network.
DICT is currently focusing on interconnecting government agencies and integrating their services towards a long-term target of seamless interoperation. The Department is focusing on various digitalisation solutions under its ICT-enabled government agenda, which includes both a strengthening of existing platforms as well as looking into inter-sectoral initiatives to improve public service delivery for a recalibrated Digital Government.
DICT is enhancing government interconnectivity with the Philippine Government Network (GovNet), that provides government offices with high-speed broadband connection linked to a secure data centre, allowing the processing and transfer of sizeable data for more efficient public services. GovNet interconnects government agencies to promote better information exchange and improve the accessibility of resources.
Additionally, the department continuously provides efficient and quality services through the National Government Portal (NGP), a centralised platform where citizens can currently access 231 e-Government services online through www.gov.ph for easier navigation. Another key program to integrate government services is the National Government Data Center (NGDC) Project, which addresses the ICT system needs of government agencies by providing centralised locations where computing and networking equipment shall be housed.
DICT Department supports efforts to promote ease of doing business through the NationalBusinessOne-Stop-Shop(NBOSS), which was launched in partnership with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), to allow for the simpler business registration process that can be completed within 7 and a half days. Similarly, the Central Business Portal (CBP) complements the NBOSS as the online platform that receives business applications and links registrants to the concerned government unit/agency to complete the transactions.
The Department is also gearing for e-Government interoperability for 2021 through a portfolio of inter-sectoral initiatives it is currently developing, in line with the recommendations of the “We Recover as One” Report of the IATF-MEID’s Technical Working Group (TWG) for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (AFP).
With these enhanced initiatives in place, the DICT affirms its commitment to lead efforts towards government digital transformation in support of the President’s directives and parallel to the legislative push for digitalisation of services.
“We are extending all efforts to transform how we deliver public services, how we transact with the people, and how we move forward in the new normal by maximising the benefits of information and communications technology,” Secretary Honasan said.
Indonesia is very serious about Intellectual Property rights and this is reflected in their policies and initiatives that have significantly revamped their IP landscape.
The Directorate General of Intellectual Property falls under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights DGIP Vision and Mission. With a vision to be an Intellectual Property Institution that guarantees legal certainty and a driver of innovation, creativity and national economic growth, it serves to achieve quality intellectual property services and enforcement.
There are three important pillars to improving intellectual property management in Indonesia including filing, commercialisation and law enforcement. The DGIP continues to communicate these three pillars to the regions and ministries of the relevant institutions, which in turn has had an impact on increasing IP applications with the DGIP, including patents, copyrights and trademarks.
Interestingly, Intellectual property registrations in Indonesia have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic
“It can be seen from the intellectual property registration income, that where we have implemented an online system, there were around Rp 250 billion (US$ 17 million) entries during March and April this year, up from the same period last year at only Rp 130 billion (US$ 8.8 million). This is beyond our expectations,” said Freddy Harris, the Director-General of the Intellectual Property, in the IP Talks From Home online talkshow via YouTube, as quoted from official information received by Kontan e-paper.
While only 3,000 copyrights were registered a few years ago, currently registrations have reached 21,000. Earlier domestic patent registrations formed about 10% of overall patent registrations but now makeup about 15%.
The DGIP has been successful in setting up virtual counters, the first virtual IP registration counters in Indonesia. “People have been very enthusiastic about the virtual counters, as seen from recent transactions. They no longer need to come to the physical counters because it is very risky for spreading the virus. With these counters, people are being adequately serviced and the DGIP’s acceptance rate has increased,” said Mr Harris.
Most recently, the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly graduated 139 new Intellectual Property Consultants (KIs). With this inauguration, Indonesia has 964 IP consultants. The inauguration of the batch of KI graduates is considered important by as IP consultants are a strategic piece to help protect the intellectual property rights of the community. Yasonna advised all KI consultants to always maintain integrity and trust – becoming consultants who maintain integrity, professional code of ethics, follow principles and obey the law.
The existence of KI consultant is intended to help and represent the public, especially intellectual property rights applicants such as creators, inventors, designers, rights holders or other parties who have the right to apply for registration in the field of intellectual property expounded Yasonna explained during the inauguration ceremony for KI consultants.
Not only in the intellectual property registration process, Yasonna said that IP consultants also have a moral responsibility to introduce the importance of IP protection to the public. IP consultants encourage Indonesians to protect their work as well as regional property through intellectual property registration.
KI consultants mobilise and encourage people to continue to be creative. According to him, research shows that the number of intellectual property applicants, be it brands, patents, industrial designs, or others, has a positive correlation with the economic growth of a nation. He exhorted the batch of consultants to encourage regions to register communal intellectual property as well as geographical indications.
In this connection, the Minister of Law and Human Rights (Menkumham) praised West Java’s contribution in terms of protecting communal intellectual property. West Java is one of the important economic pillars that contributes greatly to the field of intellectual property as a province with the largest brand ownership and geographical indication in Indonesia.
In addition, West Java is an exemplary province in developing regional regulations in the field of intellectual property, including communal intellectual property in the form of dances, traditional clothing and other cultures. These are all legacies that we must preserve because the progress of the times does not need to erode local wisdom.
Minister Yasonna is also optimistic that the Alam Santosa tourism village will further increase West Java’s contribution to the preservation and protection of communal intellectual property. With the Alam Santosa tourism village as a learning centre based on Indonesian culture to develop local policy insights as a contribution to the development of national cultural values, Kemenkumham is optimistic about West Java’s potential and contribution in the field of intellectual property in the future.
From 2021, Vietnam plans to provide digital transformation ranking to ministries and provinces each year, measuring the extent to which national and local authorities have developed online activities in all areas of the society and economy.
The country’s administration is prioritising e-government as a central pillar of its ambitious national digital transformation strategy to increase digital infrastructure, solutions, and capacity in the government, industry, and society.
The aim is to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with every branch of government operating in a digital technology environment. Two important national databases will digitise information about the population and land, enabling e-identification and authentication to be in place by the end of 2021.
Other measures include capacity development and digital skills training for both government and businesses. Vietnam is set to rank among the top four ASEAN countries on the United Nations (UN) e-government rankings by 2030 – and among the top 70 worldwide.
With a population of about 100 million and a consistent GDP growth rate of around 7% over the past 30 years, Vietnam is rapidly digitising its infrastructure. The national broadband rollout and 4G/5G deployment are keys to digital transformation and international economic competitiveness.
Starting in major urban centres such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, affordable 5G will be critical in building smart cities and powering the fourth industrial revolution to increase economic growth, generate jobs, and work towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Scientific and technological innovation, including new applications like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR), underlie this strategy. They are dependent on international cooperation in research, development, and the transfer of new technologies and commercial models in Vietnam.
According to a press release, all of this will be on display at ITU Virtual Digital World 2020. It is an online three-day event from 20 to 22 October. The first-ever virtual event from ITU Telecom, Virtual Digital World 2020 will build the foundations for the next physical event, ITU Digital World 2021 in Hanoi, next year.
Vietnam has hosted high-level virtual conferences before, including the online 36th ASEAN Summit earlier this year. The focus was on cooperation and unity in recovering from the health, social, and economic impact of the pandemic – a theme expected to underpin discussions at ITU Virtual Digital World 2020.
This October, the emphasis will be on how national digital strategies have changed or are changing in the era of COVID-19. The critical importance of digital technologies to governments, economies, society, and individual lives has never been clearer, and neither has the digital inequality gap, the release stated.
The event will explore questions that will be discussed during the roundtables and forum debates, including:
- How can governments and private sector players work together with the help of the international community to invest in network deployment, redirect resources and refocus strategies to close the digital divide?
- Which new or emerging technologies might be the most cost-effective or fit-for-purpose?
- Will the pandemic stimulate sufficient demand, or are other demand-side initiatives needed – and who should then take the lead on developing them?
Vietnam has been eager to reinvent itself and key among its strategies is their digital transformation. The nation is are keenly aware of the decisive role perception plays in this.
Digital platform development is a breakthrough solution to promote faster digital transformation, reduce costs and increase efficiency. The country also recognises that people are at the centre of digital transformation and that institutions and technology are the driving force of digital transformation.
According to the report “Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy 2019”, Vietnam’s digital economy was valued at $12 billion in 2019. Over the past 5 years, Vietnam’s e-commerce market grew by over 25% per year. Vietnam’s digital economy is forecasted to contribute 5% to the country’s GDP and is expected to reach $43 billion by 2025.
Vietnam has made tremendous strides in its digital economy and tech-related industry and the country has managed to attract many big investors including numerous tech giants. The overall number of ICT firms in Vietnam (both domestic and foreign-invested) are a staggering 46,000 units. Vietnamese ICT industry’s revenue in 2019 was US$ 110 billion, the B2C e-commerce contributed about US$ 10.8 billion and the digital content industry’s revenue was pegged at US$ 850 million.
Much of the domestic revenue has been driven by a rapidly increasing national reliance on digital communication and internet-driven activity. Internet users account for nearly 80% of the nearly 100 million total population and 57% use social networks. The total telephone subscribers are 129.49 million, of which 126.09 million were mobile subscribers. There are 16 million fixed broadband Internet subscribers and nearly 67 million mobile broadband subscribers.
Another aspect of the country’s strategy has been to create national, in-house capacity in an effort to reduce foreign dependence on expertise. Vietnam currently has 149 universities with faculties offering training courses in IT, electronics and telecommunications and information security. The number of ICT students graduating from universities and colleges annually is estimated at 50,000 people.
Early this year, on June 3, 2020, the Prime Minister approved the National Digital Transformation Programme which is moving Vietnam towards a new development space – digital economy, digital society, e-government, opening up great opportunities for Vietnam. The NDTP has ambitious targets for the next 5 years and prioritises digital transformation in the fields of health, education, finance – banking, and agriculture.
By 2025, the programme is looking to drive Vietnam into the 50 leading countries for IT development. Strategies have been put in place to ensure Vietnam’s digital economy accounts for 20% of the nation’s GDP. As part of the inclusive and comprehensive growth plans, the programme aims to have 50% of the population have electronic payment accounts. To do this, the country plans to ensure that 80% of households are covered with broadband fibre optic cable connectivity and that every citizen to have a smartphone.
Targets to 2030 are even more aspiring and Vietnam wants to be in the group of 30 leading IT countries in the world, universalise fibre and 5G cables, have 100,000 digital technology businesses and have digital technology human resources of 1.5 million people.
The Ministry of Information and Communications is promoting Vietnam’s digital transformation process, bringing together Vietnamese digital technology businesses to form a large community to perform a national digital transformation, creating digital life and a driving force for the country’s socio-economic development.
OpenGov Asia has been regularly reporting on Vietnam’s digital journey and recently chronicled the nation’s telecom decisions that paved the way for digital growth.
With a focus on becoming the best place for technology firms, Vietnam has made an intentional shift from doing outsourcing to making its own products. A part of its digital infrastructure creation, the nation plans a second software park in Da Nang.
Vietnam is taking the security of its digital landscape seriously and has taken significant steps to safeguard itself including cooperation with regional partners. Most recently the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security and the Singaporean Ministry of Communications and Information held a virtual ministerial meeting to discuss bilateral cooperation on cybersecurity.
A recent Straits Time survey revealed that 8 in 10 employees in Singapore want to work from home and have more flexibility.
As employee expectations and needs change in the new normal, the necessity to have creative and intelligent digital workspace has become the top priority for all employers. Appreciating the relevance and expedience of this issue, OpenGov Asia hosted an OpenGovLive! Breakfast Insight on 15 October to learn about and explore modern digital workspaces for the new normal.
The session witnessed an overwhelming response from the audience in terms of attendance, diversity and engagement. Comprised of senior public sector digital executives from various Singapore agencies, the attendees were eager to discuss, debate and determine what a digital workspace would look like.
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, opened the session by recapping how the world was forced to adapt to new ways of working and how that has fundamentally changed the way organisations – public and private – function.
With the remote working in place, it is important to ensure employees have the necessary access to relevant data and applications from any device at any location at any time. Mohit emphasised that this need to enable broad access to employees across an organisation raises significant security issues. The immediate acknowledgement and feedback from delegates validated this concern.
This issue becomes even significantly magnified in the public sector as they did not get the chance to slow down during the pandemic and, on the contrary, were under greater pressure to continue to deliver existing citizens-services and additional emergency measures as well.
Mohit stressed that it is key is to strike the right balance between making data accessible and keeping it safe. He concluded by advising delegates from public sector industry to partner with the right people, experts in the field, who can make it easier for them to strike the access and safety balance rather than trying to do everything inhouse.
After Mohit’s thought-provoking presentation, Prem Pavan, Area Vice President Sales and Services Asia (ASEAN & Korea), Citrix shared his learnings and experience with the audience.
Prem began by explaining that Citrix as an organisation has been dedicated to enabling digital workspaces that are fully equipped with all employee requirements, irrespective of the physical space they are working from.
He brought out some interesting remote working trends they had observed over the last 6 months. These trends highlighted the conclusion, many had already come to, that remote working was here to stay. Not only because of the current pandemic but because employees are more productive, feel more comfortable at home and do have some hesitancy in coming back to their offices just yet.
Prem also opined that the adaptive workplace with a greater focus on cloud and digital transformation is going to be the new norm for organisations across the board – in both the public and the private sector. Additionally, existing physical workplaces will undergo fundamental infrastructural changes in terms of seating plans, desk space and collaborative common areas.
Although remote working is set to become the new norm, it is not without its own set of challenges. The biggest of these is enabling secure access to various data and applications to employees using different devices from different locations at different times.
Prem reiterated the need to nail the act of balancing security, productivity and competitive differentiation. In closing, he offered Citrix’s full support to all public sector organisations in their digital workspace journeys.
After Prem’s informative presentation, Lynn Warneke, Corporate Operations Director and Chief Information Officer at the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) at Victoria shared her thoughts on the topic.
Lynn began by revealing to the audience that she was a true believer in the digitisation of citizen experience by digitally empowering the staff in the public sector and had done this when she joined the DPC two years ago.
Her goal was to enable a high-performance DPC through a collaborative and personalised staff experience enabled by flexible workspaces and premium digital tools and processes underpinned by effective services and solutions.
The first step towards achieving this goal was strategy formulation that rested on four pillars:
- Strengthening Foundations
- Maturing Operations
- Partnering in Reform
- Transforming Experience
The second step included initiating a program, IGNITE, that would help combine the physical, the digital, and the people transform their physical environment, introduce new digital platforms and tools and assist the workforce to move to new ways of working.
Lynn shared the outcomes of strategising and implementing the above-mentioned program which includes:
- Improved collaboration
- Easier communication
- Stronger engagement and improved connection for distributed staff
- Enhanced individual and team flexibility
- Higher productivity
Lynn concluded on a positive note by highlighting the silverling that has emerged out of the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic. This silver lining is the realisation that digital transformation can genuinely enhance organisations’ capability to deliver and can be implemented over a short span of time.
After Lynn, D.N. Prasad, Senior Director, Strategy, People, and Organisation from Government Technology Agency of Singapore spoke about some of his learnings.
Prasad started by emphasising the importance of people as the most valuable resource in today’s world; and since their wellbeing is the responsibility of senior leaders in any organisation, the onus on leaders is high.
He felt that the world is still in the process of learning and adapting to the new normal which he called the “current normal” which seems to change every day.
Prasad suggested the best way for organisations to go through this dynamic time to prioritise people, leadership and culture. In addition, it is important to understand that the workplace is undergoing fundamental changes. The future workspace will have social (digital/virtual) collaboration at its core rather than a designated physical place.
Like Lynn, Prasad advised the delegates to look at the positive side that has emerged out of the crisis. It includes better focus and decision making in companies, more willingness to innovate, more agile work culture and better customer solutions.
He concluded by sharing some call to action points for the leaders in organisations:
- Have a more holistic rather than individualistic approach
- Drive continuous change in the organisation
- Be the role models for others to follow
After the information presentations, the programme moved into the interactive polling session.
On the first question regarding initiatives that are of highest priority in the current times, the delegates seemed equally split amongst all four options with a slightly higher inclination towards technology simplification (32%).
A senior delegate from a media company reflected that for him, understanding and motivating employees working remotely is the biggest challenge. It’s hard to encourage the employees to collaborate and coordinate when you have no physical contact with them.
On the next question about being well equipped to support a fully remote workforce, a major chunk of the delegates voted that they have all the tools required to allow remote work seamlessly (48%).
To this, a delegate from the National Library Board reflected that he voted for not fully supportive of the remote working because even though the employees have all the tools and technology they require to work from home, the problem is a loss of a personal connection; no tool or technology can help establish that connection.
On the final question of the biggest security challenge faced by organisations with a remote workforce, a majority of the audience voted for lack of robust tools to proactively detect malicious user-behaviour (40%).
An executive from the telecom industry shared that she voted for endpoint management because, with the flexibility to work remotely, employees are bringing in a number of their own devices that leads to major security issues and concerns. She also shared that this is not a challenge for their organisation currently, but they are putting in a lot of effort to avoid it.
The session concluded with closing remarks from Prem. He thanked all the delegates and speaker for joining the session and sharing their insights and feedback.
He re-emphasised the importance of people, the need to simplify processes and technology and the vital role of leadership in this process as some of the key takeaways from the session.
In closing, he invited delegates to learn more about this extremely important topic at the upcoming summits and sessions organised by Citrix.
The Ministry of Industry has launched the Startup4industry programme as another concrete step to implementing the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap. The nation is confident that this strategic initiative will bridge the needs of industry and the community with the role of startups as technology providers.
“Cooperation with startup players is expected to provide benefits to priority industrial sectors contained in the roadmap for Making Indonesia 4.0. To be able to excel in competition, innovation and technology are important investments that can be presented by the industry, one of which is the role of startups,” said Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita at the Startup4industry 2020 launch event.
Since the launch of Making Indonesia 4.0 by President Joko Widodo in 2018, the roadmap has guided efforts to revitalise the industrial sector using digital technology. The main objective is to increase productivity and quality more efficiently to compete in the global arena.
The overarching theme of Startup4industry 2020 is “Indonesia Is Confident in Domestic Technology”. Utilising modern technology, the initiative has two main aims: positive social impact on citizens and mitigating the impact of the pandemic in the industrial sector. The Minister of Industry said they have identified seven sectors that would be pioneers in the implementation of industry 4.0 in the country. These sectors are food and beverages, textiles and clothing, automotive, chemical, electronics, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The Ministry of Industry is determined not only to encourage efforts to substitute imports but also to use technology. This is expected to accelerate the national economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As an important first step, the government has set a target for an import substitution program of 35% by 2022.
Furthermore, the new normal requires social restrictions, remote and dispersed working, a transition to faceless transactions and increased online activity overall – essentially all parts of the nation – life, work, economy – will rely heavily on technology.
As such, the industry is expected to exploit the new market potential that will emerge from the impact of the pandemic. This is in line with digital transformation efforts, where the need for technological innovation in society and industry will increase.
Indonesia has emerged as a potential market for digital technology development built on good coordination between the government, the private sector and the academic community. According to the 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), Indonesia is ranked second in the Top 100 Emerging Ecosystem – a firm indication that the startup ecosystem in Indonesia has been well established. This means that Indonesia is one of the countries that investors are interested in investing in the startup sector.
The startup industry is dominated by players in the early stages primarily Medium and Small Enterprises (MSEs). This is in line with the Job Creation Law which has been designed to provide convenience for business actors with a scale of UMKM.
In line with Making Indonesia 4.0, the Ministry of Industry has carried out various strategies to encourage the application of 4.0 technology in the country, including pilot projects for the implementation of industry 4.0, training for industry 4.0 transformation managers, socialisation and seminars on industry 4.0, assessment and assistance for INDI 4.0 (Indonesia Industry 4.0 Readiness Index), e-Smart IKM, and the Startup4industry program.
Director-General of Small, Medium and Miscellaneous Industry (IKMA) Gati Wibawaningsih explained that the Startup4Industry 2020 programme has a series of activities that will last until December 2020 including a problem-solving competition using industrial technology 4.0 to handle the impact of COVID-19.
The implementation of the Startup4industry program in 2018 and 2019 had several achievements, including 220 startup players, 15 implementation projects in the IKM sector and as many as 26 IKM using technology solutions from the startups.
Furthermore, a finalist of 2018 Startup4industry competition went on to win the 2020 Hermes Startup Award, an international competition that was first organised by Deutsche Messe, organiser of the Hannover Messe.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is working with other government agencies to join efforts and initiatives in pursuit of an improved information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure landscape as the country continues to adapt to the new normal.
The need for an improved ICT infrastructure is still one of the major concerns of the government during this public health emergency as the demand for Internet connectivity surged among businesses, industries, students, workers and the larger public. In view of this, the Department of Information and Communications Technology is focused on promoting faster telecommunications tower buildup through reducing tower permitting requirements.
DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said that the inter-agency efforts are initiated with the recognition that ICT infrastructure improvements need to begin with the reduction of bureaucratic red tape that has long interfered with the mission of improving Internet connection in the country. With everyone stepping up, the department hopes to fast-track the buildup of telecommunication towers in support of President Duterte’s directives to fully address the Filipinos connectivity needs.
In July of this year, DICT, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), along with other concerned agencies released a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) which aimed to streamline the process of applications for the requirements, permits, licenses, clearances, certificates, and other necessary documents for Independent Tower Companies (ITCs) and telecommunication companies to construct Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructures (PTTI) in line with DICT’s Common Tower Policy.
Shortly thereafter, by the end of August 2020, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), a signatory in the JMC, confirmed that it had updated the guidelines for permit and documentary requirement application for ICT infrastructure projects, including permits to build towers.
These revised guidelines are contained in the DHSUD’s Department Order (DO) No. 2020-009 otherwise known as the “Revised Locational Guidelines for Base Stations and Other Infrastructure for Cellular Mobile Telephone Service, Paging Service, Trunking Service, Wireless Local Loop Service, and Other Wireless Communications Service.”
The provisions would allow telcos and ITCs to streamline the consent of the homeowners’ associations (HOAs), building owners, and concerned tenants’ consent in their application for permits, allowing for an expedited process in keeping with their commitments under the JMC.
Instead, for ICT facilities to be built in privately-owned land within residential subdivisions, the responsible officer of the company can submit a written certification executed under oath that states that there is no other available or suitable site within the coverage area and that the location is the best fit for connectivity purposes. The company should likewise submit an undertaking that promises the conduct of social preparation among the affected homeowners. Other documentary requirements are still in place, however, the Legislative branch has also taken notice of the pressing need for enhanced ICT infrastructure and is looking into possible solutions.
The Senate is also open to the possibility of suspending tower permit requirements for telcos altogether for three (3) years, per the government’s planned supplementary pandemic measure, Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2”. These proposed provisions aim to suspend select tower permits, except the building permit.
Towards these efforts to ease permitting requirements, the Department launched an online portal which can be accessed at https://commontower.gov.ph/ to facilitate the digital application and registration of interested ITCs.
Presently, the DICT has received letters of intent from thirteen (13) additional tower companies who wish to register as ITCs. This was a welcome improvement to the Department’s existing agreements with the twenty-four (24) tower companies, which are mostly foreign-owned.
The Philippines has been aggressively pursuing its digital transformation agenda. The country recently showed that its National Broadband Programme could save the Philippines US$ 15 million in 2021.
More recently, DICT was confident that data could help the government 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.
Along the same lines, the Philippine Department of Finance has taken the lead in shielding GFIs and other agencies from cyber threats.