Information and communication technology (ICT) played a central role in the provision of government services in the Philippines during the pandemic. Government agencies worked to develop software that would enable them to fulfil their mandates through computers or smartphone screens. The innovations include a contact tracing application, StaySafe.PH, for the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and Relief Agad, a Department of Social Welfare and Development application that facilitated cash assistance distribution to social amelioration programme beneficiaries.
While the need for innovative ICT solutions in governance may have accelerated due to the pandemic, a shift towards e-governance is not a nascent concept. On the national government level, in 2019, the DICT released the E-Government Masterplan of 2022, which outlines the DICT’s plans to achieve the goal of a “one digitised government”.
An ICT innovation that has gained traction across local government units and government agencies is the development of “smart cities”. Although the term smart city has yet to be operationally defined in the Philippine context, a common element that cuts across all the proposed definitions is that smart cities, at their core, leverage new and disruptive technologies to address a broad range of urban problems.
Smart city initiatives have sprouted across the country. During the Fourth Asean Smart Cities Network Annual Meeting, the Philippine government expressed its commitment to finish six smart city projects, the command centre upgrade and e-government services in Manila, the bus rapid transit system and digital traffic system in Cebu, and the converged command and control centre and intelligent transportation and traffic systems with security in Davao.
Another notable smart city project is the highly anticipated New Clark City, which is touted to be the country’s “city of the future”. While the relevant disruptive technology will differ, depending on the smart city, it is clear that ICT plays a key role in all these projects.
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