Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay urged local leaders to adopt modern technology to improve public service and promote local government transparency and accountability.
The city chief executive underscored the importance of technology to improve governance and bring local officials closer to the people.
“I believe that leaders should adapt to the digital age and conceptualize innovative ways to make public services more accessible to our people,” said Binay, speaking at a forum dubbed “Cities Re-imagined”, as part of the Sustainable Cities Summit at Sofitel Philippine Plaza last Thursday.
The summit was organized by the US Agency for International Development, League of Cities of the Philippines, and the Liveable Cities Challenge.
Binay said harnessing technology in various aspects of governance would improve the delivery of services and promote transparency. She added it would also remove the traditional boundaries between government and the people.
“We want to empower every citizen of Makati so they can experience a better quality of life,” Binay said.
The mayor also emphasized the importance of building mutual trust with the private sector to fast-track economic growth and social development, citing initiatives undertaken by the city through public-private partnerships.
“Through PPP-led digital initiatives implemented at no cost to the city, we have been able to bring government closer to the people,” she said.
These include the Makatizen Card, Makatizen App, Makati Public Wi-Fi System, and the Makati Subway.
Binay said the all-purpose Makatizen Card consolidates all health and social benefits for residents and allows them to experience the convenience of a cashless ecosystem.
The Card can be used by residents in transacting with the city government since it is an official government ID, and the cardholder’s identity can be verified with a single tap.
City employees now use their Makatizen Card to draw their salaries and bonuses, do their shopping, or send money to relatives.
To date, there are nearly 100,000 cardholders, while some 134,000 applications are being processed, Binay said.
Binay also said the Makatizen App, the first-of-its-kind digital citizen app in the country, allows users to report crimes, emergencies, and various concerns, which they can also do through our highly interactive and responsive official Facebook page, My Makati.
There are now over 15,000 registered users of the app.
She also gave an update on the Makati Public Wi-Fi System, which operates on a fiber optic loop that runs across the city and provides free internet connection to residents and visitors in 27 barangays on certain periods daily.
Since January, the system has recorded over 500,000 log-ins, and maintained an average Internet speed of 175 Tbps, she said.
Binay also reported that the city had adopted technology in public health promotion, particularly in maintaining a rabies-free Makati.
In October 2017, Makati became the first local government unit in Southeast Asia to implement a citywide free pet microchipping program, where pet dogs and cats are implanted with iChips using RFID technology, which contain their identification, the owner’s name and vaccination records.
To date, over 5,600 pets in the city have been microchipped, aside from its regular rabies vaccination program for pets, the mayor said.
The mayor said the city had given top priority to building resilience through substantial investments in protective gear and state of the art equipment for disaster response as well as risk reduction, and promoting a culture of disaster preparedness among all citizens, including the youth.
To date, the city government has distributed nearly 93,000 emergency go bags and over 25,000 hard hats to public school students and residents in high-risk areas.
Binay said the city has purchased modern disaster response vehicles and equipment for various types of disasters, including four mobile command center vehicles that have access to CCTV cameras installed by the city.
Being equipped with their own WiFi hubs, these can facilitate communication among responders even when internet connection is lost after a strong earthquake or other disasters.
Calling it her “legacy project”, Binay highlighted the benefits of the Makati Subway project under a PPP agreement of the city with a consortium of local and foreign investors. She noted that with a daytime population of about five million, mobility was a major concern for the city.
“The Makati Subway will help move people and solve the perennial traffic congestion in the city. We need people-movers. Mass transportation is the key,” she said.
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