Partido Reporma chairman and standard-bearer Panfilo “Ping” Lacson advised Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to seek public cooperation when dealing with prank and drop callers that keep flooding their 911 emergency hotline since its pilot run last October.
Magalong and his chief of staff Philip Puzon brought up this issue with Lacson during their informal meeting last Friday (December 17) when the latter visited Baguio City for a speaking engagement and to check the recently launched Smart City Command Center of its local government.
Puzon reported that out of the 16,000-plus calls they received over the 911 hotline thus far, around 7,000 turned out to be prank calls and more than 5,000 were drop calls; only 0.6 percent of legitimate calls have been recorded, which seriously bothered the city government.
Lacson took note of this problem and told Magalong and Puzon that since their system can trace and identify the people behind these prank calls, city government personnel can easily locate and personally admonish them over such misconduct.
“At least call the attention na alam niyang his number is being detected tapos ma-preempt siya, next time, alam niyang ma-de-detect. And then, word-of-mouth, ‘hoy! Huwag kayong mag-prank calls… Ako, pinasyalan na ako dito, ‘di ba?’,” Lacson said.
(At least call the attention and let him know that his number is being detected to preempt him [from doing it again]. Next time, he will be aware that he can be detected, and then by word-of-mouth, he can tell the others: ‘Hey, don’t make prank calls… I have been reprimanded.’)
Puzon accepted this advice even as members of the Baguio City Council are also considering passing either a resolution or an ordinance to penalize people who are misusing the 911 hotline, which could impede legitimate public calls for emergencies.
“So, what the mayor has done to lessen ‘yung (the) number of prank calls, nagpalabas na po kami ng (we have released an appeal) call to our citizens not to play around with 911 para (so that) if there’s a legitimate call ay hindi po (maaapektuhan) [it will not be affected],” Puzon said.
The Baguio 911 call center already dealt with cases of medical and mental health emergencies, vehicular accidents, domestic violence, crimes and other incidents that warranted police or local government assistance.
Lacson believes that educating the public through word-of-mouth marketing can also be an effective tool to prevent people from making prank calls and jamming the emergency hotline. “At the proper time, they will be educated and the number of our prank calls will drop,” he said.
Magalong showed Lacson a glimpse of their command and communications center, which, according to the senator, has a lot of potential to help Baguio City achieve a ‘zero crime rate’ situation owing to the benefits of modern technology.
The mayor said the first phase of implementation of their ‘smart city’ project, which was launched last September, is the beginning of their transition towards e-governance or digital governance that would hasten the delivery of local government services to their constituents.
Some of these public services have been integrated in the ‘Baguio in my Pocket’ all-in-one digital platform of the city government, which citizens can download on their smartphone and access anytime, anywhere within Baguio City.
Magalong said they are still working on two other vital projects for the city—‘Project Lightning’ and ‘Project AirGig’—to increase their network bandwidth and deliver high-speed internet connectivity across the entire city.