Batapa-Sigue: Open Bacolod

May 20, 2022 by No Comments

NOW that the election season is finally over, I am very excited what will change, particularly in Bacolod City. I am sure that the slogan of change used during the campaign did not merely mean change of leaders.Majority of our elected officials are not new to local politics, so our leaders are still almost the same. But the people of Bacolod, and those who aspire for more innovation and dynamism, more openness, transparency, foresight, and collaboration – are excited to see a new leadership. My congratulations to all elected officials of Bacolod, and Negros Occidental.As cited in the 2017 OECD report entitled Embracing Innovation, innovation in government is about finding new ways to impact the lives of citizens, and new approaches to activating them as partners to shape the future together. It involves overcoming old structures and modes of thinking and embracing new technologies and ideas. The potential of innovation in government is immense. However, the challenges governments face are significant. But the report says, despite this, governments are transforming the way they work to ensure this potential is met. This is what I wish to see happening in my beloved city – reaching our full potential, not after three years, but as a constant quest for excellence.Politics in the Philippines is very personal, personal to the point that our goals will be achieved within every political term of a politician. This country needs leaders who are visionaries, planners, systems thinkers not event organizers or program managers.Embracing Innovation is a global review of new ways in which governments are transforming their operations and improving the lives of their people, culminating in this report. Through research and an open call for innovations, the review surfaces key trends, challenges, and success factors in innovation today, as well as examples and case studies to illustrate them and recommendations to help support innovation. The report was published in conjunction with the 2017 World Government Summit, which brings together over 100 countries to discuss innovative ways to solve the challenges facing humanity.Today, let me share the four major cross-cutting factors that impact innovation the review has identified, namely overcoming bureaucratic barriers, harnessing the power of citizens’ ideas and the people behind them, building open, transparent and trust-based relationships with citizens, and enabling a culture that supports innovation.The report recommends six key strategies classified into technologies. I will be sharing the first one in this column – human and machine: pairing human knowledge with innovative tools.The key findings stated that governments are implementing innovative early warning systems in response to increasingly complex and severe challenges. The exponential growth of data unlocks innovation in monitoring and prediction systems and progress in data analytics helps governments understand complexity and take action. Data becomes the basis of decisions.Among its key recommendations are for governments to manage data as an asset for many uses and users, open data to fuel innovation, develop open checks and balances, and integrate resilience in system design.In 2019, after years of advocating digital solutions, I had the opportunity to formally present to Bacolodnons my concept of open governance.As a design thinker, I see the importance of bringing government closer to the people – as a way of not only securing valuable feedback but a way to constantly gather ideas and solutions.Under the concept of an and “Open Bacolod,” O stands for online, real-time easy access of every citizen to facts, data and figures pertaining to the operations, finances and administration of the city.These will entail for all data to be digitized and made available to the public. The use of online procurement system, business permit registration and registration and licensing for other departments and other transactions shall move past from experimental to full operation stage in the soonest possible time.P stands for performance scorecards and ratings for public services. To ensure and maintain the quality of government services, feedback mechanisms that come with ratings for each department of the city shall be in place. Top performing agencies shall be duly commended while those with concerns will have to be revisited and improved for efficiency. This shall bring back the trust and confidence of the public for all departments of the city and strive to uplift the morale of public employees through incentive programs and continuous training.E stands for emergency and immediate support services. The website of Bacolod shall not be static but interactive and hotlines for citizen’s concerns shall be in place. It will not only contain faces of politicians but valuable, realt-time information. The website shall be fully accessible especially through mobile. The city shall ensure availability of Internet/Wi-Fi hotspots in major public areas for use during emergencies. Closed circuit TV systems, and GPS and other technologies shall be used to ensure 24/7 safety in the city. A well-established central command shall be in place with the mayor having 24/7 direct access and full view of all cameras in major public places. Sensors and other technologies shall also be put in place to detect flood water rise and other calamities. Frontline service providers like social workers, barangay health workers, child development workers and other barangay level personnel having direct access and ability to gather data directly from the source shall be equipped with platforms and systems to input data real-time to make all city-wide data updated and useful for policy formulation and immediate and relevant action from the city.N is for new ideas and solutions crowdsourcing. Open governance extends to policy innovation – creating a way to effectively crowdsource new ideas and solutions from concerned groups. The city shall support the development of startups engaged in developing and deploying technologies which may prove useful for Bacolod to become a smart city – with focus on major points such as transportation, healthcare, business, public services, education, and tourism.Open governance shall mean investing in available and reasonably priced technology, preferably open source, universal, and replicable technology to boost the eGovernance initiatives of Bacolod City and the whole Province of Negros Occidental.