DICT trailblazing the ICT roadmap for the next six years
One can look back at the year 2016 as a significant milestone in Philippine ICT development, primarily with the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. With the country jumping 24 notches higher to 71st place in the last year’s United Nations ranking for e-government development, and over 25% of businesses in the Philippines forecasted to digitally improve its products and services by 2020, ICT is a strong contender in its potential to be used as tool for bolstering the economy and overall national development.
The Path Ahead
More determined than ever to fulfill its mandate of harnessing ICT to strengthen and improve infostructure for all citizens, as well as enhance government operations and online services, DICT focuses on shaping the ICT roadmap for the next six years. “DICT’s projects and plans will [also] contribute to the overall goal of building smart cities in the Philippines,” shared DICT Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima. Smart cities, which require efficient management of its resources and tools for interaction among citizens, entails the integration of efficient communications technologies to be introduced by DICT into the everyday lives of citizens.
Starting off this year with the Implementation of the Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) Migration Plan, the facilitation of the first ever Telecommunications Summit, and the development of the eGovernment Master Plan 2.0, DICT aims to promote an inclusive and innovative ICT environment for all Filipinos.
DICT, through the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and in cooperation with broadcasting stakeholders, will set into motion the DTTB Migration Plan, to be formally launched during the Digital TV Summit 2017. This Plan will highlight the country’s transition from analog to a digital broadcasting system, adapting the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard used in Japan. In effect, more than 14 million TV households nationwide will be guaranteed access and reception of information through more standard definition TV channels.
Moreover, the debut year for the Philippine Telecommunications Summit this 2017 brings together various ICT Telecoms stakeholders, comprising of Policy Makers, National Government Agencies (NGAs), Local Government Units (LGUs), consumers, and representatives from the business and academic sectors to dialogue on strategies to boost policy reforms and apply best practices to achieve the goal of a faster and better internet experience for every Filipino. Pressing issues regarding Internet Speed, Network Coverage, and Service Cost will particularly be discussed.
In addition to these, the e-Government Master Plan (eGMP) aims to interconnect ICT systems and networks across all National Government Agencies through a whole-of-government and collaborative approach. This is a step towards a more integrated government for the efficient delivery of services to the Filipino people. Moving forward, it is the goal of the e-Government Master Plan 2.0 to deliver on this technology enablement through the extension of programs already being implemented from the eGMP. To finalize the plans, the eGMP 2.0 Development Launch is organized to gather NGAs, LGUs, business, media, and technology sectors to participate in prompted discussions, seeking to bring the e-Government program to the next stage of digital transformation.
Furthermore, ongoing initiatives, such as the Free Wi-Fi in Public Places (FWPP) Project and the National Government Portal showcased last December 2016, are continued to be given priority. The FWPP Project remains steadfast in its vision of bridging the digital divide by enhancing Internet accessibility for all (to know more, click here), while the National Government Portal, designed to simplify and speed up transactions with the government, is in its early stages of content building and preparation for release. Upcoming projects, including the development and implementation of the National Broadband Network, seek to establish broadband infostructure across the country to be able to improve internet connectivity and online services. At present, review of the current ICT ecosystem, data gathering, and stakeholders’ consultations are being conducted, working towards the design of a strategic framework for the effective execution of the National Broadband Plan.
These programs led by DICT seek to achieve one common aspiration—to scale the overall state of Information and Communications Technology in the Philippines to greater heights by the year 2022. “[DICT] hopes to expand the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country, improve education and employment through the use of ICT, and [have the] right to telecommunicate [included] as a basic human right in the constitution” said Secretary Salalima. “[By doing so,] the government will be compelled to provide every Filipino not only of the service, but also with the equipment to avail of the service.”
 “Philippines jumps to 71st spot in the 2016 EGDI rankings,”, DICT, http://www.dict.gov.ph/philippines-jumps-to-71st-spot-in-the-2016-egdi-rankings/, (February 7, 2017)
 “IDC Philippines Unveils its Top ICT Predictions for 2017 and Beyond,” IDC Philippines, http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prAP42264917, (January 29, 2017)
Adrian M. Reodique, “DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima shares his plans to digitalise Philippines,” http://cio-asia.com/mgmt/careers/dict-secretary-rodolfo-salalima-shares-his-plans-to-digitalise-philippines/, (January 24, 2017)
 Amado de Jesus, “Smart cities,” https://business.inquirer.net/209934/smart-cities/, (April 30, 2016)
 Adrian M. Reodique, “DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima shares his plans to digitalise Philippines, http://cio-asia.com/mgmt/careers/dict-secretary-rodolfo-salalima-shares-his-plans-to-digitalise-philippines/?page=4, (January 24, 2017)