The COVID-19 pandemic has been the most consequential event in recent years seeing that it forced us to reject our norms on business and communication. Community quarantines brought with itself the quick transition of busy streets into complete ghost towns, which severely landed negative impacts to the delivery of goods and basic necessities, food production, business transactions, and public and health services. But to stop these transactions also meant crippling the people. With this, local government units were forced to branch out and look for new ways to keep economy going, which has ultimately began to usher all of us to the embracement of the technological age. The vast space of the internet, where everyone can communicate in the click or tap of a few buttons, is now turning into the main platform for business, or the “new normal”. Aiding the gap between communication and the lack of it, as effect of the pandemic, the Provincial Government of Davao de Oro launched its own online initiatives, eager to bring its people up to speed and to retain the provision of public service especially in these trying times.
Prioritizing people’s health and welfare especially now, Davao de Oro launched its Call DdOC “Your Virtual Doctor” online consultation pages via Facebook on April 13, 2020, where the public can seek free professional medical advice without having to leave the safety of their homes. Being made readily accessible through Facebook, a mobile app that has already been a major part of modern lives since its beginnings, Call DdOC quickly gained a combined service rating of 9.8/10 stars from the reviews of its 2161 catered patients as of June 15, 2020. This public service is done in partnership with the four provincial hospitals of Davao de Oro in Laak, Maragusan, Montevista, and Pantukan.
The Call DdOC virtual doctor was further made easily available in the first mobile application that the province just recently released, the DdO iPortal, “Your Virtual Capitol”, which is available now on the Google Playstore and also to come soon in the Apple App Store.
The DdO iPortal is a one-stop mobile app that features all of the province’s government related online services such as Call DdOC, DdO Online Bagsakan, and DdO Online Palangke, among many others. In addition, the iPortal is also packed with other features essential for the quick dissemination of information, such as an archive of all government issued orders for 2020, a masterlist of provincial emergency helplines, Bayanihan Efforts for good news surrounding the province, and the Serbisyo Oro Mismo, the official net-tele-radio of the province. There is also an E-Services feature in the app exclusive to PLGU employees where they can conveniently view and print their daily time records.
Lastly, the DdO iPortal also has a Tourism & Investment section, where people can browse through scenic landmark views, dining suggestions, accommodation choices, pasalubong centers, festivities, and other fun activities to do in Davao de Oro once the pandemic ends.
Reinforcing the idea to resume business and to keep economy going even while people are still restricted from leaving their homes, the province created the the DdO Online Palengke, which is a virtual market that easily links sellers to consumers online. Through Facebook groups, sellers can post their products online and arrange delivery systems with interested buyers. The products available in the Online Palengke are very much the same as with actual public markets that sell rice, fish, meat, vegetables, dry goods, and hygiene products.
Similarly, in collaboration with the province’s municipal government units and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), there is also the DDO Online Bagsakan—an online platform that is specially targeted to help the province’s producers such as famers, and fishermen, by connecting them to wholesalers. This would also be a great help to micro, small, and medium enterprises, all while maximizing social distancing measures.
Digital-Powered Household Survey
Davao de Oro has also recently gone digital with its data gathering for the Household Profiling Needs Assessment (HPNA). This is in accordance to its EO 33, where the gathering of reliable data has been deemed a necessity to become the basis for its future policies, plans, programs, and projects. Accessible to people through the KoBoCollect app, the province can now easily store, manage, and validate data relating to its people’s health, demographics, house structural characteristics, climate change and disaster information, accessibility, and communication. There are numerous factors to be considered when making policies and projects that are designed to be for the benefit of all in province, and direct, up-to-date, and reliable data coming from the people themselves would prove to be most useful to suit each Dabawenyo’s needs.
186 Project Sites for the Free Wi-Fi for all Program
It is, however, commonly agreed that that the province still has a long way to go and a lot to develop when it comes to technological advancements. One of the greatest challenges that the province is currently facing in regard to the embracement of the technological age, is its accessibility to the general public. Seeing that not everyone has easy access to the internet, the provincial government has now moved in partnership agreement with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Free Wi-Fi For All Project implementation.
RA 10929, also known as the “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act of 2017”, mandates DICT to lead the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi Program, with the primary objective of providing free broadband internet access to both encourage and enable educational, economic, and social opportunities that can be done through the internet, especially in these times of the pandemic where almost everything is being pushed to be executed online.
A total of 186 project sites including municipal halls, public schools, and other government managed properties have already been planned to be among the beneficiaries of the Free Wi-Fi Program. From the concept note of DICT and UNDP: “The most significant are the 172 public schools and 3 training centers included. It is expected that access to free internet in those areas will significantly improve the learning and teaching practices of the students and educators in the province.”
Online is the New Normal
It is now the time to utilize all resources to be able to provide the people with easy, fast, and convenient services which they can access on their own without having to leave their homes. The provincial government’s online innovations are eyed to be accepted and embraced by the entire province, to also ease it into the technological age. The provincial government promises to work hard to make these innovations accessible to all with their motto always in mind: no one will be left behind!