By FN for APCNews GOA, India, 28 January 2007
Can free and open source software (FOSS) make a difference to the way in which local government functions in the Philippines? Manila-based Institute for Popular Democracy believes it can. It is therefore working on sharable, localised and relevant software.
In the past year or so, Philippines-based APC member Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD) has established a new department called the Applied Technology and Information Solutions (ATIS).
"This new department has been tasked to carry the Institute’s ICT advocacy and project work. Although the institute has been utilising FOSS application for the last couple of years, it is only now that ICT advocacy and project work have been put on the institute’s agenda," IPD’s Roberto ‘Bobby’ Soriano told APCNews in an interview.
IPD is developing and piloting "demand-driven" free and open-source applications that promote good governance around four key areas – administrative efficiency, improving access to information, facilitating transparency and accountability by leveraging short messaging service (SMS) tools for e-democracy, and promoting FOSS and open standards as viable platforms for e-governance.
IPD’s solutions have currently two major information and communication technology (ICT) related projects.
First, there is an ICT-based project utilising FOSS in the development of revenue-related applications for use by Philippines Local Government Units (LUGs). This project for "Piloting free and open source software (FOSS) using open standards in e-governance applications for LUGs" is trying to reduce the barriers to computerisation of these workplaces.
Ten units or municipalities have been chosen as recipients for this project. FOSS applications that are currently in final development are the following:
* Barangay Business Information System: An application that organises information on businesses at the barangay level. It is essentially a repository of current business activities and related information.
[A barangay, formerly called a barrio, is the smallest local government unit in the Philippines. It also is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward.]
This application aims to map out business activities across different barangays in a certain municipality, and come out with statististical information so that municipal governments can provide better services tuned in to the needs of small businesses in their respective areas.
* Business Permits and Licensing: Meant to automate the business application process at the municipal level.
* Legislative Tracking System: This application provides a facility for the easy entry and retrieval of laws and ordinances enacted by LGUs.
* Market Information System: Seeks to automate the management of public markets owned by the LGUs. The application provides for an automated system of application, renewal and payment of market stalls.
* Hospital Management System: To computerise select processes in a hospital setting.
More information on this project is available at http://lgu.flossp.net
On February 4-10 2007, a technical conference and training on the FOSS applications is taking place. Later, scheduled from February 28 to March 6, there is proposed to be an international conference on the computerisation project, showcasing the experience of LGUs utilising these applications.
Incidentally, IPD is also working on an election-related project. This project utilises SMS facility for the reporting of fraud related incidents that could possibly occur in the upcoming May 2007 Philippine elections.
"The project is currently under testing and being demonstrated in select areas in the Philippines," said Soriano.
Institute for Popular Democracy, Philippines
IPD’s Applied Technology and Information Solutions (ATIS)
IPD, on the Wikipedia