Key projects to be monitored by satellite — DBM

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Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will be tapping satellite imaging and geo-tagging systems to monitor priority infrastructure projects and other large-scale programs.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the department has partnered with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) to keep track of projects funded by the national government.

The Digital Imaging for Monitoring and Evaluation (Project DIME) allows the DBM to use the DoST’s Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system to monitor progress on the construction of two big-ticket projects: the P16.5-billion North-South Commuter Railway, as well as the construction and improvement of access roads to seaports and airports cumulatively worth P6.2 billion.

Mr. Diokno said these projects will be among the priority areas for the tracking mechanism in 2018, with plans to eventually expand coverage to all state-funded infrastructure projects. Images captured from satellites and drones will be used to monitor progress on procurement and construction.

“This will quicken the implementation of projects and also, in a way, reduce wastage. No more ghost projects as a result of this — we don’t have to send people to the mountains, we have technology for that,” Mr. Diokno said during a briefing yesterday.

About 20% of the country’s annual budget is said to be lost to corruption, according to the latest national risk assessment report published by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Last year, the DBM and DoST ran a pilot test of Project DIME by collecting data to check the conditions of irrigation systems as well as the National Greening Program run by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Mr. Diokno said the digital monitoring scheme can eventually cover all projects under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure agenda, but noted that users will be “selective” as the system is being tried out.

Apart from the selected infrastructure projects, bureaus under the DBM will use the new capability to keep a close watch on the P105.9-billion basic education facilities under the Department of Education, the P29-billion health facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health (DoH), P28 billion worth of national and communal irrigation systems, and the P25-billion modernization program for the Armed Forces.

For non-construction projects, the government will employ desk review methods to check progress and efficiency, Mr. Diokno added. These include the P89.4-billion conditional cash transfer program, the P40-billion universal access to quality tertiary education project, the P4.2-billion national fisheries program, and the P1.7-billion free Wi-Fi access project of the Department of Information and Communication Technology.

The satellites can report fresh data on a monthly basis. Some of the data will be harvested from the country’s own microsatellite launched in 2016, as well as from commercial satellites. Data processing and analytics will be done by Filipino engineers, according to Enrico C. Paringit, program leader of the University of the Philippines’ Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) program, which is working with the DoST.

The DoH and the Department of Public Works and Highways are also seeking the DoST’s help for their internal monitoring protocols, DoST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña added. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez