By Emme Rose S. Santiagudo, Correspondent

THE DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology (DoST) and stakeholders in Iloilo City are working on the “Innovate Iloilo” plan, a roadmap towards better governance using science, technology and innovations (STI).

“In 2017, Iloilo City was named as one of the 25 digital cities in the country. It has the potential of becoming a smart city. Ngayon ‘yung (Now the) challenge, if Iloilo City will adopt the technologies being offered by DoST, then maybe they can be the first smart city,” DoST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena L. Guevara said during the recent 9th anniversary celebration of the DoST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).

DoST-Western Visayas Regional Director Rowen R. Gelonga said they already had discussions with officials of the city and Iloilo provincial governments, private sector, and other stakeholders for the roadmap.

“Here in Iloilo, we have initial discussions involving the city government, provincial government, other government agencies, and private sector. We are coming up with ‘Innovate Iloilo’… where we would like to position Iloilo City and province as an innovation hub,” he said.

“We are hoping that some of the technologies which will be presented today can be considered for adaptation and utilization of the LGU (local government unit),” Mr. Gelonga said.

The DOST has been encouraging LGUs to adopt STI to provide better governance and services to the people.

“It’s about increasing the role of data and information in governance, that’s making them smart. There is no more ad hoc decision-making done. Every decision is based on science, its evidence-based, and we’re looking forward to this kind of future in governance,” said DoST-PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico C. Paringit.

As part of the celebration, DoST-PCIEERD presented 13 technologies made by local researchers and scientists from DoST and universities around the country.

These technologies can be used by LGUs to provide solutions to key issues such as transport system, environmental protection, critical infrastructure monitoring, housing, disaster risk reduction, education, and food safety.

Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. Executive Director Francis Gentoral said having a “smart” LGU forms part of the wider smart city goal.

“DoST plus the academic institutions and the business groups and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), we are having ‘Innovate Iloilo’ this October and the idea of having this program is really to develop the ecosystem for a start-up community, and of course part of that ecosystem is to ensure that LGUs are smart,” he said.

Calixto V. Chikiamco, political economist and president of Foundation for Economic Freedom, said Iloilo has the potential to “be a hub for tech industries” given its “good universities.”

He said, “Good software programmers and developers could form the core for tech start-ups, that would be the basis of whole new industries but that would need support from the government and investor. But you have the people, that’s the advantage of Iloilo, their educational system… You can be a tech center here, but of course with the right policies in place.”