Multimedia Reporter

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has partnered with a global community of Filipino tech experts to launch digital solutions addressing key challenges brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. First among these is RapidPassPH, a quick verification system that removes congestion, speeds up vital deliveries, and protects frontliners via contact-free verification through Metro Manila’s 56 checkpoints. This addresses the choke points that have sprung up as a result of the manual checking of credentials of “Authorized Persons Outside of Residence,” mandated by the government’s enhanced community quarantine measures.

As DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña explained, “RapidPassPH is a virtual identification system that utilizes QR code-based technology to provide ease for frontliners and priority vehicles. To use the system, “Authorized Persons Outside of Residence” must register online through the RapidPassPH app. A QR code will then be sent to them upon approval. This QR code must be printed and placed on one’s vehicle window for checkpoint personnel to scan using the same app. The system provides a safe, efficient, and contact-less method for manning our various checkpoints.”

Public-Private Partnership vs Covid-19

RapidPassPH was developed free-of-charge in partnership with Developers Connect (DEVCON Philippines), the largest community of Filipino IT professionals and tech enthusiasts, and the DEVCON Community of Technology Experts, a global volunteer-based community of Filipino experts working on digital solutions to address the challenges of the current pandemic. Tested in Mandaluyong on March 27, it was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases the same day.

Two hundred Samsung A10 smartphones, donated by PLDT, will be distributed to checkpoint personnel to be used in verifying QR codes, recording the comings and goings at checkpoints, and providing statistical data to inform our nation’s response efforts.

Winston Damarillo, founder of DEVCON Philippines, assured that the centralized database is anonymized and that only an individual’s name and control number will be seen in checkpoints. “We’re only capturing what data we need.”

Damarillo also shared that they had tremendous support from private sector organizations for this initiative, and cited Microsoft Philippines, the PLDT Group, Amihan Global Strategies, and Talino Venture Labs as some of its industry stakeholders.

“Now, more than ever, we are seeing the importance of adapting to a more digital way of life,” said Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan in a press statement.

“RapidPassPH is aligned with the department’s mandate of privacy, cybersecurity and resilience,” he said. “Hundreds of DEVCON volunteers made this possible just three weeks after the quarantine. This proves to the world the triumph of the indomitable Filipino spirit.”

RapidPassPH is set to be deployed this week beginning Monday, April 6.