The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and the United Nations Children’s Fund have urged tech companies and innovators to join the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) and come up with necessary digital tools that would not only address development and humanitarian challenges in the country, but also in different countries.
The DOST-PCIEERD said the DPGA is a multistakeholder group that facilitates the discovery, development, use of, and investment in DPGs to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in low- and middle-income countries.
The Council said it is closely working with UNICEF to promote DPGs which are defined as digital tools that can be used to address key development and humanitarian challenges in different countries and contexts.
“For example, DHIS2, a DPG deployed in over 50 countries, is commonly used as a health information management system. But its design was flexible enough that it can also track and record information from other sectors such as education, sanitation, and agriculture, allowing several ministries in one country to use it. It can be used by both a community health worker to access patient health information and a public school teacher to report on sanitation facilities in schools,” it said.
Both the DOST and UNICEF “encourage more tech companies and innovators in the country to participate in the DPG nomination and vetting process.”
DPGs can be software, content, or services, but all have to demonstrate the use of an approved open license that allows them to be modified or built on by other developers to meet context-specific needs or, where able and appropriate, serve outside their intended use, the DOST-PCIEERD said.
“Even though the Philippines has made strides towards digitization, more work is needed to accelerate the growth and adoption of digital solutions across organizations. Mainstreaming DPGs, especially among existing government tech partners, would enable the rapid adoption of innovations thereby improving governance and service for the public,” said DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico Paringit in a statement.
He said DPGs can unlock opportunities for greater collaboration across and within organizations. This will enable governments to adopt digital solutions more cost-efficiently and sustainably, and ensure that these reach the last mile to benefit the most disadvantaged, he adde.
The DOST-PCIEERD and UNICEF jointly conducted a webinar on May 27, which was participated in by over 90 representatives from the government, academe, and technology and innovation sectors.
Key representatives from DPGA and UNICEF’s Headquarters and East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office served as resource speakers.
They tackled the importance of “democratizing the digital innovation space, openly sharing resources, and scaling solutions to meet the world’s most pressing challenges.”
UNICEF stressed the importance of having innovative solutions like DPGs which can help accelerate progress in addressing issues affecting children, especially the most disadvantaged.
“We look forward to collaborating further and for DPGs to become a mainstream pathway among homegrown tech actors working for social impact not only in the Philippines but globally,” UNICEF Philippines Deputy Representative for Programmes Behzad Noubary said.
The DOST-PCIEERD cited the efforts of UNICEF to increase awareness of the country’s tech sector about DPGs and identify mature solutions that are well-poised to become DPGs with support from the DPGA.
“One such solution is Project AEDES, an internationally recognized data-driven dengue portal developed by CirroLytix, a social impact technology company based in the Philippines. AEDES is the first Philippine tech solution to be vetted by DPGA as a digital public good,” it said.
The Council explained that the AEDES prototype is an information portal that predicts dengue hotspots by making correlations from dengue cases and deaths, real-time climate data, Google searches, and satellite maps.
It is targeted to be used by public health and local government agencies to give them advanced notice of dengue outbreaks. This helps them pre-position resources and plan a response to mitigate or address a dengue outbreak, it said
It noted that Project AEDES won the Best Use of Data category during the 2019 NASA International Space Apps Challenge and was recognized at the 2020 Earth Observation for the Sustainable Development Goals.
With AEDES as a vetted DPG, the CirroLytix team hopes the recognition can accelerate the development of technology to protect more lives from dengue through addressing data delays, the PCIEERD said.
“By becoming a DPG, we aim to set a digital footing for the community of practice to produce and innovate through dengue research with other experts,” said Dominic Ligot, founder and Chief Technology Officer of CirroLytix.