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#KabantayNgBayan hackathon produces apps for gov’t transparency

by SMART Public Affairs | Nov 27, 2013
[27 November 2013] Wondering how much that new road in Pampanga costs? With the award-winning mobile application Budget Badger, Filipinos will soon be able to access information about the budget for different government projects nationwide.
From left to right: DBM Usec. Richard “Bon” Moya, Jett Angeles of Voyager Innovations, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, the four members of winning team “By Implication,” Alvin Gendrano of Microsoft Philippines, Smart developer evangelist Paul Pajo, Noel Perlas of Lowe and Partners, and Michael Lim of the National Competitiveness Council

Wondering how much that new road in Pampanga costs? With the award-winning mobile application Budget Badger, Filipinos will soon be able to access information about the budget for different government projects nationwide.

Budget Badger, developed by the team of Philip Cheang, Pepe Bauagan, Levi Tan Ong, and Daniel Fordan, was named the best app during the #KabantayNgBayan coding marathon on November 16- 17 at the Makati headquarters of wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), a co-presenter of the event.

#KabantayNgBayan hackathon was an initiative by the Open Data Task Force composed of the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO). Official partners were Smart Developer Network (Smart DevNet), Smart Bro, IdeaSpace Foundation, Microsoft and the National Competitiveness Council.

“#KabantayNgBayan shows how citizens, the hacking community can help spread information about budget. The developer community of the world has developed a number of apps for transparency and accountability. We are not far behind,” said Edwin Lacierda, Spokesperson of President Benigno Aquino III.

“The biggest enemy we all face is not fear -- that’s the famous saying -- it’s doubt. It’s wondering what’s going on. Does anyone know? And if someone knows, why don’t I know? Looking at [the developers’] presentations, there is no problem apparently that can’t be fixed in terms of getting the information out…. You can’t live on code alone, but your code can save lives. Your code, your apps, your thinking, your problem-solving can bring hope,” Communications Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III told the hackathon participants.

Lacierda added: “The Philippine developer community is very active and because we have engaged them with the support of organizations like Smart, we are hoping that this developer community will become more active as the years go by, developing apps that will push for good governance and transparency from public officials, as we saw here in #KabantayNgBayan.”

Smart and its subsidiary Voyager Innovations worked with the developer community to provide DBM with an API (application programming interface) that would allow the hackathon’s participants to access government budget data.

The hackathon gathered a total of 22 teams. Team “By Implication,” developers of the Budget Badger app, won a business incubation package from IdeaSpace, four laptops from Microsoft, Open Data merchandise, Smart Devnet and Mozilla merchandise, and P12,000 cash. The latter will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross.

“The biggest injustices happen in the dark. We try to make sure everything’s visible to minimize these things happening,” Ong said.

“The app takes the budget data set that was released. You present it in a location-hierarchical manner. This means you can browse projects by location. You can look for government projects in Luzon, Region III, or NCR. You can say whether you want it to be sorted by price or even by sector, whether that’s education, agriculture, or what not,” he explained.

Undersecretary Richard “Bon” Moya, Chief Information Officer of the DBM, said the #KabantayNgBayan hackathon was part of achieving the aim of having an “open government.”

“Our participation here is to organize, to coordinate with government agencies, to pry their data, curate the data, and to publish the data,” he said. “This hackathon is in the context of the launch of data.gov.ph which is our first venture into open data and is consistent with the transparency, disclosure initiatives of the PNoy administration. Consistent with that, we are developing the groundwork, the foundation for a more disclosed government.”

Jim Ayson, Smart Senior Manager for Partner Management and Developer Relations, said: “We are pleased to see the Philippine government championing the cause of an Open Data policy for fostering greater transparency and good governance. We’re glad that this hackathon helped promote the concept by encouraging software developers to create apps that tap into this data and can be used by citizens. Smart DevNet has been encouraging the use of hackathons to harness technology for a better society. We see this event as a historic attempt at making government data more accessible to the public through digital tech.”

Earl Martin Valencia, IdeaSpace President and Smart Head of Corporate Development, said: “The culture of transparency is critical for us to grow as a country. We have to do it at the ground level, even at the startup level. That’s something we aspire for.”