[6 October 2017] Technology-based ideas to solve community problems like traffic and flood, and challenges such as tourist management, came up during a gathering of academe, industry, and government representatives at the Technovation Forum held recently in Cebu City.
Initiated through a partnership between the USAID-STRIDE (Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development) program and PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications, the event sought to tap the huge pool of academic excellence for creative answers to local government challenges that also include human-made and natural calamities.
Darwin Flores, Smart head for community partnerships, said engineering students already do relevant studies as part of thesis requirements, while local governments and government agencies complain they lack people to undertake research and development.
“Why don’t we try to bring them together? How do we do that?” Flores added, citing that these discussions sparked the holding of Smart’s first Technovation Forum last April in Davao City where 13 colleges and universities proposed innovative projects related to investment promotion and facilitation, the Mindanao Development Corridor, and climate change adaptation.
In the Cebu leg led by the USAID STRIDE program, students from top colleges and universities offered solutions like a Bantay Baha system that monitors rising flood waters and sends text messages when certain levels are breached, a fire monitoring mechanism that makes use of hardware and mobile applications, impact monitoring program for tourism, and a garbage app that teaches segregation and lists recycling areas.
They based their project proposals on the main concerns raised during the forum by government representatives, which centered on disaster risk reduction, traffic, and garbage for Cebu City; tourism for the Province of Cebu; and alternative learning system for the Department of Education.
“This is a bold step we are taking, bringing together the academe, industry, and government to find technology solutions to everyday concerns,” said Smart Public Affairs-VisMin Head Maria Jane Paredes.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said in his welcome message that innovation is one of the great economic pillars, and highlighted the importance of tailoring solutions to specific needs.
Research and Industry Partnerships Manager Richard Abendan of STRIDE said local government units get empowered through workshops like the Technovation Forum. On its last year, USAID STRIDE hopes to work with more companies to make science and technology relevant to governments and industries with the end goal of bringing about inclusive economic growth.
Members of the academe discuss how to solve community problems using technology at the Technovation Forum.
The forum brought together the academe, government, and private sector. In the photo are (from left to right) Richard Abendan of USAID STRIDE, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, and Maria Jane Paredes and Darwin Flores of Smart.