The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), for being the most crucial gov’t agency in this time of pandemic, had done soft actions such as advising the public, warning everyone to be wary in using video and teleconferencing applications due to the increasing reports of supposed security issues, and calling out to Facebook to temporarily compress bitrate for videos on Facebook and Instagram so as to lessen data congestion during ECQ, among others.
“Video and teleconferencing software and tools are now being widely used by millions of Filipinos for work, as the enhanced community quarantine is imposed by the Philippine government,” the DICT said.
“However, a number of security issues have recently surfaced for certain video and teleconferencing applications, including allegations regarding the activation of the device’s video camera without the user knowing it,” the agency added.
As of late, DICT seeks to tap Singapore’s contact tracing app, called “TraceTogether” which would assist in mitigating the spread of the virus, particularly, by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other app users who are within about two to five-meter proximity.
“The DICT, as a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease, recognizes the need for systems to identify, screen and assist Filipinos suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19,” DICT said. “These include contact-tracing systems that will minimize, if not prevent, the local spread of the coronavirus through the use of information and communications technology.”
And most importantly, DICT has also provided a free Wi-Fi connection to over 30 COVID-19 monitoring and control centers, such as designated quarantine areas and lodging for frontliners as well as emergency operations centers. Called Free Wi-Fi For All Program, it aims to enable swift data gathering and exchange in these facilities, as well as give frontliners and patients the opportunity “to communicate with their loved ones to let them know of their situation.”
Facilities included are the Ninoy Aquino Stadium (RMSC) in Malate, Manila; Leyte Provincial Emergency Operations Center in Palo, Leyte; Covid-19 Center for Central Visayas located at the Sacred Heart School–Ateneo de Cebu in Cebu City; and Incident Command Post/Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) against Covid-19 in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, among others.
Free Wi-fi services have also been provided to five accredited Covid-19 testing centers, which are: Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City, San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, and Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City.
“The DICT is committed to respond to the challenge that this pandemic has brought. Now, more than ever, connecting the Filipino to the Internet, especially those fighting in the frontlines of this war, has become an important task—crucial to aid communication between these facilities and help our medical professionals and other front liners stay connected with their loved ones,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.
Since the Covid-19 broke out within the Philippine soil that caused a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, DICT has been supporting in the sidelines, with IATF taking directions all the while medical workers and other necessary professionals as frontliners directly mitigating the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
But connectivity is among the most important part in tackling the Covid-19 crisis, in which DICT is capable that would provide a digitized solution to communication when everyone needed it the most while being cooped up in their homes.