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(Feature)ICT: Making the world smaller

By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata

MANILA, May 20 (PNA) — Who among you doesn’t have a mobile phone? And who among our readers doesn’t have a social networking account?

Last night, I saw a street kid playing with a smart phone. Yes, a street kid holding a smartphone. Gone are the days when only the rich and can-affords can have a mobile phone. No wonder why the Philippines was called the “text capital” of the world due to the large volume of SMS traffic exchange here. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you will say your kids are more techie than you are, considering that even most kids these days also have mobile phones.

With the advent of technology, perhaps you’ll find a hard time to look for someone who does not have any social media account such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Some of the grandparents out there even have better profile pictures than what we have.

Did you know that we’ve just observed the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) last Sunday? A United Nations General Assembly resolution proclaimed May 17 as WTISD, in recognition of the powerful forms information and communication technology plays in shaping the world.

WTISD is also a commemoration of the signing of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on May 17, 1865. Thus, WTISD aims to raise global awareness of societal changes brought by the internet and new technologies, and to help reduce digital divide.

Indeed, information and communication technology (ICT) enables people to stay connected. There are a lot of options – Skype, Viber, FaceTime, and a whole lot more that serves as an avenue for us to keep in touch in real-time, and as if the other person is just in front of us.

Even if some of your friends are miles away, the ICT makes you feel like the world has become smaller, because you can still connect with them wherever they are.

Gone are the days when you would write letters and send them via courier, and days when journalists would line up to use a typewriter in the office. Many things we do are just an email or some clicks away. Booking a flight? Want to shop but you don’t want to go out of the house? Nowadays, people send messages, purchase things, do transactions or pay their bills online. Less hassle. Thanks to technology.

Have you noticed that every time there’s a typhoon, most of us check social media sites to get updates and announcements (not to mention, looking forward to see “#WalangPasok”)? The ICT is also a huge help for businessmen. The files they need, the persons they need to talk to when they’re abroad, are all within reach trough the internet.

It is used by doctors, too. Some doctors currently use ICT to check records of their patients who are far away. It’s also helpful for patients (especially the elderly and pregnant women) as they would not need to go the clinic and wait.

According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the IT-BPM (business process management) industry is the second largest income generator for the economy next to OFW remittances.

It also cited that based on the National Statistical Coordination Board, the Philippines ranked 7th in terms of ICT development in 2013. This connotes that it’s lagging behind some of its neighbor countries like Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.

So what hinders development in the ICT sector? The DOST cited the high cost and low internet speed as major problems.

As such, the DOST- Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) keeps on developing projects and initiatives to strengthen the ICT in the country.

For instance, it has launched “Juan, Konek!” recently in Pulilan, Bulacan. The goal is to encourage and educate Filipinos, especially in urban-rural areas, to connect to their government online through the websites, and find out how the government could serve them best.

There’s also the “Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Areas” project to enhance internet connection all over the country. According to DOST, the project targets to provide 256kbps of free Wi-Fi to 105,000 concurrent users nationwide by November.

Furthermore, the ICTO aims to provide 140,000 jobs by the end of the year. This will made possible through tapping more locations for IT-BPM operations. (PNA)

RMA/MCCA/EDS

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