HxGN RadioPodcast

[PODCAST]: Developing Smart Cities in the Philippines

In this episode of HxGN Radio, we discuss how Certeza is helping Smart City development in the Philippines, starting with the Province of Laguna, located about 25 kilometres southwest of Manila. To listen to more HxGN Radio episodes, visit our channels on iTunesSoundCloud or Stitcher.

Welcome to Hexagon Radio. This is your host, Winson Wang from Hexagon Geospatial. Certeza Infosys Corporation are a long-standing partner of Hexagon Geospatial. Based in the Philippines, Certeza specialises in the geospatial domain, providing solutions for Mapping, Surveying, GIS, Aerial Photography, Aerial LiDAR, IFSAR, Airborne, Space-Borne, Land Based, Remote Sensing, and various Industry Solutions. In today’s episode, we are talking to Raul Roberto De Guzman, also known as Bobby, the Chief Executive Officer at Certeza Infosys Corporation.

WW: Thank you for joining us today, Bobby. Let’s start by telling our listeners about Certeza Infosys Corporation.

BG: Certeza is a 90-year old company, actually more than 90 years. We acquired a company in 2005 and as you mentioned earlier, we are Surveying and Photography –  essentially a capture firm. We started that way – we introduced surveying in the Philippines in 1924 then got into Aerial Photography in 1960, GPS and the use of satellite in the 80’s, and around 2011 when we have linked up with software companies like ERDAS – now known as Hexagon Geospatial – we got into the solutions business. So we’re remote geospatial technologies and more importantly we package solutions for various clients, both government and industry.

WW: Tell us about your role at Certeza.

BG: Being the CEO, I manage the company, I also lead the business development efforts. But I take the special interest of Certeza, being a legacy company, to move into the new frontiers of technology. So I would like to move on from content capture to packaging actionable information for decision-makers to act and to decide on. So that’s a brief of what I am doing now.

WW: Briefly also describe how the Smart City wave has hit the Philippines?

BG: This is a very recent movement in the Philippines starting maybe about 3 to 4 years ago. Initially the focus was on Command and Control Centres for Security and Disaster Management. An earlier provider called it the Intelligent Operation Centre – that’s the limiting definition of Smart City. It allows governments, police, fire, local government unions to use analytic software and monitor events and operations in real time. That’s more lip service in my experience rather that real hard stuff where you can see. Essentially we’re still getting into it, growing, but progressing. Recently, as defined by an official from the department of science and technology, the information computer technology group, the magic word is “Inclusive Growth”. A Smart City initiative initiates cutting-edge technology to deliver value-added services to improve the lives of the people. Philippines being a developing country, Smart City is focused on serving people. Evolving from public safety to e-Governance, Urban Planning, People Programme, Smart Transportation, and Smart Mobility.

WW: There seems to be a lot of focus areas. And what does this industry trend mean for the Philippines Geospatial sector?

BG: Very big. With Google Maps coming out, the awareness for location, for imagery, has been there. Everybody wants to know where their house is located. When you bring in intelligence to a system, you cannot avoid locating it. We do have a problem in the Philippines especially in the context – our maps are very old and it’s taking a while to progress and update this. We want to fix this issue, and there are a lot of opportunities in that sector. Then convert that data into something that I said earlier – Actionable Information. So there are lots of opportunities.

WW: I understand you did development work in the Province of Laguna (in the Philippines). Can you help us understand how they are growing smarter?

BG: Laguna is a province, one of the 82 provinces in the Philippines and it’s the closest to metro city of Manila. Very beautiful place, environment-wise. You have 3 big mountains, there’s  big Laguna Lake, population of almost 3 million, as of today. When they say its close to the metro city of Manila, if Manila sneezes Laguna would catch a cold. Right now because of the problems in metro Manila, as I mentioned, this is now getting into Laguna. Laguna really has to do a lot of things. They have this program that we got involved in, for IT equipment software application licenses and technical consulting services for implementation of the e-Governance Revenue Administration, and Financial Management System of the provincial government of Laguna, or E-Government project. It is envisioned to transform Laguna government into a more citizen-centric government with the use of appropriate technology.

WW: Can you describe cities as a role in this project?

BG: Certeza’s part is the computerisation and customisation of its existing manual Real Property Tax Administration, or RPTA. It also includes the Geographical Information System or GIS and the Miscellaneous Revenue Collections System, or MRCS. The delivered smart tools help establish administrative efficiencies across all channels, provincial and municipal operations. Laguna has 24 municipalities and 6 cities. That includes treasury, assessment, management information system, planning, engineering, disaster risk reduction management, and other social and economic services. The customized GIS integrates all digital geographic information across all municipalities of Laguna. This information is in the form of aerial images, digital land and building parcels, topographic maps, landmarks and other geographic data. In the process of customizing the provincial GIS, Certeza went through comprehensive process of acquiring land images through aerial photography and very high resolution satellite images. This process provided detailed pictures and information of terrain features and infrastructure, which enabled the production of topographic maps with contours, ground control survey to establish the required ground reference points, processing of the digital maps of the entire province which is being used as the fundamental base map for the E-Governance system, and subsequent digital comparison and spatial overlay of tax maps compatible for integration with the GIS database.

WW: How has the Hexagon Geospatial solution helped you deliver this project successfully?

BG: In so many ways. Hexagon Solution from data acquisition—Leica [Geosystems]—to processing—ERDAS [IMAGINE]—all the way to the customised smart GIS—GeoMedia—enabled multiple users to maximize every memory in the past, everything was manual and separate and so much delay. It enabled multiple users to maximize their data generation that can be used as the basic tools in producing and editing maps, analysing discrepancy tables, assessment of vulnerable areas for disaster, engineering planning, and other technical purposes. The initial report being produced by the system is indicating a positive potential of a very high increase in revenue for the province in the coming years. That’s on the province side. On the end user’s side or the community, the ease in assessment, the payment system. The basic delivery to the public.

WW: So you are providing an end-to-end solution through Hexagon and Hexagon Geospatial.

BG: The opportunity for growth is there as they appreciate this; the Province of Laguna when they internalize this, this will open a lot of doors. Talk about health, talking about crime, talking about…there’s so many possibilities with so simple tools but powerful.

WW: Excellent. We appreciate your time today. Thank you for being our guest.

To our listeners you can learn more about Certeza at Tune in to more episodes from Hexagon Radio on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher Radio. Thank you for listening.