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Filipinos honoring the country during the launch of Project SPARTA last 24 February 2020
 
The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) is encouraging qualified Filipinos to maximize their time at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic by enrolling in an online training under the project, Smarter Philippines through Data Analytics Research and Development, Training and Adoption or Project SPARTA. The trainings may be attended free of charge through scholarships made available under the Project.
 
 
Dr. Paringit prepares to present the DOST-PCIEERD initiatives on emerging techs during the SPARTA launch
 

“It is our goal to upskill 30,000 Filipinos who will be capable to handle big data generated by the different government agencies as well as other entities in the country. We put weight on this initiative as we believe that data science can ultimately change and boost government processes, for the benefit of each Filipino; and even solve some of our country’s major problems,” said DOST-PCIEERD executive director Dr. Enrico Paringit.

In partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP), and Coursebank, Project SPARTA offers free online education to capacitate interested individuals with essential data science and analytics knowledge and skills to efficiently manage, analyze and interpret data.

Project SPARTA is open to all Filipinos permanently based in the country, who are at least senior high school graduates, with or without prior knowledge on data science and analytics. Scholars may pursue one of these learning pathways:

  1. Data Associate – They gather, process, and analyze data and prepares reports that highlight relevant trends and other significant results. Moreover, they provide some information on observable trends and patterns that help senior analysts and managers easily identify opportunities for follow-up in-depth analysis.
  2. Data Steward - They are responsible for ensuring that an organization’s data is well-defined, managed, and ready to use for downstream reporting, analytics, modeling, or even artificial intelligence (AI) use cases. Essentially, they are the gatekeepers of data, working to improve data quality; ensure data acquisition, usage, maintenance, access, and security, in compliance with policies, rules, regulations, and ethical practice.
  3. Data Engineer - They are the builders and managers of data workflows, pipelines, ETL processes, and platforms and are mainly responsible for the management of the entire data lifecycle: ingestion, processing, surfacing, and storage.
  4. Data Analyst – They leverage reporting, data analysis, and modelling techniques to solve problems and gather insight across functional domains. They also analyze data and assess requirement from a business perspective related to an organization’s overall system.
  5. Data Scientist - They are specialists who apply their expertise in statistics and building machine learning models, enriched with programming, to make predictions and answer key business questions. Data scientists create sophisticated analytical models used to build new datasets and derive new insights for data.
  6. Analytics Manager - They oversee analytical operations and communicate insights to executives. Analytics managers translate analytical results to actionable business items. Their role is to drive business outcomes, bridging technical expertise from steward, engineer, scientist and analyst with the operational expertise of the business functions.

Each pathway can take about six (6) months to finish, depending on the pace of the scholar. After completing one, another pathway can be pursued.

To date, there are already 10,700 scholars under Project SPARTA. Most number of scholars are ages 18-34 and are pursuing the Data Scientist and Data Associate pathways. 58% are working for private companies, 17% are from government agencies, and the rest are students and faculty members. Interestingly, 57% of the scholars are female.
 
 
Dr. Cajes addressing the attendees during the Project SPARTA launch
 

“Filipinos can benefit from learning about data science in at least two ways: one, through the employment opportunities for our data scientists, and two, by harnessing their expertise in solving socio-economic problems at the national and local levels, as well as creating public and customer value through new products, improved services, and evidence-based policies,” said Dr. Alan Cajes, DAP senior executive fellow and Project SPARTA project leader.

Cajes envisions a new breed of Filipino data scientists as efficient knowledge workers who can handle big data and provide useful ideas that continually improve the Philippine society.

Paringit supports Cajes’ statement by saying that “data science is like a swiss army knife that has multiple functions—catching fraud and tax evasion detection, human and national security, street crime awareness, and resource management, all of which can help us improve the life of the Filipinos.”

“We’ve seen how data science tools have become indispensable in this period of the worldwide pandemic. Epidemiological analysis and disease surveillance are currently prime areas where data science had shown their mettle. However, as we transition to post-lockdown era, the global business community and governments are going to need skills that are able to make sense of what happened and present economic, business and industrial scenarios that can help us all move forward. Possessing data science skills are therefore crucial now, more than ever,” he added.

The Project SPARTA trainees are required to develop a capstone project to highlight the skills and knowledge learned throughout the courses. These projects can receive financial support from DOST-PCIEERD through the 2020 Call for Proposals under the Good Governance through Data Science and Decision Support System (GODDESS) Program. Interested trainees can submit their proposals at https://dpmis.dost.gov.ph/ until May 31, 2020.

Visit https://sparta.dap.edu.ph/ to learn more about Project SPARTA. For queries, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

DCTx volunteers, together with DOST personnel, conducted a third batch of training with checkpoint personnel at the NCR Police Office on 22 April 2020 (photos from Rapidpassph Facebook Page).

Holders of Rapidpass speeds up to 500, 000 individuals following the consolidation of passes being given by government to frontliners and other essential services into the technological service.

Rapidpass Coordinating Council Head and Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña disclosed this Tuesday as government harmonizes the passes it gave out to frontliners and other essential services.

De la Peña said that those who were issued with an Inter-Agency Task Force  for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) pass and those who applied for passes from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which includes personnel who are part of the skeleton force of companies in manufacturing, retail and logistics services, will be transitioned into Rapidpass, a QR based system that hastens the movement of Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) and their vehicles through Quarantine Checkpoints (QCPs). 

“As we heal as one, this harmonization will allow easier coordination and faster passage at quarantine checkpoints.  Through science, we help in winning the fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Developed by volunteer technology organization DEVCONNECT Philippines Inc., led by technopreneur Winston Damarillo, Rapidpass was developed as a response to the IATF-MEID call for innovations to ease up traffic in the National Capital Region’s 48 QCPs.

Both the origin and destination of the APOR is indicated in the encryption of the RapidPass QR code.

Though the RapidPass requires a cellular phone and a photo of the user to get an account, De la Peña said the cellular phone requirement will be eased for those holding IATF and DTI passes to hasten the harmonization.

“We also hope that this transition will help put our economy back on its feet through a fast, reliable, and secure system,” he said.

DOST, DEVCON, the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Joint Task Force COVID Shield (JTF) are collaborating  in the implementation of RapidPass, the technology that provides easier access in Metro Manila’s QCPs.

DOST chairs the RapidPass Coordination Group, DICT leads the Technical Working Group, and the JTF, led by Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, takes point in the deployment at the QCPs.

Features of the Specimen Collection Booth designed by FAME, Inc.
 

To aid in mass testing to better combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) released the design of their supported specimen collection booth (SCB) to the public.

In a virtual presser led by DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, DOST said it is giving the design for free to fabricators and engineers to help augment the government’s drive to beat COVID-19.

“We believe that opening up the SCB design to the public will support in the government’s drive to conduct mass testing and immediately provide help to those afflicted with COVID-19,” he said.

The said design, created by DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development Startup Grant Awardee Future Aviation and Maritime Enterprise, Inc., will be made available to fabricators or engineering groups starting April 28 through DOST offices and the DOST-PCIEERD website, www.pcieerd.dost.gov.ph.

The fabrication of these booths should strictly adhere to the specifications recommended by the DOST, with the approval of the Department of Health (DOH).

The design of the Specimen Collection Booth includes:

  1. The booth structure is made of angle bars for the frames, plywood walls and clear water-proof acrylic window. The booth measures 1m x 1.5m x 2.25m (L-W-H).
  2. The booth is equipped with a 0.5 horsepower window type aircon and a roof-mounted ventilator with filter.
  1. A heavy-duty 4" caster wheel is provided for mobility.
  2. The slanted specimen table is ergonomically designed to provide enough leg space for both the patient and the tester.
  1. Positive Pressure is maintained inside the booth using a pressure sensor to prevent outside contamination from getting inside the booth.
  1. The SCB is also equipped with a Bluetooth speaker for a clear and audible conveyance of instructions to the patient.
  1. The booth is also provided with the following:
    • 2 Monobloc chairs
    • Semi-disposable untexturized nitrile gloves
    • Disposable clear plastic gloves
    • Disinfectant dispenser
    • Plastic bag for disposing used plastic gloves
  1. The booth features the FAME-designed temperature scanner, an additional accessory of the SCB where the temperature of patients may be obtained and recorded in the cloud for easy monitoring of hotpots in areas where the SCB is installed. The temperature scanner is developed and owned by FAME, Inc and may be sourced directly from FAME, Inc.

DOST is distributing 132 SCBs across the country to help in the mass testing efforts of government. The SCBs were jointly funded by DOST-PCIEERD and the DOST – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). 

DOST PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico Paringit said it will continue to be on the lookout for innovations that can help win the war against COVID-19.

“We will be relentless in our pursuit in finding ways to fight this menacing disease and save more lives.  We will remain to make innovation work for the people and ensure a competitive edge for our frontliners,” he said.

Likewise, DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya extends his appreciation to all researchers who tirelessly find solutions to problems related to COVID19. He said, “At this time of great uncertainty, Filipino ingenuity has once again emerged to find solutions to curb COVID19. We thank all the researchers who showed overwhelming energy, resilience, and commitment. Together, we will get through this and DOST-PCHRD will continue its mission to find research-based solutions that will address the most pressing problems the country is facing.”
 

Special Call for Proposals: Ventilators/Respirators, poster series can be found at facebook.com/dostpcieerd

With the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) together with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) is looking for designs of ventilators and respirators to augment the health care system grapple with COVID-19 patients needing these medical devices.

“As a leader in enabling scientific solutions through R&D, the DOST-PCIEERD together with PCHRD opens its doors to our innovators and researchers to share their innovations that will ultimately aid our government respond better to the pandemic and contribute to the healing of our nation,” said DOST-PCIEERD executive director Dr. Enrico Paringit.

Paringit said the prototype must be made from medical-grade materials and components and should have an assist control (AC) mode, tidal volume, back-up or respiratory rate (RR), inspiration: expiration (I:E) ratio, fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2), alarms, and humidifier.

DOST-PCIEERD will support activities related to design and development, prototyping, fabrication and assembly of the prototype, simulation, pre-accreditation testing and calibration in collaboration with the Electronics Product Development Center (EPDC) and testing by an accredited inspection body of the government.

Concept proposals, including preliminary works done, description of design, workplan, deliverables, with a letter of intent from the medical expert or hospital, and the budget should be sent through email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. on or before 28 April 2020.

For projects/prototypes that passed industrial standards, DOST-PCHRD will support the conduct of the clinical trials and other clinical acceptance protocols.

DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya stressed the importance of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the ventilators. He said, “Ventilators are vital in ensuring that our patients, especially those confined in the ICU, are given the maximum care and support they need to recover. Aside from addressing the need to secure more ventilator units, we also have to make sure that the equipment we produce or procure are reliable and efficient.”

Upon submission of proposal to DOST-PCHRD, the proponent must have partnered with medical experts, secured an ethics clearance from an institution capable of conducting clinical trials, and identified industry partner/s with a License-to-Operate (LTO) certificate from the Food and Drugs Administration – Philippines for mass production.

 
Screenshot of Barvid-19, one of the apps/websites developed to consolidate data to aid in addressing the COVID19 Pandemic
 

Filipino innovators are making the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” into reality.

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) acknowledges innovative Filipinos who have come up with brilliant technologies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Featuring personalize contact tracing, health assessment and monitoring, and community monitoring - these initiatives showcase the ingenuity and talent of Filipinos online innovators in fighting the global pandemic.

DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit expressed elation over the ingenuity of Filipinos who came up with innovations to fight the global pandemic.

"As leader and partner in enabling innovations in the country, we recognize and urge the public to support these new technologies developed by our brave countrymen,” Paringit said.

Contact-tracing apps and systems. Contact-tracing apps were designed to encourage Filipinos to help in the contact tracing of COVID-19-infected individuals:

  • BirdsEye – Developed by University of San Carlos (USC) faculty members and students, this app encourages self-reporting with the following key features: location mapping and matching, transportation matching and mapping, temperature management, mass testing management and contact tracing. Through these features, it determines COVID-19 hotspots of specific places (i.e. malls, hotels and more) and modes of transportation of where virus carriers have visited. BirdsEye is now available on Google Play.
  • QVID – QVID is contact tracing system for LGUs with the use of QR Codes. It introduces uniformity of simple and secured data gathering for end-users with or without smart phones by empowering barangay-based registration with the barrio system apps: barrio.citizen and barrio.council. In normal times, QVID's data backbone, barrio.system is ideal for seamless delivery of public services to targeted constituents just like the objectives of the National ID System. Designed and developed by ARKITEK, an Iloilo-based startup focused on providing solutions based from existing laws in collaboration with government agencies and local governments.
  • COVID19TRACKER.PH - This is a free, community-based contact tracing tool that uses Bluetooth signals to log your closed contacts in the database. The user will be immediately alerted if you are in closed contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient for the last 14 days. You can also monitor your status, whether you are a Suspect, Probable, Confirmed, or a Recovered patient.
  • WeTrace - WeTrace is a community tracing app developed by the same team under Genii Hut Technologies Incorporated, a DOST-funded startup, and was endorsed by the provincial government of Cebu for mandatory use in the province. The app can be used for patient mapping, case reporting and location tracking. WeTrace is already available for download on Google Play and Apple Appstore.
  • BYNHN Covid-19 QR Location & Health Status Tracker - Bayanihan (BYNHN) is a security and health code app tailored fit for Filipino nuances and based on international measures to combat COVID-19​. It is designed to monitor and log the location of individuals by having an anonymized QR code in every individual profile, establishment and transportation services. The system may flag those who are at risk of coming into contact with an individual who tested positive using the log in the database of the application.
  • iKeepUSafe -The iKeepUSafe App allows the user to take a self-assessment questionnaire to assess their risk, and inform the public on the privacy of their homes. The system finds everyone who has come within 3 meters and the range of time [based on recorded travel points] that newly reported PUI has stayed in a place plus a window of four (4) hours. Currently, the developer has ongoing talks with the Sta. Rosa Laguna LGU.
  • CLEAR (Citizen's Logistics & Early Assessment Report) - C.L.E.A.R. is a web-based application that is also available on mobile, that provides Local Government Units and Business Units with a means to organize their initiatives to combat COVID19. It gathers data through several methods that include manual and automated functionalities that would seek to generate data specific to COVID19. Developed by Spring Valley and CMI Tech, C.L.E.A.R. aims to empower its Users by providing them the means to gather, organize and analyze information to arrive at the most efficient solution to contain, and eventually eliminate the COVID19 Pandemic. C.L.E.A.R. is also essential to transition out of the Enhanced Community Quarantine as it provides visibility and control to industries, enabling them to self-manage their respective workforce.

Personal health assessment and monitoring tools. To avoid further community transmission, health assessment and monitoring tools help people evaluate and submit their current health status in the comfort of their own home. These will also aid them determine whether they need to seek immediate medical care.

  • ENDCoV – This is a community-driven medical information app that identifies the health condition of a user and provides the corresponding recommendation, establishes a directory of persons and journal of places that the user has made contact with, and provides mass notification to persons with whom a COVID-19 positive patient had made prior contact with. Three (3) days after the launch of the app, it officially reached more than 5,000 users and is now the number one (1) free medical application on Google Play.
  • COVID-19 SCAN: Screening, Assessment, Networking - Senti AI, the country’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) company, designed this self-assessment app to aid users in determining proper action to take given the symptoms being experienced and history of travel encoded. Moreover, it contains up-to-date health information on COVID-19 to support users in managing their health and well-being in this time of health crisis. Senti AI is a DOST-PCIEERD Startup Grant Awardee which developed a machine-learning-based language classifier that automatically detects the language of any document.

At the end of the self-assessment survey, the user will be asked if they want their case to be submitted to the health authorities within their jurisdiction for evaluation. The health authorities will have access to the web application using their unique login credentials.

  • AI-enhanced knowledge management tool – Also developed by Senti AI, the tool will be implemented as the “central brain” for the Department of Health’s (DOH) communication channels. The tool will be filled with FAQs, public or health worker inquiries, and the latest guidelines from DOH. The solution makes use of numerous AI technologies including natural language understanding, intent detection, and entity detection to intelligently capture the context behind an inquiry and provide the most relevant, up-to-date answer from DOH’s official knowledge base.

The tool can easily be integrated to various chatbot providers which unburdens the user from sifting through hundreds of documents with different versions of the same policy. Ultimately, the biggest value of the tool is ensuring that all governing entities from the cities to remote areas of the country can be in sync with the latest official guidelines.

  • Barvid-19 – Developed by students from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, the COVID-19 Barangay Tracker is a barangay and city-wide tracker that can help the public identify the number of people infected with COVID-19 and the specific barangay where they are. At present, data that can be seen in the app are for the cities of Manila, Pasay, Caloocan and Navotas.  The site can be accessed at https://barvid19-tracker.herokuapp.com.

Goods and supplies delivery system were also developed to ensure steady supply of goods sold in local stores and access by communities.

  • Fleet.PH - Fleet.PH created a logistics strategy to have visibility and to optimize activities of logistics deliveries in the Philippines with the current scenario. It aims to help businesses explore, activate delivery support to reach customers, and provide livelihood to Filipinos who lost employment opportunities during the ECQ, and to safely transport supplies, especially to the country’s brave frontliners.

LGU-level community monitoring. Communities need to be closely monitored to ensure that each Filipino is protected from the spread of COVID-19. These tools can aid community leaders and LGUs in keeping a watchful eye on the whole community amid the pandemic.

  • Use of AI for City Watch Initiative – Project Greengrass made a free online community map of real-time street activity monitoring using CCTV networks. It allows the community to have a view on what’s happening in their barangays or cities such as people and vehicle count. LGU authorities can efficiently manage their operations and staff and help them ensure that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols are followed. Interested LGUs can contact the project team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (02)8253-3815.
  • SafeTravelPH – This app is a crowdsourcing tool developed by the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) for users to easily report road and other transport incidents in their area that are related to the ECQ. These reports will be relayed to national and local authorities for their immediate action. The app also supports disease spread monitoring and control, emergency logistics, and disaster relief operations. Real-time updates and data from the app will be useful to community leaders.

This initiative is part of the efforts of the UP COVID-19 response team that empowers communities by enhancing the Filipino value of bayanihan. The developers of the app are currently waiting for the approval of Google Play for it to be available to Filipinos.

  • COVID-19 Symptom Tracker – Accessed at https://symptom-tracker.tedhouse.org/, this is a simple website developed by researchers from De La Salle University – Laguna Campus that allows individuals to easily declare symptoms which will be tagged in the area where these individuals reside. After submitting the symptoms, personal information such as age and gender, are the only required personal information to be filled in. The self-reported symptoms are then projected to a map for easy visualization that will be useful for decision-making purposes.
  • PH Kontra Covid – This is an initiative of the Department of Health (DOH) in collaboration with technology partners AI4GOV and AIAH.AI. It is a system with a web-based digital triage platform and chatbots deployed in Viber and Facebook messenger. The web app and the Viber bot serves as a digital triage tool with the latest algorithm approved and endorsed by DOH, based on the latest case definitions and classification. Another tool “KIRA (Katuwang na Impormasyon para sa Responsableng Aksyon) Kontra COVID” is a bot deployed at the official DOH page that provides the most updated information from guidelines and issuances.

The tools are intended to reach low-income users by enabling access to fast, credible, and bite-sized information and leverages the connectivity of Filipinos in social media. The platform mitigates the spread and effect of false information as it becomes recognized as a reliable and verified source of information. The data on potential cases reported from the digital triage from the web application and Viber will be synchronized with the DOH COVID information system and planned data warehouse. This will enable predictive analytics for the spread of COVID-19, strengthen the referral system, and converge efforts in enabling data-driven and empathetic responses to COVID-19.

With the continued initiatives of the government to combat and contain the pandemic, it is expected that many individuals, leaders, LGUs, and policy makers will find these technologies useful and helpful.

“As physical interaction is highly avoided to prevent further spread of the virus, innovations should be leveraged now, more than ever, to assist and boost Philippines’ efforts in pandemic monitoring, control and treatment, virus tracking, and resource delivery,” Paringit said.