Breakthroughs and premier events showcasing developments in science and technology were among the country’s achievements in the face of adversity in 2013.
Spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology in collaboration with other government agencies and institutions, these projects herald bright prospects for the country, with businesses and services more attuned to modern technology and industries vigorously driving the economy forward.
The first of these initiatives was the soft inauguration of the Advanced Device and Materials Testing (Admatel) Laboratory, a 24/7 testing facility for the country’s semiconductor and electronics firms. The year fittingly took off with this significant event which was held in January at the Industrial Technology Development Institute at the DOST Complex in Taguig. With Admatel, local firms will be able to realize huge savings in their testing and capital expenditures since they no longer have to travel overseas for such high value-adding services. Formal inauguration ceremonies were later held in May with President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd as guest of honor.
The following month saw the formal launch of Smarter Philippines in Davao City. Smarter Philippines is DOST’s flagship program for leveraging the vast potential of information and communications technologies toward world-class products, services, and human resources through the following component programs: Smarter Government, Smarter Economy, Smarter Countryside, Smarter Environment, Smarter Living, Smarter Mobility, Smarter People, and Smarter Cities.
The concept of Smarter Philippines actually embraces existing DOST programs.
One of these is the Automated Guideway Transport (AGT) – an alternative elevated transportation system that is automated and driverless. In April, the President, as well as DOST representatives and other government officials, served as distinguished passengers of the AGT on the occasion of its test run held at UP Diliman.
DOST’s acquisition of the IBM Blue Gene Supercomputer is another initiative reflecting the possibilities of Smarter Philippines. The IBM Blue Gene is capable of performing over a billion calculations per second. It will serve as platform for select R&D projects focused on reducing poverty, improving government processes, and enabling smarter weather management. Unveiled in Malacanang last May, Blue Gene is set to enable local scientists to process and gain insights from the unprecedented volume of collected data, benefiting practically every aspect of scientific and technological activity in the country.
Meanwhile, the ratification of Republic Act 10535 or the Philippine Standard Time Act of 2013, as well as the completion of its Implementing Rules and Regulations, is a quantum leap toward standardizing the official time observed throughout the country. Signed into law by the President in May, the Philippine Standard Time (PhST) Act requires businesses, schools, media organizations, and government agencies to follow the time prescribed by Pagasa, the official custodian of PhST.
Moreover, this law lays the legal basis for the observance of the National Time Consciousness Week, which will be celebrated for the first time at the stroke of midnight, New Year’s Day 2014. Just as important, the new law seeks to engender a new generation of Filipinos who value the importance of time and respect punctuality in the conduct of daily activities.
As part of DOST’s contribution to the overall campaign against dengue, the Department partnered with the Department of Health, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Department of Education for the nationwide rollout of the Mosquito Ovicidal-Larvicidal Trap (O/L trap) kits to schools in time for the opening of schoolyear 2013-2014.
The Department also continued to accord priority attention to disaster risk reduction and mitigation activities efforts down to the local levels. This proactive approach in disaster risk reduction and management, which Pres. Aquino highlighted in his July State of the Nation Address, is becoming a necessity with extreme weather events happening more frequently and with greater ferocity – from Auring in January to Super Typhoon Yolanda in November. Add to this the killer earthquake that rocked parts of Visayas also in November.
Through it all, the DOST, through its agencies Pagasa, Philvolcs, and ICTO, provided excellent technical support and advisory services in support of national efforts spearheaded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
In line with the Aquino Administration’s national development agenda, DOST, for 2014 and beyond, will continue to explore avenues opened by public-private partnerships in order to use science and technology to solve pressing national problems, develop and diffuse appropriate technologies to create growth in the countryside, improve industry competitiveness, use S&T to enhance the delivery of government and social services, and build and enhance capacity in emerging technologies such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and genomics.