IT was June, 2014, when the three IT practitioners who share this column (including this writer) started writing about the issues surrounding the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) automation of the elections–-that’s a total of some 130 articles over a period of two-and-a-half years! They covered the automated election systems (AES) of 2010, 2013 and 2016, which were all PCOS-based (precinct count optical scan), developed and supplied by Smartmatic.

The articles discussed the laws governing elections and the automation of the process, the bidding procedures, the anomalies and violations committed during the bidding, the atrocious cost, the non-compliance of Smartmatic’s AES, and the controversies that arose during the implementation. Most of all, they discussed the non-transparency of the system and how the results were effectively forced on the voting public, which was left with no choice but to accept the figures.

Sadly, it was only a few IT practitioners–-those who understand both IT and Philippine elections–-and even fewer politicians, who relentlessly pointed out the defects of Smartmatic’s AES. Smartmatic and the COMELEC commissioners would therefore always get their way… to the disadvantage of the public, which was mostly unaware of what was going on.

In our combined articles, almost all aspects and perspectives about AES had been covered, thus we believe that very little has been left untouched. Perhaps it’s time the writers shifted to other IT topics, at least temporarily.

Besides, there is no national and local elections scheduled until May 2019–- almost two-and-a-half years away--and therefore interest in the subject of elections is not quite there today.

And so, we thought that we should open this column to other IT topics that may be more relevant today, and write about automated elections again as we draw closer to 2019.

Certainly, there are many IT subjects that are of interest to many people now. Cyber-security, for instance, is a hot topic today. In banking (remember the Bangladesh case?), in insurance, in government, in consumer-oriented apps, in fact, in almost all IT applications. And yet there are not very many experts in this field who can discuss this topic intelligently.

Artificial intelligence is yet another subject that has much potential in terms of applications, but again, there are very few who can articulate on this for the benefit of the general public.

Critical IT applications in government would generate much interest, especially those that impact a large number of citizens. A discussion of SSS and GSIS, BIR, LTO and city/municipality systems would be appreciated by many for their informative value.

On the administration’s present preoccupation: there must be something in the area of “drugs abuse” that can use IT in order to help the government curtail its spread. Looking for this kind of solutions would be a better option than outright extra-judicial killings. By the way, aside from the obvious undesirability of EJK, there are other negative effects, subtle, as they might be: EJK insults the investigating bodies because it renders them useless; it also insults the judiciary, because decisions are made (the killings) without the benefit of due process.

The point I’m making is that there is a huge number of IT-related topics that the general public will find interesting, yet such topics are not being communicated to people in an informative manner.

Going back to the three writers who share this column: we cannot, and will never claim to be experts in all IT disciplines and applications. As such, we cannot write about all those interesting topics. However, nothing stops us from searching for those who can. In order to sustain the readership value of our column, that is exactly what we plan to do–share the space with other IT practitioners.