By Corina Oliquino

MANILA –The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on November 22 launched the Safe Philippines project in Marikina City in line with the government’s goal to reduce crime rate and improve emergency response time using state-of-the-art technology, including high-definition and advanced closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

“A similar system is in place in many cities in the world especially in large metropolitan cities like Metro Manila. It’s about time we have a similar system in our country,” DILG Chief Eduardo Año said in a statement, noting the project will upgrade the 911 emergency system of the DILG-Philippine National Police (PNP).

Año said the project will be used to “improve public safety, evidence collection in the event of criminal activities, incident prevention measures for disaster-related mitigation and response, and police and fire emergency response in addressing traffic and criminal incidents.”

“Under this project, we can reduce crime by 15 percent and improve response time by 25 percent,” he said.

DILG chose Marikina as the pilot city for the project, citing the city’s reputation of having disciplined citizens.

“Based on our experience here in Marikina, discipline and safety equate to people’s support. This is the Marikina way of attaining and sustaining peace and order in our community,” Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said.

“We expect that Marikina will highly benefit with the project and will be at par in terms of safety and security. With expected lower crime rate, a safe and secured environment is an important factor in fostering investment and economic growth and more investors will be enticed to do business in Marikina,” he added.

DILG noted Metro Manila will benchmark the Safe PH Project Phase 1, a joint project between the Philippine government and China, due to its dense population, while Davao City has been chosen to “complement the monitoring system already in place in the city.”

The project will also provide a “bedrock strategy by introducing a smart solution and system integration to combat crime and emergency management and disaster mitigation in order to make people safe” with Marikina set to receive equipment including computer-aided dispatch system, digital info display (video wall), conference room equipped with high definition teleconference endpoint, 234 high definition IP cameras, 300 IP cameras, 300 digital handsets dedicated to public safety, and 12 units of one-key emergency button devices for their command center for its Rescue 161, Office of Public Safety & Security, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection such as computers with access to computer-aided dispatch system.

The project’s first phase will provide 16 local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila and Davao City with integrated operations and command centers, as well as a remote back-up data center while the China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC), the contractor of the project, will provide the camera surveillance system to be used for the “efficient management of public order, security and safety” in the country.

Safe private data

With a Chinese contractor providing state-of-the-art or high definition IP surveillance cameras, intelligent video analytics such as facial and plate recognition, video content search and synopsis, integrated critical communication system for the project, Año assured the public the Philippine government will take necessary measures, such as installing protocols and standard operating procedures to protect data stored in the CCTV system.

“The DILG will install the necessary firewalls to protect the system from hackers and other threats. This will be installed by the DILG and funded by our government,” Año said.

“The public also doesn’t have to worry about data breaches in the project as there will be no storage of classified data or information inimical to national security in the CCTV system,” he added.