Manila makes Microsoft move as digital ambitions become reality

Manila makes Microsoft move as digital ambitions become reality

Philippines’ capital city aims to leverage cloud technologies to “potentially empower” more than two million citizens post-pandemic.

Credit: Microsoft

The city of Manila has partnered with Microsoft in a multi-pronged approach to build smart citizen credentials, enhance government productivity levels and maximise the potential of data.

Shaped by a desire to become both “modern” and “global” following 12-18 months of economic and societal upheaval, the Philippines’ capital city aims to leverage cloud technologies to “potentially empower” more than two million citizens post-pandemic,

At the heart of such plans is a commitment to create digital IDs for all city residents, alongside rolling out Microsoft 365 licences to advance education efforts and modernising government agencies through new workplace offerings. This is in addition to supporting city-wide efforts to enhance data governance policies.

“Our collaboration with Microsoft accelerates our ambitions to build a 21st century economy that lifts up our poor and improves job opportunities for our middle class,” said Francisco 'Isko' Moreno Domagoso, Mayor of Manila.

According to Mayor Domagoso, this is in addition to enhancing how the government operates internally as well as improving “business and investment-friendly attractiveness”, now a top priority following COVID-19,

“To govern a modern global city in 2021 -- especially through the worst public health and economic crisis of our lifetimes -- demands we think, lead, manage and govern in new ways,” Mayor Domagoso added. “That is why we are truly excited for the prospects of our partnership with Microsoft and in the 450th year since Manila’s founding in 1571, we look forward to our mutual collaborations ahead.”

The alliance comes as Manila prototypes the creation of digital IDs for every resident in Manila -- currently estimated at more than two million -- with an initial focus on approximately 350,000 of the “poorest and most at-risk or vulnerable populations”.

As outlined by the Mayor’s office, most do not possess formal identification and without such, cannot apply for a national ID in the Philippines. In response, the digital ID offering is designed to allow holders the opportunity to register for benefits, education, job training and cash support with Microsoft backing the widespread “build-out and roll-out” of the initiative.

Driven by a partnership with the Philippines Department of Education, Manila’s 290,000 public-school students will also be provided with free email addresses and Microsoft 365 accounts, underpinned by access to the vendor’s skilling platform.

“City governments today have an opportunity to better serve their citizens through the power of technology,” outlined Andres Ortola, country general manager of Philippines at Microsoft. “Artificial intelligence [AI], the cloud and data can all be harnessed to increase efficiencies and improve everything from public safety, transportation, infrastructure and citizen services.

Specific to the government -- and in a move designed to support civil servants in Manila -- Microsoft has also committed to transition the city’s local government unit to a modern workplace in the form of the vendor’s collaboration portfolio.

To support such efforts, the technology giant will conduct “extensive” internal training sessions to up-skill city leaders on the new digital platform -- improving inter-department collaboration and services delivery in the process.

“Manila has taken on an enormous challenge in their ambition to become a smart city and we look forward to working closely with them to support their transformation efforts and hopefully, to inspire and assist other government units and agencies across the Philippines as well,” Ortola added.

Finally, the partnership will attempt to optimise the city’s ‘Go Manila’ platform, a whole-of-city digital data infrastructure initiative in which Microsoft will provide access to government-specific resources and expertise in AI and map horizons for future digital plans.

“Creating smarter cities is more than just about devices and sensors,” Ortola explained. “It’s about creating an environment that allows every citizen to connect with the city and the city with every citizen. We work with local and national government agencies all over the world to achieve that outcome and we’re committed to its attainment for the City of Manila and every city across the Philippines.”

Tags MicrosoftPhilippinesClouddigital

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