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IBM helps transform Davao into ‘intelligent’ city

IBM celebrates 75th year of doing business in PH

MANILA, Philippines—Undoubtedly—although somewhat unfairly— Mindanao suffers from a terrible reputation of being a lawless land where fighting between the rebels and the military has stunted the land’s limitless potential for economic and social development.

But the region may soon be home to the country’s—if not Southeast Asia’s— most modern city.

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This is if US-based technology giant IBM succeeds in turning Davao into an intelligent city as part of the company’s “smarter planet” agenda, one of many projects to mark IBM’s 75th anniversary of doing business in the Philippines.

“I believe that, after this, Davao will be the safest city in the world,” said Mariels Almeda-Winhoffer, IBM Philippines’ newly appointed president and country manager. “The city, thanks to Mayor (Sarah) Duterte, already has the basics. We just want to elevate their capability,” she added.

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The project is being done in partnership with Davao’s local government, led by Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte.

Davao, Winhoffer explained, already has a working command center where government employees monitor countless closed-circuit TV cameras deployed across the city. Using this equipment, the city government is able to coordinate its emergency response, fire and rescue, and police efforts to address various kinds of situations.

“They already have that command center. What we want to do is to further automate its operations and put more intelligence into the system,” she said.

The project’s main goal will be to set up an IBM Intelligent Operations Center, to further enhance the work done by Davao’s existing Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC).

The solutions to be developed will create a smart and safe city by applying advanced technologies to existing infrastructure to improve city management and efficiency.

She said the technology to be applied in Davao would be the same technology displayed by “Watson,” IBM’s now-famous super-computer that won games of “Jeopardy” against some of the game show’s best players.

Winhoffer, who assumed her post last January after serving as Client Advocacy Executive for IBM Corp., said once the project is completed, Davao’s local government officials will be able to respond to emergencies with unprecedented speed.

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“Davao will be the first in the world to have this kind of technology,” she said.

IBM has deployed similar technologies in other cities across the globe, but Winhoffer said Davao would be the only place where the main focus would be public safety and security.

Not only would Davao be one of the safest places in the country, but the city’s economic development would accelerate at a rate never before seen for any place in Mindanao, Winhoffer said

She said having an intelligent city that responds to citizens’ needs, with a particular focus on safety, would boost Davao’s tourism sector and make the city even more of a major investment draw.

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