PHL has among best ‘cloud’ policies in AsPac

THE Philippines might have one of the best cloud policies in the Asia Pacific region, but the actual adoption of the technology for social use, such as health care, transport systems, and financial inclusion is still marred with technicalities that prohibit the country from effectively adopting cloud technology into government processes.

Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) Executive Director May-Ann Lim and Microsoft Regional Attorney Jarom Britton agreed that while the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has implemented a very “flexible” policy on cloud adoption, it still has a lot of room to grow to hasten its implementation. 

“We think the Philippines is one of the most forward-looking nations in the region in terms of cloud procurement. It is one of the few governments willing to get their hands dirty with its cloud-first policy,” Lim said. 

Britton added: “But what is challenging for them is implementation, as the policy calls for the accreditation of cloud-service providers. There is still some trouble in the accreditation list, and this requires them more time to do because they are doing something that is bespoke.” 

In early 2017, the DICT adopted a cloud-first policy through a department circular that prescribes the Philippine government to eliminate the duplication of hardware and systems, fragmentation of databases through the use of cloud-computing technology.  This policy aims to reduce costs, increase employee productivity and develop excellent citizen online services. 

“If you look at the cloud-first policy of DICT, it’s very good. It recognizes and talks through the benefits of the cloud. It’s a clear indication that government agencies should use cloud computing as preference over other models of deployment,” Britton noted. 

Cloud computing could be helpful for the government, as it could create a whole new swathe of services and upgrade existing ones, especially for traffic management, health care, and even financial inclusion thrusts. 

For instance, vehicle movement data that can be stored in the cloud can easily be processed to create traffic-management solutions that could help build a transport system that will predict the exact time for bus pickup and drop-off. 

It could also be used for other social programs, such as conditional-cash disbursements, knowledge development and information dissemination. Simply put, using the cloud for different government services will help the government in its digital transformation initiatives, which could simplify processes and provide greater convenience to its citizens. Britton noted that adopting a cloud-based policy and actually implementing it could help generate a “significant” amount of savings over on-premise infrastructure. It is also highly scalable and more secure than building an IT facility. 

“Cloud-based technologies will drive much of the public sector’s future transformation by presenting a secure and cost-efficient model for delivering citizen-centric services,” added Britton, who led the formal launch of ACCA’s report entitled “From Vision to Procurement: Principles for Adopting Cloud Computing in the Public Sector” on Monday. 

The report said governments should evaluate their cloud product of choice based on its capability to provide high security, ensure the privacy of personal information and guarantee technology reliability. 

Moreover, a good cloud product must be compliant with all regulations and must be aligned with the agencies’ duty of accountability. Government agencies must also look at technology that can support their societal goals and help improve environmental sustainability.

“Adopting cloud services will help government agencies to achieve greater efficiency and enhanced citizen inclusion,” Lim added. “There is a need for a forward-looking cloud procurement strategy to create a trusted environment for the public sector to utilize such services.” 

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