The making of San Juan City into a smart city with free Wi-Fi in all public places is now in the rollout process with plans for a formal launch this year, according to city mayor Francis Zamora.
At a business forum with city mayors in late 2019, Zamora said San Juan has been chosen by the Department of Information and Communications Technology as a pilot city for its free Wi-Fi program, and talked in detail of the plan to transform San Juan into a high-tech, digitally connected city.
“Lahat ng barangay sa Lungsod ng San Juan magkakaroon na ng libreng Wi-Fi,” Zamora said, referring to all public places such as barangay halls, multipurpose halls, basketball courts, police precincts, health centers, public schools, markets, parks, and the San Juan Medical Center.
“We are lobbying for hundreds of different locations for our access points,” he added, saying the city wants to create a mesh or web of access points so that “wherever you go there will be Internet signal for everybody.”
He further disclosed that he has already signed an agreement with telecommunications companies Globe, Smart, and PLDT in line with the provision of the free Wi-Fi.
Moreover, the city has tapped IT software developer MultiSys Technologies Corporation to create the San Juan City app which will “allow our constituents, our people to transact or communicate with the local government through the mobile phone.”
Through the app, the citizens can pay their taxes, apply for business permits, make inquiries such as on senior citizens’ benefits, and avail of other government services, all via mobile phone.
Citizens can also call for police assistance if needed, such as in case of road accidents, said Zamora. Notifications about holidays, special events, and class suspensions due to weather disturbances will also be announced through pop-ups, the executive added.
Further, the app has a Bayad Center feature so payments to billers can be easily made digitally.
The app “is free once you download it… and will be officially launched by 2020,” Zamora said.
Another plan is to create electronic kiosks in barangay halls which have the same functions as the app, targeted largely at ” those who may not be as techy as others but still are able to operate a simple computerized machine” so they too may avail of various government services.
Zamora also announced that the local government has suspended street parking to decongest the city and bared plans to develop Greenhills as a “small central business district,” since Greenhills is already “half of San Juan.”
He also revealed a scheme to change the city landscape to “eventually allow bigger buildings to be built in Ortigas Avenue because if we do not allow bigger buildings to be built, we will remain stagnant.”
He continued: “Bigger buildings will mean more revenue opportunities for landowners [and] at the same time more revenue opportunities for our city in terms of real property tax and business tax collection so we really have to move forward and change the landscape of our city.”