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The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has partnered with a global community of Filipino tech experts to launch digital solutions addressing key challenges wrought by the COVID-19 crisis.

First among these is RapidPassPH, a quick verification system that eases the flow of frontliners and authorized personnel through Metro Manila’s checkpoints. This is meant to address the choke points that have risen upon the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, caused by the manual checking of credentials of “Authorized Persons Outside of Residence.”

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña explained: “RapidPassPH is a virtual identification system that utilizes QR-code-based technology to provide ease for frontliners and priority vehicles.”

“To use the system, ‘Authorized Persons Outside of Residence’ must register online through the RapidPassPH app, then a QR code will be sent to them once approved. Print the QR code and place it on their vehicle window, and checkpoint personnel will scan it using the same app. This system provides a safe, efficient, and contact-less method for manning our various checkpoints.,” he added.

RapidPassPH removes congestion, speeds up vital deliveries, and protects checkpoint frontliners through contact-free verification.

Secretary de la Peña shared that the system was tested in Mandaluyong on March 27, and was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the same day.

Public-Private Partnership vs COVID-19

RapidPassPH was developed “in record time” in partnership with Developers Connect (DevCon Philippines), the largest community of Filipino IT professionals and tech enthusiasts; and the DevCon Community of Technology Experts (DCTx), a global volunteer-based community of Filipino experts working to develop digital solutions to address the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The DevCon team will provide training and support to our checkpoint frontliners and agencies,” Secretary de la Peña pointed out. “The developers of the RapidPassPH system are also working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for field testing and operations deployment.”

The secretary also cited the IATF-EID’s support as critical to the rapid development and deployment of RapidPassPH.

“We saw the spirit of volunteerism at work in this initiative, as well as the openness of our various government agencies to listen, brainstorm, and collaborate to address this problem that affects our movement and logistics around Metro Manila,” he shared. “I thank my colleagues in government for recognizing the need to solve this issue.”

For Winston Damarillo, the founder of Devcon Philippines, the development of RapidPassPH, among DCTX’s various COVID-19 initiatives, is a testament to Filipino ingenuity and innovation amid the country’s daunting challenges.

“We literally saw hundreds of Filipino volunteers from around the world, come forward to lend their talents to this initiative. They worked ‘round the clock, on top of their day jobs, to get this up and running in record time,” Damarillo shared.

“We also had tremendous support from private sector organizations, who believed and invested in what we were doing.” Damarillo cited Microsoft Philippines, the PLDT Group, Amihan Global Strategies, and Talino Venture Labs as some of its industry stakeholders. “Our partners didn’t just invest in this initiative. More importantly, they invested in homegrown Filipino ingenuity and innovation, to solve problems that are uniquely ours.

We are seeing what Filipinos can do if given the chance—and us coming together at the time of COVID-19 is just the beginning of many more innovations for social good,” Damarillo ended.

RapidPassPH is only the first of DOST and DCTx’s collaborative initiatives to address the COVID-19 crisis. For more updates, please follow the DCTx Facebook page. For further information on how frontliners can register online, stay tuned for updates from RapidPassPH’s official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/rapidpassph/.

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