City Government of Tuguegarao
Digitization & New Technologies, Perspectives on Productivity, Governance, and Development
The Tuguegarao City Command Center is a monitoring center with a centralized communication system equipped with state-of-the-art ICT solutions and facilities that can respond to incidents and emergencies 24/7.
The Command Center is manned by the city’s Rescue Team and representatives from the Traffic Management Group, Public Safety and Security Office, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Background and Problem
Being the catch basin of waters surrounding the Cagayan Valley, Tuguegarao City is extremely prone to flood and is mapped as one of the most vulnerable to natural hazard-triggered disasters in the region (Philippine Information Agency, 2011). The Natural Hazards Risk Atlas 2015 also reports the city as second among the 10 most at-risk to natural hazards globally. On top of these issues, disseminating warnings and relaying calls for assistance in the area have been a persistent challenge given their lack of a centralized communication and emergency response system. To mitigate the risks, the city government established the Tuguegarao City Command Center in 2018.
Solution and Impact
Built under the leadership of Hon. Atty. Jefferson Pattaui, through Executive Order No. 28-2018, the Tuguegarao City Command Center was built to help ensure safety and emergency preparedness in the city, not only for natural hazard-triggered disasters but for accidents and man-made disasters as well. Among its services are police assistance, hospital care, fire suppression, and search-and-rescue services.
Specifically, the Command Center aims “to gather and process all information required to manage and control all types of incidents efficiently and effectively for the safety and protection of the communities and properties [through] communication and collaboration with the PNP, BFP, Rescue 1111, barangay officials, and other concerned agencies.”
To achieve this goal, the Command Center was built with a fiber optic-wide aerial network and its own hotline. It maintains 117 high-definition bullet-type PTZ (Pan, Tilt, and Z) closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed strategically in all 49 barangays of the city. The cameras are also equipped with facial recognition technology and night vision allowing for clear videos even in low light conditions. This feature also enables their staff to do round-the-clock monitoring of the city and access to recordings of all incidents.
Since its establishment in 2018, there has been a substantial increase in the number of calls. From the annually reported 3,123 calls received in 2018, it has increased to a total of 15,417 calls received in 2019. The 500% increase could be due to the residents’ growing confidence with the project.
Records also show an increase in the number of incidents responded to, from 6,628 in 2020 to 31,922 as of November 2021. Moreover, the systematic communication process of the command center has also decreased the response time to 3 minutes or even lower. Notably, the quickest recorded response time to date is 1 minute and 18 seconds—from calling the hotline to the touchdown of the responder in the incident area. These statistics can also indicate a growing efficiency and effectiveness to its implementation.
The Tuguegarao City Command Center continues to evolve and develop its services even during the pandemic and it ensures that its personnel complies with the protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements.
The innovative Tuguegarao City Command Center has the following notable features:
The Command Center utilizes a dashboard system that maintains records of incidents responded to, which also provides the footage and time response. Reports are classified according to type and are searchable by keywords for easier retrieval. Any related documents may be requested and accessed in less than a minute. The dashboard system caters to all kinds of incidents, including COVID-19 vaccination calls. Residents may also contact the City Command Center for COVID-19 and vaccination concerns.
The management of the control center also allows citizens to request access to available footage subject to existing data privacy laws. While clients, upon their request, are allowed to view CCTV footage for valid reasons, recording, and copying of the footage are not permitted. Before being allowed access, concerned parties are required to submit a blotter report for the request to be approved. Footages are stored in the CCTV room with restricted access even among command center personnel. The data captured by the CCTVs are automatically deleted after 30 days unless they are to be retained for legal purposes. The management of the Command Center strictly observes the delicate balance between public welfare and the right to privacy. With the provision of high definition footage, the center resolved various incidents such as recovery of lost items, resolving traffic accidents, and other criminal cases in the city.
Wifi Ko, Wifi Mo
Along with the development of the Command Center, the city administration managed to provide fast, reliable, and free internet access to the city residents. There are 101 access points installed in 57 locations, including schools, government offices, barangay halls, and other public spaces.
Live Traffic Update and Analysis
The distribution of the local internet connection around the city has also made live traffic updates easily accessible via Facebook and Messenger from 5:15 PM onwards. Moreover, the command center also utilizes intelligent video analytic software to monitor and manage pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the city’s main roads, intersections, entry and exit points, as well as populated areas such as government buildings, public markets, school zones, and church premises. And together with the live traffic advisory, this helps ease the city’s traffic situation, having reportedly reduced travel time by 50%, and it also enables those on the road to make informed decisions about their commute.
Through its high-definition CCTVs and 24/7 live monitoring, the Command Center also provides real-time water level alerts and updates of the Buntun Bridge and Pinacanauan Rivers to all barangay captains, the City Disaster Reduction and Management Office (CDRMO), and other concerned authorities in times of possible flooding. This function reduces property losses by timely operation of flood control and measures, especially in low-lying areas. In addition, real-time updates help avoid the spread of fake news; previously, in an incident where 45 out of 49 barangays were flooded, the Buntun Bridge was claimed to be no longer passable when in fact, it still was. But with the current communication system, the information delivered became accurate.
Tuguegarao City Online Checkpoint Registration
Online Checkpoint Registration (OCR) is a travel management tool designed to cater to travelers or visitors entering the city. Created at the surge of COVID-19 cases in the city, it was immediately used after the IATF announced the removal of checkpoints and mandatory 14-day quarantine nationwide. This system aims to contact-trace and monitor individuals entering the city’s vicinity. It is the first online system developed in the country and was implemented before the S-PASS was introduced. Details required in the form include one’s place of origin, barangay of destination, contact number, date of arrival, health declaration, and purpose of visit. In total, it has recorded 15,641 registrants since April 2021, including locals who went home to Tuguegarao City. Watermarked OCR receipts are sent via email after successfully filling out the form.
Contact Tracing Diagram Report
A contact tracing center was formed at the city Command Center as another initiative in response to the pandemic. The office came up with its own format of report featuring a contact tracing diagram that focuses on visual data of all possible cases and their close contacts. It also provides a shareable Google map showing all possible cases in the vicinity.
Tuguegarao City recorded zero casualties when Typhoon Ompong happened in 2018 and after a flooding on 6 December 2019 that affected 56,387 people. The last onslaught of a mega-flood occurred in the city last November 2020. While it damaged several properties and affected more than a hundred thousand people, only two casualties were recorded.
On the other hand, reports showed a decrease in the crime rate from the monthly average of 42 in 2017 to 39 in 2019. Relatively, time response and solution efficiency increased from 47.27% (2017) to 79.92% (2019), to 86.05% (2020), and 90.48% as of December 2021.
In light of the successful implementation of its services, the Command Center has also been attributed in increasing the confidence of the city’s prospective investors. As a result, the city’s business and investment climate has since improved.
The Tuguegarao City Command Center championed the “Best in LGU Empowerment” (City Level) in the last 2020 Digital Governance Award (G2C). Similarly, “Wifi ko, Wifi mo” was also nationally recognized with its nomination for the “Best in Customer Empowerment Award” (City Level) in the same event.
“The Tuguegarao City Command Center has become a source of pride for the people. It was recognized as one of the city’s best practices, which the other neighboring cities are starting to emulate,” said Mr. Angelo Suyu, former head of the Command Center.
To further expand its services, the city government also plans to create a mobile command center to help ensure the delivery of services even to areas that are hardly reached by CCTV cameras and big events such as festivals. The said mobile command center is envisioned to become a bus, trailer, or van that will be used exactly like the main workspace. Likewise, it will be thoroughly equipped with industry-standard technology using GPS drone technology.
Banguilan, Jeanette; Buslig, Rhea-Lou; Lemmao, Aprilyn, (2018, February). The Compliance of Tuguegarao City in the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Law. International Journal of Advanced Research Management and Social Sciences, Vol. 7 No.2. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://garph.co.uk/IJARMSS/Feb2018/14.pdf.
Tuguegarao City Command Center. (2022, May 2) Live Traffic Updates [Video]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/tugueC5
Tuguegarao City Local Government. (2020, December 11). Digital Governance Award: Command Center [Video]. https://tuguegaraocity.gov.ph/
Tuguegarao City. (2022, April 21). Tuguegarao City [Video]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/1231460139/videos/pcb.2247889662030885/704361173936077
Philippine News Agency. (2020, 24 November). Local execs propose measures to lower Cagayan’s disaster risk. https://www.preventionweb.net/news/philippines-tuguegarao-city-organizes-disaster-management-council
Natural Hazards Risk Atlas. (2015, 4 March). Which cities are most exposed to natural hazards? https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/which-cities-are-most-exposed-to-natural-hazards/