Valenzuela City with the leadership of Mayor WES Gatchalian, in partnership with the New Zealand Government represented by Ambassador Peter Kell presented DotBot during the Philippines – New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase held at the Multi-purpose Center of the ALERT Center in Barangay Malinta, Valenzuela City on September 13, 2022.
The said event was a result of the Philippines and New Zealand’s partnership through a Memorandum of Arrangement signed last December 21, 2021 with a purpose of creating innovations that will ease the process of different social welfare services in Valenzuela City.
Valenzuela City, being the 5th largest city in Metro Manila, was allocated ₱530,716,000 (NZ$15,200,000) for the Social Amelioration Programme (SAP) by the national government’s Bayanihan to Heal as One Acts 1 and 2 to fund the financial crisis of the constituents amid the pandemic. The city also provides regular financial assistance to Valenzuelanos through the City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO). Having so much tedious work in distributing the said financial assistance, the city itself recognizes the inconsistency and inefficiency of the current manual system of the city which results to frustrated citizens and social workers of the local government. These problems, being one of the top priorities of the city, is the main goal of the said partnership.
CSWDO’s four-person team undergone 12 weeks of workshops with the innovation coaches of Creative HQ, New Zealand and came up with a low-cost, feasible and innovative idea that is manageable and effective called DotBot, an AI messaging platform inspired from Valenzuela’s CSWDO head Ms. Dorothy Evangelista. Dotbot is a chatbot used under the Facebook Messenger application and is used to know the requirements needed in applying for different social welfare services prior to going to CSWD office personally for submission. Dotbot will also help CSWDO have a centralized database which will house all the information of the clients who will seek and avail social service assistance from the local government. This application is a stepping stone for the future of paperless transactions in the city hall, and may help lessen the crowd of clients queuing in the CSWD office for assistance in application. The team also plans on linking DotBot with the city’s website, creating a database and upgrading the overall chatbot application.
Aside from DotBot, non-technical solutions were also proposed by the team to cater clients who do not have access to mobile phones and other technologically-advanced devices, these solutions include Citizen’s Charter, brochures, banners, and coffee table books. An interactive e-learning module will also be available for future references and for further updates whenever new policy and guidelines come up. The module will contain consistent information about different social welfare services of the city which will eradicate the confusion of the clients.
In his message during the event, Mayor WES Gatchalian said “We value the relationship with New Zealand, their sharing of unique expertise and methods to support our work. We look forward to continued successes and dialogue with New Zealand through this partnership and in other possible areas of concern. I hope to see Valenzuela City become a national and global leader for innovative services designed in partnership with urban citizens.”
Distinguished guests namely Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) Undersecretary Ernesto Perez, Undersecretary Carlos Quita, CreativeHQ’s Mr. Jonnie Haddon, and other representatives from New Zealand Embassy – Manila, New Zealand G2G, and ARTA were also recognized during the event.
Also present during the showcase event were Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, Councilors Niña Lopez, Sel Sabino-Sy, Gerald Galang, Liga ng mga Barangay President Councilor Jonjon Bartolome, and other city officials.
In pursuance of digitalization of good governance in Valenzuela City, the local government will continue innovating programs that will ease the lifestyle of each and every Valenzuelano.