By Mark Marcos, DRR Specialist, Institutions and Partnerships
Sustaining Digital Platforms in the Local Government Units: The DevLIVE+ Experience
Posted November 4, 2021
Undeniably, there have been an increasing demand for and appreciation of data among local government units (LGUs) for planning and decision-making to strengthen local development, and prepare for and respond to disasters. Advancement and availability of information technology, coupled with the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, have steered local chief executives to invest in digital solutions to facilitate ease in data collection and provide the necessary information for immediate responses. Setting up a platform in response to such demand may be a far easier task than sustaining these digital innovations and managing data to come up with an integrated and a more efficient response.
Short video clip of the DevLIVE+ dashboard showing how data and associated information are easily visualized at the municipal, barangay, purok, and structure level.
UNDP has a history of innovation and has been pioneering the use of existing and emerging technologies in a pragmatic and structured manner in addressing some of the challenges. UNDP’s new Digital Strategy explores the effective and efficient use of technology and innovation to deliver better results and services with our local and community partners. By providing access to digital platforms and building the capacities to manage, use and sustain the technology, UNDP will continue to be an effective ally of the local government in their digital transformation.
The Development through Local Indicators and Vulnerability Exposure Database or DevLIVE+ of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was developed primarily as a tool for LGUs to collect and manage their local data in response to the lack of up-to-date information for development planning and disaster risk reduction. DevLIVE+ is a platform that consolidates the socio-economic information of almost all the households, characteristics and location of buildings, and basic profile of agricultural productions in an area, where these information are easily generated and visualized by the local data managers. Most of the 30 city and municipal government units used their DevLIVE+ to update their comprehensive development, land use and contingency plans. To date, majority of the pilot-LGUs were able to use the platform in producing list of beneficiaries for their social amelioration program and relief operations in this time of the pandemic.
Throughout its three years of continuous implementation, there are evident key factors that have sustained the application of DevLIVE+ in LGU operations.
Prior to UNDP’s introduction of the DevLIVE+ to the concerned LGUs, beyond mere data appreciation, the local chief executives, including their department heads, already have the vision of employing local data and information to aid in fulfilling their responsibilities as head of the community and improve the wellbeing of their constituents. This vision facilitated all out support from the top management to successfully implement the project down from field coordination, data collection, data visualization and management, to community validation.
The DevLIVE+ was designed based on the specific needs and capacities of the concerned local government units. The data collection platform used an open-sourced program called Open Data Kit (ODK) which is easily deployable in remote and offline areas, while its data are interactively visualized and managed through the desktop application. With digital platforms flourishing and constantly evolving, understanding the intended users’ capacities and data requirements have become the basic criteria in developing any digital solutions.
Investing in a highly qualified and committed group comprised of a Team Leader, Survey Coordinators, Data Validators, GPS Operators and Enumerators is an important component for the success of the project. While a series of training activities is provided by UNDP to improve the skills and capacities of locally outsourced team, the passion and dedication of each of the members to be part of the solution in addressing recurring challenges became their motivation to gather accurate and reliable field information. Moving from validators to Data Managers after data collection, they take on a bigger role of generating and processing the required information for the local government.
Translating vision to action propels the sustainability of the DevLIVE+. As is the case of the city government of Vigan, Mayor Juan Carlo Medina and his department heads proactively used their data to develop programs for their youth and elderlies, in developing their Yellow Access Card for their constituents to receive assistance, in improving their COVID-19 vaccination programs, in updating their CLUP, and in identifying hog raisers who may be susceptible to the effect of the African Swine Flu, among others. The city government is now moving toward their digital transformation, which includes integration of their available datasets using DevLIVE+ as their core database.
As they say, data has become the new fuel of today’s generation. While it has been always a challenge for local government units to generate timely and real-time information, it should also be embedded as part of the work to look beyond data generation, and be motivated on how data use can be sustained for an in-depth analysis to meet the needs of the community and carry out more responsive actions.