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2010 POLL AUTOMATION: Survey of RP network infra starts

Posted on: September 23, 2009

2010 POLL AUTOMATION:
Survey of RP network infra starts

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:01:00 09/23/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Inquirer Politics

MANILA, Philippines—Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) has started surveying the country’s available telecommunications network infrastructure in preparation for its 2010 poll automation project with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Smartmatic-TIM spokesman Gene Gregorio told INQUIRER.net on Monday that the site survey will help the provider assess the network technologies available nationwide to ensure 100 percent transmission of voting results from all precincts to Comelec designated servers at close of polls in May 2010.

Gregorio said the site survey report will be out by November, allowing the provider and Comelec to map its contingency plans that will focus on four areas: use of high power transmission or realignment of sectoral antennas, use of high-gain antennas, use of emerging technologies such as SMS or text messaging, WiMax, and WiFi, and two-way radio, to transmit results to neighboring cellular sites and the use of mobile satellite.

Under the P7.2 billion deal, Comelec will deploy precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will automate the voting, counting, canvassing and consolidation of votes, including electronic transmission of election results from polling stations.

“Realizing that transmission is crucial for poll automation, Smartmatic-TIM has started the site survey to determine all available cellular, landline and satellite network resources especially in remotely located polling precincts,” said Gregorio.

Smartmatic-TIM has trained for site survey the 20 regional and 80 Provincial coordinators who, in turn, trained 1,800 field technicians who will conduct the actual site survey, he said.

For the site survey, the technicians will test all available technologies in an area and create a map of technologies within close proximity to the locale so it can be tapped for contingency measures, he said.

Gregorio said Smartmatic will use three network technologies: wired such as DSL, dedicated lines and fiber optic; wireless such as GSM, GPRS, Edge and 3G cellular technologies; and satellite communications from VSAT and Inmarsat BGAN services.

Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) member Renato Garcia said the Comelec can “deputize” telecommunications companies to help ensure successful automation. He added that an inter-agency group was formed composed of public and private telco groups in the country.

Garcia, who also sits as commissioner in the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, allayed fears that there would be failure in transmission since each computerized election result would have an approximate size of 50 kilobytes or comparable to one multimedia messaging service sent via mobile phone, and requires only a few seconds to transmit, Garcia said.

Gregorio added network providers who have failed to electronically transmit election results will be held liable under contract terms.

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