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Storms delay Comelec network survey

Posted on: November 19, 2009

Storms delay Comelec network survey
November 18, 2009 19:56:00
Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) postponed its network infrastructure survey in preparation for next year’s automated polls due to recent tropical storms that hit Luzon.

Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM), the agency’s automation partner, are already on the third of four site surveys, a way of evaluating the capability of each precinct to transmit electronically voting results through precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“Now we are on the third phase covering Visayas and Mindanao, with the fourth phase to start by end of this month,” said Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, who heads the steering committee on poll automation.

“Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM are revising the calendar for the site survey and we expect to report on the assessment of transmission technologies done by December instead of this month,” Larrazabal said in an interview Wednesday.

The new time line for the site survey of 73,000 clustered precincts would be out Friday, he added.

Through the site surveys, Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM would map out the 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.

For the site survey, field personnel check if all polling precincts have available network signal and can transmit data—with at least the size of one multimedia message—via a smartphone using public network and mobile technologies, said Comelec consultant and Ateneo professor Renato Garcia.

Garcia, who also sits as commissioner of 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.

Areas without network coverage or from which data cannot be sent to a network are identified by the field personnel and reported to public telcos and Internet providers, who in turn would assess if the network coverage can be improved by raising the antennas or network signal.

If there are no means of transmission in an area, especially those located in remote islands, Smartmatic-TIM would test mobile satellite technologies, Larrazabal said.

Smartmatic spokesman Gene Gregorio told INQUIRER.net that network providers who would be tapped for the 2010 elections but failed to electronically transmit voting results on Election Day would be held liable under contract terms.

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1 Response to "Storms delay Comelec network survey"

then again, there’s the Maguindanao massacre.

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