Ateneo students, DOTC sign agreement for open data initiative

March 31, 2016
(Left to right): Kyle See, Leona Lao, Vermille Saw, DOTC Sec. Abaya, Fr Jett, Hadrian Ang, Miguel Palma and Dr. Vergara

The Ateneo de Manila University signed on Mar. 29, 2016 a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to adopt an “open data initiative” created by students of the School of Science and Engineering (SOSE).

As part of their thesis project, Computer Science students Hadrian Ang, Leona Lao, Miguel Palma, Vermille Saw and Kyle See created the Open Transportation Portal which is a platform for transport information. With DOTC as their official partner, the students can easily access the data needed for their website.

In a nutshell, Open Transport shows a collection of information about the different public utility vehicles. This information includes transportation routes and schedules, locations of railway stations, air and seaports and other transport terminals.

Computer Science major Hadrian Ang introduces Open Transport

“Open Transport is also (done) in line with the DOTC’s greater efforts for transparency and accountability,” Ang says, referring to a feature that shows the details of DOTC’s ongoing projects.

University Vice-President for the Loyola Schools Dr. John Paul Vergara, also the thesis adviser of the students, says that they are still adding data to cover more information and to make it more user-friendly.

“It’s an ongoing project and we’re hoping that it can sustain itself and get more students involved,” he says. He also encourages students to send photos and bits of information about the transportation systems that they knew of but aren’t in the dataset yet.

University President Fr Jett Villarin, SJ and DOTC Sec. Abaya pose after making the agreement official

As of now, the target audience of the website are developers, statisticians and people interested in government data, but Dr. Veraga and his students look forward to a consumer-service goal with a module on traveling where tourists can use Open Transport as a guide to their destinations. They are also considering developing a mobile app for the website.

University President Fr Jett Villarin, SJ, in closing, expresses his lament over the country, saying that connections are difficult to make.

He is, however, impressed with what is being done and said that there is now another bridge which he hopes will last beyond a lifetime, regardless of the political bearing.

Dr. Leland Dela Cruz, director of the Office for Social Concern and Involvement, officiates the program

“I hope we keep in mind there are larger goals—the goal of connecting our people together and connecting them to the world. I don’t think we can be an island for so long,” he says.

DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya thanks the Ateneo for “casting the rod and offering the bait,” pointing out the University’s initiative, led by the Office for Social Concern and Involvement Director Dr. Leland Joseph Dela Cruz, to tap agencies and work on a joint project.

“We’re hungry to get hooked with the academe,” Abaya says. “Thank you for opening this window for all of us. We look forward to providing more opportunities like this that build the skills and knowledge of our youth.”

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Listen to Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya's speech below: