Filipino City to Provide Infotech Blueprint
Telos, Microsoft, Sun and others are racing to have the project ready by November
Subic Bay in the Philippines has withstood some acute eruptions. First came the discovery of Imelda Marcos' shoe collection and then came Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano which dumped three feet of volcanic ash over the city.
To help dig itself out, Subic Bay began investing in the city's infotech infrastructure and is today working to turn the city into a world center for information technology.
The task is awesome, but with powerhouses Sun Microsystems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Oracle Corp., Alcatel Data Networks, Cabletron Systems Inc. and others banding together for the project, it just may work.
Telos, Herndon, Va., has taken the lead as the head systems integrator on the CyberCity Project, which will unveil itself to the rest of the world in November. That's when Subic Bay will host the Asia Pacific Economic Council Leaders Meeting, which will draw 18 presidents and prime ministers and their deputies to the area.
The city will show off its information technology prowess to top-level international leaders, including President Bill Clinton, who is expected to attend. "It's a measure of how far this country has progressed in the past few years," said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and former mayor of Olongapo, Philippines.
Now, the systems integrators on the project are working to meet the November deadline. One of the big-picture goals of the project is to build a computer network that would link the private industry and the government in Subic Bay, hoping to improve the economy.
Only six to eight families in the Philippines control 75 percent of the wealth in the country, said Don Fernandez, vice president for systems integration at Telos.
"We hope this will create a middle class in the country," he said. "This is service to the citizen to the extreme." A better information technology infrastructure will ideally create more jobs in the area, bolster the region's reputation and bring in more business for industry. Additionally, making technology available to every citizen is hoped to help bring the economic classes closer together. Telos' chunk of the buildout is worth $2.5 million over two years.
Some of the technologies will include networked computers, fiber optic telephone lines, digitized identification controls and geographical information systems. The integrated system will connect individuals of all class levels, the government, private industry, the airport and the seaport.
Those working on the project also hope to attract more business to the area. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates reportedly met with Gordon for a full day on the CyberCity Project.
American businesses are expected to like Subic in part because most everyone speaks English and the government and legal structures are much like those of the United States.
Going high-tech is also a public relations strategy for the country. "This is a chance for the Philippines to send their message out to the world," Fernandez said. "We're not [run by] Marcos anymore."
If successful, the project is expected to serve as a model for other countries interested in developing information technology hubs.