Big Brother in Makati
Big brother has conquered the country’s premier financial district as Makati City rolled out a new wireless network infrastructure in a bid to hasten response to accidents and ease road congestion by providing live traffic updates via the Internet and social media.
The local government installed 115 high-definition cameras in key areas in Makati, delivering “jitter-free” video feed to the city’s command center, according to Firetide Inc., the Silicon Valley-based private wireless broadband network technology provider tapped by Makati for the CCTV project.
With the new system, city administrators hope to quickly detect traffic trouble spots and take proactive measures to alert and divert drivers. The pan-tilt-zoom cameras also ensure continuous, full-video coverage of each intersection while the zooming capability can provide detailed monitoring of critical areas and suspicious movements within the city.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. said the primary function of the new Firetide-enabled traffic monitoring system was to alleviate traffic congestion, document traffic law violations and detect criminal acts.
“But the advanced wireless network that underpins this system can deliver other important benefits for the city. For example, during the recent Typhoon Maring and monsoon rains, we were able to better monitor the flooded areas of the city and make decisions to evacuate residents and save lives,” he said.
More than 600,000 vehicles traverse the country’s version of “Wall Street” on a typical day. Traffic congestion has reached a critical level in recent years with the influx of multinational and local companies. During rush hours, it takes 30 to 60 minutes to travel by car a distance that can be reached by foot in 15 to 20 minutes.
Makati has actually tapped the same technology provider that serves the likes of Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit, the City of Chicago, Thailand Royal Irrigation Department and the citywide Intelligent Transportation System in Scottsdale, Arizona. So if and when Makati traffic flow improves because of this new technology, Big Brother earns more brownie points. Doris C. Dumlao
To say that the principals of Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. are upset over the decision of water regulators to reduce tariffs is an understatement.
Officials of both the Ayala and the PLDT groups (which control Manila Water and Maynilad, respectively) have expressed alarm over the move of the state-run Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to not only deny their petition for a rate increase, but actually order a rate cut.
In particular, the water concessionaires are upset that the regulator decided to upend an agreement that has been in place since 1997 and had been honored every presidential administration that followed since.
According to our sources, both firms now feel that MWSS had been negotiating in bad faith in the weeks leading up to its decision, since the regulator made its case before the media—effectively putting both firms on the defensive—before it even announced its decision.
Not surprisingly, it was also quick to call a press conference to announce its decision, giving the concessionaires very little lead time.
We heard that, before the decision was announced, both firms had aired their appeals to Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras (a former Manila Water chief) and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson (a former Maynilad chief), but there was little either official could do to change MWSS’ mind.
Both have also raised their eyebrows at the MWSS’ contention that the government would take care of building a new dam that would replace Angat by 2019, as one of its justifications for excluding concessionaires’ capital expenditures from their recoverable cost.
“A new dam by 2019? They can’t even get smaller projects to move forward,” complained one official.
And while the PLDT group has suffered several regulatory setbacks under the Aquino administration, it’s another thing entirely for the Ayala group to feel aggrieved, given its strong relationship with Malacañang.
Incidentally, officials from both firms were supposedly told to mute their protests in the days leading up to the MWSS decision, saying the move to basically revisit their concession contracts had the green light “from the highest authorities.” Wow. Daxim L. Lucas
Higher ATM fees
Consumers are now more likely to stick to their banks’ own ATM as the country’s largest banks are set to increase ATM withdrawal fees using Bancnet, Expressnet and Megalink ATM networks.
Banco de Oro Unibank, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. and Bank of the Philippine Islands separately announced that their cardholders would have to shell out P15 per ATM transaction using the ATMs of other banks.
“The change in withdrawal fee from P11 to P15 is an industry-wide development to basically cover the cost of operating the ATMs,” BDO said in its advisory. The higher charges for BDO cardholders will take effect on Nov. 4.
Metrobank and PSBank issued the same announcement setting the higher transaction fee of P15 effective Oct. 1. For PSBank ATM cardholders, usage of Metrobank ATMs will remain at P7.50 per transaction.
Meanwhile, BPI said that effective Oct. 22, ATM withdrawal fee using any of the three networks will increase from P10 to P15 per transaction.
“This increase is necessary to enable us to maintain our service standards even for transactions using other banks’ ATMs. Since the last fee adjustment in 2005, the costs of enabling interbank/internetwork ATM withdrawals and related services have escalated. It is our commitment to ensure your transactions, wherever and whenever made, will be seamless and efficient,” BPI said.
The use of BPI, BPI Family Savings Bank and BPI Direct ATM cards at point-of-sales (POS) terminals through the Express Payment System (EPS) facility will remain free of charge. Doris C. Dumlao
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