IBM flies volunteers to help solve Philippines’ traffic, education woes

IBM executives stand with officials from the National Youth Commission, the City Government of Makati, the Department of Education, and the Metro Manila Development Authority--beneficiaries of the latest batch of Corporate Service Corps volunteers to fly to the Philippines to help solve the country's problems on traffic management and education with the help of technology.

MANILA, Philippines- — A group of executives from technology behemoth IBM are currently in the country to put their heads together in trying to crack the conundrum that is the education and traffic system of the Philippines.

As part of its regular Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program, IBM Philippines flew in 12 “high-performing” employees from the United States, India, Brazil, Turkey, and Argentina, among others, to work on projects in the Philippines.

The 12 volunteers, the 13th batch in a series of CSC deployments to the Philippines, will work in helping identify ways to improve vehicular traffic maangement and create education modules for out-of-school youth in the country — arguably two of the most pressing social issues affecting the country today.

The IBM executives will reportedly be working closely with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the city government of Makati, and the Department of Education to carry out the projects.

Vehicular traffic woes, particularly in densely populated Metro Manila, has been in the headlines for the past several weeks as the onset of the rainy season caused heavy traffic along the capital’s major thoroughfares almost every week.

Just recently, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino proposed the expansion of the number-coding scheme that would take 20 percent more vehicles out of the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) on a daily basis.

The proposal, however, was met with ire and protest from private vehicle owners, which stand the most to lose should the plan go into full swing, even as traffic congestion — particularly during rush hours — remain a perennial irritant to motorists and commuters alike.

“Marking its 5th anniversary, the IBM CSC program has had a very positive impact to the lives of more than 140,000 people through skills transfer and capacity building,” said Mariels Almeda Winhoffer, president and country general manager, IBM Philippines.

In the past, CSC volunteers collaborated with government agencies and civil society groups in coming up with solutions for problems besetting small and medium businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations with the help of technology.

One particular project, published in the website, pooled the skills and resources of IBM CSC volunteers and the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences to create flood maps of the most vulnerable cities around the country.

The project has since been integrated to Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), the government’s one-stop-shop for all weather information online that is also available as an app for mobile devices.

The CSC program, often called the corporate version of the “Peace Corps” was developed to help IBM employees become effective 21st century global professionals and citizens while helping solve complex problems in emerging markets like the Philippines.

The program sends groups of 10 to 15 individuals from different countries with a range of skills to an emerging market for four-week community-based assignments.

During the assignment, participants work on community-driven economic development projects that impact business, technology and society.

Since 2008, the program has sent 1,800 participants in over 170 teams to more than 30 countries around the world.