Representatives from various local government units (LGUs) across the country learned more about the basics of artificial intelligence (AI) and opportunities on how to apply AI to improve the delivery of public services, in an AI 101 for LGUs webinar spearheaded by leading integrated telco network PLDT Inc (PLDT) and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc (Smart).

“We at PLDT and Smart are always here to find ways of working with all of you as we build the confidence of Filipinos in embracing Artificial Intelligence,” said John Y. Palanca, Senior Vice President and Head of Sales and Distribution at Smart in his welcome remarks. “It is time to move past the uncertainties that have clouded the perception of AI. Mindful of the readiness and cybersafety of everyone, we shall do this step by careful step, together.”

Over 1,500 representatives from around 100 LGUs joined the recent “AI 101 For LGUs: Building #CyberSmart Communities in the AI World” webinar, which featured talks led by Elijah Mendoza, Digital Communications Senior Manager at PLDT and Smart; Carlo Valencia, founder of StartUpPH Training; and Cedrick Zabala, faculty at Western Mindanao State University.

Mendoza provided an overview of AI and shared tips on how to keep safe and mitigate risks amid AI-aided online scams, whereas Valencia demonstrated how to use sample AI tools and how the LGU representatives may use them in their current roles.

Zabala, on the other hand, discussed the current landscape of AI use in the Philippines and laid out the challenges and opportunities faced by LGUs in implementing AI in governance. He also shared best practices from Zamboanga City and how the LGU is harnessing technology to improve delivery of public services, particularly in enhancing peace and order in the city.

“Artificial intelligence is here. We need to accept and embrace it but use it mindfully. National government agencies and local government units can surely use AI to make their transactions more efficient and swift. I hope there will be an extensive training by the Department of Interior and Local Government or the Civil Service Commission in partnership with PLDT and Smart providing LGUs with sufficient knowledge on AI and how to use it in their daily work routine to help achieve good governance,” said Salma Jayne Tamano, Head of Provincial Information Office, Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, one of the webinar attendees.

PLDT and Smart’s efforts to aid the digital transformation of LGUs, boost their technological know-how and build #CyberSmart communities nationwide are aligned with the Group’s broader commitment to support the Government’s overall digitalization thrust.