One of the Aquino administration’s key point agenda is transparency, and one way to achieve this is thru public participation in governance. True to this goal, the Senate of the Philippines allowed the live streaming of its budget deliberation sessions.
The upper chamber tapped the Philippine Research, Education, and Government Information Network (PREGINET) to provide technical assistance on the live streaming of the deliberations which started on November 23, 2010. PREGINET is a research education network (REN) under the management of the Department of Science and Technology – Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI).
In an interview with the ABS-CBNnews.com, Senator Francis Pangilinan said that the streaming of sessions aims “to provide the public in general accurate information, transparency and accountability of legislators in the proceedings in the Senate.”
This is the first of what the Filipino people hope will be the Senate’s commitment towards transparency in governance by fully taking advantage of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to achieve this.
How does the live streaming work?
The streaming set-up of the Senate deliberations was composed of two streaming servers, PREGINET’s Red5 server and the Senate’s Flash Media Server (FMS) server. The former was used primarily for public broadcast in the internet while the latter delivered the stream to their internal network.
“The live streaming made use of the flash video (FLV) format which enabled the audience to view the content over different operating systems and web browsers. Also with this technology, audience which have a lesser bandwidth capacity can have access to the video stream because of a compression that this format offers,” said Mr. John Robert Mendoza, System Administrator of the PREGINET.
Aside from PREGINET’s streaming facility, the Philippine Open Internet Exchange (PhOpenIX) also played a critical role in delivering the stream to local viewers. PhOpenIX is an internet exchange (IX) which is also managed by ASTI.
If we analogize computer networks as a mesh of roads, an internet exchange is like a highway that connects other highways, but without toll gates. This means traffic from a source can get to its destination at a cheaper cost. By streaming the senate hearings thru the PhOpenIX infrastructure, ISPs that are members of this IX saved on bandwidth costs by getting the senate stream thru said exchange, rather than thru their expensive network uplinks.
PREGINET is the country’s only REN that interconnects academic, research and government institutions. It aims to advance the development of the next-generation technologies, applications and services with the aim of sharing, transferring and making these technologies accessible to its partners in the field of agriculture, bioinformatics and telemedicine, distance education, disaster migration and earth monitoring, geoinformatics and networking. It also serves as a testbed to demonstrate novel applications in digital content, disaster monitoring and e-governance.