Monday, 8 February 2010

Smartmatic-TIM readies measures versus signal jammers

CEBU CITY, Feb. 8 (PNA) - An executive of Smartmatic- Total Information Management (TIM), winning contractor of the country's first automated elections, said they are working on contingency plans to prevent signal jammers from disrupting the May 10 elections.

Bonifacio Belen, regions manager of Smartmatic-TIM, said they are coordinating with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the police in creating contingency plans for security.

Part of the plan is to search the areas near polling precincts thoroughly, he said.

Belen visited the mock elections Saturday in the Bulacao Community School in Cebu City.

Election season goes into high gear on Tuesday, when the official campaign period for national candidates begins.

But the Comelec still has to ease worries about the security and credibility of election results.

All nine test sites in last Saturday’s mock elections managed to transmit to the Comelec head office within two hours, but some areas suffered from unstable cell phone signals.

Among these areas was Barangay Mabini, a mountain barangay of Cebu City. Bulacao, in contrast, was the first area nationwide to send its results.

The National Telecommunications Commission recently banned cell phone signal-jamming devices, which could interfere with the transmission of election results.

Belen assured signal jammers are easy to locate, especially in areas where cell phone transmission signals abound.

A loss of signal, which cell phones indicate, can alert the authorities to the presence of a jammer nearby.

A signal jammer can work within a 50-meter radius and looks like a small box with two 2.5-inch antennas.

Comelec officials have previously assured they are ready to deal with the threat of jammers.

The success of the mock elections apparently buoyed the poll body’s spirits.

The head office “congratulated Cebu for being the first to transmit,” said Sarno.

“Everything went smoothly,” said lawyer Edwin Cadungog, Comelec Cebu City south district election officer.

Barangay Bulacao sent the earliest results nationwide, at 9:08 a.m. Ten minutes after the canvassing center at the Cebu City Hall received these results, it sent these to the Comelec Central Office.

But Barangay Mabini’s results reached the Comelec head office nearly an hour and 15 minutes later, because of signal problems. (PNA)

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