Aimed at effectively updating and filling in the contents of the Bangsamoro Housing and Human Settlements Plan (BHHSP), the first Data Strategy Session was carried out by the Ministry of Human Settlements and Development (MHSD), the Housing Arm of the BARMM on November 16, 2023 at the Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, Makati City.

Organized by the Housing and Human Settlements Division (HHSD), the activity was participated by MHSD key staff, BHHSP stakeholders, data scientists, knowledge management and subject matter experts, development partners, and representatives from the Bangsamoro Liaison Office in Metro Manila (BLOMM).

Abdulhamid C. Alawi, Jr., HHSD Chief, said the purpose of the session was primarily to improve the BHHSP through the integration of data science techniques and insights from global best practices to ensure data-driven decision making, foster collaborative learning, and develop a comprehensive data strategy through workshops and expert insights.

“The BHHSP is a comprehensive strategy aimed at addressing the housing and settlement needs of the Bangsamoro; it focuses on promoting sustainable and inclusive development, improving housing affordability, and enhancing the quality of life for the residents,” Chief Alawi shared in his overview that also included the flow of resettlement housing project implementation.

Providing more meat and meaning to the session was the presentation on “The Singapore Experience: Leveraging Data Science for Policy Making and Urban Development” delivered by Dr Erika Fille T. Legara, Director of the MSc. In Data Science Program and Associate Professor of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Dr Legara shared successful data science project cases they implemented that include ML in Land-Use Design and Transport Planning, Identification of Commuters from Travel Behaviors, and Philippine Smart City Projects, where they followed and employed the framework composed of empirical data combined with models for forecasting.

“Implementing policies and/or strategies based on intuition alone, especially when wrong, can be expensive, time consuming, and sometimes catastrophic,” Dr Legara emphasized.

Workshops were then performed on Data Cataloging for identification and organization of available data sources for housing and human settlements, collaboration with the participants on possible gaps and areas of improvement, and determination of potential data collaborations.

Facilitated by Consultant Tani S. Basman, the second and last workshop was on Data Strategy Incorporating Data Science that allowed the engagement with subject matter experts to provide insights and recommendations, hands-on activities that demonstrated how data science techniques can turn raw data into actionable insights for the MHSD through the BHHSP.

The other participants of the session were representatives from Base Bahay, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), The Asia Foundation (TAF), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Yasser S. Mama, Chief of the Monitoring and Evaluation Division (MED) concluded the session with his message on the significance of data storage, utilization, and translation and the essence of partnership where every member is comparable to puzzle piece that is indispensable for its completion.