By Francesca Merlo
The Government of Panama has been “working for a year and a half” to prepare for the 34th World Youth Day, currently taking place in Panama City.
Irvin A. Halman is General Administrator of the National Authority for Government Innovations. He spoke to Vatican News about plans that have been, and are being, put in place in order to ensure a technologically successful WYD.
New cellular technologies
According to Irvin Halman, “a very new technology”, involving the use of fibre optic cables, has been set up in the city and beyond. This allows the already existing infrastructures, such as the famous Cinta Costera coastline, (currently brimming with stages set up for the papal events) to “blend in well” with this technology, whose function is to blanket the area with advanced cellular coverage.
Permanent changes, for the better
The aim is to ensure this World Youth Day is a success not only in terms of faith and fun. Irvin Halman explains that these new technologies will do more than just benefit the thousands of pilgrims visiting from all over the world: they will provide added value for the people of Panama too. Why? Because the “operators who have made this investment are taking advantage of the magnitude of this event to make it a permanent one”.
“Workers at the National Authority for Government Innovations have been developing software”, says Irvin Halman, which is being adapted and applied for the occasion, and which will stay once it is over, ensuring strong cellular coverage around the city.
“There’s a lot of excitement with the Pope coming to Panama and we see this as a National Project”, he says. These infrastructures, being applied in all the areas the Pope will be visiting around the city, is a way to ensure pilgrims have a very good experience and see the best of Panama”, this way, he explains, they will hopefully return.
For now and for ever
“On top of that” he continues, “we have also reinforced the nationwide network that we have for free wifi hotspots and connectivity”. These extend even to the more rural areas pilgrims have visited. And that too, he says, “is going to stay.
Right now, “85% of the population has been connected”, and that “is going to remain”, and hopefully grow “in the future”.