In the aftermath of the June 24th cyber attacks on a number of the Jamaican Government websites, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, Opposition Spokesman on ICT, has made another call for the Government to underdake security audits of all government online services and websites.
Additionally, Dr. Wheatley is recommending that government websites be directed to use the secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) protocol. He's suggesting that this should be implemented as soon as possible. In a statement, he said the cyber attacks on the government websites is another indication that protective measures must be put in place to enhance security.
Columbus International to acquire Dominica's Marpin
Barbados-based telecoms provider Columbus International, which was purchased by Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) in a USD1.85 billion deal that completed in April this year, is said to be closing in on its own takeover of Dominica’s Marpin Telecoms & Broadcasting.
The purchase of the Marpin, which provides cable TV, broadband and dial-up internet access, plus local and international cable telephony services, is being carried out through CWC unit LIME Dominica. Dominica Vibes News cites an unnamed source as saying that the deal is expected to have been completed by the end of last month; the purchase price has not been disclosed.
Number Portability Up and Running in Jamaica, Finally!
After many delays and missed deadlines, the promise of number portability has finally been delivered in Jamaica. Having been implemented for only three days there are reports that there has been a steady shift between the providers.
Information obtained by the Jamaican OBSERVER ONLINE indicate that 503 Digicel customers have switched to use LIME, while only 50 LIME users decided to move to Digicel. Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell said he was delighted with the progress and implementation of Number Portability in Jamaica. “In fact, we have done better than we thought we would, in terms of some of the technical challenges that normally go with such implementation,” Paulwell said. With Number Portability, fixed line and mobile phone customers can switch networks while keeping their original phone numbers.
That's the view of Jamaican Min. of State for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson. The minister was speaking following a workshop on open map and open data held at the Mona School of Business, University of the West Indies.
Min. Robinson said “Open Data is a tremendous resource that offers prospects for wealth creation.” He remarked, by making government data available to technology innovators and entrepreneurs it provides them the opportunity to develop applications for various sectors
The minister also highlighted that “ open Government data also serves to enhance public sector transparency and accountability.” The workshop was intended to inform public and private sector stakeholders, as the government forms a framework for open data development, which it hopes will stimulate entrepreneurship and job creation.
Belizean Creates Exclusive Social Network
Andre Gray is the creator of iBelizean, a social network specifically for those of Belizean origin and those interested in all things pertaining to Belizean lifestyle and culture.
The platform enables those in the Belizean diaspora to connect or reconnect and engage in a dialogue specifically with Belizean nationals seeking to deepen their national and cultural roots. “This is a lot more intimate and natural than creating Belizean groups, events and forums on large, generic social networks.” says Gray, the creator of the platform.
An added benefit is that posts shared on the platform can also be shared across the more traditional Social Networks.
Bajans Set to Pay Additional “Cell Phone” Tax
The notion of an “air time” tax on cell phone calls was first mooted in a budget statement back in 2009, but the implementation was not executed.
However, effective August 1st, Bajan cell phone users who already pay VAT on air time, can expect to pay an additional 3c/minute in “air-time excise duty”. The new duty is expected to raise some $32.7M annually, for the Treasury.
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Not Enough Focus on Online Security
The threats to their security online are real but, Caribbean nations are still not doing enough to prepare for cybercrimes. That was the message delivered by Dr Lloyd Waller, head of the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Mona Campus, during a breakfast presentation at UWI’s Cave Hill Campus.
The senior lecturer in human social and behavioural sciences, was concerned that while he was observing a larger number of regional people becoming “internet citizens”, he was not seeing equal attention paid to anti-crime measures. I am not seeing by way of conversation in the Caribbean about preparing for cybercrimes. As it relates to legislation only a few Caribbean countries have actually enacted legislation to deal with perpetrators. “But certainly there needs to be a substantive conversation and preparation at the level of citizens and, at the level of government, about the challenge and the potential threat of cybercrime as we become more and more net citizens,” he added.
Jamaican Opposition Critical of Paulwell after Number Portability Delayed, Again
In Episode #6, of the CTR, we reported that Jamaican telephone consumers would enjoy the ability to switch their telephone service provider and keep their telephone number, in what's known as Number Portability. Number portability was scheduled for implementation on June 1st, however last Friday, the Technology Ministry granted an 18-day extension to telephony service providers to allow them to have their infrastructure up and running.
This has drawn fire from opposition Spokesman on Science, ICT & Digital Society Development, Dr Andrew Wheatley, who criticised portfolio Minister, Phillip Paulwell, for another delay in the implementation of Number Portability. The extension was reportedly granted following a request from stakeholder partners for additional time. The new implementation date is now set for Monday, June 22nd. According to the Opposition Spokesman, this is the fifth delay for the number portability implementation.
Wheatley says this latest foul-up is confirmation that the Technology Minister has no clue what is required to successfully implement number portability. He says Paulwell has shown utter contempt for the Jamaican consumer by continuing to allow telecoms providers to miss these deadlines without stiff penalties.
Cayman Primary Learning Gets Smarter
Cayman Islands' Minister for Education Tara Rivers enveilled a slew of ICT based interventions in a statement on June 1st. In that statement, were the usual announcements of the delivery of Interactive White Boards or Smart Boards, laptops and iPads to schools. But where this announcement differed was the support the ministry was giving to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM.
“In an effort to address the local STEM skills shortage, the Department of Education Services is also implementing a new ICT-related initiative in the classroom itself. Lego Education WeDo and Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 robotics kits were purchased for government primary and high schools respectively.
The kits combine the creativity of Lego to construct and build, while adding the dimension of problem solving, logic and programming to the various projects students undertake. Both kits have a variety of projects based on the Lego Education 4C philosophy of ‘Connect, Construct, Continue and Contemplate’. The projects initially allow students to connect with a familiar concept, whether it is a problem where there is a need to generate air from a fan, or a sensor that prevents a car from crashing,” she explained. Rivers said government schools will incorporate the robotics kits into the delivery of instruction in maths, science, literacy and ICT, through the various projects
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That was the message delivered last week by Digital Practice Lead for consultancy firm Deloitte, at the Digital Disruption And Transformation conference held by Deloitte Barbados at the Hilton Barbados. Gordon Sandford, Lead Partner Deloitte Digital Practices, Deloitte Canada, informed attendees that they had no choice but to prepare themselves to defend against the challenges presented by digital developments, but they must also be poised to exploit the benefits.
Sandford told business leaders “The reality is, it is a new era. We need to recognise this is not a singular trend, this is not something that’s coming and will pass, this is a new era of working that’s very very different for us and we need to think about what that means.” Sanford went further, “It’s about not being afraid to try things, not being afraid to experiment and being out there and I think this is what digital can offer for many of us. It gives you an opportunity to explore and bring new ideas and new capabilities
Jamaican Gov't Sourcing Funding for Tech Start-Ups
The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining is in talks with several potential investors to provide funding and business development support for young technology innovators and entrepreneurs benefitting under the Start-Up Jamaica programme. State Minister, Hon. Julian Robinson, said the Government is looking to partner with these investors in order to provide the budding entrepreneurs with a “broad range of choices” which they can approach for support.
While noting that the provision of financing is key, Mr. Robinson said, “more importantly, we want to build their (entrepreneurs) capabilities, so that people, who have gained international exposure, can come back here and share those ideas.”
A lot of what these fledgling entrepreneurs need is not just money…but mentorship and guidance and in particular, international exposure,” he noted. In that regard, Mr. Robinson said the partnership being pursued with Devlabs will be a “good fit.”
“If they have an interest in a company, they would invite them over to their facilities in California, they would spend some time there, and on their return, continue to work and build their products,” he explained.
Trinidad Launches Smartphone Film Festival
According to new figures from American market research company eMarketer, the number of smartphone users in the world will surpass two billion in 2016. Technological advances have therefore placed video cameras in the hands of men and women, who at times have captured stories that are shared by millions through social media. This wave has birthed a new crop of potential film makers.
It's against that backdrop that T&T Film Company (FilmTT), has launched the second annual Smartphone Film Festival. A release from FilmTT said the organisation seeks to develop this intrinsic capacity within the country, and has partnered with KnowledgeTT to engage and educate all interested participants on internationally standardised filmmaking techniques with free access to their online resources. Members of the public are invited to submit five-minute short films, some of which would be submitted to similar competitions in Canada and Japan.
St. Kitts and Nevis Participates in OECS e-Payments Forum
Rodney Bay, St. Lucia was the venue for the Competitive Business Unit's two day Forum on E-Payments. The forum was attended by delegates from nine OECS member states with the objective of promoting harmonized rules and regulations in the OECS region for conducting electronic payments.
Rodney Browne founder and Managing Director of eCaribbean Ltd in St. Kitts and Nevis, when asked for his thoughts of the two day forum, said he found the exercise to be quite informative in relation to the prime objective of establishing a harmonised legal framework to enable ePayments across the OECS sub-region. “The workshop was on point, as it clearly identified the challenges facing the region and the need for legislation, so the workshop met that objective.”
One of the common threads identified was that of “culture” he stated, due to a traditional mindset of conducting cash or physical transactions. “Consumers for the most part would frequent a business place to make a payment” he said, “as a result businesses don't adopt an online first mindset to payments when developing websites.” Mr. Browne added.
He referred to this situation as “a chicken and egg scenario”, “businesses including the banks would say that there's little demand for online payments and therefore don't seek to make the option available or if they do the cost is too high, which is a further deterant to the few businesses who may be considering making the investment in providing an online payment option.”
Trinidad & Tobago, Securities Exchange Launches New Website and App
The T&T Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) has launched a new investor education microsite, as part of its continued drive to improve investor education.
The site will be home to content related to investor education in one “go-to” portal which facilitates the inclusion of more dynamic media through the use of infographics, videos and games along with tools and calculators. The TTSEC will also tailor its investor education efforts to focus on different life stages such as teenaged and working years, and pre-retirement.
At the same time the Commission also launched a digital application for tablets and mobile devices, to push investor education messages to the technology driven public. The app offers on the go information curated by the TTSEC and will include relevant news and updates as well as promote investor education through the use of interactive elements.
The application includes the ability to download a fillable complaint form as well as submit queries via an in-app form. Users can select specific stocks to watch from those traded on the T&T Stock Exchange and view the current price and any increase or decrease as well as see a graph of changes over time,as well as other information.
Online Science and Technology Research Database launched
The Ministry of Science and Technology, with the support of the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST) moved one step closer toward increasing innovation and funding for Research and Development (R&D) in Science and Technology, with the launch of an online Science and Technology Research Database for Trinidad and Tobago, appropriately named STResearchTT.
STResearchTT is expected to play a critical role in advancing the work of the Draft National Science and Technology Policy, as well as the preparation of a Country Status Report which will allow the local capabilities in scientific research and development to be matched to gaps identified from national science policy and sectoral policy documents. This Report will also make it easier to identify funding allocations for Science& Tech, thereby promoting innovation and commercialisation of technology in priority areas, one of NIHERST’s key objectives.
In delivering the address on behalf of Rupert Griffith, Minister of Science and Technology, Lisa Phillips, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, indicated that “we are indeed at the cusps of discovery with the implementation of this database which will provide critical information on this country’s capability not in only scientific research and development, but in other areas which will support the country’s developmental needs such as ecological sustainability, economic diversification and the improvement of the quality of life of our
citizens.” She further stated that “if we are to remain competitive in today’s world, distinguish ourselves and provide leadership, we must conduct research and development activities.”
For more detailed information on these stories visit the Tech-News Section on the WINN FM website or follow me on social media. This has been WINN FM's Caribbean Technology Round Up, with Russell Williams, thank you for listening and have a great weekend.
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