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Digital Society Transformation Process Begins In Jamaica

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Prime Minister, the Most Hon Andrew Holness, speaks at the Invest Jamaica 2022 Business Conference, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, on Tuesday (November 29). The two-day conference, being held November 29 and 30, is hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). PHOTO: YHOMO HUTCHINSON

Prime Minister, the Most Hon Andrew Holness, says the Government has commenced the process of transforming the country into a digital society.

Speaking on day one of the two-day Invest Jamaica 2022 Business Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on November 29, Mr. Holness said this will reduce public bureaucratic procedures, which will improve the nation’s attractiveness as a viable investment destination.

“We want to make Jamaica an efficient place to do business, and a large part of that efficiency is to improve the public bureaucracy and to gain that improvement we have adopted, internalised and mainstreamed in government – the notion of Jamaica becoming a digital society,” he said.

“We’re taking that very seriously, because seamlessness is just as important as stability and sustainability in business. We are trying to become the most advanced country in the region, in terms of our digital platforms, interconnectivity, and information technology,” the Prime Minister continued.

Against that background, Mr. Holness indicated that the Government has embarked on a National Broadband Initiative, which aims to have every household and every community connected to the Internet by 2025.

“We have put together a plan to build out our broadband infrastructure in Jamaica. We call this the national broadband initiative, and the objective is to ensure that everyone in Jamaica has access to reliable, fast and consistent broadband, but more importantly, that all our businesses have access to broadband connectivity,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister told investors at the conference that Jamaica is on a mission to attain top-10 ranking for places to invest in the world.

Mr. Holness argued that Jamaica’s strong fiscal management and fiscal policies over the last decade have placed the country on track to achieving that goal.

“The Jamaican story of economic recovery started over a decade ago when the country came together as one. We made a decision that we will be, regardless of Administration, a fiscally responsible Government and we went about putting in the institutions to ensure that Jamaica was a fiscally responsible State,” the Prime Minister said.

“So, if you are considering investing in Jamaica, you can rest assured that across Administrations, regardless of changes in Government, the political economy of Jamaica has changed its DNA to a state that believes in strong fiscal management of our economic affairs,” he added.

Mr. Holness said that Jamaica’s “remarkable economic rebound” from the COVID-19 pandemic should also serve as another key indicator that “this is a good and exiting time to invest in Jamaica”.

He identified tourism, agriculture/agro-business and logistics as areas of great investment opportunities in the island.

The conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and aims to position Jamaica as the next global investment destination of choice.

More than fifty countries with over 600 registrants attend the conference, which is being held under the theme ‘Jamaica the Nearshore Delivery Hub of the Caribbean’.

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Glen Christian Pledges US$1M Towards STEM Centre, Urges Private Sector To Follow And Invest

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Private-sector entities are being encouraged to invest in the establishment of a national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centre, which will prepare students to compete on a global scale.

The move aligns with Government’s efforts to establish six STEM academies across the island.

Chairman of Cari-Med Group of companies, Glen Christian, in making the call, said that the “Government cannot do it alone”.

“As businesspersons, it is in our own self-interest to support these efforts, not as a charity but as an investment,” he said.

Mr. Christian was speaking at a ceremony to officially launch the new Cari-Med distribution centre in Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine, on Friday (January 27), which was attended by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

Mr. Christian and Chairman of the National Baking Company (NBC) Foundation, Gary “Butch” Hendrickson, are spearheading a ‘STEM for Growth’ taskforce, which aims to entrench STEM education in the education system, including building the STEM centre.

Mr. Christian said his Foundation is currently sourcing 10 acres of land to construct the centre and purchase equipment, which is estimated to cost approximately US$45 million.

Mr. Christian, jointly with his wife, have pledged US$1 million towards the centre.

“This proposed national STEM centre will coordinate with teachers’ colleges across the island to train teachers to deliver a STEM-based curriculum. It will also train specialist teachers for the STEM academies, which are being established by the Government,” Mr. Christian said.

He informed that focus will be placed on teachers because they have a “multiplier effect”.

“By providing training and incentives for STEM teachers, we will begin to improve our children’s performance in science and mathematics, promote hands-on learning for children of all ages and give them the opportunity to apply what they are learning to real-life situations,” he said.

Prime Minister Holness led a landmarking ceremony for the first Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy in Dunbeholden, St. Catherine, in October.

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Nationwide Implementation Of Fully Digitised Traffic Ticket Management System (TTMS) In Jamaica.

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The Ministry of National Security has handed over 750 Traffic Ticket Management System (TTMS) handsets and 750 mobile handheld printers to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

This is the first instalment of devices towards nationwide implementation of the fully digitised ticketing system.

The ceremony was held today (January 19), at the Office of the Commissioner of Police in St. Andrew.

Smart android devices and portable printers are to be used to facilitate the electronic issuance of traffic tickets and allow for electronic recording of tickets.

This will enable police officers to reference driver and vehicle information, including ticket history, outstanding tickets, and warrants.

In his address, National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the TTMS replaces the yellow ticket book, which was inefficient and prone to errors.

“The system itself was riddled with challenges. The technology identified 21 points of failure in our ticketing system,” he said, noting that these include poor penmanship, which affected the legibility of tickets, data entry errors, late submission of tickets, among other things.

The initiative was piloted in Kingston and St. Andrew between January 1 and March 31, 2022 with 70 devices and yielded a 90 per cent error reduction.

“This sends the signal that the pilot worked and worked well. We are now going to execute… . We are going to give enough police officers to take it islandwide, and we will continue to take it islandwide,” Dr. Chang informed.

The TTMS is a centralised, web-based platform designed to improve traffic-ticket management from the point of issuance to either payment of the fines at tax offices or adjudication in court.

All traffic tickets issued with the devices will instantly be uploaded to a centralised database, which is accessible to the JCF, the traffic courts, and all other government agencies.

The Minister noted that the Smart Check E-Ticketing System will be used along with the TTMS. The Smart Check system provides officers with the ability to issue a printed ticket on the spot with information of the offence, fine, court date, and other information.

The system also allows for officers to instantly check motorists if they are persons of interest or wanted, as well as information pertaining to fitness, registration, insurance, and other personal data.

Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, said the initiative forms part of efforts to digitise policing activities, as well as to improve public order and traffic management.

“We are equipping our officers and modernising how we do business, not just in this area but in a number of other areas. The significant number of devices being added and with a lot of information at the fingertips of our officers [we will be able to] better keep people safe and keep all road users safe from harm,” he said.

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The Silicon Mountain Project Partners With Walkbout Caribbean To Help And Empower MSME Tourism Entrepreneurs

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Travel, tours, experience and accommodation entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to gain access to critical resources through the recently established partnership between the Silicon Mountain Project and Walkbout Caribbean’s “Walkbout Ignite Programme” designed to help and empower tourism entrepreneurs maximise their presence on the walkbout.com platform.

The Walkbout Ignite Programme brings together industry leaders and experts to support tourism related entrepreneurs and related groups, empowering them to grow their businesses. Running year round, the Programme includes the launch and promotion of participants’ products and services on the Walkbout.com Marketplaces, access to monthly workshops hosted by industry leaders, networking events, and one-on-one capacity-building sessions with Partner Marketing, Private Label, Branding, Business Insights, Advertising, Merchandising and Supply Chain teams, while providing them with impactful tools and resources to help support and grow their businesses.

At Walkbout.com we are supporting MSME Tourism entrepreneurs and related small businesses as we know firsthand the challenges of building a business from the ground up.

For more information on The Silicon Mountain Project CLICK THIS LINK

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Businesses Encouraged to Report Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

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As the Government continues to build resilience in the country’s cyber ecosystem, local businesses are being encouraged to report security vulnerabilities within their organisations.

Head of the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (JaCIRT), Lt. Col. Godphey Sterling, made the appeal while addressing a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank.

He said that such reports will better help in tackling cybercrimes, by keeping the Government aware of what is happening in the various sectors, and improve how businesses protect clienteles’ data.

“We recognized that based on industry standards and international best practices, there are some basic things that need to be in place, and the role of Government is to facilitate this process,” Lt. Col. Sterling said.

“The manner in which vulnerabilities and breaches are remediated, redacted and reported must be agreed to by all parties,” he noted.

While there is no legislation that mandates the disclosure of weaknesses in cyber defence or cybersecurity breaches within companies, Lt. Col. Sterling said the JaCIRT stands “ready to continue to push [this] dialogue”.

He commended those entities that have and continue to work with the JaCIRT and urged others to come on board.

The Lt. Col. is encouraging businesses to not just redact identified vulnerabilities but also ensure that they adhere to the necessary privacy and data-protection laws.

“The advent of the Data Protection Act of 2020 means that data security and privacy have become more important as companies seek to become either data processers or controllers.

“It, therefore, means that you have to take all necessary steps to secure the environment within which you capture, store, transmit or process that data,” he pointed out.

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New Ideas Expected Through Tourism Innovation Incubator

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Several new and innovative ideas are expected to be generated within tourism, through the recently launched Tourism Innovation Incubator.

Speaking at the launch, held during Tourism Awareness Week on September 30, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said that tourism is about ideas and creating experiences.

“The idea of this Incubator is to create a framework to mine, hone, convert and monetise ideas,” Minister Bartlett said.

“The more ideas that we can generate within tourism is the more experiences we can develop, and the more experiences we develop is the more attractive we are to visitors,” he added, noting that visitors travel to a destination to consume and develop their passions.

The Minister outlined that the Incubator will offer numerous services, including executing workshops with participants in the refining of their ideas; providing research support; training in pitch delivery; providing opportunities for mentorship and networking; teaching participants about key topics, such as intellectual property and the importance of being formalised through informational sessions, and sourcing potential partners or investors to help participants in prototype and product development.

The initiative, which is being led by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is guided by the Blue Ocean Strategy, which calls for the creation of business models that depart from traditional ones, based on competition and standardisation.

Selection of ideas for the Incubator will be done by a committee of members from TEF and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ). In addition to being tourism products or representing technology in tourism, each idea must be an innovation or invention that will add value.

Each participant will be required to outline how their idea will add value to the tourism landscape and provide indicators for measuring the same, such as tourism spend, visitor satisfaction, and contribution to the tourism workforce. The idea must also have a significant effect on the tourism industry.

Persons interested in participating in the Incubator must be 18 years or older by the October 14 submission deadline.

Additional submission criteria for the Tourism Innovation Incubator can be found on TEF’s website at https://tef.gov.jm/tourism-incubator/.

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