Tag Archives: Guyana

Jamaica’s Team Node420 wins regional code sprint in Suriname

From left, Guyanese Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy presents the first-place prize cheque for 5,000 euros to Matthew Mc Naughton and Jamaican team Node420, at the award ceremony for the Agrihack Caribbean Talent competition in Paramaribo, Suriname, on October 9. Photo courtesy: The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA)​.
From left, Guyanese Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy presents the first-place prize cheque for 5,000 euros to Matthew Mc Naughton and Jamaican team Node420, at the award ceremony for the Agrihack Caribbean Talent competition in Paramaribo, Suriname, on October 9. Photo courtesy: The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA)​.

A group of Jamaican developers won top regional honours in a regional hackathon, held as part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Suriname.

Team Node420 beat seven other teams of young developers in the #agrihack, held in Paramaribo from October 5 to 9.

Their winning app is designed to give farmers real-time weather analysis, allowing more efficient agricultural planning. Continue reading Jamaica’s Team Node420 wins regional code sprint in Suriname

Mapping Caribbean crime: Guyana Crime Reports’ data visualisations take fresh aim at crime

Crowdsourced, technology-driven and visually compelling. Not words you’d typically associate with crime reporting in the Caribbean. But that could soon change as one tech entrepreneur based in Georgetown, Guyana is taking a fresh approach to the country’s crime problems.

Meet Vijay Datadin, the main player behind Guyana Crime Reports, the country’s newest data journalism website, which adds a combination of GIS mapping and crowdsourcing to traditional crime news reporting.

“You see police in Guyana and across the region calling for public assistance in fighting crime. They’ve never particularly mentioned that this was the kind of help they wanted or needed, but this was what I knew I could do to help. So I decided to just do it,” he said.

In 2003, Datadin founded Red Spider, a small web development startup, which today maintains the Guyana Crime Reports and its presence on FacebookGoogle plus and Twitter , @GuyanaCrime.

The website is part news aggregator, making it a good one-stop source for various crime reports related to Guyana, published in local and international news media. Citizens can also submit crime reports through a form on the website, although those reports are treated slightly differently from the ones aggregated from traditional media sources.

“Particularly when these reports are made anonymously, we follow up with some sort of verification exercise, especially if the report in question could damage to someone’s name, reputation or character,” Datadin said.

“But reports from the media have a certain amount of verification built into them because there’s a journalist and/or editor involved in that publication process, so those are simply aggregated.”

Enhancing Public Debate

Red Spider is considering forging informal relationships directly with journalists who share their interest in improving the way that crime is reported in Guyana. The aim, Datadin explained, is not to competewith old media companies but to enhance the essential news service that they provide.

“We’re not a news service, and we will never be in the business of breaking news. At times we’re first to break a story, and that’s almost accidental.”

For Datadin, old and new media share a common goal. They exist not just to distribute information but to help concerned readers make sense of large amounts of information over time. Ans he takes seriously the responsibility to help readers and followers to understand how local incidents of crime fit into a larger national picture.

“As a citizen of the country, it would be to my benefit if crime went down. So I’m doing this not for any immediate commercial benefit but because I think it needed to be done. There needs to be a public conversation about crime, a conversation based not only on opinion but on facts, one that affords a more reasoned and inclusive debate about factors that cause crime nad the policies that can help curb it,” he said.

“I think that with a more informed public, we can have a better conversation about what we should do about crime,” he added, conceding that the site has taken only early evolutionary steps toward that goal.

The ultimate objective, he says, is to have a positive impact not just on public discourse but on public policy.

“We made soft approaches to the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he said.

Mapping Crime Data

Datadin holds a postgraduate Masters degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Edinburgh University, Scotland. Plus, the word ‘data’ is literally in his name! So the fact that Guyana Crime Reports relies heavily on maps to visually represent the spread and scope of crime incidence really shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“Maps help readers to see exactly where one incident took place,” he said.

By making the crime maps public, Guyana Crime Reports effectively creates an equal opportunity for anyone seeking to understand how crime is trending both in their area and nationally.

“Both the public and the Home Affairs officials can review the map and detect trends in a particular area or nationally. You can see not just what happened recently but what has been happening over time.”

Building Digital Journalism

By using maps to visualise crime data, Guyana Crime Reports has already set a significant precedent for digital journalism in the region. Audiences across the region would benefit greatly if more Caribbean newsrooms added maps to their arsenal of storytelling tools.

Crime maps are a powerful communication tool, giving audiences a quick grasp of the bigger picture without requiring them to know the (sometimes gory) details of every incident.

Because maps impart understanding visually, they allow crime reporters can attract a different kind of reader, one who may be less inclined to…read. And any way you look at it, that’s still good news.

Speaking of maps

One quick side note as a footer to this piece about maps. If you’re wondering, Guyana is actually not an island at all but a South American country bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. But it is a member of the Caribbean Community, Caricom.

Venezuela intercepts fishing vessel from Trinidad and Tobago

The Venezuelan Navy has intercepted a fishing vessel from Trinidad and Tobago, El Universal has reported.

“Sovereignty shall be respected. A Trinidadian vessel was intercepted carrying out fishing operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone without authorization. The vessel has been escorted to Carúpano,” General Vladimir Padrino López, chief of the Strategic Operational Command of the National Armed Forces (Ceofan) posted

on Twitter at 11.33 pm on October 14. (My own translation.)

He did not give further details on the crew on board the intercepted vessel. Carúpano is a Sucre state, northeast Venezuela.

This incident arises just two days before Guyana and Venezuela are scheduled to meet in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss a second, unrelated incident which occurred last week. On Thursday, Teknik Perdana, a 285-foot, U.S.-chartered oil exploration ship hired by Guyana and flying under a Panamanian flag, was intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy and sailed to Margarita Island.

Guyana’s government said the crew was well within Guyana’s territorial waters. Venezuelan officials said the ship entered the Venezuela’s territorial waters.

Guyana’s government on Saturday requested a meeting with Venezuelan officials to discuss the seizure, which its Foreign Ministry earlier called an “unprecedented” act in Guyana-Venezuela relations. The Venezuelan Foreign Office announced that its Foreign Minister Elías Jaua and his Guyanese counterpart Carolyn Rodrigues are to meet in Port-of-Spain for talks on October 17.

It is the latest incident in a longstanding border dispute between the South American neighbours. The coast of Esequiba, where the incident occurred, is a border region rich in natural resources that Venezuela has claimed since 1897. In late August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, Donald Ramotar, said that they were moving to resolve the dispute and would continue to seek help from United Nations mediators to solve the conflict, with the mediation of Professor Norman Girvan.

Teknik Perdana’s captain Igor Bekirov was charged and released on October 15, pending trial, El Universal reported. The Ukrainian captain was banned from conducting oil exploration and research activities in the Venezuelan territory.

The ship’s Malaysian owners said the vessel and all 36 crew members were also released, Al Jazeera reported. The ship’s crew also included two Britons, two Russians, a Frenchman, five Ukrainians, two Brazilians, five Malaysians and 14 Indonesians. Five US citizens were also among the crew of the ship, according to the State Department, according to AP.

Caribbean fisherfolk mobilise for stronger representation

Over 35 fisherfolk leaders and resource persons from 17 CARICOM countries met in August in Trinidad and agreed on a four-year plan of action which will see fisherfolk in the Caribbean mobilising for stronger representation in the region and internationally.

“There are many factors that are threatening the livelihoods of fisherfolk in the Caribbean and so it’s very important that they start taking a stronger role in governance,” said Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director of CANARI, a technical non-profit organisation aimed at facilitating participatory natural resource management in the Caribbean.

Fisherfolk agreed on an implementation plan for a four-year project funded by the European Union (EU) EuropeAid programme aimed at improving the contribution of the small scale fisheries sector to food security in the Caribbean through building the capacity of regional and national fisherfolk networks to participate in fisheries governance and management.

CANARI and its project implementing partners–the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) of The University of the West Indies, Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM)–organised the four-day workshop, which was held in Trinidad.

“This week we have learnt extensively about areas that we can take action to impact policy and to link fishing to food security and nutrition.  This is very important because globally these are very big issues–one policy we intend to impact is the small-scale fisheries guidelines,” said Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of the CNFO.

“These guidelines will impact all of us – I urge you get to know the guidelines better and encourage your governments to send representatives to ensure that our voices are heard,” he explained.

According to Lay, more fisherfolk need to be engaged in the global negotiations now taking place on the International Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries, being coordinated by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN FAO). He said that at the recent negotiating meetings held in Rome this year only one Caribbean country was represented of all the 17 CARICOM countries represented at the fisherfolk workshop.

Participation in the ongoing negotiation of the international guidelines was one of the issues discussed at the workshop.  Fisherfolk also analysed the Draft Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and the CARICOM Nutrition and Food Security Policy.

The EU project will support efforts of fisherfolk to engage in national, regional and international policy debates to ensure that policies developed address the needs of small scale fisherfolk and ensure that they can continue to play a significant role in food security and nutrition in the Caribbean islands.

During the workshop fisherfolk also agreed on project activities to build the capacity of local, national and regional fisherfolk organisations through a combination of national training workshops, small grants, and ongoing coaching and support by a team of trained in-country mentors.

The over 1 million Euro project is targeting fisherfolk organisations in the CARICOM countries of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

Are Caribbean Networks Disaster-Ready?

CaribNOG Regional Meeting Tackles State of Regional Systems

CASTRIES, ST LUCIA – Just as with your home and personal property, the best defense for protecting your business is preparedness and having a disaster recovery plan in place to ensure your business remains operational in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Many of us make preparations for our families and our homes in case of emergencies, but are the same preparations being made for Caribbean businesses?

This was one of several questions arising at a recent regional gathering of computer systems managers and network administrators from across the Caribbean. The Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) held its 2nd regional gathering in Castries, St Lucia, where the topic of designing disaster-ready systems was discussed.

CaribNOG Program Director Bevil Wooding led a discussion on disaster planning approaches for information managers and network administrators. He highlighted the need for effective disaster recovery plans, which include the involvement of management, technical staff and technology suppliers.

“Data is the life-blood of any organisation, of any size.  As we move more data to computer and Internet-based systems, we must pay greater attention to how that data is protected against serious threats, which can range from hacking to hurricanes,” Wooding said.

He added, “Disaster-readiness incorporates preparations for not only those major calamities such as severe weather or earthquakes, but also for common occurrences caused by incidents such power outages or equipment failure, which can wreak havoc if protective measures aren’t in place.”

Richard Wall, president of US-based technology firm ArkiTechs, provided practical policy guidelines that Caribbean business could adopt in preparing a disaster recovery plan. Wall stressed on the need for organizations to be creative and pragmatic when planning for disasters.

“Business managers and their technical teams have to recognize that the number and severity of threats against computer systems is increasing.  At the same time businesses, governments and other organizations have a growing dependence on computer based systems to provide critical services,” Wall said.

He added, “Greater attention must therefore be placed on putting processes, policies and procedures in place for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure critical to an organization after a natural or human-induced disaster.”

In the Caribbean region, many organizations are without a formal structured plan to protect and recover their information management systems from disaster. Micro and small businesses are particularly vulnerable and few possess the in-house capacity to develop necessary plans.

Wooding stated, “Given the significance of small and medium enterprises to Caribbean economies, we felt that CaribNOG needed to go beyond the theory of disaster preparedness. We presented participants with practical tools, checklists and that they can now take into their organizations. We trust that these resources will help information system managers strengthen the resilience of Caribbean organizations.”

Jamaican Steve Spence, CEO of Spence and Blair Consulting, provided a practical list of equipment, software and procedures to safeguard systems and back-up data. He also shared perspectives on how the application of the right technology could make implementing a disaster recovery plan much easier, simply by automating tasks normally done by IT staff.

“Technology can be used to create new options when dealing with incidents that impact the normal operations of your business,” Spence said.

CaribNOG is a growing community of technology practitioners dedicated to exchanging technical information and experiences related to the management of computer networks and information management systems in the Caribbean region.

The CaribNOG gathering, which targeted regional technology professionals and enthusiasts and provided fertile ground for high-tech discussions and hands on training. Regional and international experts tackled topics such as protecting regional networks from computer hacker attacks and designing disaster-ready systems. Sessions were also dedicated to discussing the economic considerations for establishing Caribbean Internet Exchange Points and building out voice-over-IP (VoIP) networks.

Over 100 technology practitioners from more than 10 Caribbean countries gathered for the event, which was held in collaboration with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow and with the support of the Government of St Lucia. The four-day CaribNOG event drew over 100 technology practitioners from across the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

So-called ‘liberalisation’ agenda hits Guyana

via Caribbean News Now

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The government is confident that the proposed legislative and regulatory reforms for Guyana’s telecommunications sector will encourage competitiveness in the economy as has been proven in other countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon told members of the press on Thursday that Cabinet has examined the impact of the monopoly that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company has held for over two decades including media reports that the company is concerned about the upcoming regulatory reforms.

It was reported in some sections of the media recently that officials at GT&T have expressed fears that impending new telecommunications legislation “would reward illegality and cause discrimination.”

The legislation has a two-fold objective of ending the monopoly, and identifying the current, technical, regulatory practices on the landline and mobile services, spectrum management, pricing and inter-connection.

GT&T’s monopoly on the telecommunications sector in Guyana has been in existence since it secured a licence in 1990 and towards the end of the 1980s the government took the decision to privatise telecommunications and advertised for investors.

CARICOM wants to measure Caribbean ICT development


Published on November 23, 2010

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Work is moving apace in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to sustain a mechanism that would facilitate the compilation of relevant and harmonised information and communication technology (ICT) statistics to measure ICT for development (ICT4D) in the region.

An ICT statistics sub-committee of the regional ICT steering committee forms the basis of this mechanism. The ICT statistics sub-committee was established in 2007 and, over the past three years, it worked on developing a focused and structured arrangement for establishing a framework for measuring ICT4D in the region.

The work of the ICT statistics sub-committee is coordinated by the CARICOM Secretariat, under the guidance of Dr Philomen Harrison, director of the regional statistics programme.

At the fifth meeting of the ICT steering committee in Barbados last week, Tashema Bholnath, research officer, Statistics-ICT4D, CARICOM Secretariat, elaborated on the international and regional contexts under which the ICT statistics sub-committee operates. These include millennium development goals (MDGs), the world summit on the information society (WSIS) and the draft regional ICT strategy.

The latter promotes and emphasizes the need for ICT statistics. It identifies advantages for CARICOM member states that have mechanisms for collecting data on ICT. The advantages include the use of ICT statistics to assess its impact on member states’ economies.

According to the strategy, member states will be in a better position to benchmark their economic and social situations; identify the type of human resources needed to advance their country’s information economy; and calculate the investments needed to provide businesses and the people with access to different ICTs.

The draft regional ICT strategy identifies ICT statistics as a tool to harmonize regional data measurement, collection, and classification systems to assist in monitoring ICT4D in the Caribbean.

For this goal to be realized, the ICT statistics sub-committee recognizes the need for a concerted effort in the region to strengthen the collection and dissemination of relevant data. Efforts also must be made to incorporate ICT measurement in national statistics offices’ work programmes; and to link ICT indicators to policy implementation both at national and regional levels.

At its first meeting in October 2007, the ICT sub-committee developed an action plan to facilitate the development of ICT statistics in the region. The plan was drawn up against the background of the importance of ICT statistics in monitoring the digital divide; in assessing the impact of ICT on growth and development; in improving transparency and accountability in policy-making and in evaluating policy performance in the region.

Through collaboration with the ICT statistics sub-committee, the information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) and the regional statistics programmes of the CARICOM Secretariat, progress was made in defining the scope and definition of the ICT sector of the region; and in identifying a list of Caribbean-specific Indicators.

The indicators, identified under themes including health, culture/creative industry, education and e-commerce will measure, for example, the percentage of health care institutions with Internet access; the number of local businesses in creative industry with web presence; the number of schoolchildren per computer and the number of teachers using ICTs; and the number of businesses with a website and the number of businesses using the Internet to sell their (local) products.

The ICT statistics sub-committee also coordinated an analysis of data on trade in ICT goods as well as the development of a mechanism for data collation and analysis of ICT data of other data sources. In that regard there was a desk analysis of the ICT questions in the 2010 round of population and housing census to determine the effectiveness of this activity’s questions on ICT to procure relevant data.

While the ICT statistics sub-committee identified inconsistencies in the census questions among member states, it determined that the census data was a useful source of key baseline information with regard to ICT.

ICT statistics will become increasingly relevant in making pronouncements on the region’s attainment of specific international ICT targets ranging from connecting villages, educational and research institutions, information resource establishments, health-related and governmental agencies with ICT, to developing content, and providing ICT services to people.

Within the regional context, the draft regional ICT4D strategy outlines a number of goals to be achieved by 2015, which include “an overall growth rate of not less than twenty percent towards ubiquitous access and understanding of digital technologies.”

In addition, the strategy recommends as a target to measure the impact of ICT on the region a “thirty per cent increase in the use of ICT, and cultural content and images to create information in an acceptable format and manner, to lead to tangible benefits for education, work and everyday life.”

Mechanisms in place for measuring ICT4D in CARICOM will be critical in measuring the tangible outcomes of these goals