'Think tank' set up to advance ICT industry

'Think tank' set up to advance ICT industry

Observer staff reporter

Monday, May 01, 2017

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The advancement of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry has been touted as one of the main drivers of socio-economic development in Jamaica, and citizens will now be able to contribute to its development through a 'Think Tank', which will facilitate the submission of ideas to be implemented at the national level.
The initiative, which is formally titled, the “GOJ (Government of Jamaica) ICT Innovation Think Tank”, was conceptualised by business and product development analyst at eGov Jamaica Limited, Ricardo Thompson, and was launched on Friday at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters Building in Kingston.
According to Thompson, it was primarily established to facilitate ICT advancement and ultimately develop products and services that can be used by citizens, businesses and the Government.
The objectives of the initiative include planning, executing and implementing generated ideas, and documenting and outlining standards that govern the ideation, development and production process, among others. All ideas will be processed by a committee that will deliberate whether or not to approve the ideas, based on certain criteria.
“There are two main ways to access the Think Tank, on the eGov Jamaica website, which is available today, and a national portal, which is to come. Once the ides have been submitted, they will be evaluated on a variety of factors such as feasibility, sustainability, impact and other factors,” Thompson said in his remarks.
He added that the selected ideas will go through the research and innovation department at eGov, where the relevant business concepts will be further developed in order to be brought to the mainstream. He added that the committee's functions will not be limited to only reviewing ideas, but also extend to conducting environmental scans to ascertain business challenges, facilitating hackathons, and other wider ICT initiatives.
Thompson noted that the committee will not operate in isolation, and that they are looking to partner with the major universities and other interested stakeholders to aid with funding as well as to play an active role on the committee and in the overall process.
The board chairman, Lloyd Waller, as well as the CEO of eGov Jamaica, Maurice Barnes, lauded Thompson for the initiative.
“eGov Jamaica Limited, in its commitment to facilitate the national development 2030 goals and beyond, have seen the need to leverage technology. and we have a burning desire to see the proliferation of smart and current technology in use more efficiently, to make our lives better — not just the current generation but generations to come,” Barnes said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley extended his appreciation at the suggestion put forward by the analyst as well as the board and for their accepting the initiative so readily.
“This demonstrates you are serious about fulfilling your priority policy areas of promoting efficiency and effectiveness of Government through technology and facilitating a more responsive public sector, reducing the Government of Jamaica's ICT cost, and promoting national development,” Wheatley said.
“Jamaica must embrace technology and is not only embracing, but being masters of ICT. so we need to move away from being mere consumers of technology, because we have that inherent potential to do far more with the technology that is available,” the minister added.
Wheatley stated that, as a Government, they must lead by example and so their online engagement with citizens should reflect technological ambitions and, furthermore, the engagement should also reinforce the confidence of Jamaicans that they are moving towards growth and development.

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