Local innovation features Wi-Fi without Internet connection

Saturday, July 21, 2018

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A local innovation featuring an interactive, digital experience with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), via smartphones and without need for any Internet connection, debuted for the first time at the Go For The Goals roadshow on the SDG and Vision 2030 in Morant Bay, St Thomas, last week.

Leveraging technology innovated by a local company, Academic Journies, the Go For The Goals Digital Hotspot was specially commissioned by UN Jamaica as a digital space offering persons and locations with low or no Internet connectivity the opportunity to access digital resources and interaction on the SDG.

Resources include chatrooms, selfie photo features, videos, quizzes for prizes, and downloads. Users gain access via a special Go For The Goals Jamaica Wi-Fi signal broadcast to smart devices within range.

“This breakthrough leverages the strong penetration of smart devices, overcomes the limitations of Internet penetration and cost, thereby reducing the barrier to web-based SDG education in Jamaica,” UN Resident Coordinator Bruno Pouezat has said. He added that the technology could become valuable in advancing SDG education and awareness in Jamaica, as the data indicates that mobile penetration is as high as 107.4 per cent (World Economic Forum, 2016) but Internet access generally remains low at 42 per cent, according to STATIN data.

Go For The Goals volunteer from St Thomas and one of hundreds of patrons at the event Casey-Ann Lee, in a feedback said, “the hotspot is very user friendly and informative. One of the best educational tools created thus far”.

UNDP deputy resident representative and member of the United Nations country team, Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, in delivering remarks at the roadshow invited patrons to connect and learn. “This hot spot does not require Internet access … the more you engage with the hot spot, the more you learn.” In a general invitation to patrons to learn more about the SDG, she noted; “Going for the Goals means knowing what the 17 goals are; knowing what your country is doing to achieve them so they become reality by 2030; and focusing on the goals which resonate most with your ambitions and personality; then setting forth a plan to achieve that goal in your personal life, for your community, and for your nation.”

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie, who delivered the main address, said the Go For The Goals roadshow is critical in engaging Jamaicans in the process of achieving the goals outlined in Vision 2030. He noted that with only 12 years left for the objectives to be achieved, the buy-in of every citizen is needed. “This programme is one that includes every single Jamaican because it speaks about a vision for the country, a vision for which all of us must become major stakeholders.”

PIOJ Director General Wayne Henry, in his remarks, said: “Our interactions with the people of St Thomas reveal they have been laying the foundation for the sustainable development of their parish. We welcome this opportunity to continue the dialogue and build partnerships to advance community development. These partnerships will lead to improved outcomes for residents and aid us in attaining the 'Jamaica We Want', as we implement Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan and the SDGs, leaving no one behind.”

In recognising that the launch was being done in partnership with World Population Day under the theme, 'Family Planning is a Human Right', Dr Henry said the Population Sector Plan of Vision 2030 Jamaica was framed to ensure that population growth, size, structure, distribution and characteristics were synchronised with national sustainable development imperatives, and foresees “a population which meets the sustainable development needs of the country”.

This, he said, fits squarely with Agenda 2030 which seeks to bring greater attention in international development to the links between population dynamics — including migration, urbanisation, and growth, and climate change.

UNFPA Caribbean representative Allison Drayton, who led the celebration of World Population Day at the roadshow, said the UNFPA supports family planning in developing countries by ensuring a reliable supply of a full range of modern contraceptives, strengthening national health systems, and supporting and promoting gender equality.

Go For The Goals — On the Road to the Jamaica We Want by 2030, is a joint initiative of the United Nations Jamaica and the Government of Jamaica — led by the Planning Institute of Jamaica — which holds lead responsibility for the implementation of the SDG in Jamaica. The roadshow also introduced the sustainable development Goals-branded JUTC bus which made its maiden journey to Morant Bay and is now deployed on the Spanish Town/Kingston route.

The SDG is globally regarded as the universal call to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. It is currently being implemented under the Vision 2030 National Development Plan.

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