Information technology affects our lives on a daily basis, whether to make our lives easier or occasionally more difficult. Belize has already been rapped for a low concentration of access to the Internet which ranges between 15 and 25 percent of the population, meaning that few have access to the kind of information that changes lives.
A group of students from several junior colleges competed against each other to solve a problem related to development of technology, in this case, to simplify transportation schedules for visiting tourists. Hero Balani of BELTRAIDE tells us more.
Hero Balani- BELTRAIDE Development Officer“The nature of the problem that these kids were at looking at solving these weekend is transport. When a tourist comes to Belize, they are often not familiar with their transport system. So , we are trying to find a mobile application solution to help their lives a little bit easier. We, as Belizeans, know where to get the water taxi, where to go with the local and international flights, but we want to make those frequently asked questions more easier. So, we gave the students that problem and today we will see what they come up with”.
Presentations of the various solutions to a panel of representatives from the sponsors which include Belize Telemedia Limited, Belize Tourism Board, BELTRAIDE, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU) and a Belizean-American consultant with Proctor and Gamble company and Walmart stores in the U.S., David Ahuja.
Prizes include laptops and cash, but Ahuja tells us that the biggest prize for the nation is building a talent pool of individuals that can raise Belize’s IT profile internationally.
“In my day job, I buy services from India, from Costa Rica and I know how the IT service providers from those countries look like ‘caz I know what they do. Partly when I came down here to find is can we do that? Yes. Belize has very smart people, the school programs that I visit has very strong IT programs. I am very impressed with Centro Escolar Mexico, with CJC in Corozal; we have the talent and yes, we have to do a lot of work to get the talent in order to compete on the global market, but we have the talent. It is not the large numbers and I think that the task is how do start to you get the commerce or business going, demonstrating to people that yes, in IT you can have a very successful career in Belize, working for U.S. companies”.
The groups have been working on the project since Friday afternoon, mostly without sleep.
So, are they ready? We hear from participant Edmar Gonzalez of Centro Escolar.
“Reading calm, you get some ideas. We sat and spent the whole afternoon and then we said, okay, we have to set the ideas and the way we did it is we never join in a group of three or four to stay and think until 3:00 or 4:00. So, all of us went home to think on your own, whatsoever ideas come to your mind, jot down and so, on Saturday morning, we gathered, and from there all the ideas backed in and share them and we came up with the best solution from the combination of ideas. After that, we did a bit of research on what we need to do like sketching, layouts, redesign some firework stuff and when we were good at the design we decided that we started with the coding part. So, that is where we are right now”.