Government partners with IBM and private sector to promote diversification through ITeS

August 18, 2017:  Participants from secondary and tertiary institutions and IT professionals at work during the IoT workshop.

It is estimated that 9 billion devices are connected to the internet, this is quite a bit considering that the world’s population as of 2017 is estimated to be 7.5 billion people.  In addition, it is projected that over the next decade, the number of devices connected to the internet will increase within the range of 50 billion to 1 trillion.  The Internet of Things, which describes the connection between everyday objects and devices such as phones, watches, vehicles, appliances, shoes… has the potential to create economic impact of US $2.7 trillion to US $6.2 trillion annually by 2025.  There are vast opportunitties that the Government is aiming to seize, by focusing on the Information Technology enabled Services (ITeS) sector as one tool to drive economic transformation in Trinidad and Tobago.
This was evident through a free hands on ‘Internet of Things (IoT) Workshop’ held on Friday August 18 involving 30 secondary school and tertiary level students, IT professionals and members of the public at the Global Services Promotion Programme (GSPP) in Chaguanas.  This workshop was a collaboration among the Ministry of Planning and Development through the Global Services Promotion Programme, RSC International, the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries (TTCSI) and IBM.  It was the second such workshop, with the first happening at UWI St. Augustine on Thursday August 17. 
According to GSPP Programme Coordinator Mr. Tracy Hackshaw, the aim of this workshop is to arm participants with the skills to use big data, data science and analytics to solve everyday problems and develop business as well as help entrepreneurs to expand their markets.  This can help build the economy and this session intends to “build local capacity to match global needs”, and can contribute to earning foreign exchange and also help to keep it in the country.  Mr. Hackshaw reminded participants that this session is an introduction to IBM software as well as an opportunity to gain IBM certification.  Mrs. Dianne Joseph, secretary of the Board of the TTCSI described the ICT sector as a “sleeping giant” and sessions such as this one can help to build the cadre of skills needed and increase the interest of students to yield significant returns.  Mr. Stellan Ragbir, Head of ICT at the Ministry of Education indicated that that Ministry already collaborates with the IBM and uses their programmes to develop the Education Management Information System to create one repository of information for the Ministry of Education.   
The session was facilitated by Ms. Gayathri Magie, IBM Business Development Executive, Internet of Things and the participants were able to explore IBMs OpenPOWER Applcation features and Systems as well as develop Starter Applications using Watson IoT software.  This also allows developers to register devices with Watson IoT Platform to send the device data to the Bluemix cloud.  This is the basis of big data collection and once done well, the potential for problem solutions and new business development is limitless.
The Global Services Promotion Programme, funded via a loan and grant agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is being implemented by the Ministry of Planning and Development with the objective of driving Trinidad and Tobago’s economic transformation/diversification, to broaden opportunities in other economic sectors, especially with the current challenges in the oil and gas industry.