Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 7: Contribution

What about that Fibre Optic Cable, ICT’s and Development?

BRADES, Montserrat, Nov 9, 2015 – When I saw the blue paint job on the Lime (oops, now FLOW . . . ) building in Sweeneys I was happy to see that both Cable and Wireless and Digicel have voted for Montserrat’s future with serious investment money.

But, while the economy can definitely do with such a double shot- in- the- arm, there is another side to the story.

Which, we need to ponder as we take on lion no 4: digital productivity. 

Globally, the digital sector is now perhaps the most dynamic sector of the world economy.  As Apple at market capitalisation about US$ 700 billions and looking to head for the trillion dollar mark testifies. With Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others hot on its heels.

Yes, banks are always at the top of the heap as finance makes the world go round, but money needs something that’s capable of moving fast and growing big to invest in – if it is to fertilise economic progress.  (And no, financing the building of houses, cars, consumer items, shops and offices is not the main engine of long term development and prosperity.)

The world is going digital, using on/off, yes/no, high/low 1’s and 0’s processed in silicon chip integrated circuits to change how the world works. For example, modern cars have sensors and computers in them to manage how the engine behaves. Mobile phones are computers with fancy two-way radios. A sewing machine is now a computer with controlled motors, needle and thread. Many people have notebook PCs or tablets or digital TVs.

That’s why it is bigger than just “IT” or “ICT” now, we need to begin to talk about ICCT:

I – information

C – communication, and

C – control

T – technologies.

But, all across the Caribbean, we seem to be mostly participating in this digital revolution as consumers, or sales people or maybe installation and maintenance technicians. (It was great to hear of Dr. Joseph and team winning an App creation contest sponsored by ECCB, and it was wonderful to hear that thanks to Mr. O’Brien, car licence tests are now computerised.  The problem is, these are not typical, they are the exception, not the rule. )

How do we change that?

Education transformation, backed by fibre optic connectivity and a major push into ICCTs.

We need to bring back fibre optic cable. (In the mid 90’s Montserrat actually had a fibre optic cable link that came ashore at Fox’s bay.) For, the rate that glass fibres can handle information is growing by leaps and bounds; to keep up, we need fibre.  We can then think seriously about bringing high bandwidth to customers, not only in commercial zones for industries doing business services and supporting financial services etc., but right to the consumer. Think of an investor who moves here to a tranquil tropical paradise, but can easily make deals in the big financial markets right from his home (office), through fibre optics. (What would a few dozen investors like that living or just spending winters here do for our local economy?)

Obviously, such will require investment in infrastructure, in education and in training technicians, etc.

But that is not the mother-lode.

Montserrat’s natural resource no. 1 lies between our ears: brain power.

Yes, we should be thinking about using digital technologies to individualise education and to create rich and engaging education environments, with tablet PCs as a big player. However, the real issue is to break into digital productivity education, starting with computer programming “for all” and with interfacing and control for all. At primary level, MIT has developed the Scratch lego- brick click- together programming language. The Arduino and the Raspberry Pi open up full bore programming, interfacing and control for secondary level at quite low cost. Robotics beckons, and there is much more out there.

In fact, the 2012 UK Royal Society Furber Report on Computing in Schools said that for Britain to remain globally competitive in the coming decades, every primary school child should be introduced to programming and at secondary level more advanced programming, interfacing and control should be brought in.

So, why not here, too?

We have the St Helena £ 250 million airport project as a yardstick, we have means and opportunity. So, if not now, then when – and why?

ENDS –

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What about that Fibre Optic Cable, ICT’s and Development?

BRADES, Montserrat, Nov 9, 2015 – When I saw the blue paint job on the Lime (oops, now FLOW . . . ) building in Sweeneys I was happy to see that both Cable and Wireless and Digicel have voted for Montserrat’s future with serious investment money.

But, while the economy can definitely do with such a double shot- in- the- arm, there is another side to the story.

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Which, we need to ponder as we take on lion no 4: digital productivity. 

Globally, the digital sector is now perhaps the most dynamic sector of the world economy.  As Apple at market capitalisation about US$ 700 billions and looking to head for the trillion dollar mark testifies. With Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others hot on its heels.

Yes, banks are always at the top of the heap as finance makes the world go round, but money needs something that’s capable of moving fast and growing big to invest in – if it is to fertilise economic progress.  (And no, financing the building of houses, cars, consumer items, shops and offices is not the main engine of long term development and prosperity.)

The world is going digital, using on/off, yes/no, high/low 1’s and 0’s processed in silicon chip integrated circuits to change how the world works. For example, modern cars have sensors and computers in them to manage how the engine behaves. Mobile phones are computers with fancy two-way radios. A sewing machine is now a computer with controlled motors, needle and thread. Many people have notebook PCs or tablets or digital TVs.

That’s why it is bigger than just “IT” or “ICT” now, we need to begin to talk about ICCT:

I – information

C – communication, and

C – control

T – technologies.

But, all across the Caribbean, we seem to be mostly participating in this digital revolution as consumers, or sales people or maybe installation and maintenance technicians. (It was great to hear of Dr. Joseph and team winning an App creation contest sponsored by ECCB, and it was wonderful to hear that thanks to Mr. O’Brien, car licence tests are now computerised.  The problem is, these are not typical, they are the exception, not the rule. )

How do we change that?

Education transformation, backed by fibre optic connectivity and a major push into ICCTs.

We need to bring back fibre optic cable. (In the mid 90’s Montserrat actually had a fibre optic cable link that came ashore at Fox’s bay.) For, the rate that glass fibres can handle information is growing by leaps and bounds; to keep up, we need fibre.  We can then think seriously about bringing high bandwidth to customers, not only in commercial zones for industries doing business services and supporting financial services etc., but right to the consumer. Think of an investor who moves here to a tranquil tropical paradise, but can easily make deals in the big financial markets right from his home (office), through fibre optics. (What would a few dozen investors like that living or just spending winters here do for our local economy?)

Obviously, such will require investment in infrastructure, in education and in training technicians, etc.

But that is not the mother-lode.

Montserrat’s natural resource no. 1 lies between our ears: brain power.

Yes, we should be thinking about using digital technologies to individualise education and to create rich and engaging education environments, with tablet PCs as a big player. However, the real issue is to break into digital productivity education, starting with computer programming “for all” and with interfacing and control for all. At primary level, MIT has developed the Scratch lego- brick click- together programming language. The Arduino and the Raspberry Pi open up full bore programming, interfacing and control for secondary level at quite low cost. Robotics beckons, and there is much more out there.

In fact, the 2012 UK Royal Society Furber Report on Computing in Schools said that for Britain to remain globally competitive in the coming decades, every primary school child should be introduced to programming and at secondary level more advanced programming, interfacing and control should be brought in.

So, why not here, too?

We have the St Helena £ 250 million airport project as a yardstick, we have means and opportunity. So, if not now, then when – and why?

ENDS –