e-LJam supports open data conference and competition

UWI eljam
The e-LJam-supported team that participated in the Codesprint competition at the DevCa open data conference at the University of the West Indies, Mona, pose for a picture.

e-LJam recently took part in DevCa 2015, the Caribbean’s largest Open Data forum and Codesprint by supporting a three-man team of developers in the programming competition.

Dozens of budding software developers gathered at the Universtity of the West Indies’ Mona Campus in March for the competition and conference, which focused on the growing importance of open data and its potential economic value for Caribbean countries.

Simply put, open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone, without restrictions such as copyright or patents.

According to conference organisers, open government data has become a global phenomenon with more than a million government-led data sets available freely on the Internet in the last four years. The potential global value of open data has been estimated at US$3 trillion annually.

The codesprint was a programming contest in which small groups competed to develop the best project over a 24-hour period.

In commending e-LJam for its support of DevCa 2015, Dr Maurice McNaughton, Director of the Centre of Excellence of the Mona School of Business said e-LJam needs to help steer discussions on the development of ICT industries in Jamaica.

“Having recently delivered 25,000 tablets into schools, it’s important for e-LJam not only to participate in conferences of this nature but to be part of this conversation to actively drive discussions around how to get the children very early into the pipeline of software development”, noted Dr McNaughton.

Robert Whitehorne, project manager at the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP) said he was  also heartned by e-LJam’s support.

“It is of great importance that e-LJam participates in events like these because we have a huge challenge ahead of us as a country to start creating our own content, particularly for educational purposes”, he noted.

Mr. Whitehorne said it was important for Jamaica to create its our own “syllabus appropriate and culturally appropriate content” in order to “avoid some of the costs involoved with international publishers.”

Speaking at the launch of the conference, Hon. Julian Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining said an open data readiness assessment report done last year indicated that Jamaica can develop a successful open data programme that most of the necessary legislation was already in place, and much of the data needed was already available on government websites.

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