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Caribbean Open Data Conference

The Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) hosted the Jamaican leg of the regional Caribbean Open Data Conference from April 11 to 12, 2013. The event, facilitated by MSBM in collaboration with Slash Roots (an organisation representing software developers in Jamaica), and sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

, included the much touted 24 hour “code sprint” and saw software developers and designers from seven Caribbean countries collaborating with their counterparts, with guidance from public sector practitioners, to make software applications that address the needs of Caribbean societies.

The conference, which is in its third year, focused on the use of open data, software innovation and technology, to empower citizens and solve modern-day social problems . In Jamaica, the two-day conference also brought together policy makers, researchers, journalists, media practitioners, members of the developer community, civil society and the general public for presentations and discussions on the value and application of open data as well as the incorporation of data visualisation to enhance news reporting.

Dr. Maurice McNaughton-Director, Centre of Excellence for IT Enabled Innovation, MSBM, and one of the main conference organisers explained, “The open data movement is gathering momentum across the region, as government agencies begin to appreciate the potential of open government data as a catalyst and enabler of innovations that can lead to improved public sector efficiency and service delivery.”

Local students showed their support for the Open Data movement, participating in and winning the conference’s code sprint. A team of five UWI undergraduate students, from the Department of Computing, Bruce Hoo Fung, Jonathan Smith, Kimberley Roper and brothers Mumba and Kangwa Sambo who competed under the name Team K2MJB, were the creative minds and developers behind the winning application; ‘Farma Bredren’, a mobile phone application designed to improve how the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) collects information on crops from farmers across the island.

Other highlights of the conference included its keynote address on the “Perspectives on the Kenyan Open Data Initiative” which was delivered by Paul Kukubo, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenyan ICT Board, and the Data Journalism session which was headlined by Alex Howard, the Washington Correspondent for O'Reilly Media. Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Mining and Energy, Hon Julian Robinson gave Greetings at the Opening Ceremony on April 11.

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