The Government of Belize, via the Ministry of Trade and Commerce has engaged young people in a competition to test their Information Technology skills. Through the activity dubbed the “Belizean Apps for Development Challenge”, the Ministry seeks to encourage young developers to come up with innovative applications in three areas. Berisford Codd, the Trade Economist at the CSME Unit, Foreign Trade told us more about the challenge.
Berisford Codd – Trade Economist – CSME Unit, Foreign Trade: “Well first there is a local government communication app. Basically the way that would work is that you would be able to log in to the app and share any type of issue that you may be having in your neighborhood say whether it’s an overgrown yard, an abandoned house that you want to inform your city council or town council about for them to take whatever necessary actions they need to take. Secondly with the government moving towards e governance and online systems for their services we wanted to see how we can lend a hand to the old birth certificate application process – something I’m sure a lot of Belizeans have had stories about whether it’s maybe delays in certain executions of functions there. So what we really focused on is to support the department and help in whatever way we can to make it more efficient and we believe IT is the way to go. Finally there is a public transportation scheduler. So say you are at the bus terminal trying to get to Cayo there should be a way to find out when exactly the next bus is leaving, what bus is leaving what the price is, the estimated time of arrival the sort of useful information anybody could use, the whole focus is to get an app that the wider public can use and not necessarily a particular sector of the market. At this stage what we are testing is their ability to interpret the problem and come up with a viable solution for the problem. It’s expected over the next couple months we will source some funding for them so that they can pursue the additional security features, additional graphic user interfaces and so on that they would need to really get the app market ready.”
Reporter: But you are seeing more than just a prototype?
Berisford Codd – Trade Economist – CSME Unit, Foreign Trade: “Yeah I’m seeing more than just a prototype. Some of the schools actually told us that you can log in to certain websites that they have provided and anyone can actually get on the app and use it, the only shortcoming so far so to speak is the lack of live information but that is something that is easily remedied.”
Thirty students from secondary and tertiary schools across the country took part in the challenge. This is the first time the ministry is holding the competition.