Twitter hasn't said who exactly is in the test group for its longer tweets, but now we know one user who isn't: Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) announced it would test doubling the character limit of tweets as part of an ongoing effort to make the social network more intuitive and appealing.
The announcement quickly set off speculation and alarm bells among some users who worried what President Trump, a prolific tweeter, might do with all the extra space.
In response, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone said President Trump is "not in the test group" for the expanded tweets.
Hurricanes Irma & Maria passed over the Caribbean devastating many of the islands with winds in excess of 140 mph, heavy rain and extreme flooding. After the storms moved on, the islands were left to face the "apocalyptic devastation" without electricity.
Now, many of the region's renewable energy advocates will rightly begin calling for investment in renewable energy and distributed grids to avoid the same situation in the future. As well as looking for guidance from the newly established Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Barbados.
"The tragedy of Hurricane Irma can be a catalyst for government, utility leaders and people of affected countries to transform destruction into opportunity, an opportunity to build back better and cleaner through sustainable, resilient power and transportation systems," wrote analysts at the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Indeed, the opportunity for standalone solar and storage -- or hybrid liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diesel systems paired with PV and storage -- is getting more economically attractive. According to a new analysis of island markets from GTM Research & Wood Mackenzie, hybrid systems are cheaper than diesel, and nearing the cost of LNG.
Guyana Moving To Establish Regulatory Unit For Operating Drones
The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, (GCAA) is moving to establish a regulatory unit for the operations of drones, across the country. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), are commonly used to capture pictures and videos – among other things - without the use of a human pilot aboard. The device is operated through the use of a ground-based controller.
Speaking at a press conference, Director General of the GCAA, Rtd Colonel Egbert Field disclosed that the Authority has commenced work to develop the unit. The Unit is expected to deal with the registration, approval and certification of persons, who own and operate drones in Guyana
At present, Field explained that the GCAA is working on building the manpower capability of the Unit. Colonel Field specified that the Authority has been working to secure inspectors for the Unit since the staff are integral to assist in monitoring the operations of all types of drones.
In addition, the GCAA Head noted that guidelines will be developed to manage the
operations of drones. "Any drone that comes into Guyana will have to be registered with us and therefore we will have to have guidelines for operators to have a clearer cut directive to follow as it relates to flying and operating drones within the local air space."
Colonel Field also noted, that efforts have been ongoing to secure finances for the Unit. At present, the establishment of the Drone Unit has been an integral part of Budget talks for next year.
Horace Clarke High And Bull Bay All-Age Win Jamaican SRC Science Competition
Horace Clarke High in St. Mary and Bull Bay All-Age Primary School in St. Thomas were victorious in the Scientific Research Council's (SRC) Improving Innovation Capacities in the Caribbean (INVOCAB) Science and Technology Innovation competition.
At the awards ceremony held at Bull Bay All-Age, the school was presented with the SRC trophy and a tablet. Principal Justin Duncan credited the victory to the hard work and determination of the students and staff.
He stated that the team spent long hours perfecting the solar water-heating device that won them the competition. "We did it as a team. Myself, the teachers and the students, we came up with the idea. I designed it and we walked through the steps to make the project work. It was not easy, but the students were committed to the task," he said.
Mr. Duncan was grateful that his school got the opportunity to participate in the competition, noting that what they have learnt "will certainly help the students in their examinations". He noted that the subject of science is important, because of its presence in everyday life.
Meanwhile, Horace Clarke High School, was presented with thier SRC trophy, won for their design of a waste-water and solid-waste management system. "It's an agronomic hybrid system used to address solid-waste management," explained Principal Christopher Walker.
"It also harvests rainwater. The device also helps in the making of fertilisers and methane gas," he added. Mr. Walker said that winning the competition has served as motivation for the students and teachers.
"It gives us something to brag about. We were struggling with the sciences, but we have seen some improvements in the teaching methodologies and the students' performance," he said.
Junior Expert for the INVOCAB Project, SRC, Yanique Wallace, told JIS News that the annual competition targets low-performing schools in the sciences in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). The objective is to engender innovation in science among students.
PitchIT Caribbean, under the remit of the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP), is intended to support growth-oriented mobile app businesses in the Caribbean. The programme is designed to strengthen the Caribbean mobile innovation ecosystem. And enable sustainable and competitive mobile enterprises to grow through activities that will target early stage investors and guide them to market readiness. The aim is to create a regional pool of high-growth potential mobile start-ups, with the capacity to release their apps to the market and raise additional capital to grow.
PITCHIT CARIBBEAN PRE-QUALIFIER EVENT
In August PitchIT Caribbean invited regional Tech entrepreneurs to participate in the Slush Global Impact Accelerator which will be held between November 22nd to December 2nd. Caribbean hopefuls for Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2017, were put through their paces at the PitchIT Caribbean's qualifying event. The event received more than 40 entries, from which ten were shortlisted to pitch. The top ten came from Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica. On the 6th September, nine of the impact start-ups pitched virtually, with one team submitting a pre-recorded submission.
Following a spirited and robust judging session, the following three companies emerged as the top three:
Braata (Brawta) a local artisan gift box subscription service https://braatabox.com/
These three companies were submitted for evaluation by the Slush team to determine which one of them will go on to represent the Caribbean in Helsinki in November. We will bring news of the lucky winner in a later briefing.
C&W Communications Provides Update On Hurricane Irma Damage
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean and parts of the US. C&W Communications, operator of the retail brand Flow, provided an update on the impact to its people, markets, and operations. As the largest full service communications operator in the region, C&W saw impacts across the region including in the islands of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Turks & Caicos Islands, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. US-based employees in Florida were also affected by the storm.
"Clearly Irma was an historic event, and we have suffered some damage to both fixed and mobile networks in our markets that bore the full force of the storm." said John Reid, C&W's CEO. He went on to state that, "First and foremost, our initial assessment indicates that our people are fully accounted for in the affected countries." Reid continued, "I'm pleased to report that our mobile networks in Antigua and Anguilla are back up to pre-Irma usage levels. There was, however, significant impact to our systems and services in Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks & Caicos Islands."
C&W's attention is now wholly focused on rapidly restoring services to impacted customers across the region. Teams across the region are working around the clock to return services to normal. The Company has also established a Restoration Hub in Antigua, where technicians from across the C&W Group - Jamaica, Barbados, and Panama - as well as its parent Company Liberty Global will be dedicated to getting islands back online. The company also extended free credit across affected markets, enabling pre-pay mobile customers to get in contact with loved ones on their island or abroad without worrying about charges.
Prospering In The Technology Era Is Focus Of Barbados' International Business Week 2017
The Barbados International Business and Financial Services (IB&FS) sector will again be in the spotlight during this year's International Business Week, which runs from October 15th to 21st. Now in its ninth year, the week of activities was conceptualised to raise public awareness of the importance of the international business sector to the country and its contribution to the island's growth and development.
The Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), in collaboration with Invest Barbados and other strategic partners, have planned several informative and engaging activities and events, including the flagship event of this week – a two-day conference to be held on October 19th and 20th.
This year's conference, theme is 'Prospering in the Technological Era -Innovate, Integrate, Motivate', and provides a unique opportunity for delegates to gain an understanding of current issues affecting the international business and financial service sector and the global trends impacting its development.
This year's topics include: The Future of Work: Technology and Humanity; Artificial Intelligence – Is it bad for business?; Technology Transforming Lifestyles; Shifting Landscapes: The Gender Differential; Developed Market Debt is Rising – What are the Global Implications?; and Renewable Energy and Business.
San Pedro High Is The First School To Receive New Diginet Fiber Optic Internet
San Pedro High School and Belize Telemedia (BTL) celebrated the installation of DigiNet at the school, the fastest internet service in the country. San Pedro High is the first school on Ambergris Caye to have access to the DigiNet service as part of BTL's Internet to Schools Programme. DigiNet will boost the school's internet speed from 8Mbps to 60Mbps, making internet more reliable to the faculty and student body.
BTL and Huawei Marine, have successfully installed fiber optic submarine cables between Belize mainland and San Pedro, allowing Ambergris Caye to be the first location in the country to experience faster fiber optic internet service.
BTL CEO, Rochus Schreiber, highlighted the importance of internet and technology and how young Belizeans are taking advantage of it to create new careers for themselves.
In Jamaica, about a quarter of electricity produced is stolen or "lost" through non-payment and/or accounting errors. Manual detection has failed to make a difference in reducing these losses.
A Technical Assistance Team of the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance programme or ESMAP has implemented a machine learning model to help the Jamaican utility, Jamaica Public Service (JPS) identify and decrease incidents of power theft.
When traditional, labour-intensive methods failed to produce lasting results, Jamaica tried a different approach and sought the assistance of ESMAP. ESMAP's machine learning model is based on an Open Source software solution, and is therefore available for free to any utility.
Globally, billions of dollars are lost every year due to electricity theft, where electricity is distributed to customers but is never paid for. In 2014 alone, Jamaica's total power transmission and distribution system reported 27% of losses (due to technical and non-technical reasons), close to double the regional average. While the utility company absorbs a portion of the cost, it also passes some of that cost onto consumers. Both actors therefore have an incentive to want to change this.
Now, Jamaica is one of the first countries to use machine learning to tackle its electricity theft problem. The World Bank partnered with Chicago-based data science firm, The Impact Lab, and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) to use machine learning to improve JPS' theft identification process among large and commercial accounts.
Steve Dixon, Director of Transmission & Distribution Asset Management at JPS, said, "Automating the analysis of daily transactions on electricity accounts will certainly improve the strike rate for detecting and addressing theft, "
Over Half-Million US Dollars Awarded To Firms At Link-Caribbean's Halfway Mark
As the halfway point of the two-year LINK-Caribbean Angel Investment programme approaches, over US$500,000 has been awarded to 14 Caribbean companies to support their development to attract angel investment.
The World Bank Group, together with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, launched LINK-Caribbean last September, funded by the government of Canada. The investment facilitation programme aims to enable early-stage Caribbean entrepreneurs to raise capital from private investors, particularly business angel investors.
It also aims to contribute toward the development of an angel investment ecosystem across the Caribbean, and early indicators would suggest that is exactly what is happening. With investment of US$1.6 million, the programme has awarded 11 investment readiness grants and 3 co-investment grants, and supported the growth of a Regional Angel Investor Network (RAIN) which now has business angels actively looking for early-stage and start-up businesses in which to invest.
"It is encouraging to see the entrepreneurs coming forward to seek investment and get involved in the programme. We have some bright, talented entrepreneurs with great ideas and businesses that can integrate into the global markets. The support from World Bank Group via the LINK-Caribbean programme is just the first step." said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
"We are delighted to see that LINK-Caribbean has helped catalyze the growth of the Caribbean's entrepreneurship ecosystem," said Sophia Muradyan, Coordinator of the World Bank Group's Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), which includes LINK-Caribbean.
The programme hosted the Caribbean Angel Investor Forum in May 2017 which helped to spur the development of new angel investment groups in the Bahamas. The region now has active angel groups in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Barbados. Increased awareness and understanding around angel investing has increased the number of entrepreneurs seeking investment.
"We recognize that there is still a lack of knowledge as it relates to the various investment instruments available to entrepreneurs. Angel investing isn't for everyone, but with greater understanding it's becoming a viable option, as seen from the range of businesses applying to be part of the programme," said Chris McNair, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export.
Smarter Caribbean Essay Competition
SmartTerm, the cohesive school and learning management platform aimed at reinventing the way education is facilitated in the Caribbean, recently concluded its "Smarter Caribbean Essay Competition," which was open to all Caribbean students aged 8-19 years.
The theme of this year's competition was, "The Importance of Technology in Schools," and gave voice to students as they grappled with the lack of educational technology in Caribbean schools.
"We wanted to get students thinking about how technology could help them become educated," said Shamir Saddler, CEO of SmartTerm. "And while doing so, we wanted the winners to have technology at their fingertips. Giving back is part of our mission, and so we will continue to do so."
The competition, which garnered both national and regional attention, saw students from five countries participate: Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia and Grenada.
The competition was broken down into three age groups: 8-11, 12-16, and 17-19 years of age. The three section winners, who came from Jamaica and Barbados, were Imani Chin of St. Andrew High School for Girls in Jamaica, Brannakay Hardie of Jonathan Grant High School in Jamaica, and Hope Joseph of Queen's College in Barbados.
Section winners will each receive a tablet and money vouchers, while section runner-ups will receive money vouchers only — with the total in-kind value of all gifts amounting to US$10,000. The winning schools will receive a free pilot of the SmartTerm school and learning management platform.
"The response was outstanding. Not only were students actively participating by writing essays, but teachers and principals were engaged, too. We've had parents and teachers inquire about technology use inside and outside the classroom," said Stuart Crooks, Chief Operating Officer of SmartTerm. "Education Technology is a conversation that needs to happen in the Caribbean, and we at SmartTerm are happy to spearhead it."
As the Caribbean awoke on Wednesday 6th to the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in history, users of FaceBook might have expected to be able to use FaceBook's Safety Check Feature, however it was conspicuous by its absence!
Hurricane Irma was Missing from Safety Check
When I contacted friends and family at 5am ECT (Eastern Caribbean Time), I suggested that they report their status using the FaceBook Safety Check feature, however the option was not available. Having checked for Hurricane Irma in the Safety Check system myself at 6 a.m. ECT it was still not possible to report your status for Hurricane Irma, and I posted to that effect on FaceBook. Approximately, ninety minutes later, I received comments indicating that the feature was available.
FaceBook Was Tardy
Given that Hurricane Irma had been anticipated since the weekend, and as predicted by forecasters made landfall in Antigua and Barbuda and much of the Eastern Caribbean on the morning of the 6th September, why was the feature missing for so long?
Despite the impending disaster being anticipated so far in advance, why were Caribbean FaceBook users unable to make use of what has become a standard feature of FaceBook during times of disaster? Why was FaceBook seemingly prodded into action? Were FaceBook's staff asleep at the switch or were there some other reasons for this apparent lapse or in-action? I suspect we will never know! However, with Hurricane José expected this weekend, let's hope that FaceBook get their act together!
Dominica's IOT Schools Project Creates Producers And Not Consumers
The National Telecommunications Regulator in Dominica successfully secured US$18,000 in grant funding. The NTRC entered the Regional Fund for Digital Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean, (FRIDA) grant competition, winning the programme's most technical category – Innovation for Internet Development.
Dominicans Found Broadband Internet Irrelevant
I asked Craig Nesty, Executive Director at the NTRC what was the motivation, behind the Internet of Things (IoT) School Project?
As a regulator part of our mandate is to increase broadband penetration. What we found through surveys and gap analysis, for the USF was that people basically found broadband to be irrelevant. Or they didn't see the benefits of the Internet or the value of the internet for the money they were paying. They could not equate, $89 a month, to FaceBook, especially in certain demographics.
Identifying a Meaningful Project
So we set about trying to determine how we could make the Internet more relevant. We also recognised that we in the Caribbean basically use the Internet for consumption of resources. We don't generate any content, we don't produce anything. So the inspiration behind the project was to give kids an opportunity to see how the Internet could be utilised. And how they could actually create something and generate useful information that could be used by vast cross section of society. We're talking about from disaster planners to farmers to environmental modellers.
Cue the Raspberry Pi
So when I came across this article where in England, they were introducing computing to kids as young as six years old. And they were doing that with the Raspberry Pi, which I thought that was pretty interesting. I recognised that this was an opportunity for us to do something similar perhaps not on the same scale. But if we could put a Raspberry Pi in every school, then every student would be aware that there was such a device. If we could show them through one project the types of things we can do with that one device, it might inspire them to further innovate and create and take full advantage of the internet.
The Digital Divide has not Been Bridge!
This is the only way I think we can bridge the digital divide and create that equalising effect that the internet should have brought about. Whichin my view it hasn't. A lot of people might think that's controversial, but to me the internet is a great amplifier, it enhances the capabilities you already have. So for us in Dominica we are consumers. We order a lot internationally and consume locally, and the internet has basically accelerated that. So it's essentially created a lot more capital flight, and we need to find a way to reverse that, and the IoT Schools Project is a small step in trying to address some of the problems that I see.
Government of Trinidad and Tobago Aims To Boost Its Jobs Through IDB Loan
The Government of Trinidad & Tobago, intends to use grant and loan funds from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to drive T&T's economic transformation/diversification using information technology enabled services (ITeS), to broaden opportunities in other economic sectors, especially with the current challenges in the oil and gas industry.
The Ministry of Planning and Development in Trinidad said on Wednesday that it was certain that an IDB loan and grant agreement would lead to the growth of the information technology sector in this country, along with high-paying jobs for well-qualified nationals of T&T.
In a statement, the Planning Ministry referenced the Global Services Promotion Programme, which is a loan and grant agreement funded by the IDB and being implemented by the ministry.