CARIBBEAN YOUTH ADVANCES POST-COVID RECOVERY EFFORTS WITH INTERNATIONAL HACKATHON

 

The virtual competition invited tech-savvy innovators from Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago to develop new ideas that support the COVID-19 recovery response.

July 28th, 2021. The Trust for the Americas, an NGO affiliated to the Organization of American States (OAS), keeps nurturing innovation and Open Government in the region with the competition “Byte the π: Caribbean Hackathon”. This virtual hackathon invited public sector and civil society participants from Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago, to use Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) to develop disruptive ideas that help foster post COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The event (link) was organized in collaboration with the Developing the Caribbean (DevCa) initiative, The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) of Trinidad and Tobago, the Institute of Law and Economics (ILE) of Jamaica, the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the Ministry of Youth, Sports & E-Governance of Belize, The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and the OAS National Office in Belize; with the financial support of Citi Foundation and the United States of America Embassy in Belmopan.

The hackathon focused on the “Open Response + Open Recovery for COVID-19" campaign, which seeks to highlight Open Government fundamental values, such as transparency, participation, inclusion, and accountability. All crucial for the recovery phase. The 60 participants, divided into 18 teams, were encouraged to use the given 48 hours to come up with solutions that address everyday local challenges in the following two areas of work: economic recovery through tourism, and access to health care, in particular COVID-19 testing and vaccination facilities.

“COVID 19 has presented the world with significant challenges and opportunities. However, as the world begins to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, through vaccinations and subsidence of restrictions, a new trial faces us: economic recovery. Hackathons have historically provided a means of sparking collaboration between problem seekers and solvers. In resource constrained environments, facilitating these interactions and conversations can be challenging and therefore require creative approaches to motivate stakeholders to have a conversation”, stated Mr. Miguel Andrews, CARIRI Calibration Lab Manager.

“We believe that there are many opportunities in the current digital ecosystem to face these economic and health care challenges, and the work done by the participants was proof of that. Also, the young hackers, theorizers and doers were benefited from expert coaching and mentoring, industry expert guidance and curated domain open dataset starter kits to assist in their solution development. With the DIA – Democratizing Innovation in the Americas program, we aim to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship by enabling Caribbean youth to create community improvement solutions integrating ICTs in a virtual, safe and collaborative environment.”, shared Rodrigo Iriani, Senior Program Manager of DIA at The Trust for the Americas.  

A panel of judges, formed by Mrs. Alexia Peralta, incoming Director for the E-Governance and Digitalization Unit in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and E-Governance of Belize; Mr. Leroy Almendarez, Director of the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE); Mr. Luiz Octavio Coimbra, OAS Representative in Belize; Mrs. Gena Foster, Medical Doctor for the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Jamaica; Mr. Jeevan Persad, member of the Faculty of Engineering at The University of The West Indies (UWI); Keyan Murdock, Customer Relation Personnel for First Global Bank Jamaica; Mrs. Bryanna Chang, Field Service Analyst for Nestle Corporation Jamaica; Mr. Dale Wilson, Chief of Information of Teleios Systems Limited; and Mrs. Kemby Ross Jones, Founder of Rent My Tutor, assessed every presented pitch based on technologies used, utility, target audience and reach, problem solving capability, novelty, visual appeal and financial sustainability.

To recognize the hard work, creativity and proactivity of participants, cash prizes of USD 800 were awarded to the first place of Belize and Jamaica, whereas USD 625 were granted to the winner of Trinidad and Tobago.

1st Place in Jamaica: Team UCC designed Access to Health, a web application that would allow users to book appointments for COVID-19 testing         and vaccination, and to download the results.

1st Place in Belize: Aesthetics Marketing Solutions pitched CaribTravels, a web page and app that alerts tourists interested in visiting Caribbean               countries on the changes regarding the country’s travel policy during the pandemic and regulated events.

1st Place in Trinidad and Tobago: TT Vaccine Hub, by the team Hack O Holics, presented a platform to sign up for vaccination,                                     make appointments for medical house visits, professional guidance for people affected by COVID-19 and daily SMS updates.

“Byte the π: Caribbean Hackathon”, celebrated on “Pi Approximation Day”, is the second annual hackathon produced by The Trust for The Americas, through the DIA program, to achieve its goal of empowering, connecting and inspiring youth, academia, multi-sector innovators and entrepreneurs to help generate livelihood opportunities, promote good governance, and strengthen democracy by nourishing innovation across the region.

 

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About The Trust for the Americas:

The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). It was established in 1997 to promote public and private sector participation in social and economic development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our initiatives, implemented through local partner organizations, seek to improve access to economic opportunities as well as to foster innovation in vulnerable communities in the hemisphere. To this end, The Trust also promotes social inclusion and good governance. The Trust has offices in Washington, D.C., Colombia, and Canada.