Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Today, we continue to profile companies that have been nominated for the prestigious 2012 Gleaner Honour Award. Digicel has been nominated in the category Science and Technology.
Ever since Digicel set foot on local soil in 2001, the telecommunications giant has made its mark in various endeavours with a flourish.
Digicel's imprint has been solidly etched on the local landscape of science and technology in no less conspicuous manner, in its efforts to usher the magic of modern communications technology to the reach of all and sundry.
Indeed, the company's commitment is demonstrative in its support to the expansion of telecommunications as a modern science and its focus on making the transmission of information easier and faster for Jamaicans.
Digicel's tentacles have touched academia, the business sector - and even the media landscape - with fascinating effect.
So far, it has invested $640 million in the Mona ICT Policy Centre and another $125 million on its Enrichment Centre. The ICT Policy Centre was previously the telecommunications policy and management programme.
Digicel Chief Operating Officer Richard Fraser said Digicel has undertaken to continue to invest in technology that enables efficient and accessible communication for all Jamaicans.
"The Digicel Foundation has committed to equipping over 100 schools with enrichment centres and carts that are geared at enhancing the use of technology in education at the primary level," said Fraser.
Noting that the initiative was in celebration of Jamaica's 50th year of Independence, Fraser said carts associated with this initiative are outfitted with Digicel 4G Broadband netbooks, 4G Broadband service, a multimedia projector, a multifunctional copier/scanner and printer, along with the teaching software.
Reports compiled by the education ministry concerning the enrichment centre suggest that students have seen an average improvement of two reading levels, with some students improving as many as four levels, within the first year of enrolment in the programme.
"There are many stories from teachers regarding the dramatic improvements in students under their care," Fraser said. "One student at Balaclava Primary, for example, was unable to recognise the letters of the alphabet when he was first sent to the enrichment centre, and within three months, he was able to not only recognise his letters, but read and write a variety of words," he added.
According to him, the feedback from parents, teachers and principals have all been very encouraging.
"The aim is to use technology to assist the Government in realising its goal of 100 per cent literacy by 2015," he said. "We are heartened by how schools have been able to use the technology to improve learning."
Fraser also disclosed some schools that have already received enrichment supplies, among them St Ann's Bay Primary, Woodhall All-Age, Moneague Primary and Junior High, Drapers All-Age, and Bridgeport Primary.
Additionally, he noted that the ICT Policy Centre was established in 2005 at the Mona School of Business.
"The programme was intended to fill the gaps in scholarly and industry research, professional training and formal education in the dynamic and ever-growing regional and global telecommunications industry," he disclosed.
Added Fraser: "The programme has been quite successful, receiving many awards and accolades ... . "
Digicel's foray, however, is certainly not limited or confined to the range of educational pursuits, important as that is.
In 2007, Digicel Business targeted the business sector by offering ICT solutions in response to the needs of private and public-sector companies as well as small and medium enterprises.
"Through reduced infrastructure cost and no upfront expenses, companies stand to realise between 30 per cent and 50 per cent in savings with the Digicel Business suite of cloud products, which include hosted email, cloud telephony, cloud backup and cloud computing," Fraser said.
Under cloud telephony, companies are able to benefit from Enterprise Voice and collaborative features without investing in costly on-premise infrastructure.
The programme, dubbed 'Hosted Email', represents Hosted Exchange & Zimbra's business-class and offers business customers all the functionalities of enterprise email, calendar and collaborative work without requiring the physical infrastructure and running costs associated with on-premises solutions.
The cloud backup system offers businesses an automated way of backing up data securely as it removes the need for daily human intervention and offers a fast, safe and reliable way of restoring company data in the event of a disaster.
Under Digicel's cloud computing system, Digicel's cloud servers are designed for any business interested in a low-cost, flexible and secure server solution which eliminates the need for continuous staffing and maintenance.
Apart from committing to making Internet accessible in every nook and cranny, Digicel is making its mark in the ever-critical areas of energy optimisation and conservation.
To this end, the company has been piloting both wind and solar energy solutions for cell sites.
"More importantly, our new office in downtown Kingston has been designed from the outset as a green building, Indeed, it is the greenest building in the Caribbean," Fraser boasted.
He pointed to four wind turbines on the roof of Digicel's 11-storey tower building; 15,000 square feet of solar panels and solar glass on the roofs of all three buildings.
Some good news has also emerged in the media landscape courtesy of Digicel, which will be sponsoring a new Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Special Award for Excellence in Technology reporting with a focus on information and communication technology (ICT).
"The new award to be presented in 2013 is designed to encourage increased reporting on ICT to include cloud computing, mobile technology, telecommunications-related innovations and their impact on the Jamaican society," said Digicel Senior Communications Officer Shelley-Ann Harris. "The best news and feature stories in both print and electronic categories will be selected for this extraordinary award near the end of 2013 … . Technology is the highway to the future."
Harris emphasised that in addition to the current sponsorship of the award for online journalism, Digicel will be sponsoring another ground-breaking PAJ award that is expected to spark the requisite interest and awareness about the exciting ICT sector and result in the expansion of industry and entrepreneurship in our country.
"We look forward to a year of increased coverage about ICT and the sparking of new ideas," Harris said.
'The programme was intended to fill the gaps in scholarly and industry research, professional training and formal education in the dynamic and ever-growing regional and global telecommunications industry. [It] has been quite successful, receiving many awards and accolades ... .'
did you know?
Digicel started operations in Jamaica in 2001.
The company has invested J$640 million in the Mona ICT Policy Centre.
Andy Thorburn is the chief executive officer of Digicel.
Dicicel has established technology enrichment centres in schools across the country.
Digicel is piloting both wind and solar energy solutions for cell sites in Jamaica.