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Jamaican youth to show off technology skills in mobile apps contest

Published:Friday | May 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

THE GOVERNMENT of Jamaica and the World Bank have sponsored a mobile application contest to encourage and inspire youth to develop their information technology skills.

A five-day Digital Jam 2.0 Mobile Applications Development workshop, which got under way on Monday, has been designed to assist youth to develop their skills. The workshop is being held at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, St Andrew.

Foundation skills and great potential

"These skills and directions will provide what they need to know to make it easy for people to leverage their existing skills that they have in website making. They can take simple games and turn them into a mobile application," said main presenter at the workshop, John Henry Thompson, internationally renowned Jamaican computer scientist and inventor of the Lingo script language.

Contestants are required to build effective native mobile applications for devices such as the iPhone, the Android, and the BlackBerry.

A maximum of four persons per team are allowed to compete, however, only one concept can be submitted per team. At least half the members of each team must be of Jamaican citizenship or parentage and under the age of 25 years old. There are several categories. Entrants can centre what they do around applications such as geotagging and social utilities.

"I have a passion for making technology accessible to folks and cherish the opportunity to give back to my homeland. That is why I'm here. This is one event leading up to the contest that ends in June." Thompson said on Monday.

Creativity meets technology

He added: "We're focusing on the foundational attributes and getting people to make a collaborative effort between someone with a strong artistic, interactive design capability and somebody with programming skills."

Thompson said technology was constantly evolving, and that a few years ago, people did not have mobile devices. This, he said, was an opportunity for youth to create new and profitable enterprises.