CTU’s ‘Caribbean futurescape’ launched in Trinidad and Tobago

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Secretary General Bernadette Lewis demonstrates the use of facial recognition to Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell during a tour of Caribbean FutureScape.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – “Digitisation is going to save us millions. It’s not that we do not have resources; the question is how we are spending those resources.” So said Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada who participated in a fully immersive simulation of a digitally integrated Caribbean in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, as part of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s (CTU) 30th anniversary week of ICT-related activities, which took place from April 29 to May 3, 2019.

Speaking at the launch of the weeklong activities themed “Digital Transformation – Do it!,” Mitchell expressed the need for collaboration in order to grasp the possibilities for efficiency and economies of scale offered by the single ICT space proposed by the CTU’s Caribbean FutureScape. “In this technological age, there is absolutely no justification for replicating and duplicating efforts in each our Caribbean islands and expending already scarce resources. If there is one single problem confronting the region, it is that instead of working more together on all issues, we are working in silos.”

He further reiterated, “We need to collaborate while building an independent culture for pursuing our own development. We must own the process.” Of Caribbean FutureScape, Mitchell insisted that “Every CARICOM head of government needed to attend Caribbean FutureScape.”

The week’s feature event, Caribbean FutureScape was a compelling, real-time technology immersion experience that demonstrated the possibilities for free movement of people, goods, services and capital and the rights of establishment in a Single Market and Economy.

It was designed to create a model region in a controlled environment that allowed citizens to move freely within a borderless space and experience the speed, efficiency and simplicity of life in a fully integrated digital Caribbean. Government ministers and other senior officials, as well as students and members of the general public, completed the immersive experience and toured the digital space.

Registered participants were issued a digital passport, bearing a unique digital ID (DID) that enabled them to fully experience life within a more efficient and integrated Caribbean. Participants were able to access services such as business registration locally and in another FutureScape country, accessing hospital medical records online and purchasing goods and real estate using digital currency.

All of the services were enabled by information and communication technologies (ICT). The functions and simulations allowed for a glimpse of the efficiency that a single ICT Space the Caribbean could achieve with appropriate collaboration.

Caribbean Futurescape also provided a platform to highlight collaboration at the private sector business level – by mobilising of technology partners to build Caribbean FutureScape. In her remarks, CTU secretary-general, Bernadette Lewis stated, “The CTU has demonstrated that collaboration is possible and necessary to accelerate digital transformation in our society.”

Lewis acknowledged the contributing partners of FutureScape, including diamond sponsor, Huawei and other sponsors, TSTT/bmobile, Digicel, Cable and Wireless Communications, EY, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and many others.

Caribbean FutureScape generated much excitement amongst participants. Regional ministers have endorsed this initiative and have requested this model of immersive technology experience to be brought to their respective countries.

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