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TT is most creative at Canto awards

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Thursday, July 21 2011

A kiosk application, a local version of iTunes and of all things, a Triniberry copped the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations’ (Canto) first annual CANTO/Ericsson Caribbean i-Create e-Content Competition 2010-2011 which took place at the Presidential Palace in Suriname.

All are from Trinidad and Tobago and Anand Jerry Persad bested the 19 contestants to emerge the winner of the) with his submission, eTecK Kiosk Application.

The other two winners, also from Trinidad and Tobago, were Sebastien Gibert representing Trinidad and Tobago Corporation CMG Ltd with its submission Trinidad Tunes and Khafra Murray with his mobile application, Triniberry.

Among other prizes, all three were flown to Paramaribo, Suriname where they attended Canto’s 27th Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition.

Canto hopes this contest will help develop what the Caribbean seems to be sorely lacking.

According to Tricia Balthazar, Canto’s service development manager, Canto realised Caribbean- based applications and URLs were lacking and refused to accept that only persons in more developed countries could produce such. She said it was a possibility that these products existed but the developers did not have the exposure or did not know how to go about marketing their product.

Balthazar said the i-Create e-Content competition was a good platform for developers who streamlined their applications for the Caribbean. It allows them to market their product as well as be rewarded for their hard work and be proud of what they created.

“The competition helps to build capacity in our own region and let people know there is an avenue to do so,” she said.

Persad’s eTecK Kiosk Application is an Adobe Flash Application built for the Investment Promotion Department of eTeck Trinidad used at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. He said the application, which was created to run on a large touch screen kiosk, allowed users to view information about TT using an interactive, user friendly, touch interface. It contained information about useful links, important organisations and focussed on investment opportunities in TT. It also allowed users to view photos and video with audio related to TT.

Persad, who earned BSc honours in Computer Science, is the founder of Silverzip Corporation Limited which specialises in the design and development of web based applications and customised ICT solutions.

“I am ecstatic and very thankful to God for His blessing and favour, to Renata Sukhu-Girod of eTeck for notifying me about the competition and my wife Janice, who encouraged me to submit the application when I had ‘second thoughts’ about entering. My winning first place in the competition also shows the application was done to international standards, as it competed against 20 competitors throughout the region and won,” he said

Second place winner Gibert explained his submission, www.TrinidadTunes.com, is the first website to offer legal digital content from the Caribbean. It offers music and soon videos, for streaming and download as well as the opportunity to purchase CDs and DVDs which would be shipped to the customer.

“www.TrinidadTunes.com does not only provide a stage for the more recognised artists, but it also offers a platform for the up-and-coming artists to get exposure, in the digital realm,” he said. “A variety of musical genres are available, including Soca, Chutney, Calypso, Gospel, Reggae, Christmas, Rap and Rock (amongst others). Every song available on the website has been granted the legal rights from the respective artists, song writers, executive producers and copyright owners,” he said

Gibert, one of the co-founders of www.TrinidadTunes.com, noticed Caribbean customers could not purchase iTunes and therefore had no choice but to obtain these illegally. Therefore, in an effort to combat music piracy in the region, they created a forum to provide customers with a place to access their content legally.

“By providing this service, we are not only benefiting customers seeking access to the content, but we are also benefiting the local and regional artists and producers,’ he said. “We believed that it was necessary that the regional music industry remain relevant and up-to-date with the trends in the global music industry.”

Another interesting application came from Khafra Murray who placed third with his TriniBerry Cinema application for Blackberry smartphones. Launched on May 20, 2011, the application gives users access to local cinema listings, locations, full movie information including posters, plot, movie duration, genre, etc.

The application, which can be downloaded free on the website, was downloaded 2,000 times and used 14,000 times in its first month.

“The advantage of the application is that all the cinemas are in one place and you don’t have to go looking for a newspaper,” said Murray. “Then, if you’re at one cinema and they are sold out or you miss a show, you can easily access the application to find out where else you can go to see the movie you want.”

Murray said he did not expect to win or even place high in the competition so winning third place made him feel appreciated and it was a vindication of the effort he put into the project.

The website, which was launched in November of 2009, is a mobile portal that brings different types of information to the people of TT.

Murray said he noted the popularity of the Blackberry smartphone and branded the website with Blackberrry users in mind. It was therefore optimised for the speed of the local mobile networks and designed for all mobile browsers.

Its main features are news headlines from the three major papers with links to read more, ODPM advisories as well as UWI seismic centre alerts and, interestingly, the only directory of doubles vendors in the country.

The competition, which was lunched in October of 2010, aimed to search out and reward the most creative and innovative e-content developers in the Caribbean region. It was staged in Canto member countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Dominica, Ghana, Jamaica, Suriname, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

The 27-year-old organisation has over 100 members from 35 countries and has charged itself with “facilitating the development of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) solutions for the benefit of members and other stakeholders in the Caribbean region.”

Its vision is to become the leading authority in shaping information and communication in the Caribbean.

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