Data Is The New Oil

From (left to right) - Cleveland Thomas, ITU Caribbean Representative; Dr. John Prince, CEO Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago; the Hon. Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Guyana; Gilbert Peterson, S.C., Chairman TATT; the Hon. Maxie Cuffie M.P. - La Horquetta/Talparo, Minister of Public Administration and Communications; the Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Information, Antigua and Barbuda; Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General Caribbean Telecommunications Union and Sylvester Cadette, ITU Programme Officer, ITU Area Office, Barbados


Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, (24th April, 2017) – “By enabling things to communicate with each other independently of human interaction, the Internet of Things (IoT) opens up possibilities of new business models, new types of services and new revenue streams. The Internet of Things can facilitate new levels of efficiency, improving the way existing service across many different sectors are delivered,” remarked Ms. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), during the opening ceremony of the Internet of Things Forum: Smarter Living in the Caribbean, April 24-26, 2017.

Cognizant of the potential of this technology to improve lives, she further cautioned the need to protect citizens’ digital and physical possessions and their privacy. “As we embrace the concept of the Internet of Things, we have to be mindful of the potential societal impact. Provisions must be made to protect citizens’ person, their intellectual, digital and physical possessions and their privacy,”

The Forum is organised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in collaboration with the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, Caribbean Telecommunications Union, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The ITU’s Caribbean Representative, Mr. Cleveland Thomas, gave the rationale for the IoT forum as   addressing the need to highlight the significance of IoT as a technological revolution that represents the future of computing and communications, and its development being dependent on dynamic technical innovation. He  explained that “IoT involves the interlinking of networks, devices and data that have thus far never been linked. It is the collective power of these formerly disparate elements that lies at the heart of the power of IoT and integrated dynamic ICT ecosystems that can benefit both developed and developing economies.

Delivering his feature remarks during the opening ceremony, the Hon. Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Public Administration and Communications stated that, “Data is the new oil: It is a great metaphor as, just like oil in its rawest form, data is almost useless. But, when it is refined, it can be turned into something much more valuable.”

Minister Cuffie believes that Caribbean Governments must look towards diversifying their economy away from the dependence on fossil fuels. “With the amount of data that we are all producing today, we believe that we are sitting on a huge reserve of untapped wealth in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.”

He gave the commitment of his Government to embrace IoT to increase the efficiency of Government. “The Government of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to locate itself within the realm of seemingly limitless possibilities. We give the assurance that we will do whatever is necessary, on our part, to ensure that IoT is embraced as widely as possible, in increasing the operational efficiency of Government.”

The Forum  was attended by a wide  cross-section of delegates from Caribbean Governments regional and international ICT oganisations, regulators, network operators and innovators.


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