My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica

Friday, May 22, 2015

@NatSecurityJA sets June 1st 2015 as new PICA Deadline – MNP, 19 Cable TV missing and Zika Virus for the Summer of 2015

Today on Friday May 22nd 2015, Jamaicans have finally calmed down and are no longer fighting one another to get their passports and beat the deadline as reported in the article “Passport Office Sees Calm, Less Applicants Turnout For Processing”, Published Friday May 22, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner



This is in sharp contrast to Friday May 21st 2015, when an angry mob got upset that PICA (Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency) has also set a quote of 1,000 applicants per day on Tuesday May 19th 2015. This anger can clearly be seen in the video in the article “Video: Crush!”, published Friday, May 22, 2015, The Jamaica Observer


All this because PICA has set Tuesday May 26th 2015 as the deadline to implement increase in renewal and replacement for Jamaican Passports as noted in my blog article entitled “PICA and the Passport Fee Hike - Jamaicans upset despite being told beforehand by Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips”.

Ministry of National Security sets June 1st 2015 as new Deadline – MNP,  19 Cable TV missing and Zika Virus for the Summer of 2015

The Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, who has oversight over PICA, has now backtracked on the original Tuesday May 26th 2015 deadline after these massive protests and crowds of Jamaican desperate to avoid the increases.


Instead the new deadline will be Monday June 1st 2015, the date on which the new increases will be implemented as stated in the article “Security Minister Says Passport Fee Hike Implementation Date Changed To June 1”, published Thursday May 21, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

These new fees are as follows:

1.      JA$6,500 for an Adult Passport (over 18), up from JA$4,500
2.      JA$4,000 for a Passport for a minor (under 18), up from JA$2,700

The fees for replacing your Passport at PICA will also be increased as well:

1.      JA$11,500 for replacing an Adult Passport (over 18), up from JA$9,500
2.      JA$7,000 for replacing a minor's Passport (under 18), up from JA$5,700

Well, at least Jamaican can look on the bright side.

By Monday June 1st 2015, we'll also have MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and LNP (Landline Number Portability) as pointed out in my blog article entitled “How Jamaican can access MNP and LNP by Monday June 1st 2015 – Windfall for Jamaican smartphone unlockers as Quad-Band smartphones and Carrier-Free SIM Cards Required”.



Also, there will be no Cable Television services as nineteen (19) channels will be blocked, forcing many parents to send their children outside to play as argued in my blog article entitled “FLOW increases Cable Package prices - 19 channel removal on MNP, LNP Day as Summer of 2015 for Streaming and Downloading”.

With the Zika Virus possibly on its way by August 2015 as predicted in my blog article entitled “Zika Virus is coming to Jamaica – Zero MOH Preparedness for Chikungunya Part II but Mosquito Repellant and Vitamin C works”, the Summer of 2015 in Jamaica is shaping up to be very interesting indeed!!


@LIMEJamaica's 200-seat Call Center by December 2015 – Going with the Flow and JCF’s Real Time Emergency Call Centre heralds entry into BPO

Telecom Provider LIME has finally decided to start listening to customers as it relates to Call Centers Service.

In the next two (2) months, Telecom Provider LIME will be setting up a new two hundred (200) seat Call Center in either Jamaica or Barbados as reported in the article “New CWC call centre for Jamaica or Barbados — Bentley”, published Friday, May 22, 2015 BY RICHARD BROWNE Business editor, The Jamaica Observer.


So says CWC Chief Executive Phil Bentley during a Press Briefing for Caribbean journalists, via teleconference from London on Wednesday May 20th 2015.

He might also end up becoming the CEO of FLOW and LIME, which curiously has decided to adopt the name FLOW based on a Caribbean-wide survey commissioned by Group Director of Communications and Culture, Grace Silvera as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME Jamaica Goes with the FLOW thanks to Caribbean-wide Survey”.

When they decided which Caribbean country will get this 200 seat Call Center by July 2015, they'll start building the Call center by September 2015. Once built (from scratch, what no rental?) operations will commence by the end of 2015 as noted in the article “CWC To Return LIME Call Centre Operations To The Caribbean”, Published Thursday May 21, 2015 by Neville Graham, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The result?

A net increase in employees, or at least, so says CWC Chief Executive Phil Bentley, quote: “We will be a net increase employer across the Caribbean. I am absolutely convinced that we will have a net employment increase across the markets”.

So is this call center justified, as they could have easily have moved it to another Caribbean island with Call Center Facilities, like the Bahamas or St. Lucia?

It's all about the numbers!

LIME Jamaica 200 seat Call Center by December 2015 – Going with the Flow means more Calls

Many customer have complained that the Spanish–speaking Call Center representatives that they speak cannot break the language hurdle, as their Spanish accent is a dead giveaway.

Still, logically, for such a massive business as CWC, the mere complaints from the customers at Jamaica cannot be the only and possibly the real reason for this decision. What must really be happening is that there is some massive demand for Call Center resources within LIME Jamaica’s Network.

Within Jamaica, CWC has some interesting numbers:

1.      19% increase in their mobile subscriber base
2.      107,000 new mobile subscribers
3.      713,000 mobile subscribers in total

After acquiring FLOW, their fixed, broadband and video subscriber base expanded:

1.      5.068 million fixed, broadband and video subscribers before Flow/Columbus purchase
2.      6.069 million fixed, broadband and video subscribers after Flow/Columbus purchase

US$1.5 billion is being spent by CWC to marry themselves to FLOW and some additional 56,000 100Mbps Broadband customers will be going with the FLOW once the other Caribbean countries come on board as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME Jamaica Goes with the FLOW thanks to Caribbean-wide Survey”.

Turns out that aside from the purchase of FLOW, there is a more direct reason for this planned Call Center, actually!

LIME Jamaica and Ministry of National Security Call Center Deal - JCF’s Real Time Emergency Call Centre

LIME Jamaica Limited had been awarded a JA$464 million (US$4 million) to upgrade the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) Emergency 119 Service as reported in the article “LIME gets $464-m contract to upgrade JCF phone system”, published Friday, May 22, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

Approved on Monday April 20th 2015 by Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, he had first announced his intention to upgrade the JCF Emergency 119 Service in April 2014.


The plans for the JCF Emergency 119 Service are quire elaborate and is intended to transform the Service into a Real Time Emergency Call Centre, whatever that means. The objectives give some clue as to what the Ministry of National Security and the JCF are aiming for with the Real Time Emergency Call Centre concept:

1.      Process Emails
2.      Notifications
3.      Social media Posts
4.      Phone calls
5.      Instant Messaging

So the Jamaica Constabulary force is basically getting a standard Call Center, similar to the ones I’ve worked in before. As for the Call Center Agents, they most likely will not be Jamaican Police but Jamaican Call Center Workers employed by LIME Jamaica!

LIME Jamaica building the JCF’s Real Time Emergency Call Centre – LIME goes with the FLOW back to BPO

Based on the JA$464 million (US$4 million), it suggest that they're not really going to build a Call Center separate for the JCF. Rather, LIME 200 seater Call Center will actually cost JA$464 million (US$4 million) and will have a section dedicated to handle the JCF Emergency 119 Service.

Best of all, it'll be powered by LIME, effectively making the JCF their first client and may possibly be signaling LIME's return to the BPO Sector since they sold their interest in the Montego Bay Freezone in the form of JDI (Jamaica Digiport International) sale back in June 2012 as reported in m my blog article entitled “Montego Bay Freezone Liberalized as LIME's Jamaica DigiPort International gives up its Monopoly - Call Centers Age of Empire as Mandeville Beckons”.

This is a lot more efficient and would logically justify the need for 200 persons, as that number could have been filled by any other Call Center in Jamaica, such as Xerox, who are currently setting up shop in Kingston as noted in my blog article entitled “How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - Xerox's Three New Call Centers in Kingston for 860 employees for Future Expansion”.

It might also be a clever way to stop Pranksters from inundating the 119 Service with False reports of Crimes as noted in the article as reported in the article “Stop prank calls to 119, police urge”, published Monday, April 01, 2013, The Jamaica Observer and “Police Caution Against Prank Calls To Emergency Numbers”, published Monday April 1, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner, as they're making it difficult for the Police to respond to legitimate Calls to their 119 Emergency line.

Hopefully that means when I call the Jamaican Police they’ll come a lot quicker. On the flip side, it’s a strong indication that Telecom Provider LIME is not just trying to please customer, but also becoming a competitor in the BPO Industry once more, with the JCF being their first client!



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Zika Virus is coming to Jamaica – Zero MOH Preparedness for Chikungunya Part II but Mosquito Repellant and Vitamin C works

Fellow Jamaicans, there is a new Virus in town and it’s NOT Chikungunya Virus, for which a good dose of Vitamin C can protect you as explained in my blog article entitled “Vitamin C and the Chikungunya Virus - How to increase your Vitamin C Intake, Glutathione and Interferon by White Blood Cells”.

Rather the new Virus is called ZikV and interestingly enough, it is also carried by the same Aedes Aegypti Mosquito as reported in the article “New Mosquito-Borne Virus ZIKV Threatens Jamaica, Authorities Urge Precaution”, Published Tuesday May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.


Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Dr Kevin Harvey announced on Monday May 18th 2015 that an outbreak of the Zika Virus or ZikV was already in full swing in Brazil last April 2015. So basically I have to be on the alert for either person travelling from Brazil or speaking Portuguese.

For those keeping track, this is less than a year after the Chikungunya Virus had ravaged Jamaica, leaving many questioning the effectiveness of the response and the level of preparedness by the Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson as per my blog article entitled “31 infected during Jamaican Chikungunya Virus Epidemic - 113 Deaths in the Caribbean as Jamaica grapples with Chikungunya Virus Outbreak” . 


And no, we STILL have no official word on whether of not this current Chikungunya Virus outbreak from 2014 is over as yet as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Minister of Health comes clean on Chikungunya Virus Epidemic - 35 Official Cases as 60 percent possibly Infected and Medicines running low”.

So what are the symptoms of this Zika Virus that DEFINATELY sure to come to Jamaica?

And are we prepared for YET ANOTHER viral infection that is mosquito borne, given the current state of our Health sector as pointed out in my blog article entitled “JMDA laments bad conditions in Public Hospitals - How MOH Audit will reveal Doctors and Pharmacists stealing Supplies for Private Practice”?

Zika Virus Origins and Symptoms – Chikungunya Part II but without long Term Symptoms

Interestingly or rather not surprisingly, the Zika Virus is from the same family as the Chikungunya Virus and the Virus that causes Dengue Fever.



The symptoms are also eerily similar to Chikungunya:

1.      Fever
2.      Joint and muscle pain
3.      Conjunctivitis
4.      Headache
5.      Weakness
6.      Rash
7.      Swelling of the lower limbs

Once bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito  carrying the Zika Virus, these symptoms will appear within three (3) to twelve (12) days and the infection can last as long as four (4) to seven (7) days.

The Zika Virus, which has its origins from Africa back in 1947 when a Rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest, Uganda was first identified with the Virus as noted in the article “Mosquito-borne Virus Zika threatens C’bean”, published Tuesday, May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Observer .


Humans soon caught it in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania and since then there has been a series of outbreaks since then:

1.      Island of Yap (2007)
2.      French Polynesia (2013)
3.      Brazil (2015)

As with the Chikungunya Virus, there is no know vaccine, albeit since its from the same family, a good dose of vitamin C should help to protect you from its effects as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Vitamin C and the Chikungunya Virus - How to increase your Vitamin C Intake, Glutathione and Interferon by White Blood Cells”.

Jamaica's Preparedness for the Zika Virus – Non-Existent as we’ll be infected yet again

Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey claims that the Zika Virus does not kill, but that was the same thing they said about the Chikungunya Virus and to date there are some questionable deaths related to the Chikungunya Virus as analyzed in my blog article entitled “Jamaica's Chikungunya Deaths – 14 Deaths in Jamaica, 183 in the Caribbean with Young, Healthy Deaths difficult to explain”.


Already, Clarendonians and St. Elizabeth peeps are worried about this new Zika Virus threat as we're still dealing with the long term after effects of Chikungunya as noted in the articles “St Bess Fearful Of ZIKV, published Thursday May 21, 2015 by Launtia Cuff, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Clarendonians Worried About ZIKV Threat”, Published Thursday May 21, 2015 by Shanique Samuels, The Jamaica Gleaner.

St. Catherine residents, oddly, are blissfully unaware of the coming danger as reported in the article “Most St Catherine Residents Unaware Of ZIKV”, published Thursday May 21, 2015 by Ruddy Mathison, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This despite being one of the hardest hit parishes and potentially will be again, especially in the Portmore area, where breeding sites for the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito STILL exist despite the cleanup-attempts as noted in my blog article entitled “JA$500 million National Health Emergency Response – 30% of Students absent from School as GOJ FINALLY serious about Chikungunya Epidemic”.

St. Thomas has not forgotten, and neither has JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) caretaker for St Thomas Eastern, Delano Seiveright, who has already issued stern warning to the Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson not repeat the mistakes that could have now been learnt from the Chikungunya Virus outbreak of 2014 as reported in the article “Don't repeat CHIKV mistakes with ZIKV, Seiveright urges”, published Tuesday, May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Observer

Zika Virus is coming to Jamaica – Stock up on Mosquito Repellant and Vitamin C in all forms

The Ministry of Health seems set to repeat these mistakes, already taking a non-chalant attitude to the possible threat of the Zika Virus.

Already Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Marion Bullock-DuCasse has pointed out that the Zika Virus’s effects are not as long term as Chikungunya or fatal as noted in the article “From Chik-V To ZIKV - Jamaica On High Alert For Another Mosquito-Borne Disease”, Published Wednesday May 20, 2015 by Anastasia Cunningham, The Jamaica Gleaner.



This response suggests that they’re preparing for a repeat of the Chikungunya Virus infection of 2014, as with no cure, they may be looking more on treating the symptoms rather than preventing the illness via drain cleaning beforehand. In other words, Chikungunya Part II!

So what can you do, fellow Jamaicans, seeing as the Ministry of Health is yet to cajole the Ministry of Local Government to start Drain cleaning and spraying for Mosquitoes?

Make sure you've removed all breeding sites for the  Aedes aegypti mosquito  in your home and stock up on repellant as explained in my blog article entitled “21 Jamaicans now infected with Chikungunya Virus - DEET and Citronella are Trending Back-to-School Perfumes on the Playground”.

Otherwise, prepare to be bedridden and possibly unable to walk, no matter what the Ministry of Health claims.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PICA and the Passport Fee Hike - Jamaicans upset despite being told beforehand by Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips

Jamaicans are now in a state of unrest as it relates to running away to green pastures

This as the fees for obtaining and renewing a Jamaica Passport will be increased as of Tuesday May 26th 2015, caused a rush on the PICA (Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency) Offices today as reported in the article “Large police team now gathered at Passport Office”, published Wednesday, May 20, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.


In fact, persons gathered at PICA became boisterous, threatening to protest what they saw as unfair hike in the fees to obtaining and renewing a Jamaica Passport as noted in the article “Passport Office customers threaten protest”, published Wednesday, May 20, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

If you saw these Passport fees that will come into effect on Tuesday, May 26th 2015 as reported in the article “Anger as Passport fees increase”, published Tuesday, May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Observer, you'd probably protest too:

1.      JA$6,500 for an Adult Passport (over 18), up from JA$4,500
2.      JA$4,000 for a Passport for a minor (under 18), up from JA$2,700

Also don't think of losing your Passport, as those fees at PICA have gone up dramatically:

1.      JA$11,500 for replacing an Adult Passport (over 18), up from JA$9,500
2.      JA$7,000 for replacing a minor's Passport (under 18), up from JA$5,700

So was PICA ill-prepared for the reaction to the Passport hike? It looks so, despite their elaborate precautions

PICA and the Passport fee Hike - Jamaicans upset despite being told beforehand by Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips

Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips had actually announced this back in March 2015 after having opened the 2015/2016 Budget Debates on Thursday March 12, 2015 seeking some JA$641.6 billion to fund his budget as reported in the article “Finance Minister Opens Budget Debate Today”,  published Thursday March 12, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  


He soon mentioned that the  Government agencies and departments fees for processing various Government Documents would be increasing, mentioned as a “Rationalization of Outdated fees” as noted in the article “Phillips Announces New Gas Tax Among Raft Of New Revenue Measures”, published Thursday March 12, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.   

Good to note here the last time Passport fees were increased was back in 2009, with increases as ranging between 80% to 380% as noted in the article “Passport Fees To Increase, Announcement Coming 'In Due Time'”, published Sunday May 17, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  



PICA has prepare all their locations for the coming onslaught of people seeking to beat the deadline as noted in the article “Passport fees increase next week”, published Monday, May 18, 2015, The Jamaica Observer and “UPDATE: New Measures This Week To Handle Rush Ahead Of Passport Fee Hike”, published Sunday May 17, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  

Jamaicans are now being told to collect their Passports at the following locations:

1.      Mandeville
2.      May Pen
3.      Montego Bay
4.      Portmore
5.      St Ann's Bay

The JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) Opposition spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith, had chimed in stating that the fee hike was excessive as reported in the article “JLP: Passport fee hike exorbitant and unconscionable”, published Tuesday, May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

But with such a large hole to fill in the budget, increasing outdated fees such as Spirit Licenses, Shopkeeper licenses and now Passport fees at the various Government Offices will come as a series of Price shocks as many try to survive in Jamaica.


    

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

@Google’s Self-Driving All-Electric Vehicles in June 2015 – Autonomous Vehicles reduce Road Accidents, Parking and make Ride Sharing the Norm

Google's self-driving Buggy Car should have hit the road last Summer in 2014 as noted in my blog article entitled “Google 100 strong Fully Autonomous All-Electric Vehicles launched – 25 mph Limit on AI Chauffeur in 2015 with Black Boxes makes Crashes like aeroplanes”.  

But that never occurred.

However, the Summer of 2015 looks like the year, as Google has now promised that their little self-driving fully autonomous pods will be roaming about the streets of Mountain View, California in June 2015 as reported in the article “Robo-car, go! Google's latest self-driving prototypes are heading to public roadways”, published May 15, 2015 by Lance Whitney, CNET News and “Google’s Self-Driving Cars Will Hit Public Roads In Mountain View This Summer”, published May 15, 2015 by Jon Russell, Techcrunch


So say’s Google in their official Blog article “Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes”, published Friday, May 15, 2015, Google Official Blog.

These twenty five (25) VW Beetle All-Electric Vehicle lookalikes have more in common with the United Kingdom’s US$25 million dollar push to develop Driverless pods to carry British and Tourists around, with potential savings in terms of reduced accidents, fuel as well as increased productivity as noted in my blog article entitled “How Britain will make US$29 billion from Driverless Cars by 2025 - British Government's US$29 million Driverless Vehicles Gamble”.


So what is Google’s plan for these driverless pods now being finally unleashed upon the streets of Mountain View, California to test their driving skill in the real World? It is a multi-tentacled plot, like an octopus, to attack several competitors at once.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Pods – 25 Self-Driving Vehicle to get a feel for the Road

They’re somewhat related to their other fleet of autonomous vehicles, a set of Lexuses bristling with LIDAR, Radar, sonar and other sensors.

Those other autonomous vehicles have been made famous for only being involved in a total of eleven (11) accidents over the course of a year, all caused by human error as the computer was not at fault as reported in the article “When self-driving cars go bump in the street”, published May 11, 2015 by Chris Matyszczyk, CNET News and “Four self-driving cars have been involved in accidents since September”, published May 11, 2015 By Chris Welch, The Verge.   


These self-driving buggys differ, however, in one main aspect, in that they they’re totally designed from the ground up by Google as noted in the article “GOOGLE WILL UNLEASH ITS SELF-DRIVING CARS ON PUBLIC ROADS THIS SUMMER”, published May 18, 2015 By Karen Tumbokon, DigitalTrends.

They've also been improved upon since June 2014 when the first video came out of the Google self-Driving Buggy being shown to some complete strangers.


The speed is still set at 40.2 kph (25 mph), with the self-driving All-Electric Vehicle prototypes now having a steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal to allow the designated driver to take over should they feel the need to do so.  And yes, this new model has headlights to replace those painted on eyes of the first model.


These twenty five (25) as-yet-to-be-named self driving cars have been tested extensively at Google's indoor testing facility to make sure that the sensors and software work properly and are sensing their environment in a way that'll make them roadworthy enough to handle any situation when they make their Mountain View, California debut.

Google self-Driving Vehicle Ambitions – Responsibility during accidents and Rough Driving experience required

The aim is for these self-driving Google Pods to rack up at least 16093 km (10,000 miles) each week on the streets of California and acquaint themselves with Californian Road Rules.

Eventually, if perfected to the point where these All-Electric self-driving pods can be recharged via solar power alone, Google plans to use them for everything from delivery Services to carrying around humans in a Ride-sharing equivalent of Uber or Lyft as pointed out in the article “Google sees ride sharing, solar power in the future of its self driving car”, published April 24, 2015 By Alexander Kalogianni, DigitalTrends.  

Albeit I’m not sure how many Californians would gladly jump into a Google equivalent of Uber with no driver!

Google would also stand to make money from licensing their technology to Corporate and Enterprise entities in order to reduce their transportation costs and make their employees more productive.

Not only would road accidents be reduced, but so would the need for parking, as they’d always be either on the move to pick up someone or some package as they’d recharge via solar power as noted in the article “Self-Driving Cars Would Slash Traffic, End Street Parking”, published 5/07/2015 by Neil Winton, Forbes

It is also to allow the vehicle to learn how to handle themselves in unusual situations that may constitute less than 1% of regular road travel. Good to note here that California's roads are nearly perfectly flat concrete wastelands that stretch for miles in this country that's many times the size of Jamaica.


They might work well in this Developed World country where they have parking lots and lots of concrete roadways as show in the example using Audi. But they certainly would fail miserably in a Third World Country like Jamaica where proper roads are non-existent and road conditions are not so perfect for just straight ordinary driving.

In fact, they’d be easily crushed in an accident, the main problem that I have with their design which looks a little flimsy. And yes, Google and Californian lawmakers haven’t sorted out who is at fault during an accident.


For Google; for the next road test, it would be good to send a few of them to the mean streets of India, Bangladesh, Accra in Ghana or even here in Jamaica. If they can survive driving in those countries, they can drive anywhere else just fine.