My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: State Minister Julian Robinson hopes Tablets boost Innovation in ICT - How TIS Project Tablets are secured using GPS and IMEI Labeling

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

State Minister Julian Robinson hopes Tablets boost Innovation in ICT - How TIS Project Tablets are secured using GPS and IMEI Labeling

“The Tablet is of no value or use to someone who may want to steal it. If someone steals the Tablet, it can be tracked and traced using GPS technology, so you can find out where the person is physically and it can narrow it down to a building and, you can also shut down the Tablet and wipe off the content. So, we want to make it very clear to persons who may have nefarious intentions that there is really nothing to gain by trying to steal one of these Tablets”.

State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Julian Robinson at the JIS Think Tank on Thursday August 14th 2014

It’s like I said, the Tablet in Schools Project, part of the E-Learning II Program has a dual aim; introduce Interactive Learning among Jamaican students and encourage Children with the idea that they can pursue careers in ICT (Information and Computer Technology).

So says Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Julian Robinson in the article “Tablet programme to strengthen innovation among students - Robinson”, published Tuesday, August 19, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.  Still not sure on the Model of the Tablets being distributed, as no pictures or even reviews have surfaced, albeit the subsidized price is alledged to be JA$5000.

The Tablets are a part of the TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project Test Pilot that will see some 25,000 Tablets being provided and distributed by Telecom Provider Digicel, Innovative Corporate Solutions, Productive Business Solutions and GeoTechVision Enterprises.

These Tablets will be distributed to some 38 Primary, High, Junior High Schools and Colleges across Jamaica in a Test Pilot to see how well Tablets enhance Teaching various subjects as detailed in my blog article entitledTablet In Schools Project launched for September 2014 – How Teachers Benefit as Female interest in ICT Industry Blossoms”.

As my article points out, it will also have the nice side-effect of increasing the number of females that take an interest in the ICT (Internet and Computer Technology) Industry, as there is a shortage of their numbers in that field. It will also help male students to learn better, being as males tend to be more visual learners and not necessarily via reading.

Already the content is in place, guided by a common curriculum created by the Ministry of Education as I'd explained in my blog article entitledMinistry of Education Select Content for Jamaican TIS Project - How Tablets will Empower Interactive Learning and make Students Aim High”.

All that's now needed is the DMS (Device Management System) and CMS (Content Management System) as explained in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Science and Technology signs four Contractors in March 2014 to procure Tablets - Test Pilot Project in September 2014 means Teachers can monetize e-books”.

With content covered, the infrastructure is now needed to support Tablets being able to access the Internet and being made secure. So how is that progressing?

DMS and CMS for TIS Project – If the CAP for Wi-Fi Internet Fits for Education

So now on to the implementation of the CMS and DMS, which will be handled by the Four Contractors as mentioned above. They'll have begun to implement some 200 CAP (Community Access Points) at several GOJ (Government of Jamaica) State institutions such as:
1.      Church Halls
2.      Community Centers
3.      Health Centers
4.      Police Stations
5.      Post Offices

60 of these CAP have been placed at Hospitals and Health Centers, a logical move as they tend to have preset infrastructure upon which Free Wi-Fi Internet can be configured. This is an ongoing Project which is funded by the USF (Universal Service Fund) that's derived from the Telecoms Tax and the Cess on International Calling via the Telecom Providers.

Hence this progress should make Jamaicans be less interested in bypassing our local Telecom Providers and thus subscribing to more International Calling Plans to make International Calls and thus support the USF as argued my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel blocking all VoIP Services - How Telecom Providers can make money from Regularizing Paid VoIP Services”.

PR (Public Relations) Campaign to galvanize support for USF by making more International Calls with the slogan “Don’t Bypass; Support the USF and E-Learning II Project!” sounds good to me!

Tablet Remote Security Protocols – Julian Robinson introduces GPS Security in Jamaica

As for the security part of the TIS Project, State Minister Julian Robinson pointed out that the Four (4) contractors got those Tablets on Lock Down as explained in the article “Forget it! Robinson warns against stealing Tablets”, published Saturday August 16, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

He's very much aware of the security risk based on his statement at the JIS Think Tank meeting on Thursday August 14th 2014, quote: “We recognise it is a risk. We are conscious of it, and there is a special security committee that is anticipating and addressing these issues ... we have to try and mitigate all the concerns as best as possible, and that is why we have placed a lot of emphasis on the security aspect so persons know there is no value in stealing these Tablets”.

This security issues is the main arguement many detractors use to pummel the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining about the TIS Project, comparing it to another White Elephant like the Half Way Tree Transport Center. That and the fact that these Tablets will give students access to Pornographic Websites and other questionable content make many parents and detractors claiming waste thing that this is a bad idea!

Coincidentally, I'd been interviewed on Nationwide News 90FM located at 27 Mannings Hill Road and home of Miss Kitty, their main personality. I’d appeared on host Vernon Derby’s show “Technology Now” TWICE, on Friday May 2nd 2014 and Friday June 11th 2014 respectively to explain how to protect children from Adult Content online.

I also did an article on what High School Children need to do to take care of their Tablets as explained in my blog article entitled “How to care your Tablet from the TIS Program – Batteries are included and you’ll need a Portable Battery Charger”.

Well, at a cost estimated to be JA$800 million to JA$1.2 billion taken SOLELY from the USF, it's a well needed White Elephant. Without it, Children will continue to fail CXC and CAPE exams, as they have no reason to hope and believe that their lives will be any better.

Tablet Remote Security Protocols – Triple Authentication, LBS and IMEI Labeling

Thus the LBS (Location Based Service) that's being activated on these Tablets by the four (4) Contractors should make it quite safe for students to tote these Tablets in their knapsacks on their way to school as explained in the article “Forget it! Robinson warns against stealing Tablets”, published Saturday August 16, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

During a demonstration by Technical Service Manager Dean-Ray Grant GeoTech Vision Enterprise Limited, he was able to locate the Tablet and thus theoretically alert the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) aka the Jamaica Police. He also rendered the Tablet unusable unless they had the Google Login and Password for the Tablet as well as how to disable the GPS Module inside, which makes the Tablet instantly trackable once it's booted up.

Interestingly, during the demonstration, even after gaining that level of access using the Google Login and password as well as the Screen Lock password, there is another Challenge screen. That Challenge Screen is most likely for the software that's used to secure the Tablet. Students who normally use the Tablet would have to enter a code to access the Tablet's content located on the E-Learning Platform that authenticates via their E-Learning Platform Server in order to begin using the Tablet.

But as Technical Service Manager Dean-Ray Grant GeoTech Vision Enterprise Limited demonstrated, even if the thief knows the third and final password and enters that third and final password, he still won’t gain access.

Once the Tablet is reported stolen and the person attempts to use the Internet, DMS Security Software will work in the background on the Tablet and remotely connect to the E-Learning Server. Upon authenticating the Tablet based on its IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification) Number, it will block all services on the Tablet and prevent access to the Tablet.

Best of all, the DMS Security Software will access the GPS Service and make the Tablet trackable by the Jamaican Police, who'll make it their priority to recover these stolen Tablets, which are technically GOJ property. The Police will be more than happy to do this once a Tablet is stolen.

This as it means that they can not only locate the Tablet using an App on a Tablet that they'll be given themselves (can you say Jamaican TIS Project Task Force?) but it might also lead them to making arrests of the thieves.

It may also lead them to locating the places that they carry the Tablet to be unlocked. Not to mention even lead them to the hideout of notorious criminals in the same way Hansel and Gretel left bread crumbs behind them to follow. Only these Bread Crumbs are Geo-Location based and hard to cover.

Stolen TIS Project Tablet Endgame – Reinstall the Google Android OS, GOJ can still Track you

Remember, the Tablet is protected by DMS Security Software that's installed on the Tablet. At any point that the Tablet is powered on, that DMS Security Software will begin to broadcast its location. If the persons managers to breach the triple password protection, something any child can remember and access the Internet, the main purpose of having a Tablet anyway, the DMS Security Software block its functions and their ability to use the Tablet and begin broadcasting the location of the  Tablet so that it can be tracked.

The Thief would have to scrub the Tablet i.e. reinstall the Google Android Operating System completely in an EM (Electromagnetically) shielded environment in order to prevent the GPS Beacon from activating and making the Tablet trackable. Even then, its IMEI would probably make it traceable every time the thief tries to access the Free Internet that's available at the various CAP across Jamaica, restricting the person to using their Internet access at their home.

Even then with the Google Android OS reinstalled, there would be no escape. Google Android has built in functionality that enables the GOJ to track your Android Tablet by simply using the IMEI for the Tablets purchased via the Four Contractors.

Once you’re written it down and you remember what that IMEI was and your child and the child’s parent can establish ownership of the Tablet, the Jamaican TIS Project Task Force (‘cause that what I’m calling the Police in his case!) can go to the Android Security Website and access the Tablet remotely and disable it from being able to receive Updates as well as being able to work properly.

If you happen to recover the Tablet, to reactivate its access to the E-Learning Platform you’d have to present GOJ Picture identification to the Jamaican TIS Project Task Force and then they’ll have your assigned school, the Ministry of Education and the Contractor to who the Tablet belongs verify the Tablet’s ownership.

At that point the Tablet will be reactivated and access fully restored. Something tells me that this type of GPS Tracking might end up being used on more than just Tablets in the TIS Project. More on this particular bit of speculation at a later date in time!

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