A review of the six ICT/tech trends we anticipated would be evident in the Caribbean in 2014.
At the beginning of 2014, we published six trends we believed would become more evident in the Caribbean during the year. On this the last day of 2014, it is opportune for us to review our predictions and determine how well we did.
1. Online privacy is taken even more seriously
Though there might not have been any major announcement in the region to suggest unequivocally that online privacy is being taken seriously, it can be argued that there has been even greater awareness of it, and its importance. However, earlier in the year and continuing with the focus on the United States (US) and allegations of unauthorised surveillance that it had been conducting in a number if countries worldwide, there were reports that the US had been spying in the Bahamas. Hence it is entirely possible that other Caribbean countries may have been subject to similar activities, but it not clear the extent to which they have taken this matter seriously and what steps, if any, have been introduced to better safeguard citizens’ privacy.
2. Clearer direction on addressing cybercrime and cybersecurity
Over the past year, there have been a number of reports of government ministries or agencies, along with high profile organisations across the region, being subject some kind of network breach. Frequently, the incident was seemingly benign, such as defacement of websites; but in a few, services to the public were affected. As the awareness of the Caribbean’s vulnerability to these activities increases, countries appear to be becoming more proactive on cybercrime and cybersecurity. For example, in keeping with our cybersecurity health care snapshot, more countries are reportedly in the process of preparing national cybersecurity policies or strategies, and either have established, or are in the process of establishing, a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) or Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT).
Having said this, the recent spate of government website defacements in Jamaica (Source: Jamaica Observer) may still be highlighting the urgency of the situation and the fact that greater effort in needed. It therefore remains to be seen how countries across the region continue to address this longstanding but crucial problem.
3. Greater emphasis on broadband, especially mobile broadband
Continuing from previous years, there were regular reports during 2014 of network upgrades being conducted across the Caribbean. For example Long Term Evolution (LTE) was rolled out recently in countries such as the Bahamas, Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
- the number of plans available had increased, potentially offering consumers a wider choice to suit their needs and budgets
- the caps on the data plans had increased considerably since our 2013 review
- prices had fallen since the last assessment, and correspondingly
- some of the plans would have become more affordable for consumers.
4. More aggressive and innovative use of social media
Though it might be difficult to truly assess this prediction, there may be some anecdotal evidence of even greater use of social media across the Caribbean society. For example, many high profile figures in the region, well known organisations, such as Digicel, along with Average Joes, participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, which originated with the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also know as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) Association in the US. In many instances challenges were recorded – and posted on YouTube – thereby raising the visibility of the disease, but also facilitating increased participation in social media, and support for the Association.
Were there any instances in the Caribbean this year where there was innovative use of social media?
5. Increased use of cloud services and data centres
Again, this trend would be difficult to measure, outside of general observations that have been made. However, Caribbean economies have continued to struggle; hence for many organisations, they still needed to maintain and even step up their cost management initiatives. The use of cloud services and data centres would allow organisations to avoid considerable upfront costs investing in software, hardware, infrastructure, etc., and instead opt to be charged based on actual usage.
6. Wider use and application of mobile/portable devices
In a region where prepaid services are preferred, and the proliferation of mobile/cellular devices is already well established, there have been a few reports of even more take up of smartphones. For example, in this week’s news roundup, it was reported that Digicel had sold over 60,000 smartphone in Jamaica alone in the month of November (Source: Jamaica Observer). As it relates to tablet computers, similar data might not be readily available. However, we can also point to the tablet-in-schools initiatives that continue to be implemented across the region. These programmes not only aim to improve teaching and learning experience in the classroom, but also ensure that the youth population are proficient in technology and are well positioned to harness it for the betterment of their individual countries and the region as a whole.
Is there anything we missed? What topics or issues do you think were big in 2014?
Image credit: zirconicusso (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)