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Telesur and IT-Core Hackathon (Suriname)

Hat tip to Ace Suares for sharing this event/website in the Caribbean Developers facebook group. So what is a hackathon? A hackathon is an event over a few days in which coders and others involved in the software development process collaborate intensively on software projects. Now would be a good time to plug the Hack4Good hackathon planned for September in Trinidad. It’s interesting to me that Telesur is a sponsor of the Suriname hackathon since they have applied to become a third mobile provider in Trinidad. IT-Core is an IT-enthusiasts group in Suriname. It is very encouraging to me to see an event like this happening in the region. Others can take example from this. I reached out to the organisers of the event and asked a few questions. They generously replied to my email as posted below. I encourage you to visit their website, follow them on social media and tune in to their livestream.

What is the objective of the hackathon?

The annual “Telesur / IT-Core Hackathon” is a joint effort between the IT Core Association, and the largest telecom provider in Suriname, Telesur. After the first successful hackathon of 2013, it was decided to make the “Telesur / IT-Core Hackathon” an annual event. Its main objective is to support the development of ICT innovations and entrepreneurship by young people. But anyone from the age of 14 can participate.

Describe the hackathon.

The “Telesur / IT-Core Hackathon” is a 24 hour event. Up to 50 participants, grouped in teams, will be at the Telesur Centre for Education (TOC), developing web or mobile Apps within a given set of sub-themes. The main Theme this year will be “Gamification”. Judging of the Apps will be on: Creativity, Functionality, Usability, Impact (solution design), Product maturity, Technical quality & complexity, Use of structuring methods during the build (SCRUM / Version Control in GIT), and of course Team Synergy.

How did the hackathon start?

The “Telesur / IT-Core Hackathon” is an initiative that came to be, during an open discussion between Telesur and the IT Core community in Suriname, in February 2013. Discussions were on the developments in ICT and the extent to which both parties could be of service to each other for IT development in Suriname. Since then, there have been regular consultations between both parties, and many structural changes have already been implemented. One of which is the now annual “Telesur / IT-Core Hackathon”.

Describe the state of ICT in Suriname.

Suriname has a population of approximately 540,000. Internet Penetration: 34.7%. Fixed Broadband Subscribers: 5.5% (from the recently published Cyber Security Trends Report for 2013). These numbers are inherent to the development of ICT in the country. There are a few secondary schools that have recently (in the last couple of years) invested in computer classes, internet, and a curriculum. And most of government staff, does not yet work with computers and/or other information systems. Most public services are done in person, and on paper (not digital). So, it is fair to say that Suriname has a reasonable amount of work ahead in getting ICT integrated in it’s everyday life, but at the same time there are many positive developments being undertaken to get ahead.

What can the Caribbean do to encourage software development?

There are some very good initiatives to encourage software development, like the different initiatives to organize hackathons. But the Caribbean governments, could improve on it’s support systems (ICT education, Means of financial support for those who cannot easily afford a laptop or computer, Study and development grants to go study and intern abroad, etc.).

Anything else you would want to say about the hackathon?

This year, the “Telesur / IT-Core Hackathon” will be incorporating the upcoming “AgriHack Talent Caribbean!” into the competition. For IT Core and Telesur, this is a first step in connecting the annual hackathon to an international audience, and participants. The Agrihack Talent Caribbean initiative is different. It begins with national hackathons or coding competitive selection events, staged by selected Caribbean Tech hubs/Innovation Labs and related institutions. Up to ten (10) Tech hubs/labs may be selected to organise hackathons or other competitive coding team selection events. At the finals in Suriname, teams will receive coaching, mentorship and valuable feedback from players in the ICT and agriculture sector. This is in addition to time allocated for further development and refinement of their solutions. The finalists will also have the chance to network with participants of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2014 event in Suriname.

For more information on this Agrihack, you should contact: The Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), e-mail: lohento (at) cta (dot) int

Furthermore: IT Core Association, partnering with the Suriname Chamber of Commerce, will be having their first Hack’o mation competition in October this year.

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