Minister Bacchus, in sharing about the concept of a Connected Community, noted that a big part of this project centred on people, and the transformational power of hope. Referencing a book cover with the quote “Hope Grows”, he said that while technology is indeed important to digital transformation, it is visioning and belief in a shared vision that will get us to our goals.
He also referenced the survey results presented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) during the event, which were collected via SMS between December 2021 and January 2022, saying that the opinions of those who reside, conduct business in and visit Arima would provide the empirical base for further decisions to be taken regarding the Connected Arima suite of projects.
TT currently has more than 90 e-services that citizens can utilise, but not many of them offer the capability to conduct each step of a process digitally. “Some offer the ability to do applications online, some allow appointments to be made online, but very few you can do from end-to-end. The things we do for Connected Arima will be end-to-end, and show how this will work in other communities.”
Arima has been earmarked as the first of these Connected Communities to be established, as part of its wider urban regeneration initiative, in partnership with the IDB, the Ministry of Planning and Development and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, along with many other private stakeholders from the Arima borough. MP for Arima and Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Penelope Beckles, and Mayor of Arima, Alderman Cagney Casimir, also delivered remarks at the event, which was hosted by the Country Representative for the IDB Trinidad and Tobago, Carina Cockburn.
Among the Digital Transformation projects under the Connected Arima umbrella, the Minister highlighted the following: better access to reliable, affordable broadband, more Wi-Fi enabled zones, programmes to raise the digital IQ of citizens, free ICT Access Centres, a creative ecosystem for developers through a Developers’ Hub, and technological innovations in the agricultural sector to aid economic growth.