Sunday, November 18, 2018

Acclaim for ICT feats

Bangladesh should be branded as an emerging ICT destination as opposed to being marketed as a place with the cheapest labour, speakers said at the third The Daily Star ICT Awards ceremony yesterday.

The changes in technology have paved the way for production to quadruple in just a couple of years and people, especially the younger generation, have adopted ICT very fast, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith, speaking as the chief guest at the programme.

This is why the government chose information and communication technology for spearheading the country's development, he told the event at the Le Méridien Dhaka hotel in the capital.

He also thanked The Daily Star for organising the ceremony, where one individual and four local IT firms were awarded for their outstanding contributions to the country's fast-growing ICT industry.

The event was organised in association with Microsoft Bangladesh Ltd, the country office of the world's leading technology company, Brac Bank and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), an ICT-related trade body. Le Méridien was the hospitality partner.

Md Sabur Khan, an iconic ICT entrepreneur of the country who founded the Daffodil Family and has also garnered international acclaim, won the ICT Business Person of the Year award.

Of the winning firms, bagdoom.com, a leading online shop that took digital commerce to every corner of the country, received the Digital Commerce of the Year award.

Graphic People Limited got the ICT Solution Provider of the Year (International Market Focus) award.

The ICT Solution Provider of the Year (Local Market Focus) award went to Synesis IT Limited.

Shohoz.com, one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country, won the ICT Start-up of the Year award.

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed, co-founder of bagdoom.com; Geeteara Safiya Choudhury, chairperson of Graphic People Limited; Shohorab Ahmed Chowdhury, managing director of Synesis IT Limited; Maliha M Quadir, founder and managing director of Shohoz.com, and Md Sabur Khan, chairman of Daffodil International University (DIU) and Daffodil Family, received the awards from the finance minister.

International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Gowher Rizvi, Managing Director of Microsoft Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Laos Sonia Bashir Kabir, Brac Bank Managing Director and CEO Selim RF Hussain and BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir also distributed the awards with Muhith.

The awards come at a time when Bangladesh saw considerable growth in information technology. The ICT landscape now includes numerous firms -- both old and new -- working tirelessly to deliver services to their customers.

The Daily Star introduced the awards in 2016 to promote the sector's development and highlight the frontrunners who can serve as a benchmark for others.

The awards are also aimed at recognising the excellent works in the ICT sector, encouraging the ICT community and digital companies to strengthen the ICT ecosystem, creating an environment that sustains entrepreneurial spirit, and supporting the young ICT entrepreneurs to utilise their potentials.

This year, 152 companies applied in five categories, of whom some were shortlisted before being evaluated by a jury board comprising eminent members of the industry.

Yesterday's programme began with a video presentation highlighting Bangladesh's progress in the ICT sector.

In his address, Gowher Rizvi said that nowadays ICT was paving the way for transparency, such as bringing government procurement processes online.

Syed Almas Kabir, the BASIS president, announced that digital governance and e-governance platforms would be ready within the next three years, taking government services to the people's doorsteps to create a “true Digital Bangladesh”.

During his speech earlier, the finance minister said that Bangladesh was lagging behind in the use of technology and the Hasina government had decided help flourish the ICT sector at the end of the last century.

He also credited the younger generation for playing a part in the growth of the sector.

“Bangladesh has two resources -- fertile land and people with intelligence and devotion. In the ICT sector, their intelligence and devotion also help to flourish the industry.”

The private sector and the government were working in unison to reach this target, he said, terming the awards a great platform for companies and entrepreneurs to showcase and brand Bangladesh.

Selim Hussain said life today was all about speed, convenience and choice and in tune with it almost every service was at our fingertips.

He termed the awards a great recognition platform for the ICT entrepreneurs and hoped that the winners would be emboldened to break newer grounds.

Sonia Bashir Kabir highlighted how technology today has crossed the chasms and displaced the age old notion that “government and innovation” are oxymorons.

Kabir urged the private sector to take heart to the words of the former US President John F Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, urged the government to set up training, educational and management institutes focusing on meeting the skilled manpower requirements of the growing sector.

Otherwise, he said, it might face the same dearth of mid- and top-level management workforce which had plagued the RMG sector for the past 35 years.

Constantinos S Gavriel, general manager of Le Méridien Dhaka, said he strongly believed that the winners of the awards would change the country and the economy for the better.

On receiving the ICT Business Person award, Md Sabur Khan thanked The Daily Star and its partners for organising the event which honoured the icons of the digital sector.

Afterwards, Maliha M Quadir, founder and managing director of Shohoz, said use of technology in the service sector had just started in Bangladesh and The Daily Star was doing an excellent work in recognising the initiatives which stood out and empowered the market and the digital ecosystem.

“Once these success stories flourish beyond the boundaries of this newspaper's readership, it will be really helpful and empowering for the entrepreneurs.”

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed, co-founder of bagdoom.com, said this recognition from The Daily Star would definitely boost their enthusiasm and give them courage in undertaking future endeavours.

“We are on a mission to brand Bangladesh through empowering our small and medium entrepreneurs and aim to promote the small and medium entrepreneurs by providing them with a platform to showcase their products. This award will help us to go miles,” said Ahmed.

According to the ICT division, Bangladesh's export earnings from the ICT sector reached about $1 billion, riding on the growth of more than 1,500 firms and 40 offshore development centres.

The sector got a huge boost in 2008 when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid out the vision of building a Digital Bangladesh by 2021.

Since then, the industry has gone on to become a huge hub for freelance work via online marketplaces such as Upwork, punching its way through heavyweights such as India and the US.

The government's target is to earn $5 billion from exports of IT and IT-enabled services by 2021.



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One individual, 4 IT firms win The Daily Star ICT Awards

Bangladesh should be branded as an emerging ICT destination as opposed to being marketed as a place with the cheapest labour, speakers said at the third The Daily Star ICT Awards ceremony yesterday.

The changes in technology have paved the way for production to quadruple in just a couple of years and people, especially the younger generation, have adopted ICT very fast, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith, speaking as the chief guest at the programme.

This is why the government chose information and communication technology for spearheading the country's development, he told the event at the Le Méridien Dhaka hotel in the capital.

He also thanked The Daily Star for organising the ceremony, where one individual and four local IT firms were awarded for their outstanding contributions to the country's fast-growing ICT industry.

The event was organised in association with Microsoft Bangladesh Ltd, the country office of the world's leading technology company, Brac Bank and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), an ICT-related trade body. Le Méridien was the hospitality partner.

Md Sabur Khan, an iconic ICT entrepreneur of the country who founded the Daffodil Family and has also garnered international acclaim, won the ICT Business Person of the Year award.

Of the winning firms, bagdoom.com, a leading online shop that took digital commerce to every corner of the country, received the Digital Commerce of the Year award.

Graphic People Limited got the ICT Solution Provider of the Year (International Market Focus) award.

The ICT Solution Provider of the Year (Local Market Focus) award went to Synesis IT Limited.

Shohoz.com, one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country, won the ICT Start-up of the Year award.

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed, co-founder of bagdoom.com; Geeteara Safiya Choudhury, chairperson of Graphic People Limited; Shohorab Ahmed Chowdhury, managing director of Synesis IT Limited; Maliha M Quadir, founder and managing director of Shohoz.com, and Md Sabur Khan, chairman of Daffodil International University (DIU) and Daffodil Family, received the awards from the finance minister.

International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Gowher Rizvi, Managing Director of Microsoft Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Laos Sonia Bashir Kabir, Brac Bank Managing Director and CEO Selim RF Hussain and BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir also distributed the awards with Muhith.

The awards come at a time when Bangladesh saw considerable growth in information technology. The ICT landscape now includes numerous firms -- both old and new -- working tirelessly to deliver services to their customers.

The Daily Star introduced the awards in 2016 to promote the sector's development and highlight the frontrunners who can serve as a benchmark for others.

The awards are also aimed at recognising the excellent works in the ICT sector, encouraging the ICT community and digital companies to strengthen the ICT ecosystem, creating an environment that sustains entrepreneurial spirit, and supporting the young ICT entrepreneurs to utilise their potentials.

This year, 152 companies applied in five categories, of whom some were shortlisted before being evaluated by a jury board comprising eminent members of the industry.

Yesterday's programme began with a video presentation highlighting Bangladesh's progress in the ICT sector.

In his address, Gowher Rizvi said that nowadays ICT was paving the way for transparency, such as bringing government procurement processes online.

Syed Almas Kabir, the BASIS president, announced that digital governance and e-governance platforms would be ready within the next three years, taking government services to the people's doorsteps to create a “true Digital Bangladesh”.

During his speech earlier, the finance minister said that Bangladesh was lagging behind in the use of technology and the Hasina government had decided help flourish the ICT sector at the end of the last century.

He also credited the younger generation for playing a part in the growth of the sector.

“Bangladesh has two resources -- fertile land and people with intelligence and devotion. In the ICT sector, their intelligence and devotion also help to flourish the industry.”

The private sector and the government were working in unison to reach this target, he said, terming the awards a great platform for companies and entrepreneurs to showcase and brand Bangladesh.

Selim Hussain said life today was all about speed, convenience and choice and in tune with it almost every service was at our fingertips.

He termed the awards a great recognition platform for the ICT entrepreneurs and hoped that the winners would be emboldened to break newer grounds.

Sonia Bashir Kabir highlighted how technology today has crossed the chasms and displaced the age old notion that “government and innovation” are oxymorons.

Kabir urged the private sector to take heart to the words of the former US President John F Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, urged the government to set up training, educational and management institutes focusing on meeting the skilled manpower requirements of the growing sector.

Otherwise, he said, it might face the same dearth of mid- and top-level management workforce which had plagued the RMG sector for the past 35 years.

Constantinos S Gavriel, general manager of Le Méridien Dhaka, said he strongly believed that the winners of the awards would change the country and the economy for the better.

On receiving the ICT Business Person award, Md Sabur Khan thanked The Daily Star and its partners for organising the event which honoured the icons of the digital sector.

Afterwards, Maliha M Quadir, founder and managing director of Shohoz, said use of technology in the service sector had just started in Bangladesh and The Daily Star was doing an excellent work in recognising the initiatives which stood out and empowered the market and the digital ecosystem.

“Once these success stories flourish beyond the boundaries of this newspaper's readership, it will be really helpful and empowering for the entrepreneurs.”

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed, co-founder of bagdoom.com, said this recognition from The Daily Star would definitely boost their enthusiasm and give them courage in undertaking future endeavours.

“We are on a mission to brand Bangladesh through empowering our small and medium entrepreneurs and aim to promote the small and medium entrepreneurs by providing them with a platform to showcase their products. This award will help us to go miles,” said Ahmed.

According to the ICT division, Bangladesh's export earnings from the ICT sector reached about $1 billion, riding on the growth of more than 1,500 firms and 40 offshore development centres.

The sector got a huge boost in 2008 when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid out the vision of building a Digital Bangladesh by 2021.

Since then, the industry has gone on to become a huge hub for freelance work via online marketplaces such as Upwork, punching its way through heavyweights such as India and the US.

The government's target is to earn $5 billion from exports of IT and IT-enabled services by 2021.



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Secy Information Technology reviews preparations for ESDM scheme

US College IT Services Face Serious Spending Limits, Study Finds

China matches Nato in information arms race with deal for 'Ferrari of war room software'

China has obtained the big screen software used by Nato and the United States for war room mapping, putting its forces on an equal organisational footing with some of the West’s elite military operations.

Luciad, a defence contractor based in Leuven, Belgium, is selling the Chinese government high performance software used for situational awareness by the military commands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, according to information from Chinese government contractors verified by the South China Morning Post.

The package includes LuciadLightspeed, a program that can process real-time data, including that from fast-moving objects, with speed and accuracy.

Situational awareness is the ability to know what is happening in a target environment and use that intelligence to defeat the enemy. In warfare, the situation is so fluid it can change in seconds.

Planners use data from sources such as drone feeds, satellite imagery, radar, sensor plots, weather forecasts and platoon status. Traditional software can introduce errors as large as 500 metres (1,600 feet) in the positioning of moving targets from different datastreams.

Luciad’s software can analyse data and generate seamless visuals at a speed of 100 calculations a second, 75 times faster than its closest competitor, with accuracy to within 3cm (one inch) and on a global scale, according to American graphics technology company Nvidia.

China’s latest stealth drones go on display at Airshow China 2018

This allows planners to visualise and analyse changes in enemy positions or assess target information in real time and adjust mission parameters accordingly, according to Nvidia.

The same software is used by the United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, where covert missions for the US government – including the raid that assassinated al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, originated.

Under Chinese law, a foreign vendor supplying software to the Chinese government must disclose every line of source code to authorities for a security check. It was unclear whether Luciad has complied with that requirement. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Adopting technology used by Nato in military command may not be without risk to China, according to a Beijing-based information security expert who has worked with the government.

The software might contain hidden codes. “It can lead to unauthorised infiltration of the brain of Chinese military operations,” the researcher said.

Although the military network was physically isolated from the internet and protected by firewalls, there was “always a possibility of finding a way in and bypassing all security checks”, he said.

Alternatively, studying the software, especially at source-code level, would offer China a perspective on the war room operations of Western powers.

“Sometimes a comment [an explanation or annotation in the source code of a computer program] can tell a story,” the researcher said.

China operates one of the world’s largest military intelligence gathering systems and its sophistication is increasing. It has an expanding network of satellites – most of which serve the government or the People’s Liberation Army – that is second in number only to the US.

Monitoring devices are planted in the world’s oceans from the South China Sea to the American West Coast. Conventional weapons such as landmines are evolving with the use of artificial intelligence.

The Chinese military and intelligence services monitor civilian sectors including the internet, surveillance camera networks and social media for information and threat analysis.

This creates a large and urgent demand for advanced data processing software, according to industry experts.

“Luciad is the Ferrari of GIS software. It comes to the right place at the right time,” said a geospatial information engineer from an aerospace company in Beijing.

Chinese military warns researchers on forged data and plagiarism

Over the past few months, senior technical staff with the Chinese government and major contractors have taken crash courses on the new software in Beijing.

One was hosted in June by Key Mapper, a geospatial information service provider in China. In one exercise, a tutor from Luciad provided data on San Francisco to demonstrate the software’s function.

“Through this training, the participants not only have a deep understanding of Luciad’s full range of products, but can also independently use the products to develop related applications,” the company said on its website.

Key Mapper confirmed on Monday that it was an official reseller of Luciad software licensed to Chinese government clients.

The Beijing-based company declined to disclose further details because of the sensitivity of the technology.

Luciad was established by Dr Lode Missiaen, a senior scientist who had worked at the Nato Consultation, Command and Control Agency in The Hague, the Netherlands, in the 1990s.

Missiaen, responsible for the development and application of modern software technologies for Nato’s air traffic control and airspace management, recognised the lack of commercial software that could combine geographic and real-time information.

China’s military must move beyond self-defence strategy, PLA says

He left Nato and founded Luciad in 1999 to fill the gap, but it was not until 2008 that Nato fully adopted the new technology at its command centres to generate pictures for big screen display in war rooms.

Luciad’s software is now used not only by Nato member nations but also by major arms contractors, including Boeing, Airbus Defence and Space, Lockheed Martin and Thales.

The company was bought last year by Hexagon, a technology group based in Sweden.

Hexagon has established ties with the Chinese military and defence industry. Its technology has been used by the manufacturer of China’s stealth aircraft.

It was unclear whether the Luciad software sale in China occurred after the acquisition. Hexagon did not respond to the Post’s queries.

Professor Wu Lun, director of the geographic information systems department at Peking University and a senior adviser to the Chinese government on geospatial information technology, said the most popular foreign GIS platform in China at present was ArcGIS, a commercial software developed by the Environmental Systems Research Institute in California.

While it had some military application, “ArcGIS is mainly used for civilian projects”, he said.

For security concerns, the Chinese government has promoted home-grown GIS software for government and military applications, and some suppliers such as SuperMap and MapGIS had come up with “quite capable and competitive products”, he said.

“But different clients have different demands. Foreign and domestic software will coexist for a long time,” Wu said.



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Science, Technology, Math, Engineering And Now Congress

Building ICT infrastructure a govt priority, says Minister Pokhrel

Kathmandu, November 16

Minister of Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokhrel has highlighted the importance of information and communication technology in the field of education and mentioned some of the major initiatives being undertaken by his ministry to promote the quality education in Nepal through effective implementation of latest technologies.

Addressing the 2018 Global Information and Communication Technology Leadership Forum in Seoul which was organised by the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology along with the National Information Society Agency of the Republic of Korea yesterday, Minister Pokhrel said the Government of Nepal, under a major initiative of ‘Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepalis’, had been giving high priority to building educational and information and communication technology infrastructures for the achievement of the objectives set by the Sustainable Development Goals.

Minister Pokhrel also shed light on the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the development of agriculture, healthcare, education and human livelihood. He further underscored the significance of establishing and nurturing physical and human infrastructures, especially for developing countries like Nepal, to reap the benefits and steer a rapid and sustained socio-economic development through the best use of data, artificial intelligence and networking.

The forum was held with the objectives of sharing the vision, best practices and knowledge of the participating countries regarding the use of information and communication technology in education and its latest developments, stated a press release issued by the Embassy of Nepal in Seoul.

Earlier, Minister Pokhrel had visited the embassy and received a brief on its major activities and the problems of Nepali community in Korea.

Minister Pokhrel also made an observation tour to the planetarium of the Seoul National University. Minister Pokhrel had left for Seoul on November 14 to participate in the programme. He is scheduled to return home on November 18.


A version of this article appears in print on November 17, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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Acclaim for ICT feats

Bangladesh should be branded as an emerging ICT destination as opposed to being marketed as a place with the cheapest labour, speakers said...