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Jamaica Automobile Association Builds Tech Link with UTECH

By June 29, 2009No Comments
Charmaine Delisser (right), Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, University of Technology (UTECH), Jamaica, discusses the broad research thrust of her faculty stimulated by the acquisition of two Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. Listening to her presentation are (from left, front row) Oliver Sherman, Assistant Marketing Manager of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA); UTECH Lecturer in Electrical Engineering Noel Sinclair; UTECH Programme Director for Electrical Engineering Balvin Thorpe; and other faculty members. The JAA donated a Tramigo T22 navigational device and a Garmin Nuvi 205 navigational tool to UTECH recently.

The Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) has presented the University of Technology Jamaica (UTECH), Faculty of Engineering and Computing with two navigation devices in support of its research programmes.

The Garmin Nuvi 205 Global Positioning System (GPS) uses satellite information to guide users around the island while the Tramigo T22 uses the same technology to track locations. The devices are distributed by the JAA, a subsidiary of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), as an extension of its use within the Society, said Duane Ellis, JAA Operations Manager.

“Satellite navigation is a relatively new technology for the Jamaican private sector,” Mr. Ellis said. Most of its local use, so far, has been by government in its land management programmes.

Charmaine Delisser, UTECH Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Computing said the institution welcomed the devices, and was interested in using the university’s strong research capabilities to develop customized web applications for them. She was speaking at the official presentation, held recently in the faculty’s lecture theatre.
“We will explore what these devices can offer, once we get the specifications for them,” Mrs. Delisser said. “And, we plan to customize some of the uses for local conditions. Our ultimate aim is to find the appropriate use of these devices for real solutions.”

The JAA was the first company to offer the new technology to the general public, when it launched the Garmin range of GPS devices earlier this year. The Kansas, USA based Garmin International uses the United States Government owned GPS locational satellite network.

The technology is still in relatively limited use locally, Mr. Ellis said. This presents significant opportunity for its wider application.

Jamaica National Building Society has already adapted the technology for several different uses. One application has been to serve its micro-business funder, JN Small Business Loans, in helping to determine the location of its clients.

“About three years ago, our Field Officers started using GPS to record client locations. This helped keep them in touch with clients with inexact mailing addresses,” Mr. Frank Whylie, General Manager of JN Small Business Loans said.

Another programme is also being developed to check the accuracy of existing geographic information in the Jamaica National database, to correct the data and identify anomalies.

The Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) at The University of the West Indies has already become a strategic business partner in providing GIS technologies to JNBS and its Group. The devices donated to UTECH are currently loaded with mapping information developed by MGI.

The University of Technology has its own unique strengths and capabilities, Mr. Ellis stated. “We are interested in working with UTECH since there are several projects on which we can collaborate.”