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Illuminat CEO: Technology can ease traffic gridlock
The extent to which traffic jams chip away at productivity has been debated in the public domain by sections of the business community, by the trade union movement and the public. Policymakers continue to be chastised for not dealing with the logistics of gridlock traffic.
But Illuminat (T&T) Ltd has taken the bold step to study the logistics involved in managing traffic. Chief executive officer David Belgrave said there are information technology systems which would assist with making transport more efficient.
“We have worked with the Ministry of Works and Transport in the highway management system. We were one of those quiet partners behind the scenes. There are a lot of plans in terms of expanding that, being able to make the highway more efficient.”
Belgrave spoke to the Business Guardian on March 6 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Dock Road, Port-of-Spain, to give an update on the company’s projects. The company has serviced businesses in the finance and energy sectors, the public sector, hospitality and retail sectors.
He said now that a study has been done, “there is a fair amount of work to be done. The issue we’ve had over the years is a number of systems put in place that we’ve started late on. There are plans now to co-ordinate the road systems better. There have been a number of plans, but they have not all moved in sync over time,” Belgrave said.
He said the vehicle population has grown at a tremendous rate, therefore, a whole lot of pressure is on the system.
This problem has no quick fix or single solution.
“The problems have been there and escalating for a while. There are a number of individual efforts, but many of them would have to be accelerated in order to deal with the transport problem that we face, like many cities.
“If you go to Barbados, for example, you see there are problems getting into the city. A lot of it is based on cities being centralised, so there is a huge percentage of the population trying to get into the city on mornings and the same population has to leave on evenings.”
Belgrave identified some of the factors that contribute to traffic.
“It is keeping pace with demands, lifestyles have changed and so on, the expectations of people have changed in terms of transport requirements. Trying to keep systems in place is a constant chase.”
In order to do this project, Illuminat partnered with a Canadian-based company which provided the majority of the information technology equipment needed.
Other than the highways, Illuminat has worked with the Ministry of Education to put together computer labs in schools.
“I think our major asset is the ability to integrate a number of the technologies and bring them to life.”
Business demand for technology
Regarding the business community, Belgrave has seen a demand for technology.
He said members of the business community realise that information technology enables one to be more efficient and reduces costs.
“Companies that have taken that approach have seen a return on it. Companies who see IT as an expense, they lag behind a bit. They might be looking for the cheapest option or they are just looking for a patch. They are looking for things to work as a quick solution as opposed to seeing IT and telecommunications as a foundation.”
Demand for information technology is very high.
“IT generally moves fastest right now in the finance sector and then the petrochemical sector, compared to other sectors. These sectors have the best strategic plans. They have better succession plans, they have better IT systems and they plan for these things.”
Of cloud computing, Belgrave said: “It has not taken off in a big way in T&T yet. A lot of people are adopting a wait-and-see approach, not to mention, they have a heavy investment in existing systems.
“Cloud computing, big data—those are the terminologies, virtualisation—those are things that are going to be coming, you are going to see a gradual shift.
“The combination of what is happening on the social networks and the prevalence of the movement of data, in particular, and large bodies of data quickly, that’s what is sweeping the world, generally,” he said.
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