Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has played a role in Barbados’ continued high rating in the United Nations Human Development Index. From Contact Centres, to Call Centres, in the health and security services sectors and through developments in establishing a Government Portal and use of technology in document management, ICT plays a critical role in society. For example the government’s Registry no longer relies on a manual document storage system and citizens obtain marriage and birth certificates quicker as ICT technology has been used to make systems more efficient.
The private sector relies heavily on ICT for transactions. Commercial banks, insurance companies, and key Government agencies, including the National Insurance Service, Credit Unions and the mass communications industry have all moved over the years to upgrade their use of Information Communication Technology to make their operations more efficient and enhance customer service.
Through its Government Portal the plan to is facilitate a more efficient delivery of services. So, rather than stand in line for a driver’s licence, much of the application and paperwork could be done online. Citizens would be more informed, would be able to provide government with a greater depth of feedback.
Contact Centres have been utilised by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Barbados Light & Power Co. Ltd, the National Insurance Service, credit unions and many other agencies and government departments to improve the delivery of customer service. Call Centres, where a foreign or local firm might be engaged in tele-marketing, for example, is facilitated by access to a variety of telephony technologies driven often by the Internet and connectivity, which could be fiber optics or Voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
The health sector has an electronic Patient Administration System (PAS) which facilitates patient care at the island’s Queen Elizabeth hospital. And the decision to host matches in the 2007 World Cup of cricket provided an opportunity to modernise the outdated security services’ network and replace it with a combination of secure wireless and landline technology which places it among some of the leading countries in the world.
Critics however say that compared with countries in the developed world, Barbados still has a long way to go and blame this in part on the slow pace of Government implementation and availability of funding. Interoperability of systems is another concern, slow modernisation of legislation and implementation of some policies as well as the critical need to speed up the public sector’s response time.
To its credit Barbados continues to be recognised as a market of potential by foreign investors, with future ICT developments likely to strengthen this image and business climate.
And not all successful technologies have been entirely online. A public bill payments system developed by ILLUMINAT Barbados has resulted in considerable convenience in bill payments, benefiting utility and other companies which have happier customers and shorter lines at their premises.
Undoubtedly, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is poised to play an increasingly vitalÂ role in the island’s social and economic life.