Congratulations to Software Foundation Founder and Chairman, Dr. Rohitash Chandra for being awarded Chancellors Fellowship Awards at the University of Sydney. Dr. Chandra will begin within a month at the Centre for Translational Data Science as the University of Sydney Fellow for a period of three years. http://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2016/11/02/11-outstanding-early-career-researchers-join-the-university.html
Statement from Dr. Chandra
I will be developing methods to improve existing tools area of artificial intelligence and machine learning. I will be working with methods in deep learning and neural networks. These are models that are motivated from the human brain. Recently, they have gained attention as tools for self-driving cars and automatic face and facial expression recognition used by social networks such as Facebook. I will develop strategies to further improve these models and apply to the area of earthquakes and cyclones. Particularly I will be developing software systems guided by deep learning that can be used to predict future occurrences or earthquakes or behavior of cyclones. Moreover, I will also look at other climate change challenges such as air pollution. I will employ deep learning as predictive models through which warning can be issued for the population at risk. Apart from these, I will also be working in the area of computational neuroscience and machine consciousness. I will try to simulate the learning behavior of the human brain and other aspects of consciousness that include personality and attention.
In the past, I have used some of the related methods to develop predictive models for cyclones using data from the South Pacific. Last year, I have also used machine learning methods in the area of efficient design of jet engines when I was a Research Fellow in Singapore at Rolls Royce @NTU Corp. Lab, Nanyang Technological University. They have well prepared me for the Fellowship.
I will be based at the Centre for Translational Data Science, the University of Sydney for next three years. It was a very competitive process to be awarded the Fellowship as I had to compete with scientists around the world. My research proposal, experience from past projects and publications in leading venues helped me to secure the award. The award is very prestigious and it is a rare opportunity for researchers from Pacific Island countries to secure the award.
Dr. Chandra’s research and publication can be accessed from here:
Software Foundation Trustee – Mr. Kush Singh, Secretary – Mrs. Ronika Chandra, Vice President – Mr. Kavitesh Bali and Member – Ms. Swaran Ravindra donate a cheque of 1000 dollars collected by Software Foundation members for PM Cyclone Appeal.
The cheque was received by PS PM Mr. Yogesh Karan. Software Foundation thanks all the members for their support and contributions.
Software Foundation finalized the winners for the South Pacific Writing Competition through review process that looked at originality, creativity and content in the submissions that ranged from a wide range of groups that included primary schools to university.
The competition winners are given as follows:
- First Prize for Personal Essay on Impact of Technology: Maxim Shipitsyn, Year 1 at American Private Christian School, Year One, Tablet by Vodafone and 50 Dollars by Software Foundation
- Second Prize for Research Note on Artificial Intelligence: Nicholla Chan, Year 13 at Yat Sen Secondary School, Tablet by Digicel and T-Shirt
- Third Prize for Short Story on Future of Technology: Yash Parmar, Year 13 at Penang Sangam High School, Tablet by Digicel
Dr. Rohitash Chandra, the President of Software Foundation congratulated the winners and presented the prize with Acting Secretary Mrs. Ronika Chandra. Mr. Kush Singh, Trustee of Software Foundation briefed the participants about history of the foundation and about the plans to feature SPWC 2016 and Cyber-security Workshop 2016 with Software Foundation.
Software Foundation thanks the major Sponsers for the event which are Standss and Skyward Industries. The event will again take place from July to October 2016.
“Being at Home: Poetry, Philosophy and Expressions” by Dr. Rohitash Chandra was launched on 22nd August at Vineyard Palace Suva through Software Foundation Press. The book was launched by Hon. Jone Usamate, the Minister for Health.
“The theme and subject of the book is in general about sprituality. It highlights some of the areas in humanism, sprituality and meditation with poetry, notes and essays. This book has been inspired by mystical traditions such as Yoga, Vedanta, Zen, Taoism, and Sufism which have meditation as the common ground. “ Hon. Usamate highlighted during his speech.
Speech by Hon. Jone Usamate about “Being at Home”
The Software Foundation Fiji presents South Pacific Writing Competition on the theme of“Advancement of Software and Technology”. The competition is open to everyone in the following categories:
- Primary Schools
- Secondary Schools
- Tertiary Education Institutes
- Open Category
Theme: “Advancement of Software and Technology”
- Free and Open Source Software
- Software for Education
- Computer and Information Literacy for Schools
- Software for Business and E-commerce
- Software in Science and Engineering
- Mobile Computing, Smart Phones– Impact and Social Issues
- The Effects of Social Networks
- Online learning
- Software and Information System for Hospitals
- Software for the elderly, special needs and disabled community
- Software Security, Virus and Spam-ware
- The Future of Software and Technology
- Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
- Health and Medical Informatics
- Environmental Informatics and Climate Change
- Wearable Computing
- Big Data and Cloud Computing
- GPS Location Based Services and Society – Friend or Foe
- Open topic (Any topic relating to the theme)
The lack of proper information system design has resulted in long queues at most of the service providers in a number of public service departments in the government and companies.
The only way ahead is for the government to step in with policies that ensure that customers are given the best service at low waiting times. This has to be mandatory in order to renew business licences of companies and also to allow service delivery to continue by government departments.
A few days ago, I had a terrible experience of waiting in the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) queue for more than two hours with about 200 people and noticed that only 4 customer service representatives were at the counter. In an hour, 20 people were served. I had no choice but to leave but when I went to get another ticket, I was told by the security officer that I was supposed to see another section. My waiting time was basically a waste due to improper advice by the security personal. I then thought why is the security personal giving advice to the general public about tickets at the counter? This is an example of a poor information system design by the FNFP and they must ensure that their customers are given proper services – not by security officers but by trained professionals who know customer service.
FNFP should invest in internet based ticketing system so that people can book online (get their tickets online) and on their website the current ticket should be displayed so that people can take timely leave from their work and wait in the queue. Moreover, it is also the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that more customer service representatives are at their booth to serve the large number of customers. FNPF can provide a number of services for their customers using web (Internet) based services. These services include account statement and application lodgement for housing, education and other areas. Official or certified documents can be dropped in by customers once a reference number is given by the web based system. A trip to our neighbours in Australia and New Zealand can help FNPF officials study information systems in areas of service delivery that are related and adopt where possible.
The same can be said about the services in Land Transport Authority (LTA) who are responsible to ensure road safety. LTA does not support online payment of fines and there is no online system for drivers and vehicle owners to check their accounts. Online payment is relatively simpole and supported by Fiji Electricity Authority and Water Authority which helps in avoiding long queues by customers.
Banks in Fiji also have very poor information system design and web based services. It is common to find long queue lines at banks and most of applications procedures waste time of customers in filling form of information that the bank already has in their files. There is a lot of replication of the data entry process which is costly both for the bank and also for the customer in terms of time.
Currently, smart phones and access to quality and affordable internet is on the rise and organisations such as FNPF, LTA and Banks should show examples of systems in use so that smaller businesses can also adopt in the future.
Long queue lines are hard to tackle in government hospitals and health centres who operate with lack of information systems as patients do not have timely access to their own health medical records. Patients have a health information card which is not useful in most centres as they use paper based medical records. Moreover, the waiting time of patients can range to several hours without any feedback if their problem was actually solved by the medical practitioner. An internet – web system online medical record system can help patients view their medical records and also book appointments. Hospitals websites can display the current ticket being served and hence patients can wait and go to the hospital when their ticket number is approaching. Online electronic systems can be used to check if medical practitioners are giving the best services to patients. This can encourage transparency and help in medical practitioners improve their service delivery. Similar systems can also be used by the private medical practitioners.
One of the reasons long queues are created is when the customer service representative is absent from their desk in during working hours. There can be cases where the FNPF representative is in a long waiting queue at the LTA office paying fines. The long queue in LTA is due the representative waiting with a ticket at the bank and then filling a form in the bank that could have been done online.
The funding required to implement such types of advanced information systems is something for the government and donor agencies to look into in the future. There will be a time in future when public service delivery will be required to have special information systems compliance similar to that of OHS and Fire Authority. Only then, the public will be given the best service with transparency and accountability. Information systems to reduce long waiting lines can help in raising the productivity of the organisation and also benefit the growth of the economy of the nation.
Dr. Rohitash Chandra
President, Software Foundation
Survey for Medical Practioners in Fiji
This survey is being conducted to find out the current state of Health Information Systems in Fiji. The results will be utilised to ascertain if there is a need to upgrade/change the current Health Information Systems used in Fijian Government Hospitals. The results will be used to establish if the people of Fiji are ready to have a web based/online Electronic MedicalRecords System that can be accessed online through computers or smartphones in any government hospital or any location in Fiji
The sogo link for medical practitioners in Fiji:
Contact: Ms. Swaran Ravindra, MSc Student, School of Computing, Information and Mathematical Sciences, University of the South Pacific.
All information gathered will be treated as highly confidential. Participants do not need to reveal their names. Ministry of Health Ethics Approval/FNRERC# 2014.31.FNRERC.24.NW
Dr. Rohitash Chandra
President, Software Foundation
Software Foundation Fiji is requesting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Fiji to compensate for poor quality of internet and downtime.
Software Foundation hosts SUMMER of CODE programming competition for secondary schools and tertiary institutes.
C++ Programming Language will be used. The
competition also has a open category.
- 6 weeks of resources and online training given and available from April 1st 2015.
- Registration fees to be paid when registered to Software Foundation bank account
- A team of 2 – 5 members including the teacher who will only assist in the competition, but will have access to all resources.
- Each school can have several teams.
- Open Category will restrict 2 members per team.
- All training will be done through Moodle online learning. If resources are given, then 2 hours per week meeting will be arranged in Nausori-Suva and Lautoka for support.
- Secondary School
- Tertiary Institutes
- Open Category
- 50.00 per team. USB of Software and Videos will be given to each team upon registration.
- Email list of team members with their email addresses to Software Foundation Secretary: Mr. Ravishel Naicker, email@example.com in order to register. Bank details will be given in order to make payment. Once payment receipt is emailed, then registration will be confirmed and Moodle access will be given.
- weblearn.softwarefoundationfiji.org will be used to give materials for competition
- Introduction of the competition will be given first week of December at USP Laucala.
- Registration Deadline is 25th November.
More details can be given by Software Foundation Vice President, Ms. Swaran Ravindra, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Certificate of Participation
- Special prizes (TBA)
Programming Competition Panel of Judges
- Dr. Rohitash Chandra, President of Software Foundation
- Dr. Nicholas Rollings, Associate Professor in GIS at University of the South Pacific
- Dr. Anurag Sharma, School of Computing, Information and Mathematical Sciences, University of the South Pacific
- Dr. Akash Dutt Dubey, School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences, Fiji National University
- Prof. Shaukat Ali, School of Science and Technology, University of Fiji
- Ms. Swaran Ravindra, Vice President, Software Foundation
- Mr. Shivanesh Lal, Software Foundation
- Mr. Faraaz Mustapha, Software Foundation
- Mr. Eric Arifanata, Solomon Islands Chapter Coordinator, Software Foundation
- Mr. Gary Wong, Graduate Programmer, Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics research Group, Software Foundation
- Mr. Ratneel Deo, Graduate Programmer, Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics research Group, Software Foundation
- Mr. Ravishel Naicker, Secretary, Software Foundation.