Meet Volunteer Gabrielle Higgins

A big welcome to Gabrielle Higgins, our latest volunteer!

My name is Gabrielle Higgins. I am a second year student at UWI, Mona pursuing a BSc in Computer Science. Originally my plan had been to major in Biochemistry and minor in either Computer Science, but the more I practiced programming the more I fell in love with it. Last semester I was very conflicted about whether I would drop Biochemistry or not because doing two programs did not give me enough flexibility to learn as much as I would like to. In the end I chose Computer Science over Biochemistry and I don’t regret doing that.

I really appreciate organizations like The Palisadoes Foundation because they drive the development of the country. Palisadoes has done very well in providing opportunities to university students. It serves as a source of inspiration even to students who do not apply or get through. The message is simple but powerful. “Open source software is essential.” To go through such lengths to encourage students to develop open source software communicates how important the Foundation believes it to be. I strongly agree with them. No doubt, every software developer has used open source software at some point in their journey. Looking forward, I’m excited to be a part of the team that helps to build a Caribbean presence in the Open Source community.

We’ll keep you all posted about her activities and more.

Project Quito

Quito is a new project for the 2019 Calico Challenge. It is a modular open source project to manage the member operations of religious institutions, not necessarily limited to churches.

The project aims to provide churches with better demographic data of their congregations, improved facilities management, easier recall of volunteer skills, and more. There are many commercially available software services for churches, but we have found no actively updated “free to use” open source software. There is also an opportunity to tailor the project’s software to operate better in the Caribbean context where most users are connected to the Internet through their phones.

This Palisadoes Foundation project is in keeping with our goal of promoting technology adoption in Jamaica, and is aimed at helping fellow charitable organizations contribute more fully to society.

Core features to be developed include:

  1. Membership management
  2. Donation management
  3. Groups management
  4. Event registrations
  5. Recurring meetings
  6. Facilities registrations
  7. Volunteer and children checkins
  8. Social media integrations
  9. Service planning and scheduling

It will be written in the Python programming language that is taught at most university level undergraduate programs in Jamaica. We are working on supporting requirements and design documentation for students to use. You can view the latest updates on our Palisadoes Foundation GitHub account. Code will start to be added as soon as Challenge kicks off. Contact the project mentor David Bain at Alteroo for details.

If you are a student and are interested in working on this project then apply to the 2019 Calico Challenge. Applications close on Tuesday March 26, 2019. Details can be found on the Calico Challenge web page.


The Calico Challenge expands in 2019

The RealDecoy team at the UTech IEEE student branch club meeting where the Calico Challenge was discussed.

We’ve started the New Year with great news! In January we visited both the UTech and UWI student computing clubs in which staff from RealDecoy discussed the key skills software developers will need to be successful in their careers. The need to be up to date and curious about how the latest technologies work was very clearly highlighted.¬† Che’-Andre Gordon from RealDecoy spoke about the need for students to be visible on professional social media sites like LinkedIn to promote resume related information, and GitHub to showcase working software students have written.

During the trip we also visited the Caribbean Maritime Institute, Northern Caribbean University, the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean and the Vector Technology Institute. This triples the number of institutions in Jamaica that have been introduced to the Palisadoes Foundation and the Calico Challenge.

Our 2019 programming projects include core data collection applications, now in their fourth year of development, and a new project named “Quito” aimed at making the member management of churches and other religious institutions easier.

UTech also received a second shipment of Dell computer hardware from us to be used to support student labs. We are grateful to our benefactors who so graciously donated this equipment to our work in Jamaica.

You may have also noticed that our social media posts have become more regular to provide interesting regional news on ICT that you normally won’t find on major technology or general news websites. This has strengthened our connection with those interested in our work.

We also have two new volunteers helping us in Jamaica this year. Shanell Hopkins and Gabrielle Higgins. We’ll have more updates about them soon.

This is the Calico Challenge’s fourth year. We look forward to many more!