Bevil Wooding receives Caribbean American Heritage Award

By Gerard Best

Bevil M. Wooding

Long before Dr. Didacus Jules was Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, he’d already decided to get in touch with Bevil Wooding.

Jules, then the Registrar and CEO of the Caribbean Examinations Council, had read about Trinidad and Tobago-born Wooding’s appointment by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as one of seven people entrusted with a special cryptographic smart card that holds part of a key used to generate the Domain Name Server Security Extensions (DNSSEC) protocol.

As head of the regional body that provides primary, secondary and post-secondary examination and education services, Jules was particularly interested in preparing Caribbean youth to make the most of emerging opportunities in the digital economy. He realised that Wooding was just the man for the job.

As it happened, their first meeting would be two months in the making. It was a chance encounter—they were seated side by side in business class on a five-hour Barbados-Denver flight—but they hit the ground running. Almost literally. Descending over Colorado, the two had already mapped out a full program of collaboration between CXC and Congress WBN, the Caribbean-birthed faith-based non-profit organisation with operations in more than 100 countries, of which Wooding serves as Chief Knowledge Officer.

Through Congress WBN, Wooding had already led computer skills training programs in the UK, US, Pacific Islands and throughout Africa. Within weeks, he was bringing a digital revolution to Caribbean education, planting the seeds for CXC’s Digital Media Syllabus and first digitally administered examination.

“Bevil’s contribution was invaluable in helping CXC move towards becoming what I call an IT Intelligent organisation, leveraging ICT for efficiency and cost effectiveness and changing the way in which we work,” Jules said.

“Three years later, when I left CXC to become the Director General of the OECS, one of my first appointments was to make him the Advisor for Strategic ICT to the Director General. It was and is a non-remunerated position, and Bevil has made an incalculable contribution to the elaboration of a strategic ICT masterplan to undergird the deepening of integration of the ten member-states of the OECS.”

A leading voice for the use of technology as a tool for economic growth and social change, Wooding works to bring change to many other regional governments and institutions, including CARICOM’s Human Resource Development Commission and the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Sir Dennis Byron, President of the Court, also described the “transformative” impact of Wooding’s work.

“I had been discussing various aspects of the development of indigenous technological solutions to improve aspects of justice delivery in the region, when Dr. Didacus Jules suggested that I contact Bevil Wooding. Bevil responded immediately to my request to meet him and from the first engagement was completely aligned to the vision and was full of ideas on how to achieve meaningful solutions,” Byron said.

In 2016, Wooding’s work with the CCJ led to the creation of APEX, the region’s first agency focused on technology solutions to strengthen the administration of justice in the Caribbean.

Dr. Noel Woodroffe, President and Founder of Congress WBN, said Wooding “is the quintessential Caribbean man.”

“He has travelled the Caribbean speaking with government ministers, leaders of society, leaders of religions, talking to educators and to young people all across our islands, touting the benefits of a connected Caribbean, of a world enjoying the benefits of Internet technology. For Bevil, it’s not just about the technology, it’s about the advancement of human life and the power of technology to cause benefit to human life in the region we call home,” Woodroffe said.

Wooding serves as Caribbean Outreach Manager for the American Registry for Internet Numbers, and as a Strategic Advisor for the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU, described her camaraderie with Wooding as a longstanding cooperative partnership between “committed collaborators.”

“I first met Bevil on October 21, 2008 at about 10.30 in the morning in the general conference of ministers of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union at the Hilton, Port of Spain. In all the time that I have known him, I have seen consistently that Bevil has a heart for people. He seeks to help people help themselves, and consequently at the professional level we have been firm supporters of each other’s work,” she said.

Ronald Hinds, who started Trinidad-based software development firm Teleios Systems Limited with Kevin Khelawan and Wooding in 1997, described his co-founder as “a champion of technologies that have the power to empower the voiceless and the invisible.”

He added, “Many hearing or reading of Bevil’s contribution in the field of technology might be tempted to think that it’s about the bits and bytes. But it has always been about providing opportunities to use the emerging and available technologies to open entirely new doors.”

Throughout the Caribbean, Wooding has harnessed the Internet as a catalyst for development, earning himself a reputation as a change-agent. Shernon Osepa, Manager of Regional Affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Internet Society, described him as “a visionary who believes that the Caribbean Economy can be enhanced through ICTs and Internet development.”

As an Internet Strategist for the US-based non-profit research firm Packet Clearing House, Wooding has also played an important role in establishing Internet exchanges in Barbados, Belize, BVI, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Bill Woodcock, Executive Director of Packet Clearing House and member of the ARIN Board of Trustees, said Wooding’s leadership is “inspirational” and that his work has “brought lasting benefits to the Caribbean.”

“Bevil has made Internet connectivity something that Caribbean people create locally in domestic Internet exchanges, rather than being entirely dependent on imported bandwidth, as they were before he began this work.  He organised the Caribbean Network Operators Group, the Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Forum and many subsequent ongoing fora for the Caribbean’s twenty-first century leaders to convene and discuss their strategies for the future,” he said.

Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, member of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group to the United Nations Secretary General, was impressed with Wooding’s work in the Caribbean and invited him in 2011 to the Pacific to address a group of executive managers of Internet Exchanges, drawn from government and the private sector.

“While on that visit, Mr. Wooding also helped launch the first event for girls and women in ICT in the Pacific, and hosted the first mobile apps development workshop for youth in the Pacific,” she recalled.

Others have praised Wooding for his role in supporting cybersecurity and strengthening Internet governance in the region. Accolades like the University of the West Indies 50th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 point to the impact of his work.

On November 17, Wooding will be honoured at the 24th annual Caribbean American Heritage Awards. The awards celebrate achievements of people of Caribbean descent who have made outstanding contributions to their fields of expertise.

“Mr. Bevil Wooding is a virtual technology ambassador, evangelist and pioneer and we are honoured to present him with this year’s Caribbean American Heritage Award,” said Dr. Claire Nelson, Founder and President of Institute of Caribbean Studies.

“Mr. Wooding demonstrates the region’s capacity to innovate and create world-class thought leaders in any arena, and we hope people throughout the Caribbean can be moved and inspired by his accomplishments and devotion to making technology accessible to all,” she added.

Wooding will receive the award at a formal ceremony in Washington DC. The ceremony will also honour Dr. Glendon Archer, Dr. Clive Callender, Jennifer Carroll, Nneka Norville, Dr. Henry Lowe and Karl Racine.

Part of the proceeds will go to victims affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean.

Internet Week Guyana Advances Caribbean Tech Development Agenda


Organizers of Internet Week Guyana, representing the government of Guyana, regional and international Internet development bodies, take a photo call at the fifteenth meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana, on October 11, as part of the Internet Week Guyana. PHOTO COURTESY CaribNOG.
A cross-section of Guyanese secondary school students participate in the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Youth ICT Day, held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana, on October 13, as part of the Internet Week Guyana. PHOTO COURTESY CaribNOG.

Around the world, the growing sophistication of cyber criminals is challenging the capacity of governments, businesses and individuals to defend themselves.

Within the Caribbean, governments are forging strategic partnerships with regional actors like the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), the region’s largest volunteer-based community of network engineers, computer security experts and tech aficionados.

Recently, CaribNOG and the CTU collaborated with the Government of Guyana and other Internet organisations to host the inaugural Internet Week Guyana. International collaborators included the Internet Society, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), and the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC).

The five-day conference focused on building human resource capacity in cyber security and other key technology-related areas.

“The government of Guyana has been investing heavily in education and capacity building programs over the past two years. The idea of Internet Week Guyana came as a result of our collaborations with regional and international NGOs involved in the technology education space. And our collaboration bore fruit from the first day of Internet Week Guyana to the last,” said Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications, and host of the pioneering event.

The event attracted more than 400 participants, including public and private sector officials, telecommunications and computer networking specialists, entrepreneurs, and secondary school students.

“Private sector leaders, law enforcement and judicial offers, academia and civil society all have a collective responsibility to ensure that citizens, businesses and governments are safer and more secure in the digital age,” said Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Manager at ARIN, and one of the co-organisers of the event.

“We encourage Caribbean governments to develop legislative agendas and increase intra-regional cooperation, in order to strengthen the region’s overall cyber security capability,” said Kevon Swift, Head of Strategic Relations and Integration at LACNIC, another coordinator for the event.

Throughout the week, representatives from participating organisations demonstrated practical ways in which stakeholders could work together to strengthen and secure Caribbean networks.

Stephen Lee, a CaribNOG co-founder, translated global cybersecurity issues into Caribbean priorities, outlining some of the challenges and opportunities of special relevance to the region.

Albert Daniels, Senior Manager for Stakeholder Engagement in the Caribbean at ICANN, outlined that organisation’s work in supporting secure network deployments around the world.

Shernon Osepa, Manager, Regional Affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society, took the occasion to formally launch the Internet Society Guyana Chapter, with Nancy Quiros, Manager of Chapter Development in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society. Lance Hinds, Special Advisor to the Minister of Public Telecommunications, is serving as the chapter’s Interim President.

But the exclamation mark on the weeklong event was undoubtedly a gathering of young people, hosted by the CTU, on the conference’s closing day. About 300 students representing secondary schools from across the country took part in the all-day agenda. Educational videos, interactive presentations and lively Q&A sessions all helped bring new awareness to cyber-safety and cyber security for youth.

“The CTU continues to support the development of the Information and Communication Technologies sector in the region, including an emphasis on harnessing the potential of the youth,” said Michelle Garcia, Communications Specialist at the CTU.

Following the meeting there were several calls for Internet Week Guyana to be made a fixture on the country’s event calendar. Now the real work continues, to convert the high interest in the meeting into tangible national benefit.

Brooklynites Wins Caribbean People’s Choice Award

MIAMI, FL – Esosa Edosomwan (pictured below, photo credit Lanly Le) is the 2016 ‘Flow Caribbean People’s Choice Award’ winner! Esosa’s television show concept Brooklynites – an inspired tale of young hopes, dreams, ambition, and the pursuit of lasting love – received the most online votes.

This People’s Choice Award is part of a broader initiative by CaribbeanTales, to enable strong content by regional artists and those living in the diaspora. The ten finalists that ‘pitched’ their TV show ideas were selected participants in the CaribbeanTales Incubator Programme (CTI) – a year-round development and production hub for Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora Producers, of which Flow is the lead sponsor.

The Flow Caribbean People’s Choice Award gave regional audiences the chance to vote online for their favourite Caribbean ‘pitch.’ Once the polls opened on August 23rd, fans around the region closely followed Flow’s social media pages to see which finalist was featured each day and then cast thousands of votes on the CaribbeanTales website. After nearly two months of voting, Brooklynites came out on top.

Along with the honour, Flow presented Esosa with US$1,500 in cash and a premium handset valued at USD$1,000. Big Man Dan by Kafi Kareem Farrell and The Weekend by Sean Hodgkinson and Aurora Herrera came in a close second and third respectively.

Congratulating Esosa and her team, John Reid, CEO of Cable and Wireless and operator of Flow, pictured below, stated “Brooklynites won the people’s choice with its compelling story and is a great representation of what CaribbeanTales is trying to achieve through this project to help develop the indigenous film industry.” Reid also added, “All of the concepts presented were very strong and we look forward to working alongside the winners to help bring their creative ideas to life.”

Pictured above Frances-Anne Solomon (CaribbeanTales CEO), left, and John Reid (Flow CEO) right.

You can check out Esosa’s acceptance video here!

CEO and Founder of CaribbeanTales, Frances Anne Solomon, said, “The CPCA is a chance for people around the region and the world to engage with exciting new Caribbean TV series ideas and have a say in what they want to see on their screens! It is a honour to be working with Flow on such a ground-breaking initiative.”

Visit the CTI website for more information, and to apply for the 2017 CTI Programme.  And follow Flow and CaribbeanTales on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

Building the Caribbean Internet Economy

By Gerard Best

Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House, delivers a presentation on developing the Caribbean Internet economy at Internet Week Sint Maarten, held at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on October 27, 2016. PHOTO: LACNIC
Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House, delivers a presentation on developing the Caribbean Internet economy at Internet Week Sint Maarten, held at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on October 27, 2016. PHOTO: LACNIC

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—In the Caribbean, change is in the air. In fact, it’s in the cloud.

There’s a new conversation among the community of technology experts who spearhead Caribbean Internet development, and the buzz is no longer just about physical infrastructure. The architects of the region’s digital future are actively taking steps to strengthen the region’s economy by developing the Caribbean cloud.

“We have to look beyond basic infrastructure deployment, to developing the local content, services and business models that can truly benefit the region,” said Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist with US-based non-profit Packet Clearing House (PCH).

“Twelve Internet exchange points are already established in the Caribbean, and several others are being considered. While we continue to push for strengthening of critical Internet infrastructure in the region, our focus must also expand to development of the Caribbean Internet-based economy. We need to build out the Caribbean cloud,” he said.

Internet exchange points, or IXPs, are pieces of critical infrastructure that provide points of physical interconnection between the networks that make up the global Internet. PCH has played an active role in setting up more than two-thirds of the world’s IXPs and almost all of the exchange points in the Caribbean. The non-profit firm has worked closely with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, an inter-governmental CARICOM organisation that focuses on regional technology policy. Together, they have actively supported the proliferation of Internet exchanges in the Caribbean.

While establishing physical exchange points is necessary, it is not sufficient to advance the regional Internet economy, Wooding said. Another crucial step is needed.

“Getting the exchange points up and running is a start. But there has to be a shift in the conversation, from local traffic exchange to local content production, local application development and local innovation. What we want to see is not just more people on the Internet but more people actually taking advantage of the social and economic opportunities the Internet offers,” Wooding said.

“The private sector, academia and governments all have to work in sync to create opportunities for digital innovators and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Internet and build on the local IXPs that now exist. We have to actively build the Caribbean cloud.”

Wooding was speaking as part of a panel discussion on developing the Caribbean Internet economy, held on the first day of Sint Maarten on the Move, a regional technology development conference jointly hosted by the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry and the Internet Society (ISOC) in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten from October 27 to 28.

He co-presented with Eldert Louisa, chairman of the Open Caribbean Internet Exchange and Chief Technical Officer of Sint Maarten telecom operator TelEm Group. Karen Rose, Senior Director of Strategy and Analysis at ISOC, moderated the panel.

Sint Maarten on the Move was part of Internet Week Sint Maarten, a five-day conference coordinated by the St Maarten telecommunications regulator, BTP, and focused on developing the Caribbean Internet.

The week started with the twelfth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, which was jointly held with the LAC-I-Roadshow of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, from October 24 to 26. A broad range of technical, social and policy issues related to Caribbean technology development were covered in the three-day event, held with the support of the CTU, the American Registry of Internet Numbers and ArkiTechs.

Caribbean Faces Serious Cyber Security Threats

By Gerard Best

Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer, Latin America and the Caribbean Internet Addresses delivers a presentation on regional cyber security at Internet Week Sint Maarten, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, October 24, 2016. Looking on is Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer, American Registry of Internet Numbers. PHOTO: LACNIC
Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer, Latin America and the Caribbean Internet Addresses delivers a presentation on regional cyber security at Internet Week Sint Maarten, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, October 24, 2016. Looking on is Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer, American Registry of Internet Numbers. PHOTO: LACNIC

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—Keep it secret. And make sure it’s safe.

Don’t use your real name, your birth date, or any single word. Instead, try a short phrase that includes some numerals and even some punctuation.

Devising secure passwords for your online accounts and your family’s Internet-connected devices is simple enough, if you follow a few easy guidelines like these. But most people just don’t.

And a major attack on a little-known company underscores how much of the security of the global Internet now depends on that unwitting majority of ordinary Internet users. On October 21, a distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack, brought down a relatively obscure US-based firm called Dyn. Those attacks are fairly common, and they use huge networks of malicious software called botnets to bring down a specific service.

What made the DDoS attack on Dyn more troubling was that it set a dangerous precedent. Dyn provides domain name system or DNS services, which support part of the critical infrastructure underlying the global Internet. By targeting companies that make up the backbone of the Internet, hackers can bring down all kinds of other services.

Also disturbing is the fact that the hackers used networks of common smart devices like watches, TVs and refrigerators, to cause the major disruption. Analysts have linked the attack to the Mirai malware, which uses the Internet of Things, or IoT, as botnets. The Mirai source code was released on hacking websites in October.

Analysts are also linking the Dyn attack to others that took place within a five-week span, each larger than the previous, and all using Mirai. On September 20, a 660 Gbps attack was launched on the KrebsOnSecurity blog. A 1 Tbps attack was also launched on French hosting provider OVH on the same day.

“In the last two years, we’ve had multiple attacks, and the most recent attacks are using IoT devices,” said Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer of the American Registry of Internet Numbers, the organisation that provides number resource allocation and registration services for North America and parts of the Caribbean.

He explained that smart devices present an easy target for hackers to turn into botnets because users typically fail to secure them properly.

“A lot of the devices are vulnerable. It means that more and more homes are very quietly becoming potential sites of DDOS attacks,” he said.

“Now, we all have to make sure that all of those devices that we have around the house are secure.”

As smart devices proliferate, it will become easier for hackers to launch significant cyber attacks using unsecured IoT devices, unless ordinary end-users become more security-conscious. When it comes to cyber security, it turns out personal choices can have global consequences. And for the foreseeable future, it is the network of human beings who will have to keep the Internet of Things safe.

The ARIN CTO was speaking on the second day of a technology conference jointly held by the Caribbean Network Operators Group and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten from October 24 to 26.

He co-presented with Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer of the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), ARIN’s counterpart in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Also presenting on the technical, social and policy aspects of cyber security issues facing the Caribbean region were CaribNOG co-founder Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House; Albert Daniels, ICANN Senior Manager for Stakeholder Engagement in the Caribbean; and Shernon Osepa, Regional Affairs Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society (ISOC).

Supported by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Packet Clearing House and ArkiTechs, the event was part of Internet Week Sint Maarten, a five-day conference coordinated by the St Maarten telecommunications regulator, BTP and focused on developing the Caribbean Internet. The week ended with Sint Maarten on the Move, a two-day event jointly hosted by LACNIC and ISOC.