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Saturday, 20.04.2024
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The Government’s digitisation chief yesterday said it will evenly split the “new money” generated through its three-year partnership with Aliv to transform downtown Nassau into a “smart city”.

Wayde Watson, the Ministry of Economic Affairs parliamentary secretary, who has responsibility for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), told Tribune Business that the initiative will generate revenue streams and income that the Government has never received before.

“We plan to have a 50/50 split down the middle with Aliv. It will be 40 percent for us and 40 percent for them, with the additional 20 percent being placed aside for maintenance purposes. But you can imagine that if we charge the 5.5m tourists coming off the cruise ship $5 a head to access the wi-fi, then the amount of money generated will be exponential,” Mr Watson said.

John Gomez, Aliv’s top executive, said the ‘smart city’ initiative will come at a small cost to tourists visiting Bay Street and downtown Nassau. The cost structure has not been determined yet, but it is expected to be “nominal”.

Mr Gomez added: “We can see tourists coming off of the cruise ship looking for a hot-spot. Their option is to pay for it on the ship, which is very expensive. The infrastructure we are putting in, it comes with a cost.

“So somehow we have to recover that along with the cost to the ministry (tourism investments and aviation) as well. So we still have to figure out how we’re going to do that. So at launch we will have that fee structure ready for the public.” The launch of the ‘smart city’ initiative will happen within the next two months, it is projected.

It is designed to drive the “digital transformation” of downtown Nassau, with every possible data output that a modern city would need in years to come. “The platform is designed as a comprehensive digital ecosystem, feature and management software, in-depth reporting, targeted advertising services and insightful data analytics,” Mr Gomez added.

Chester Cooper, minister of tourism, investments and aviation, said: “There are some 140 smart cities around the world, with the top three smart cities being London, New York and Paris. Acquiring the status of a smart city does not happen overnight. It involves a step-by-step process that sees the success of installation and expansion of digital infrastructure. And this is why we’re calling this today a pilot project, because this is the first phase of hopefully a renaissance in our city.”

The ‘smart city’ will extend from Arawak Cay on West Bay Street down to the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, where it is expected that every visitor within that space will be able to tap into Aliv’s infrastructure for Internet connectivity.

Mr Cooper added: “You already know that we’ve had a record year in tourist arrivals, with more than nine million guests arriving in 2023. Of that number, roughly 1.8m are stopover visitors with the balance being cruise visitors in downtown Nassau.

“We attract 4.4m cruise passengers through the Nassau cruise port. This is roughly 12,000 on average a day on average. Some days, we’ve seen as high as 25 000. On average cruise visitors spend in the region $100 per passenger.

“Stopover visitors, on the other hand, spend $2,600 per person, and therefore it is our mission to increase passenger spend from those guests who arrive by cruise. The instant access to connectivity will encourage more guests to disembark their cruise ship, explore the city, shop more, spend more and do more online sharing of their Bahamas experience,” Mr Cooper said.

“The tripartite collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, Aliv and the DICT brings about the installation of the most up-to-date Internet infrastructure in our city centre. This technology will facilitate seamless connectivity that will allow us to collect key data on the thousands of cruise guests to our city, so that we can more efficiently enhance their experience of our city.”

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Youri Kemp

Quelle/Source: The Tribune, 15.02.2024

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