Is St. Croix Equipped to Become Silicon Island?
St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands (USVI). You may remember that in the fall of 2017, St. Croix was hit by two back-to-back hurricanes – Irma and Maria. Approaching the two years anniversary of this devastation, the island is still rebuilding. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is part of the recovery team. St. Croix’s conservation restoration is getting help from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, which uses algorithms to identify coral reef anomalies due to the storms.
While St. Croix residents recover, leaders in government, business and education are developing an aggressive technology plan for the island’s future. Some refer to the project as earmarking St. Croix to be “Silicon Island.” While technology such as the Carnegie Airborne Observatory is repairing the environment, further investment in technology will not only minimize future catastrophes but will also distinguish St. Croix as a technology leader.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technology solutions can facilitate the success of new and existing businesses on St. Croix. The island is investing FEMA storm recovery grants along with a capital market investment fund (the Alexander Hamilton Opportunity Fund). The investments are needed by 2020 to begin this project.
According to The Virgin Islands Source, the backbone of the technology investment will be a 5G advanced wireless system, which will be the second largest fiber optic bandwidth infrastructure in the world. This connectivity will be the means for which would-be entrepreneurs reach the world. One recommendation in discussion is to develop a USVI online marketplace for the Island’s many artisans. A similar solution could serve St. Croix’s agricultural production with an online food hub market.
Last month, The University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology park (RTP) met with international trade leaders in East Asia. The RTP team and Asian companies discussed long- term economic partnerships that would use advanced technologies at the University in three specific areas: artificial intelligence, financial technology, and medical technology.
Education is crucial if these technology programs are to succeed. RTP provides higher- education students with the opportunity to become involved in the technology sector, and it also serves as a springboard for entrepreneurs. To provide younger students and non-student adults with technology tools, viNGN provides Public Computer Centers across St. Croix. As technology progresses, the Virgin Islands Department of Education should enhance both technology-based classes and the use of technology in the classrooms. Teaching technology to young students is a great investment in the future of St. Croix.
Did you know that Alexander Hamilton’s boyhood home was on St. Croix? With the new interest in this founding father from the the Broadway hit, St. Croix leaders will capitalize on Hamilton’s resurgence to do the same for their Island’s economy.