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Java Center Develops Cloud in Philippines
Ateneo de Manila University Lab Has Been Doing Good Deeds Since 2003

The Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center (AJWCC) at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines has been developing cool mobile apps for more than eight years. In an emerging era of cloud computing, its efforts are seemingly prophetic while remaining absolutely current.

Initially founded with support from Sun Microsystems and Philippine telco Smart Communications, the AJWCC acts as a liaison between the business community and academia, and was originally seen as a research venue for faculty and graduate students. It now accepts undergraduates as well, while also serving as an incubator of sorts for start-up software companies.

A Focus on Positive Contributions
The Ateneo is a private, Jesuit university with an enrollment of approximately 8,000 undergraduates, and is considered to be one of the top universities in the country. Today, Fr. Charlie G. Cenzon, SJ (pictured) serves as the Executive Director of the AJWCC. He oversees a team of half a dozen or uber-techies, in a facility located within the university's main campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Current activities are focused on mobile enterprise and e-learning applications. Projects are funded by companies and other organizations, and specced to particular needs. One of its recent projects was a rain gauge mobile app that allows a network of public schools to create, in effect, a national grid of rain measurements.

The rain gauge's simple, form-based interface allows for easy data entry. This is valuable stuff indeed in a flood-prone nation that receives 80 inches of rain per year in most places (compared to 45 inches in New York and 60 in New Orleans).

In a separate project, the AJWCC has developed a disaster-response system called e-UGNAY (Tagalog for "relate") which provides links between donors and victims, so that relief items can be distributed more quickly and efficiently.

The center made another valuable contribution with ASCENT (Amputee Screening through CEllphone NeTworking), which provides on-site collection of photos and information about possible recipients in the Physicians for Peace Walking Free program. Data in this system flows from mobile devices through a central server and a Java-enabled receiver that integrates a database and file system to give doctors an accurate, remote view of how particular prosthetics will fit those who need them. Given travel difficulties found in much of the provincial Philippines, this is another winner.

In a similar project, the AJWCC is now developing an application for Operation Smile, the global NGO that has fixed cleft palates for more than 150,000 children in 60 countries. Photographs from remote locations can be sent to doctors along with specific information about each case.

The AJWCC has also developed: an e-voting system as part of a student thesis, which was said to be effective in a pilot project involving a student election; and a student journalism application.

The center has leveraged on underlying mobile enterprise technology, partnering with Blueblade Technologies, a company that's co-located with the AJWCC and which co-manages its research unit. Blueblade has developed what it calls its Xtend2Mobile service for all companies "with distributed outlets or mobile workforces," according to company CEO Hans Roxas-Chua. 

e-Learning in the Social Networking Age
Through its e-Learning activities, the center has developed online courses for the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) as well as the Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP).

As a good example, it has developed an 11-course Certified Digital Marketer program for IMMAP that seeks to train people for the contemporary challenges of integrating 21-century online/mobile media channels, social networking with traditional marketing. To me, this could be huge for the Philippines, which is striving to compete with its Southeast Asian neighbors and the world as a technology leader. I'll be covering this program in a separate article.

Meanwhile, Fr. Charlie says the AJWCC "encourages students to get involved in its research projects through OJT work or outsourcing of project components, as it also provides initial training, if needed, and thesis research direction."

"It's good exposure for students when they get to present at research conferences," he notes, "and outsourced work can also be a source of extra income for the students as well as a good foretaste of work in industry."

About Roger Strukhoff
Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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