Cyber conference puts spotlight on youngsters and ‘digital excellence’
Gibraltar can be “a beacon of digital excellence” if its youngsters and future generations are nurtured from an early age, the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, said yesterday.
Speaking at the beginning of the second GibCyber Summit held at the University of Gibraltar, Lt Gen Davis said Gibraltar has been “nurturing its digital human talent and assuring its digital government mechanisms”.
He added: “Over the past 12 months, Gibraltar has continued to strive boldly to become a beacon of digital excellence through harnessing the powers of combinations emanating from a holistic approach to digital relevance, robustness and resilience.”
“With innovations such as distribution ledger, artificial intelligence and financial technologies reach a point of practical utility and begin pouring out into our daily lives.”
Lt Gen Davis said Gibraltar’s ambition is to become “globally connected and locally federated digital enterprise” across the full spectrum of government, corporate, academic and civic domains.
Organised by Manners Media and supported by the Royal Gibraltar Police and the Government of Gibraltar, there were a number of Ted Talk-style speeches and workshops focusing on the artificial intelligence, block chain technology and cyber security fields.
This year’s theme was ‘the future is in your hands’.
The audience heard from 12-year old “cyber ninja and ethical hacker” Reuben Paul who spoke on artificial intelligence and held a demonstration.
Other speakers included Cassie Kozyrkov, Google’s chief decision scientist, Charlie McMurdie, former head of the Metropolitan Police’s cyber crime unit, and Nell Watson, tech philosopher and futurist.
Students from Bayside School and Westside Schools held a cyber security workshop for basic protection aimed at small and medium-sized businesses in Gibraltar.
Ritika Melwani, 18, and Louis Smalls, 15, told the Chronicle it was an honour to be invited to the Gib Cyber Summit after having taken part in the Cyber Centurion competition.
Stewart Harrison, Head of Physics at Bayside School and the coordinator of the Cyber Centurion programme in Gibraltar, said careers in this field can only grow if there is exposure to this industry for Gibraltar’s youngsters.
The presence of this new career option is set to grow with more education opportunities available for youngsters in this field.
A new working group has been established between the Ministry for Commerce, Finance and Gaming and the Ministry for Education, which will focus on new technology in education.
Lt Gen Davis said this working group which will “attract, train and anchor digital technology expertise” in Gibraltar’s ever-growing digital markets.
Already, school children have taken part in cyber security camps over the summer and Prior Park School has just introduced a digital technology demonstration facility which is open to students from all schools.
The University will also start offering tailored digital technology courses for those interested.
Lt Gen Davis said: “We must continue to work relentlessly to ensure the availability, integrity and confidentiality of our smart Rock’s prerequisite asset – its database knowledge – against the ubiquitous threats of cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, cyber crime and cyber coercion.”
In his closing speech at the end of the Gib Cyber Summit, Education Minister Dr John Cortes announced that there will be “wide ranging curricular reforms” which will be see new technology and computer science courses available in Gibraltar in the three new secondary schools.
He said: “We welcome experts to join us in the journey and to bring the expertise.”
“And you will have young people to train up so that we have homegrown young people able to take up jobs in this industry who in years to come will become leaders themselves.”
Organiser Justin Manners explained this event looked at artificial intelligence, block chain and cyber security.
He said: “We are not just trying to create awareness but we’re also about nurturing the youth.”
“If we are doing block chain, we need to show Gibraltar is a centre of excellence and show that we are supporting our youth.”
With Gibraltar becoming a block chain industry leader, there has to be more awareness of cyber security threats locally, Mr Manners said.
The event was supported by the Royal Gibraltar Police, with officers from different departments present at the event.
During his opening speech, the Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail called for help from industry experts for the RGP’s new “Cyber Cops” unit.
This, he added, already had a number of responses from attendees including some Cyber Centurion youngsters because “it is all about ethical business.”
Mr McGrail said this event is important because the world is “a virtual community” and everyone has access to the internet.
He advised local businesses to liaise with experts to ensure their safety online and to “protect” themselves.
“It is equally important to investigate cyber crime and anything relating to cyber crime such as fraud and sex offenders as it is to have Bobbies on the beat,” Mr McGrail said.
“The fraudster is not going to be caught by the police officer on the street, and neither is the sex offender, yet we still have to have police officers to deal with them.”
With the new cryptocurrency industry coming into Gibraltar, local police officers are being trained up to have “an enforcement capabilities” to handle possible risks.
Mr McGrail added: “Whenever there is a centre of excellence, you have to have robust measures around that will make it continue to work, not just regulation and goodwill.”