Sarawak elder and tech entrepreneur develops COVID-19 tracking app

From earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering to starting a tech company and developing a COVID-19 tracking app with fellow alumni, Lim Jim Hong shares his story at Swinburne with us.

Tell us what you studied at Swinburne and your journey to becoming a tech entrepreneur?

I studied a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the Sarawak campus in Swinburne Malaysia. I had wanted to do a degree in computer programming, but my parents convinced me to choose civil engineering instead because they thought it would give me more opportunities. We agreed that I could do something else after I got my engineering degree. After my bachelor’s degree, I traveled to the United States as part of the country’s work and travel program. There, I met entrepreneurs and programmers who shared their startup experiences with me, and it was there that my passion for information and communication technologies (ICT) grew. I then created a company called ARx Media.

What does your business do and what challenges have you faced?

ARx Media was established in 2018 and specializes in software development, Internet of Things (IoT), smart city solutions, augmented reality, virtual reality, web/mobile application development, website development Web and technology consulting. I’m the director of business development and public relations. The company’s four partners are also all graduates of Swinburne Sarawak.

When we started, we didn’t hire anyone right away, so the workload was quite heavy. Today most of our employees are graduates of Swinburne Sarawak. We now have 13 employees, and more than half are Swinburne alumni.

Another challenge we faced at the beginning was gaining the trust of our customers as we were very new to the market.

Lim Jim Hong with a group of his employees from ARx Media.

Can you tell us more about the application you developed?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the Malaysian government implemented a strict nationwide control measure to curb the movement of people in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Following this, the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) where I live, approached my company and another organization to develop a location app, which led us to develop the Qmunity tracking app. Its purpose was to track the movement of people within the community, and the information obtained would be crucial for contact tracing. The app shortens the time needed to identify people who may be exposed to positive cases of COVID-19, and the Sarawak government is using the data specifically for this purpose.

Initially, the app was only intended for use in markets under the jurisdiction of MBKS (there are two city councils in Kuching). However, when the app was developed, shopping malls, supermarkets, food stores and cafes all started using the app so that it became part of the standard operating procedure in the fight against COVID- 19. Finally, the Qmunity app has been implemented across Sarawak, Malaysia.

Image provided by Daily Darawak.

What were the challenges in developing the app?

The app was urgently needed at the time, so getting it up and running was essential. Fortunately, we were able to get the system up and running in less than a month. Of course, we had to work around the clock and sacrifice our weekends!

Public trust was another challenge. Fortunately, government support for the app combined with the establishment of a privacy policy, including an education campaign on the benefits of the app, has helped gain public acceptance and trust. .

How was your experience at Swinburne?

Memorable and amazing. University prepared me well for my career and beyond. For that, I have to thank my teachers and classmates, some of whom are now my business partners. Besides academia, college has opened my eyes to many aspects of life. I am confident that I can go further in my career and beyond through my education at Swinburne.

What advice do you have for students interested in a career in civil engineering or ICT?

The employment and business opportunities in these industries are enormous. You can’t go wrong with either one. There is no shortage of opportunities in Malaysia right now, especially with the Sarawak government’s aspiration to digitalize its economy and aim for developed status by 2030.

For graduates looking to start a business, what is your advice?

Find a mentor. The right mentor will contribute a lot to your entrepreneurial spirit and your success. And, whatever your business, keep trying until you find something that works for you and/or works for you. For example, since we started the company, we have focused from augmented reality/virtual reality to system customization and now facial recognition.

What impact has your involvement with Swinburne had on your business?

We recently formalized a partnership with our alma mater to collaborate on engineering research activities and community projects involving the use of technologies such as IoT, augmented reality and virtual reality. In addition to this, we also provide internship opportunities, give career talks and run seminars and workshops with Swinburne Sarawak and public universities.

How to give back to the community?

We participate in “Start-up Weekend”, an event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and start-up enthusiasts come together to share ideas, build teams, create products and launch start-ups. Junior Chamber International Malaysia is an organization with which we are also very involved.

Visit our website to learn more about Swinburne Engineering.

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