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25 March 2022

Swinburne Alum Turned Covid-19 Qmunity Tracking App Developer

By David Teng

Civil engineering graduate Lim Jim Hong was one of the brains behind the development of Qmunity, a movement tracking app implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Here he talks about developing the app, his passion for ICT and the company he started with fellow Swinburne alumni.   

1. You graduated with a civil engineering degree. How did you get into ICT?

I had actually wanted to do a degree in computer programming but my parents convinced me to take up civil engineering instead because they believed that it would offer me more opportunities. We agreed that I could do something else after completing my engineering degree. So, after my bachelor’s I travelled to the United States under the country’s work and travel program for about six months. While there, I met some entrepreneurs and programmers who shared their start-up experiences, and that was where my ICT passion grew. Based on what I had learned and experienced in the US, I started a company called ARx Media.



2. What does your company do and what were the challenges in its early years?

ARx Media, which we set up in 2018, specialises in software development, Internet of Things, smart city solution, augmented reality, virtual reality, web/mobile application development, website development and technology consultant. I’m the Business Development and Public Relations Director. The four partners of the company are Swinburne Sarawak graduates too.

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

Another challenge we had to tackle in the early days was winning the confidence of our clients as we were very new in the market. The Qmunity tracking app project we took on was actually good for us because it speaks volumes for the company.

 

3. Tell us about the Qmunity tracking app.

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

Image courtesy of Dayak Daily.

Following this, the Council of the City of Kuching South (MBKS) where I live, approached my company and another organization to develop a location 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 it takes to identify individuals who might be exposed to positive Covid-19 cases, and the Sarawak government utilizes the data for specifically this purpose.

Initially, the app was intended only for use at markets under MBKS jurisdiction (there are two city councils in Kuching). However, when the app was further developed, shopping malls, supermarkets, food outlets and cafes utilized the app so that it became part of the standard operating procedure in combating Covid-19. Eventually, the Qmunity app was implemented throughout Sarawak.

 

4. What were the challenges in developing the app?

The app was urgently needed at the time so getting it up and running was critical. Fortunately, the system was operational in less than a month. Of course, we had to work round the clock and sacrificed our weekends!

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

 

5. How did your Swinburne education contribute to your growth as an individual, in your career and business?

Memorable and amazing are how I would describe my Swinburne experience. The university prepared me well for my career and beyond. For that, I have my lecturers and fellow students, some of whom are today my business partners, to thank for. Apart from academia, the university opened my eyes to many aspects of life. I am confident that I can go further in my career and beyond because of my Swinburne education.

6. What’s your advice to students keen on a career in civil engineering or ICT?

The job and business opportunities in these industries are huge. You can’t go wrong with either one. Sarawak continues to develop today and opportunities, I would say, are aplenty, especially with the Sarawak government’s aspiration to digitalize its economy and its goal for developed status by 2030.




7. For graduates looking to start a business, what’s your advice?

The right mentor will contribute a lot to your entrepreneurial mindset and success. And, whatever your venture may be, keep trying until you find something that suits you and/or works for you. For example, we switched our focus from Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality to System Customisation and now to Facial Recognition since we started the company.

 

8. How do you give back to the community?

We recently formalized a partnership with our alma mater to collaborate in engineering research activities and community projects involving the utilization of technologies such as IoT, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. In addition to internship opportunities, we also give career talks, organize seminars and workshops with Swinburne Sarawak and public universities.



Besides this we took part at ‘Startup Weekend’, an event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. The Junior Chamber International Malaysia is an organization we are also hugely involved with.

 


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