Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana is the Chief Operating Officer of Theekshana (a company managed by the University of Colombo School of Computing, UCSC) and is also the Director/CEO of a nascent company on Internet of Things (IoT) in Sri Lanka. Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana who is an alumnus of the University of Miami, USA has more than 25 years of experience in ICT. Mr. Wijayawardhana is a Fellow of the British Computer Society. He was also involved in developing the Software Development Unit (SDU) of the UCSC. He and his team at SDU have been an integral part of developing software for the Government of Sri Lanka.
He has contributed immensely to the development of the Internet and e-Governance in Sri Lanka. He was a member of the Internet Committee of the Council for Information Technology (CINTEC). This is where the very first work on implementation of Sinhala Unicode began. Mr. Wijayawardhana has been an ardent advocate of Sinhala Unicode and has developed Sinhala Unicode compliant fonts in his lab. He is a member the Local Language Working Group of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and is a member of the Sectoral Committee on ICT of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI). Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana was also the Founder President of the local chapter of Internet Society (ISOC-LK). He has served on the Board of LK Domain Registry since its inception. He was recognized as an Internet Pioneer at the celebration on 20 years’ of connecting Sri Lanka to commercial Internet, by ISOC, the LK Doman Registry and ICTA, in 2015.
Video in Brief
Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana is a Biochemist turned ICT consultant, and an alumnus of the University of Miami, Florida, USA. He has more than 25 years of experience in ICT. Initially, from 1996 to 2002, he contributed immensely to the development of Internet and e-Governance in Sri Lanka. He was the very first web master of www.lk, the Government web portal of Sri Lanka and developed www.priu.gov.lk which was the official website for the Policy, Research and Information Unit of the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. This site eventually became the official media site of the President of Sri Lanka. In addition, he developed official websites for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, www.formin.gov.lk and subsequently www.mfa.gov.lk. These were developed while developing the Ministry’s local and wide area networks.
During this period, he was involved in developing the Software Development Unit (SDU) of the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC). He and his team at SDU became an integral part of developing software for the Government of Sri Lanka and developed software for the Department of External Resources of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Information, Western Provincial Council as well as for the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Department of Police.
He became a key member of the team which carried out several weekly radio programs, namely “Internet Sampath Bavithaya” or use of Internet Resources, in Sinhala and in English. The Sinhala radio program commenced in 1997 and lasted until 2016 and was one of oldest running programs on Swadeshiya Sevaya of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). As the web master of www.lk, he became a key member of the Internet Committee of the Council for Information Technology. This is where the very first work on implementation of Sinhala Unicode began. In 1998, Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana became the network designer of the Kotmale Community Radio Internet Project which was funded by UNESCO. This project became the very first multi-purpose Telecentre in the world and was the very first site to use dynamic routing in Sri Lanka.
From 2002 onwards, he became an ardent advocate of Sinhala Unicode and developed Sinhala Unicode fonts in his lab. His main contribution during this period had been understanding the rendering of Sinhala Unicode which up to that point had not been properly understood by ICT experts in Sri Lanka. As a member of Local Language Working Group (LLWG) of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and the ICT Committee of Sri Lanka Standards Institution, he became an active member in drafting of revision 3 of the Sinhala ICT Standard SLS 1134 which was the guide document for the developing Sinhala Unicode. During this period, he was awarded several projects by ICTA such as identification of Sinhala numerals and encoding these in Unicode. During the transition period from CINTEC to ICTA, he also maintained www.fonts.lk and became the deputy coordinator of local project of “PAN Localization”, funded by IDRC, Canada. In addition, he was also involved in developing the Sinhala Unicode font Sarasavi where he experimented with Unicode font rules. He had also managed to identify several sets of Numerations in Sinhala and two sets of numerals, namely Sinhala illakkam and Lith Illakkam were encoded in Unicode in 2010 and included in the Sri Lanka Standard SLS 1134 : 2011. He represented Sri Lanka at Working Group (WG2) of ISO/IEC/SC2 several times where he finally managed to get Sinhala numerals encoded in Unicode.
Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana was one of the main investigators for the use of Wi-Fi for the Telecentre program in Sri Lanka. UCSC and Sarvodaya were awarded funding by Candian IDRC for the project Virtual Village for which Mr. Wijayawardhana set up two Wi-Fi hotspots in Gampha and Hatton.
Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana was also the Founder President of the local chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-LK). He served as ICT Consultant to H.E. the President from 2010 to 2015. He also served as ICT consultant to the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) of Sri Lanka. He had served on the Board of the LK Domain Registry since its inception and has been Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Theekshana (a company managed by UCSC) since its inception. He was recognized as an Internet Pioneer at the celebration on 20 years’ of connecting Sri Lanka to commercial Internet, by ISOC, the LK Doman Registry and ICTA, in 2015. He was also responsible for setting up of several startups and presently functions as Director/CEO of a nascent company on Internet of Things (IoT) in Sri Lanka and has written two books and has several publications.