How loadshedding affects your security

By Ntwaagae Seleka for News24

Home owners and businesses have been urged to test their security systems as a matter of urgency and to pay particular attention to the battery back-up systems during load shedding periods.

“Many people are under the incorrect assumption that their home alarm system is deactivated when the power supply is interrupted. However, if you have a stable and correctly programmed system coupled with a battery that is in good condition, it will continue to protect the premises during a power outage – regardless if the outage is because of load shedding or not,” said Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.

The only time it may not function correctly is if there is a technical issue, or the battery power is low.

“Most modern alarm systems have a back-up battery pack that activates automatically when there is a power failure. There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to ensure security is not compromised during any power cuts.

“Some of these include ensuring that the alarm system has an adequate battery supply, that all automated gates and doors are secured and lastly to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your security provider or the South African Police Service,” said Hattingh.

With the added inconvenience of the lights going out at night due to power cuts, candles and touch-lights are handy alternatives.

Home owners are also advised that it is important that their alarm systems have adequate battery supply and that batteries should be checked regularly. Alarms should be checked during extended power outages to keep systems running.

Power cuts can affect fire systems and fire control systems, so these also need to be checked regularly. The more frequent use of gas and candles can increase the risk of fire and home fire extinguishers should be on hand.

People are urged to remain vigilant during power cuts and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity and report this to their security company or the police immediately.

Hattingh said home and business owners should consider installing Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, which is integrated into the alarm system’s wiring and automatically switches on for a maximum of 15 minutes when there is a power outage.

“If there is an additional battery pack, the small, non-intrusive LED lights can stay on for the duration of the power outage – or a maximum of 40 hours – without draining the primary alarm battery. Because of load shedding, there might also be a higher than usual number of alarm activation signals received by security companies and their monitoring centres.

“This could lead to a delay in monitoring centre agents making contact with customers. You can assist by manually cancelling any potential false alarms caused by load shedding, and thus help call centre agents in prioritising the calls needing urgent attention,” said Hattingh.

 

By Kerushun Pillay for The Witness

Once a specialist field for nerds, the world of coding has today become pretty much a norm in the career space — so much so that even basic administrative jobs require people to know basic coding.

And the trend is being felt strongly: several online platforms, including universities, are on offer for people to get quick crash courses in coding, in addition to a wealth of online resources and free coding software for anyone interested.

There are a few non-profit organisations teaching coding and advanced IT to impoverished schools, with other local organisations strongly advocating for coding to be taught to the youth.

The looming fourth industrial revolution — which is likely to kill the traditional “blue collar” line of work — has meant advanced IT skills is slowly becoming no longer just advantageous, but more of a requirement. And those who’ve mastered it have seen a whole new world open up, from new employment and freelance opportunities, to suddenly being sought-after in their fields.

A pupil entering Grade 1 this year will graduate in 2031 if they do a one-year post matric qualification, when the world — and more importantly, the job market — is vastly different.

Coders make up a huge portion of the increasingly popular “gig economy” — where freelancers are hooked up with companies.

Even a traditionally pen and paper industry like journalism is slowly beginning to value basic coding skills, with more international newsrooms listing knowledge of basic HTML coding as a requirement.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is making plans to implement coding into the school curricula for Grade R to Grade 9 starting from next year.

The Department of Basic Education is looking at introducing coding schools.

The DBE has developed a “framework of skills for a changing world” and provincial departments are already in the process of implementing them.

The DBE said the Council of Education Ministers had last year approved the implementation of a Coding and Robotics curriculum to begin during foundation phase.

“Teachers and learners will be able to respond to emerging technologies, including the Internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence,” the department said.

The DBE has partnered with Unisa­, which has made 24 IT labs available to train some 72 000 teachers in coding.

Unisa and the University of the North West are both working on developing the education framework for coding, the DBE said.

Those universities are also supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to customise teaching and learning. That platform will be available in all 11 languages.

“There are plans in place to train at least three teachers in each of the 16 000 primary schools to teach coding.

“The implementation of Coding in the system will be preceded by a pilot project in 50 schools in five provinces during 2019, to ready the system and to ensure that the schools are prepared for full implementation post 2020,” said the DBE.

What is coding?
Coding makes it possible to create computer software, applications and websites. These are made using a specific coding language.

For example, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are used to construct websites, where HTML sets out the bare bones of a website, CSS is the design component which dictates colours and fonts, and JavaScript is the engine behind the website’s functionality.

So how does coding help children?

The “four C’s of coding” enable pupils to make sense of the digital world and develop crucial skills for the future job market.

1. Confidence

It encourages pupils to maintain a “can-do” attitude towards solving difficult problems. One of the coding concepts taught is debugging, where a coder has to identify and fix a bug. This process takes perseverance, and once it’s solved there is a sense of achievement and emboldened confidence in their coding abilities.

2. Creativity

Coding encourages experimentation, making mistakes, exploring ideas and questioning assumptions. In doing so, pupils develop the mindset for creative thinking. Instead of being passive technology users, they become active inventors and innovators.

3. Collaboration

Working in teams is an essential life skill. Coding may be seen as an independent task, but it calls for collaboration and group work, since many projects or apps are designed by teams. Coding projects also involve liaising with and presenting ideas to clients.

4. Computational thinking

By starting young, children will be better prepared to succeed and thrive in the 21st century. Computational thinking provides children with a new way of thinking that can be used to solve a variety of problems.

Here are five coding languages you should look at if you’re interested in coding. These will allow you to create a fully responsive website.

1. HTML — Think of a website as a human body, with HTML — or Hypertext Markup Language — being the skeletal structure. HTML is the most basic level of a website where the coder inputs all the components in plain text.

2. CSS — If HTML is the skeleton, then CSS is the clothing. CSS — or Cascading Style Sheet — allows the coder to input colours and fonts and rearrange components — also known as elements — and design the website as required.

3. JavaScript — Think of JavaScript as the organs: it isn’t seen, but is the engine that keeps the website ticking. JavaScript is used to create more sophisticated parts to a website. Ever see a website where photos or words come out of nowhere to invade the screen? That’s the work of JavaScirpt.

4. JQuery — JQuery is a library of JavaScript functions, making it easier for the coder to code certain functions.

5. PhP — or Hypertext Processor — is a server side language which allows the coder to include a server on the website. A server is used for, among other things, storing usernames and passwords. Facebook, for example, relies on PhP to store users’ information.

How do I even start?

You can learn a number of coding languages right now and all you need is an internet connection. Here’s how:

1. Use online tutorials — free guides, like W3Schools for example, are available to help you learn programming languages and also have solutions to commonly experienced coding problems.

2. YouTube — There are several “code along” videos to get you into the groove of coding. There are also channels offering step-by-step tutorials for every language.

3. Try it out — You learn by doing, and coding is no different. Let’s say you want to design websites: take a website you like which has a simple design and try to code it yourself. Online resources like GitHub­ also offer countless examples for you to test out.

4. Google it — Encountering stumbling blocks is inevitable but rest assured as dozens of people have had the same problem and have posted a solution.

What the analysts say

Analysis felt the move to adopt coding in schools was a positive one, but say implementation could be a challenge.

Dr Anthea Cereseto, the national CEO of the Governing Body Foundation, said while the foundation had not yet adopted a standpoint on the issue, the country could not risk being “left behind” while technology advances.

“We will advise schools to keep up with modern advances and coding is part of the future. The problem is with funding, and while we can’t neglect coding, attention must also be given to other shortfalls,” she said.

Cereseto said the department needed to weigh covering “essentials”, like early childhood development, while implementing coding: “There is a finite budget and the department has to prioritise properly. Recently, department expenditure has been declining.”

She added: “It should also be broadly rolled out and can’t only be introduced in elite pockets. Right now only the elite can get [coding] training if they pay for it, and some schools offer it. But it needs to be rolled out in schools or else the equity gap will be increased.”

Cereseto said training teachers would be another challenge: “Learning coding is not an overnight thing. They need to be trained properly and then we need the resources because something like coding can’t just be theoretical.”

Education analyst Professor Labby Ramrathan­ said: “It’s a big step, and introducing coding is more useful than introducing more languages. It would allow the curriculum to align itself with education for relevance.”

He said the DBE’s pilot roll-out will provide a sense of what is needed for proper implementation.

Tech guru Arthur Goldstuck said learning coding was like learning another language, as it will allow young people to understand the advancing world.

“It is wonderful to expose children to it and they will find a whole new world open up, but teachers generally don’t learn new concepts and we can’t start rolling it out until that happens.

“Resources are another challenge, but if money is taken from places where there is misspending and put in education there should be no problem,” Goldstruck said.

He added that schools should also look at teaching entrepreneurial skills, which go hand-in-hand with freelance coding and collaborating with other people.

It’s all the rage

Pupils are enthusiastic about coding, and it allows them to improve their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

This is according to advocates for taking coding to the youth who run workshops at schools and offer coding training.

Stefan Louw, the co-founder of the CodeSpace Foundation, said learning how to code made technology more meaningful to pupils, and that it allowed pupils to think creatively to solve problems.

The foundation tasks pupils with project-based work in order to build their skills.

“When you’re learning, you’re making mental models and building things up in your mind, and when you’re applying that knowledge, you’re building something in your mind — that’s when you’re really learning effectively.

“The theory suggests that it’s by working through problems that are part of a larger project that students are able to ‘build’ the learning that will stick with them to be applied to future problems,” he said.

He added that his foundation will soon introduce robotics to schools.

“The job market is already experiencing a massive shift as automation becomes a reality: low-skill or unskilled labour is increasingly automated, but it’s definitely not all bad news.

“There’s a considerable opportunity for employment in this field, and a tech education can allow South Africa to leapfrog into a position of frontrunner in the world of innovation, if we’re able to provide tech education that will allow us to meet the worldwide demand for skilled, talented programmers.”

He said the current school system was “outdated” and there was now the opportunity to integrate IT to the point where it enhances learning across classes.

CodeJIKA, a non-profit which takes coding to schools, echoed Louw, saying that young people would not understand the demands of the new job market without being exposed to coding at an early age.

According to CodeJIKA, who have established pupil-run coding clubs in high schools, contrary to the perception that advanced computer skills are only valuable in IT professions, over 70% of computing jobs are outside that industry.

The organisation believes a knowledge of computer science is increasingly critical in research, finance and manufacturing.

Six pieces of tech every office needs

Source: HackRead

Before you start buying any technology or furniture for your office, you must put in some planning and research time. There are so many options to consider and each one will have a direct impact on the functionality of your workspace and, as result, how productive you and your team are on a day to day basis.

Poorly designed and chaotic offices with substandard equipment do not make for a great working environment. What’s bad for your employees is bad for your business. The office design process doesn’t have to be complicated. In addition to your computers, here are some essential pieces of tech every office needs.

1. Electric desks

Although you may think that furniture is a weird place to start when talking about office technology, you do need to consider the long term benefits of investing in electric height adjustable desks. With the touch of a button, you can electric raise and lower your desk to change your working positions through the day. This helps to prevent bad posture, aches and strains and encouraging them to be more active.

2. Incredible Wi-Fi

Your Wi-Fi is an area where it really doesn’t pay to cut corners. Weak and slow Wi-Fi signal that keeps dropping out is going to reduce productivity and demotivate your staff. It’s best to talk to a professional IT consultant about the solutions on the market as they’ll be able to recommend the best.

3. A cloud-based network

In the past, a company would have shared and stored data on physical hard drives in the office. This not only meant that the company was vulnerable to data loss if the computers were damaged or stolen, but also that there was no remote access or flexible working. Luckily, things have changed. A cloud-based system is a virtual storage space rather than physical and enables authorized people to access the network from wherever they are in the world via a secure
login.

4. Top quality headphones

Busy workspaces are great, but sometimes you need to zone out and just focus on a task. Too much noise or even deadly silence can be a real distraction, so good quality headphones are an absolute must. Whether they’re used for listening to music, watching videos or taking calls or to dull the office buzz, you need to choose headphones which work for your business. You can easily and quickly find headphones using Choosist based on your budget and preferred features.

5. A reliable phone system

A business can live or die by its ability to communicate effectively. It’s crucial to get the best telephone network you can afford not only to ensure your staff can collaborate effectively but also to ensure any customers or affiliates get the best possible service. Consider a VoIP phone system which runs on an internet connection, rather than wires. These systems can integrate with computers so your employees will be able to make and receive calls from their desktop or laptop and there are no physical phone lines to connect your offices, employees or stores.

6. A complete security system

It’s not enough to simply lock the doors at the end of the day or even to rely on ID badges to grant or deny access. In the digital age, we live in you should be investing in multi-factor security with several stages of identification needed. In some cases, this could be as advanced as facial or fingerprint recognition for physical security, but Cybersecurity software is also essential to keep your business safe from hackers.

Source: BBC

Google has been hit with a €1.49bn (£1.28bn) fine from the EU for blocking rival online search advertisers.

It is the third EU fine for the search and advertising giant in two years.

The case accuses Google of abusing its market dominance by restricting third-party rivals from displaying search ads between 2006 and 2016.

In response, Google changed its AdSense contracts with large third parties, giving them more leeway to display competing search ads.

Google owner Alphabet makes large amounts of money from advertising – pre-tax profits reached $30.7bn (£23bn) in 2018, up from $12.66bn in 2017.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites.

“This is illegal under EU anti-trust rules,” said EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Last year, the EU competition authority hit Google with a record €4.34bn fine for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals.

This followed a €2.42bn fine in 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

The European Commission said that websites often had an embedded search function.

When a consumer uses this, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result.

Google’s “AdSense for search” product delivers those adverts for website publishers.

The Commission described Google as acting like “an intermediary, like an advertising broker”.

In 2006, Google started to include “exclusivity clauses” in contracts which stopped publishers from placing ads from Google rivals such as Microsoft and Yahoo on search pages, the Commission said.

From 2009, Google started replacing the exclusivity clauses with “premium placement” clauses, which meant publishers had to keep the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and they had to request a minimum number of Google adverts.

Publishers also needed to get written permission from Google before making any changes to how rival ads were displayed, letting Google control “how attractive, and therefore clicked on, competing search adverts could be”, the Commission said.

Search giant
The restrictive clauses “led to a vicious circle”, Ms Vestager said in a media conference.

“Google’s rivals, they were unable to grow, and to compete, and as a result of that, website owners had limited options for selling advertising space on those websites, and were forced solely to rely on Google,” she said.

“There was no reason for Google to include these restrictive clauses in their contracts, except to keep rivals out of the market,” she added.

Between 2006 to 2016, Google had more than 70% of the search intermediation market in the EU. It generally had more than 90% of the search market and more than 75% of the online search advertising market, the Commission added.

By Sarah Evans for News24 

Uber faces a class action suit by customers who say they suffered emotional trauma and physical injuries while using its service. Eleven people represented by Ulrich Roux Attorneys will approach the High Court in an effort to pursue a damages claim from the transportation service as a class action.

The class action comes on the back of criminal and civil suits involving people who were harmed, allegedly while using Uber.

In a criminal case, four men are currently facing trial on a number of charges including rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder. They allegedly attacked five Uber users between July and August 2016.

According to the charge sheet, the accused’s modus operandi was for one of them to pose as an Uber taxi driver and pretend to be the driver who received the victim’s Uber request. But he was not the driver linked to the victim’s Uber app.

In most of the cases, the other accused would emerge from the boot of the car, through the back seat, and attack the victims, stabbing and raping them in all cases but one, which was an attempted rape. The victims were also robbed of their belongings and made to tell the accused their bank account details.

In the civil case, Roux said that eight people had come forward wanting to claim damages from Uber for incidents that took place while they were using the service.

Safety ‘a top priority’

Roux said that the team of lawyers was drafting an application to have the case certified as a class action, which must be approved by the High Court before it can proceed. He said the team believed that Uber had “vicarious liability” in these incidents, as it advertised the service as safe and reliable to use.

Uber told News24 on Thursday that it could not comment on a case that has not yet begun, however, its thoughts remain with the riders affected by these incidents, it said.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the riders and their families, these incidents are deeply upsetting.

“As soon as these incidents were reported we reached out to local authorities and whatever information we could provide was handed over to the police and it was this close collaboration that led to the arrest of the suspect. In cases of this nature we work closely with police to support their investigations,” Uber explained in a statement on Thursday.

The taxi service also wished to clarify that since these incidents, it had undertaken to improve its verification process and safety features for riders and drivers.

“Safety is a top priority for Uber, and has been since our launch in South Africa. We’re committed to doing the right thing and take on our part of the responsibility to increase safety.

“We constantly invest and innovate to raise the bar on safety,” Uber said.

By Ishani Chetty for Cape Town Etc

Ongoing problems with the application and issuing of learner’s and driver’s licences are being experienced across the country, with the Western Cape and Gauteng being affected the most.

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith said that those waiting to receive their new licence cards can expect further delays, “as the situation at the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA) in Pretoria has yet to see any significant improvement.”

Driving licence cards are issued by the DLCA, a trading entity of the National Department of Transport.

Four months of industrial action in July 2018, as well as damage to the interface system between the card production facility and the National Traffic information system (NaTIS) after its annual maintenance, are said to be some of the cause of these nationwide delays.

A third issue hindering the process is the poor state of the Live Enrollment Units (LEUs), systems that are used to perform eye tests on learner’s and driving licence applicants as well as those applying for licence card renewals. The LEUs are in dire need of a software upgrade and as a result are not functioning well.

“The technical assistance required from the DLCA is lacking and further compounds the problem. Without eye tests, licence and card applications cannot be completed,” said Smith.

Applicants are not allowed to provide letters from optometrists and must complete the eye tests at the testing facilities.

The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has been urging the National Department of Transport, the DLCA and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to address the problems.

Western Cape Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant said that the National Department of Transport has not kept their word.

“To date, various commitments have been made but little progress has been made by the National Department of Transport to effectively address these very urgent issues.”

Driving licence card renewals before the the card’s expiry date cost R140, while applicants who apply to renew their licence cards after the expiry date must pay R140 plus an additional R45 for a temporary licence. Temporary licences are only valid for six months and can be obtained while drivers are still waiting for their new licence card.

Motorists may continue to drive for a maximum of three months as long as they are equipped with their application receipts or old cards. If their temporary licence expires before they receive their new card, they will have to apply for a second temporary licence but will not be charged for it.

Members of the public can check the application of their status by SMSing their identification number to 33214, a system that has been set up by the DLCA.

Applicants will receive one of these responses:

Status Message
Order not received and unknown ID

DLCA does not have an application for this ID number
Order received by CPF

Dear [Initials],[Surname] – your order has been received and is awaiting production
Order in production

Dear [Initials],[Surname] – your order is currently in production
Order produced and posted

Dear [Initials],[Surname] – your order cards has been produced. Kindly wait for collection SMS
Smith said the City is committed to resolving the issue and alleviating long waiting periods locals’ frustration.

“We are aware of the frustration that is being experienced daily as a result of this failure by the National Department of Transport and its agencies, but we would like to assure the citizens of the Western Cape that we are doing all that we can to mitigate the inconvenience, and find a permanent solution to the issues currently plaguing the system.”

Buying groceries online just got easier

By Catherine Black for TimesLive

These days, managing your life via your smartphone is nothing new – whether it’s organising travel, booking accommodation, banking, reading the news or tracking your fitness.

But when it comes to something as mundane as grocery shopping, apps that allow us to do this have taken longer to materialise – probably because shopping for a whole lot of smaller items and brands from different places is fairly complex and personal. Luckily, it seems technology has finally caught up.

As a Joburger, you can now choose from at least three grocery shopping apps such as Zulzi, OneCart and Grocerease, where you can order groceries, over-the-counter pharmacy items, liquor, pet food and even restaurant food from a cluster of stores in your area via a single mobile interface.

The app then uses the city as a warehouse, matching your delivery location with the stores closest to you among big retailers like Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Pick n Pay Liquor, Dis-Chem and Clicks.

Some apps also let you select the specific stores you prefer, which can be handy if you prefer a particular franchised Pick n Pay to the one closest to you, for example.

Once you’ve selected and placed your order, a personal shopper assembles your shopping cart on your behalf, and a driver – some companies use registered Taxify or Uber drivers – delivers it to your door. Most apps promise delivery within an hour or two, or you can select a scheduled time that suits you better.

As with other food apps like Uber Eats and OrderIn, you can monitor the progress of your order in real time.

With the arrival of these grocery apps, the days of a frustrating grocery shopping experience – the traffic, the parking, not to mention how time-consuming it all is – seem, thankfully, to be numbered.

YouTube Premium launches in SA

By Regardt van der Berg for NAG

If you are a YouTube fan you’ll be glad to hear that YouTube Premium has finally launched in South Africa. Formerly known as YouTube Red, this Premium service offers you an ad-free YouTube experience with a few Original titles thrown in the mix.

The monthly cost for an ad-free YouTube experience will set you back a mere R72 per month and eliminates both pre-roll ads and those annoying popups. If you’ve compiled a massive playlist of music videos, you’ll now be able to enjoy it without interruption.

The company also launched its own music streaming service called YouTube Music Premium which cleverly makes use of its extensive library of music videos to deliver an ad-free music video streaming experience. Music videos can now be played in the background when you are working in other apps and you can switch to an audio-only mode should you want to preserve data.  The stand-alone app available on Android and iOS has been redesigned from the normal YouTube app to focus on a more dedicated music listening and discovery experience.

YouTube Music Premium is included in the YouTube Premium package but can also be subscribed to separately for R60 per month. If you’re a Google Play Music subscriber, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll also get access to YouTube Music for free with your existing subscription.

A nifty new feature that Google has introduced along with Music Premium is the ability to search in local South African languages and you can search by song description and lyrics.

You can sign up for a three-month trial to YouTube Premium, so check it out.

Several European banks have been drawn into money-laundering allegations centered on dirty Russian money. Much of the information has been made available to media outfits by The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, or OCCRP. Investigations into the scandal are under way in the Baltic nations, the US, the UK and the Nordic countries. Below is a list of the main banks touched by the scandal.

Danske Bank A/S

Denmark’s biggest bank admitted in September that much of about $230bn that flowed through its tiny Estonian unit between 2007 and 2015 was probably suspicious in origin.

The lender is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as by authorities in Denmark, Estonia, the U.K. and France.

Swedbank AB

Swedish broadcaster SVT alleged that almost $6bn in suspicious transactions flowed between Danske Bank and Swedbank in 2007-2015, linking the Swedish bank to Danske’s $230bn money-laundering scandal.

The bank is being investigated by the financial supervisory authorities of Sweden and Estonia. It’s also being probed by Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority for allegedly breaching insider information rules.

Nordea Bank Abp

The biggest Nordic bank allegedly handled about €700m in potentially dirty money, with funds arriving from failed Lithuanian bank Ukio Bankas and heading to shell companies in countries such as the British Virgin Islands and Panama, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

Investor Bill Browder filed complaints with Nordic authorities in October alleging $405m of suspicious funds flowed via the bank. Sweden decided not to investigate but Finland has yet to say if it will.

Deutsche Bank AG

More than $889m went from accounts at Deutsche Bank to those of the so-called “Troika Laundromat” between 2003 and 2017, according to German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung—part of the OCCRP journalist group.

The report comes on top of regulatory scrutiny of Deutsche Bank’s role as a correspondent bank in Danske Bank’s money-laundering scandal and a probe by German prosecutors of its involvement in a tax-evasion scheme unmasked by the Panama Papers in 2016.

Raiffeisen Bank International AG

The Austrian bank that’s among the biggest foreign lenders in Russia is the main target of a filing by the Hermitage Fund, detailing $634m allegedly transferred to it from Lithuania’s Ukio Bankas and from the Estonian unit of Danske Bank. Hermitage said the bank ignored signs that should have triggered money-laundering prevention measures.

Raiffeisen has launched an internal probe, yet also points out that Hermitage has filed similar allegations before and that they were dismissed by Austrian authorities.

ABN Amro Group NV

The Troika Laundromat moved about €190m through a unit of the Dutch bank that became part of Royal Bank of Scotland, Dutch newspaper Trouw and magazine De Groene Amsterdammer reported. All assets, data and clients of the unit became the legal responsibility of RBS in February 2008, ABN said.

The Dutch financial crimes police declined to comment on whether it was investigating the bank.

Cooperatieve Rabobank U.A.

About €43m were paid to the Rabobank account of Dutch yacht builder Heesen for construction of two boats for Russian senator Valentin Zavadnikov, according to newspaper Trouw and magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. The money came from the Troika Laundromat scheme, the media outlets said.

The Dutch financial crimes police declined to comment on whether it was investigating the bank.

ING Groep NV

The Dutch bank’s branch in Moscow worked until 2013 with a client who it suspected of involvement in money laundering, the media outlets said.

The Dutch financial crimes police declined to comment on whether it was investigating the bank. ING last year paid $900m to end a Dutch money-laundering probe.

Turkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S.

The Dutch unit of the Turkish bank processed €200m in transactions that came from two Lithuanian banks that were at the center of the Troika Laundromat, the Dutch media outlets reported.

It wasn’t immediately clear if it was being investigated.

By Lisa Du and Ayaka Maki for Bloomberg/Fin24

It’s watching, and knows a crime is about to take place before it happens.

Vaak, a Japanese startup, has developed artificial intelligence software that hunts for potential shoplifters, using footage from security cameras for fidgeting, restlessness and other potentially suspicious body language.

While AI is usually envisioned as a smart personal assistant or self-driving car, it turns out the technology is pretty good at spotting nefarious behaviour. Like a scene out of the movie “Minority Report,” algorithms analyse security-camera footage and alert staff about potential thieves via a smartphone app.

The goal is prevention; if the target is approached and asked if they need help, there’s a good chance the theft never happens.

Vaak made headlines last year when it helped to nab a shoplifter at a convenience store in Yokohama. Vaak had set up its software in the shop as a test case, which picked up on previously undetected shoplifting activity. The perpetrator was arrested a few days later.

“I thought then, ‘Ah, at last!’” said Vaak founder Ryo Tanaka, 30. “We took an important step closer to a society where crime can be prevented with AI.”

Shoplifting cost the global retail industry about $34bn in lost sales in 2017 – the biggest source of shrinkage, according to a report from Tyco Retail Solutions. While that amounts to approximately 2% of revenue, it can make a huge difference in an industry known for razor-thin margins.

The opportunity is huge. Retailers are projected to invest $200bn in new technology this year, according to Gartner, as they become more open to embracing technology to meet consumer needs, as well as improve bottom lines.

“If we go into many retailers whether in the US or UK, there are very often going to be CCTV cameras or some form of cameras within the store operation,” said Thomas O’Connor, a retail analyst at Gartner. “That’s being leveraged by linking it to an analytics tool, which can then do the actual analysis in a more efficient and effective way.”

Because it involves security, retailers have asked AI-software suppliers such as Vaak and London-based Third Eye not to disclose their use of the anti-shoplifting systems. It’s safe to assume, however, that several big-name store chains in Japan have deployed the technology in some form or another.

READ: Amazon facial AI matched politicians with criminals in test
Vaak has met with or been approached by the biggest publicly traded convenience-store and drugstore chains in Japan, according to Tanaka.

Big retailers have already been adopting AI technology to help them do business. Apart from inventory management, delivery optimisation and other enterprise needs, AI algorithms run customer-support chatbots on websites. Image and video analysis is also being deployed, such as Amazon.com’s Echo Look, which gives users fashion advice.

“We’re still just discovering all the market potential,” Tanaka said. “We want to keep expanding the scope of the company.”

Founded in 2017, Vaak is currently testing in a few dozen stores in the Tokyo area. The company began selling a market-ready version of its shoplifting-detection software this month, and is aiming to be in 100 000 stores across Japan in three years. It has ¥50m ($450 000) in funding from SoftBank Group’s AI fund, and is in the middle of its series A round, seeking to raise ¥1bn.

What makes AI-based shoplifting detection a straightforward proposition is the fact that most of the hardware – security cameras – is usually already in place.

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“Essentially this is using something that’s been underutilised for decades,” said Vera Merkatz, business development manager at Third Eye. Founded in 2016, the startup offers services similar to Vaak in the UK market, where it has a deal with a major grocery chain. Third Eye is looking to expand into Europe.

The ability to detect and analyse unusual human behaviour also has other applications. Vaak is developing a video-based self-checkout system, and wants to use the videos to collect information on how consumers interact with items in the store to help shops display products more effectively.

Beyond retail, Tanaka envisions using the video software in public spaces and train platforms to detect suspicious behavior or suicide jumpers. At Third Eye, Merkatz said she’s been approached by security management companies looking to leverage their AI technology.

“The potential is broad since it can be applied outside of shoplifting prevention and outside of retail — such as with manufacturing or other types of marketing,” said Hiroaki Ando, a retail consultant at Ernst & Young Advisory & Consulting in Tokyo.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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