Tag: tech

Is tech just for boys?

The gender stereotypes of parents and teachers play a large role in putting young girls off careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers, a study has found.

The study found 53 per cent of girls in secondary school drop Stem subjects due to pressure from parents. Two thirds of girls surveyed (65 per cent) said their parents and teachers were the main influence over what subjects and career choices they made.

One third of parents and teachers (29 per cent) polled said they view Stem subjects and careers “as more closely fitting boys’ brains, personalities and hobbies”.

When discussing attitudes to science and tech careers, 82 per cent of girls said they wanted a career where they could help people, and did not see how a future in a Stem field could achieve that.

The research found the more extra-curricular Stem events or school day trips girls attended, the more likely they were to take at least two Stem subjects at Leaving Cert level such as science subjects or technical graphics. Out of girls who attended three or more Stem events or trips, 30 per cent chose to do two or more science or technology subjects for their Leaving Cert.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the research provided “much-needed insight into the under-representation of girls and women in Stem education and careers”.

He said addressing the lack of women and girls in science, engineering, tech and maths fields was a priority to be addressed.

The research involved 3,000 Irish students, parents and teachers who were questioned earlier this year. The survey was carried out by consulting firm Accenture Ireland and iWish, a Cork-based advocacy group involved in encouraging young girls to enter science and tech fields.

Co-founder of iWish Ruth Buckley said the research “points to the significant role that teachers can play as a gateway to Stem careers”. She said that “giving teachers and girls knowledge, information and access is key, we cannot leave girls’ inclusion to chance, we need to have a consistent and systematic focus on Stem through our education system”.

The report made several recommendations on how to increase the engagement of young girls with Stem careers. These include helping parents educate themselves on the subjects, and providing additional training and information to teachers on Stem careers so they can better inform students about potential opportunities in the field.

Source: www.irishtimes.com

South Africa can expect at least three big new banking options within the coming months – all of which will be entering a highly competitive market.

A poll conducted in August by BusinessTech, generating over 10,000 responses found that Capitec is far and away the bank most South Africans would switch to, garnering 44% of the votes.

Capitec said recently that it has added 400,000 customers since February 2017 to become the second biggest bank in the country by this metric.

Its success has forced South Africa’s other banks to compete more effectively, and has led to Absa and FNB in particular to launch entry-level accounts that target Capitec’s market approach.

However, Capitec will soon face stiff new competition of its own, through Patrice Motsepe’s Tyme which promises to cause ‘disruption’ of its own through a digital play.

Tyme joins insurance giant Discovery, which also plans to launch a commercial bank, while government has plans for a retail offering of its through the South African Post Office – all of which are expected to launch sometime between now and late 2018.

Each offering brings with it unique features which could entice customers from the current “big five”.

Tyme

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe made headlines last week after he announced that he was set to challenge South Africa’s biggest banks with investment company African Rainbow Capital (ARC) close to securing a banking license.

Tyme was granted a provisional license by the South African Reserve Bank in 2016, with Johan van der Merwe, co- CEO of African Rainbow Capital stating that the company expected a full licence before the end of September.

“The South African banking environment is due for a bit of disruption,” said van der Merwe.

“While Capitec has been able to play that role, the soon-to-be-licensed lender will be a disruption over and above that. This will be a complete game changer.”

“The regulator is looking at the cloud-based system that ARC’s fintech partner is using to make sure it works before granting a full licence,” he said.

Tyme is reportedly signing up 5,000 new customers each week, following the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s acquisition for a reported AU$40 million.

Arguably, Tyme’s biggest asset is its in-house developed “know your customer” KYC accreditation solutions.

These allow customers to open a simple bank account over their mobile phone, and open an unrestricted bank account from a remote location instead of having to enter a bank branch.

This form of unrestricted account access and cloud-based solutions is likely to tie-in with African Rainbow Capital’s July announcement that it invested in 20% of fixed and mobile data network operator Rain.

Discovery

In March 2017, Discovery said that it had received authorisation from the Registrar of Banks to establish banking operations in South Africa, and is on track to launch its banking products next year.

Discovery CEO, Adrian Gore first announced plans for a retail bank in 2015, and stated that it would act as a direct competitor to Absa, FNB, Nedbank, Capitec, and Standard Bank.

The insurer has reportedly seen great success with its Discovery Card joint venture with FNB, which would provide a launch pad for full banking services.

“We’ve got the capital, we’ve hired bankers, we’re building substantial systems. We want to make an offering that’s relevant and can win market share,” said Gore.

Discovery has an advantage over the big four traditional banks, as it does not have to maintain a country-wide network of branches and ATMs. This means Discovery Bank’s costs have the potential to be lower than its competitors.

Former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan also believes that the technology available to Discovery could make it a major disruptor in the financial sector as it uses its vast resources and lower cost base to offer clients lower banking fees and better interest rates.

The South African Post Office

While not as eye-catching as Tyme or Discovery, the South African Post Office (SAPO) could prove to be a large disruptor in the financial sector because of its ease of accessibility.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in May, telecommunications minister Siyabonga Cwele said that the Post Office’s transition into a development bank will be government’s first big step in “radically transforming the financial sector and challenging the current banking institutions”.

“It’s not going to be a normal bank like the big four. It’s going to be a developmental bank to deal with the market that is not being served at the moment,” said Cwele.

He added that, despite the higher risks involved, the Post Office will also look at funding entrepreneurs with small loans.

“We are going to need a very strong risk management system. The issue of financial inclusion is part of radical economic transformation. We are not talking about reckless access to finance.”

Current SAPO CEO Mark Barnes will likely head up the new bank, which is expected to become a fully-fledged consumer bank sometime in 2018.

The bank could also be bolstered massively should it acquire the rights to distribute social grants to over 17 million South Africans from SASSA.

Source: BusinessTech

Loophole used to spy on more than 70 000 phones in SA

Law enforcement agencies are spying on at least 70 000 phone numbers each year, exploiting a loophole in South Africa’s surveillance policies that allow them to access phone records through a less rigorous process.

Civil rights organisation Right2Know Campaign (R2K) surveyed statistics from MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom, which revealed that government accesses sensitive communications information from tens of thousands of people every year using a loophole that bypasses South Africa’s primary surveillance law, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA).

Jane Duncan, founder of the Media Policy and Democracy Project, said statistics show South Africans’ privacy is routinely being violated. Yet there is very little sense of how this is bringing down crime.

“Privacy is not sufficiently protected in processes followed,” she said.

RICA requires law enforcement and intelligence agencies to obtain permission from a special judge, appointed by the president, to intercept a person’s communications.

“RICA sets high standards, with a specialised judge appointed that reviews applications,” said Duncan.

But instead of using RICA, the government is turning to Section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act which gives officials access to phone users’ metadata in phone records. This reveals who they have communicated with, when, and where.

The Criminal Procedures Act is not nearly as protected as RICA and definitely creates a loophole, Duncan explained.

Data from the four mobile phone companies shows that law enforcement received call records for a minimum of 70 960 phone numbers every year, from 2015 to 2017.

In contrast, the most recent statistics from the RICA judge’s office show that in 2014/2015, the judge issued 760 warrants for interception. At a minimum, in the same year magistrates issued 25 808 warrants in terms of Section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act.

These statistics confirm for the first time that the vast majority of ‘authorised’ surveillance operations are happening outside the RICA judge’s oversight.

Policymakers have wrongly assumed that information about a communication – such as the identity of the person communicated with, when, and the location – is less sensitive than its content, R2K said.

In order to apply for this warrant, applicants need to provide strong reasons because RICA is cognisant that such interceptions could threaten peoples’ right to privacy, it said.

Obtaining a warrant through Section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act is far less rigorous, and R2K said as a result a loophole developed where Section 205 allows law enforcement officials to bypass the RICA judge.

According to this law, any magistrate can issue a warrant that forces telecoms companies to give over a customer’s call records and metadata.

Policymakers are wrong to assume that the metadata is less sensitive or private than the contents of the communication: metadata can reveal as much as, if not more, about a person’s contacts, interests and habits than what they say over the phone or in a text message, R2K stated.

Duncan said that despite RICA’s protection, case studies such as cops who spied on two Sunday Times journalists showed that abuses even happened there.

According to evidence before the court, South African Police Force intelligence officials received a warrant to monitor these phone numbers by lying to the RICA judge – they told the judge these were the phone numbers of suspected criminals who were under investigation. Under RICA, it is an offence to supply false information to the RICA judge.

“How much easier is it to abuse the Criminal Procedures Act, with even fewer checks and balances?” Duncan asked.

R2K said that when a person’s communications information is handed over using the Criminal Procedures Act, they are never notified, even if the investigation is dropped or if they are found to be innocent.

By Yolandi Groenewald for Fin24

Five inspiring South African women in tech

There are many women doing great things in tech in South Africa, making their mark with cool initiatives and strong leadership roles.

Gender diversity in technology is an ongoing challenge, and women have to constantly prove their capabilities and strengths.

Yet, more women are contributing innovative and even disruptive ideas, making meaningful change in people’s lives.

Here are 5 inspiring women in the ever growing fast-paced South African tech space.

1. Barbara Mallinson, Obami CEO

Barbara Mallinson is the founder and chief executive of Obami, a social learning platform being used by hundreds of schools across Africa, Europe and the United States.

She saw a gap in the SA market – schools were creating real-life networks, but they weren’t making use of online tools to take that further.

Obami was recognised as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Technologies in the World in 2011 by Netexplo, Unesco and partners.

It was also identified as one of the Top 20 Start-ups in Africa by Forbes a year later, and Mallinson was featured on the Forbes 10 Female Tech Founders to Watch in Africa list.

2. Karen Nadasen, PayU South Africa CEO

Karen Nadasen, the CEO of PayU South Africa, is a self-motivated professional with extensive experience working in both Europe and Africa for the likes of Microsoft and BP.

Nadasen joined PayU in June 2012 as a Product Manager; she advanced to Head of Product and Delivery Manager for MEA, before being appointed as CEO in June 2016.

She is passionate about direct, on-the-ground leadership and execution, fostering environments that promote visibility, hard work and dedication, that inspire and deliver results.

PayU is South Africa’s largest online payment gateway and part of the Naspers group. PayU has a 40% market share in the South African online payments market and currently services more than 1 500 of SA’s top merchants.

Globally, PayU has a presence across 16 high-growth markets, offering over 250 payment options to over 2.3 billion users.

3. Nisha Maharaj, Niche Integrated Solutions executive

Nisha Maharaj is the founder of Niche Integrated Solutions, an ICT solutions company that brings innovative solutions to Africa.

Niche Integrated Solutions provides software solutions, ICT managed services and training.

Maharaj has an accumulated service record of 20 years working experience within South Africa’s major listed companies.

These range from the top four banking and financial services companies, to the telecommunications sector – where for more than 14 years she served at either executive management, general management or COO level.

She is of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2015.

4. Annette Muller, DotNxt founder

Annette Muller is at the forefront of the South African tech sphere as the founder and CEO of DotNxt, a strategic innovation management firm in Cape Town.

DotNxt was established to bridge the gap between strategy (consulting) and delivery (project management) on a range of digital, mobile, social and next-generation branding projects.

Muller manages the execution and strategy of over twenty corporate clients, including some of South Africa’s largest companies, such as Nedbank, Primedia and Graham Beck, making sure there’s a clear line of communication throughout the company’s networks.

Muller was also listed by Forbes as one of the 10 Female Tech Founders to Watch in Africa.

5. Baratang Miya, GirlHype CEO

Baratang Miya is the founder and CEO of GirlHype – Women Who Code, a not-for-profit that provides programming and app development training for girls and young women.

A self-taught coder, she has been sharing her skills and experiences with women and girls through her leadership at GirlHype.

Through GirlHype’s programmes, women and girls learn to code and create solutions, with fun, hands-on opportunities to get engaged with science, engineering, technology, arts and maths (STEAM).

Although she focuses on getting women into STEAM, Miya understands that this is about building women’s self-efficacy and confidence to work in tech or beyond.

By Vicky Sidler for BusinessTech 

Brave new world of retail bad for workers

South African grocery retailers are taking their cue from global players, and as a result the retail workforce may be under threat as technology continues to rattle the sector.

About three years ago the biggest retailer in the world, US-based Walmart, embraced smaller-format stores as its superstores began falling out of favour with customers, and signalled it would employ a more rationalised workforce.

This year, the group announced a further reduction in staff as it focused more on e-commerce business. About 18 000 people lost their jobs out of a workforce of 2.3 million employees globally.

Similarly, UK-based retailer Tesco cut 1200 staff jobs in its head office after cutting 1 100 jobs in its call centre.

Walmart competitor Amazon has only 34400 staff, although it said in January it expected to add 100 000 people to its workforce in the next 18 months.

Andre Roux, head of the future studies programme at Stellenbosch University, said technology had been a significant disruptor in recent times, but several other issues were influencing the way companies were seeing the labour force.

“Robots can work for up to 40 days in a row for 24 hours a day”.

Robots would gradually replace human labour, he said.

“No one owes anybody a job. There’s no entitlement. You are only going to be employed if you can make an efficient contribution,” said Roux.

The fastest-growing employment was self-employment, as opposed to working for one organisation for many years.

“The whole idea of cradle to grave or womb to tomb is becoming more and more outdated,” Roux said.

“In the future, people will probably work for 20 or more organisations during their careers – just a couple of years at a time.

“That has implications for how one builds up one’s pension fund. It becomes one’s own responsibility.”

But in a country such as South Africa, which was part of a developing region, there was a disjuncture between adopting first-world ways of doing business on the one hand, and dealing with issues such as an unskilled labour force on the other.

“Although we are a developing country, these days you’ve got to be as good as the best.

“We have to follow new trends but at the same time be aware of our own unique challenges.

“As it is we have a surplus of unskilled labour and a shortage of appropriately skilled labour.”

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, South Africa’s unemployment rate was 27.7% in the first quarter of 2017, the highest unemployment rate since September 2003.

In the current retail climate, Pick n Pay’s self-service checkout points may be the biggest threat of all to labour.

Bones Skulu, general secretary of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu), said the union was challenging the installation of self-service checkouts.

It would continue calling on workers to embark on industrial action in response to technology that had the potential to replace labour.

He added that Saccawu was expecting further job cuts by Pick n Pay across various divisions.

For those on the shop floor, the changes are telling. Perceptions among staff are that more work has to be done by fewer people.

By Palesa Vuyolwethu Tshandu for Business Live

Tech trends SA companies care most about right now

Dimension Data has released its latest digital workplace report, highlighting which technologies South African companies are currently developing and working with.

In South Africa, Dimension Data spoke to 73 respondents of companies with at least 1 000 employees, from large businesses with headquarters in the region.

The companies surveyed reported that mobility was still the most important area for supporting broader digital workplace initiatives.

27% of organisations said that embracing multiple-device-ownership models (BYOD, COPE, company-liable) is the most important technology trend, and 89% identify mobile devices and business applications as being technologies that support business process improvement.

This was followed by an embracing of the consumerisation of IT (25%) as well as an increasing demand to make video communication more pervasive (21%), said the report.

“Ensuring that employees are well-connected and empowered with mobile technologies and applications has resulted in enterprise mobility becoming a key theme of broader digital transformation efforts,” said Dimension Data.

“Those leading on enterprise mobility strategy development and implementation should therefore ensure that mobility initiatives map well against broader digital transformation business objectives.”

Cloud

South African organisations are also turning to the cloud as an alternative to traditional on-premise deployments of workplace technologies.

For communications tools, such as WebEx and desktop video conferencing, 34% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
For collaboration applications, such as SharePoint and enterprise social, 22% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
For business applications, such as ERP, 18% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
“A better cost model is the top reason South African organisations are moving to cloud applications,” said Dimension Data.

“In time, organisations will rely more on fully hosted services for a wide range of digital workplace technology. The opex model is attractive to companies trying to rein in capital expenses, and cloud-based applications are considerably easier to keep up to date.”

However, it noted that many cloud-based applications do not yet meet the security and compliance requirements of many organisations.

Organisations also have existing assets that they own, that work well, and that do not need to be retired, it said.

“For example, 62% of South African organisations host business telephony applications on-premise, with only 5% being deployed in a private cloud environment. For this reason, managed services remain attractive for large organisations, which rely on them heavily as a way of keeping IT costs to a minimum.”

Enterprises are also turning to hybrid deployment models to keep one foot firmly planted in the current world of premise based technology whilst taking their first steps toward the cloud.

Hybrid deployments let organisations move some workloads to the cloud whilst retaining others on premise.

“Organisations with security or compliance concerns can keep applications on site or in private data centres under their own management whilst moving other, less sensitive applications to the cloud. Enterprises with significant investments in systems and applications deployed on premise can transition them to the cloud over a period of years, retiring legacy technology slowly as it becomes obsolete.”

Looking forward

Consumerisation and migrating to the cloud may occupy the minds of CIOs focused on here-and-now issues around digital transformation. However, those keeping an eye to the future see the dawn of a whole new set of technologies that will shape the digital workplace for years to come.

These primarily take the form of augmented reality which has practical uses for field technicians and other specialists needing instant access to information and AI/machine learning which are helping organisations derive insight from vast quantities of data and helping get the right information to the right people at the right time.

Unsurprisingly, the Internet of Things is also dovetailing with – and increasingly driving – a greater reliance on automation in the enterprise, as sensors variously monitor and control lighting, door locks, vehicles, medical equipment, manufacturing machinery, surveillance cameras, and other systems.

75% of South African organisations say they will have a practical use case for augmented reality technologies within the next two years.

The percentage of South African organisations (26%) that say they will never have a practical use for augmented reality technologies aligns quite closely with the global findings, which show that 34% of organisations see no value in this technology.

“It is still very early days for augmented reality technologies, especially in the enterprise context,” the group said.

“The focus is still very much on the hardware, as opposed to the new business outcomes that the hardware could potentially help support. The value of augmented reality technologies needs to be better communicated and in contexts that resonate with enterprises. A more enriched app ecosystem that supports the core technology will be vital to its enterprise success.”

“As this develops, and as the use cases for the technology become better contextualised, the value proposition of AR will be better understood by organisations across industries.”

21% of South African organisations are investing in intelligent agents now, and 18% are investing in IoT, but investment will increase significantly in those
areas over the next 24 months.

“Undoubtedly, however, it is analytics tools that interest South African organisations the most. Strong investment is planned in the area of workplace analytics, with 94% identifying that some form of investment will be made in this area over the next two years.”

“The most important use case for these analytics tools will be in managing the employee lifecycle and improving the customers experience.”

Source: Business Tech

South Africa’s tech billionaires

When the Sunday Times published its annual Rich List for 2016 at the end of last year, it included several billionaire tech executives based on their public investments.

BusinessTech provides an update on the Sunday Times list, using the latest shareholdings of the top executives in the industry against the current share price of that particular company.

Unsurprisingly, the list is littered with Naspers executives who have cashed in on the company’s growth which is largely as a result of it’s share in Chinese Internet and media firm, Tencent, which has enabled Naspers to work up a tidy market cap of R1.1 trillion.

Koos Bekker sits atop the list when it comes to wealth in tech, despite having stepped down as CEO of internet giant Naspers, several years ago.

Bekker is seen as having transformed Naspers into a digital media powerhouse, primarily due to his 2001 bet on Tencent.

During his tenure as CEO, which began in 1997, Bekker oversaw a rise in the market capitalization of Naspers from about $600 million to $45 billion, while drawing no salary, bonus, or benefits, Forbes noted.

He was compensated via stock option grants that vested over time. Bekker, who retired as the CEO of Naspers in March 2014, returned as chairman in April 2015.

Forbes said that over the summer of 2015 he sold more than 70% of his Naspers shares, with his total fortune put at $2.2 billion (R30 billion).

Also on the list are brothers Mark Levy and Brett Levy, who have been busy at Blue Label Telecoms in 2017 as they look to tie up an acquisition deal and recapitalisation of mobile operator, Cell C.

Also featuring on the list is founder and CEO of tracking firm, Cartrack, Zak Calisto.

One of the darlings of the JSE for a number of years, IT service management company, EOH has endured a shaky 2017 so far including the resignation of its long serving chief executive, Asher Bohbot, and a probe from the Competition Tribunal.

Shares in EOH are down from R163 at the end of December, to R124, which has meant a big dent in the wealth of Bohbot, and non executive director and largest shareholder, Danny MacKay.

How many billionaires are there in South Africa?

According to BusinessTech, the distribution of high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) is a as follows:

 

Source: Business Tech

Are we in the next tech bubble?

The obvious question is whether the likes of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google – collectively known as the FAANGs stocks – are merely pausing for breath after staggering rises so far this year or are about to launch Dotcom Bubble 2.0.

Before the sell-off, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) – had increased in value by $600-billion (R7.6-trillion).

That’s nosebleed territory.

Comparing the value of Nasdaq with the S&P, a very rough way of gauging how excited investors are about tech stocks compared with other sectors, generates the kind of multiples last seen when the dotcom bubble was primed to burst at the end of the 1990s.

The initial public offering of Snapchat earlier this year, which valued the social media company at $29-billion before ending up as a bit of a damp squib, also had a rather familiar feel to it for those with long enough memories.

Fund managers seem to think that things are getting a little toppy. According to the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey of institutional investors, 44% think that equities are too expensive.

This is a bigger proportion than at any time since the survey began back in 1998 and up from 37% just last month.

A further 18% of respondents think that equity markets are “bubble-like”.

What’s more, three-quarters of investors said that they thought that tech stocks were either expensive or bubble-like. Investing in high-growth US stocks (being “long Nasdaq” in the vernacular) was top of the list of most crowded trades.

And a net 84% of respondents said that the US was the most overvalued region.

So, all these worried investors are rushing for the doors, right? After all, it is their clients’ money that’s at risk here, not theirs.

Well, according to the very same survey, a net 40% of asset managers say that they are overweight equities, which essentially means they’re making an outsized bet on the asset class. And what’s their favourite sector at the moment? You guessed it – technology.

There are several overlapping explanations for this apparent cognitive dissonance.

The first is that some investors really do believe that “it’s different this time” despite those words being about the most dangerous in finance.

At the turn of the millennium investors were betting on the potential of tech stocks, now that the importance of the internet and its centrality to everyday life is proven.

At the end of the 1990s roughly 300million people worldwide had (fairly clunky) access to the internet; now that figure is 10 times higher and for many it comes through the smartphone that is always on them.

Today’s big tech giants have proven business models and a long track record of churning out both revenues and profits (apart from Amazon that has only just got around to achieving the latter).

This means that while their valuations are stratospheric in market capitalisation terms, they are a bit more conservative when you look at price-to-earnings ratios.

Microsoft, for example, currently has a p:e of around 30 compared with around 50 at the time of the dotcom bubble (at which time Intel had a truly eye-watering p:e ratio of 190).

At the moment, the negativity is quite stock-specific. Short interest in Apple (essentially bets that the value of the shares will go down) has risen by 15% over the past month, according to analytics company S3 Partners.

For the four other FAANGs companies, it’s up just 5% over the same period.

Much of this can be traced to worries that the iPhone 8 won’t be as fast as its rivals.

Apple is so big that if its shares go into reverse it can have a big effect on the whole index.

Another thing weighing on the minds of investors will be the fact that just because stocks are expensive does not necessarily mean that they can’t become even more expensive.

Yes, we’re eight years into a bull market but it could extend into a ninth or 10th year.

Those investors who take their money off the table too early will lose out.

And then there is another issue and it’s a biggy – the almost total lack of other appealing asset classes in which investors can park their money.

They could sell their equities and invest in cash. But that would only guarantee that it gets slowly and surely eroded by rising inflation. And if they think equities are in a bubble then fixed-income assets are, after a decade of record-low interest rates and quantitative easing, strapped into stratosphere-bound hot-air balloons.

Fund managers could just hand the money back to investors but then they wouldn’t earn any fees.

Equity investors also tend to be congenital optimists: they may think equities are overvalued, and technology stock in particular, but they remain overweight equities, and technology stocks in particular, because they back their chances of getting out ahead of the crowd when things start to turn.

They can’t all be right, of course.

Source: www.businesslive.co.za

IoT could help traffic flow

The total cost of road traffic accidents across South Africa’s roads was estimated at R142.95 billion in 2016, equating 3.4% of GDP in that year. With Easter holidays approaching, these figures could increase if no effective drastic measures are taken. “These accidents put a strain on the country’s economy,” says Lawrence Kandaswami, MD at SAP South Africa. “It is important for all sectors, including the private sector, to understand the impact of these costs on the economy, so that we can develop strategies on how to partner with the public sector in managing the influx of a growing population in need of safe, reliable public transport.”

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to become a $1.46 trillion industry by 2020. This innovation will have a positive influence across all sectors of business, including public transport, security and in the provision of public healthcare. According to the United Nations, as much as 66% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. This means that cities will face many challenges, mostly centred around having to leverage limited resources to deal with a growing influx of people needing services. Public transport is one of the many sectors that will experience strain because of high traffic volumes which can lead to increased road fatalities.
Solving traffic problems with an IoT mindset
Accessibility and safety of public transport is one of the major challenges facing modern urban centres. Navigant Research predicts that from 2025 onwards, public transportation itself will become more of an on-demand service, involving a more efficient use of buses. An IDC report also illustrates that there are 152,000 smart devices being used every minute globally, pointing to a future where the success of cities will be heavily determined by the level of smart and innovative technologies they use.

Additionally, a more citizen-centric business model for service delivery can help alleviate problems such as traffic congestion, safety and shortages of resources especially in public healthcare facilities. Citizens need tangible outcomes, enjoyable experiences and more personalised services. This is what will capture the hearts of many citizens across the continent.

“Smart traffic and IoT are critical for cities to operate more efficiently with better managed traffic flow and open lines of engagement between cities and citizens. This innovation offers the potential of a much safer and inclusive community with the amplified use of digital devices for municipal services across the country,” added Kandaswami.
In this age of innovation, cities are urged to think differently, have a clear vision of the city’s future and a digital transformation roadmap to get there. IoT, like other innovative technologies, presents cities such as Nanjing, China, with exciting fresh methodologies and real-time insights on finding new ways to connect, manage their operations better and provide real value to citizens.

Reimagining the ways cities work with IoT
South African cities stand to benefit immensely from IoT, especially with the high quality and speed that comes with network connectivity and infrastructure. The escalation in urbanisation and climate change is also putting pressure on cities’ management. These require speed and agility, to be able to respond in real-time to challenges such as road accident emergencies and service disruptions. “The biggest challenge we see, so far, is the adoption of technology into cities’ services models, the process requires an innovative technology platform with the ability to work with multiple data sources across all services while providing real-time insights for cities to make fast, accurate decisions,” says Kandaswami.

Cities need to capitalise on innovation opportunities by identifying solutions and planning better for natural disasters and emergencies. Connectivity and data analytics will play an increasingly critical role in helping cities and governments to provide more efficient and effective healthcare, transport and security services, using real-time technology platforms such as SAP S4/HANA.

Big data drives smart traffic
There are three key factors contributing to a smart traffic city namely; people (both drivers and passengers), vehicles and road infrastructure. Innovation is transforming how these key factors could operate harmoniously. As an example, organisations such as Keifuku Bus Company in Japan provide services and solutions that are putting people first using the SAP connected transport safety technology, which allows for data sharing amongst most major cities that are installed with traffic light sensor technologies to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. Innovation helps city managers make decisions for traffic planning and policies fast.
“SAP is convinced that, with the amount of traffic data available in South Africa alone, we could help measure, analyse and manage traffic volumes much better, by using technology and taking advantage of the traffic big data. The ability to analyse traffic big data will help cities consolidate different data sources into a single reliable source for better traffic management, reporting and insight,” explains Kandaswami.

The current South Africa road traffic data availability is not integrated, as it is collected from multiple sources which makes the quality of data unreliable. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation of South Africa, having a quality comprehensive traffic management system is vital for accurate data collection, analysis and reporting across all factors including human casualties and related costs.

“Leveraging technology will present cities, transport authorities with innovative ways of how to improve road safety, provide sustainable, efficient public transport, manage traffic flows and speed up response time to the inevitable challenges of rapid urbanisation.”

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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