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How LTE moves the workforce

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Many organisations rely on cloud services or VPNs for their employees to conduct business on the move, but GREG HATFIELD says that if theses services are not secure or running incorrectly, a company’s data could easily fall into the wrong hands.

Many organisations are now turning to mobile-first strategies that provide more access and encourage employees’ mobility in order to improve productivity and overcome tough economic time. These strategies depend on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions that enable a mobile workforce to stay connected anywhere at any time.

These solutions, coupled with advances in mobile Internet connectivity such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), enable employees to connect seamlessly and faster via a corporate network or secure Cloud service.

One of the biggest headaches for Information Technology (IT) and business executives over the past decade has been securing company data and networks. Several solutions and interventions have been developed to prevent data loss if a device is lost or stolen, or simply to prevent unauthorised access to business critical information.

This has been achieved through Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions and policies that provide the necessary security. However, such interventions, are dependent on sufficiently fast mobile data services that offer a quick and seamless connection.

In the absence of such convenience, the entire structure of the best-laid EMM strategy falls flat. For instance, users are more likely to download critical documents to their mobile devices for offline use if the process of accessing and editing work through the Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Cloud service is retarded by a slow data connection.

In order to overcome sluggish mobile data connections, some users have added to IT executives’ headaches, by opting to use WiFi networks while in the field. Whether free, public networks or paid-for connections, this strategy is fraught with security threats that run counter to many organisations’ IT security policies.

And with a growing number of devices being LTE compliant – whether smartphones, tablets or laptop computers, there is little reason for organisations not take advantage of the speed and security that broadband speed connections offer.

Given the move to a more mobile workforce and the evolution of technologies to enable this, there is little doubt that organisations will be looking for the most efficient way to reap technology benefits.

From MTN Business point of view, LTE will play a central role in alleviating this pain-point and facilitating the move to a mobile first strategy. MTN Business solutions such as Managed Networks, Unified Communications, Cloud, Security and Internet of Things to SMEs, public and private sector clients are in line with the company’s strategic intent of refining traditional product offering, as well as actively developing new opportunities to help ensure MTN continues to inspire and enable the growth of its clients.

* Greg Hatfield, General Manager for Products & Solutions at MTN Business South Africa

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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