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Joburg wins TomTom kudos

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TomTom’s latest report has revealed that although Johannesburg is the most densely populated city in Africa, it has stood out to be one of the best in terms of traffic management.

TomTom has released the results of the TomTom Traffic Index (TTTI) 2017, the annual report detailing the cities around the world with the most traffic congestion. In a study of 390 cities around the world, Johannesburg – South Africa’s most densely populated city – has stood out for its implementation of effective traffic management systems across the city, earning special recognition from an international panel of traffic experts.

For the first time, this year, TomTom is celebrating those cities that deserve special recognition for their efforts to beat traffic congestion with the introduction of the TomTom Traffic Index awards.

Using data from 2016, the TomTom Traffic Index looks at the traffic congestion situation in 390 cities in 48 countries on six continents – from Rome to Rio, Singapore to San Francisco. TomTom works with nearly 19 trillion data points that have been accumulated over nine years. This is the sixth year of the TomTom Traffic Index.

Six cities have been chosen for special recognition by an international panel of traffic experts. Each expert nominated three cities and subsequently all experts voted to determine the award-winning cities from the nominated cities. Along with Johannesburg, winners include Moscow, Stockholm and Rio de Janeiro. The full list of winners can be found here: www.tomtom.com/trafficindex/awards.

While Johannesburg has long been considered South Africa’s most traffic-congested city, the TTTI shows a marked improvement in the biggest metropolitan municipality’s ranking since 2009. Johannesburg has also surpassed Cape Town’s traffic congestion rating on the Index, ranking 70th globally with Cape Town positioned in 48th place.

Johannesburg has, however, experienced a 3% increase in traffic congestion since 2015 and currently sits at a congestion level of 30%. Traffic congestion has also worsened in Cape Town by 5%, to a new average level of 35%.

“Infrastructure development is a major contributing factor to Johannesburg’s improved ranking in the TomTom Traffic Index,” says Megan Bruwer, Project Coordinator for the Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Laboratory. “The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, Open Road Tolling and numerous ITS applications implemented along freeway corridors have also had a positive impact on traffic congestion, not to mention the establishment of the Gautrain.”

Global rankings

Cities that are experiencing the worst traffic congestion as per the TTTI global rankings include Mexico City (66%), Bangkok (61%), Jakarta (58%), Chongqing (52%) and Bucharest (50%), making up the top five most congested cities in the world.

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In Europe, Bucharest (50%) knocked Moscow (44%) off last year’s top spot, with Saint Petersburg (41%), London (40%) and Marseille (40%) making up the top five.

North America’s top five most congested cities remained the same as the previous year – Mexico City (66%), Los Angeles (45%), San Francisco (39%), Vancouver (39%), New York (35%) – although congestion levels were up across the board.

Looking at TomTom’s historical data, traffic congestion is up by 23% globally since 2008 and 10% on 2015. The TomTom Traffic Index also provides useful comparative information between South Africa’s major metropolitan municipalities, with both Johannesburg and Pretoria indicating a decrease in traffic congestion between 2009 and 2012 and maintaining a relatively even traffic congestion rating in the following three years.

“Throughout South Africa, TomTom is empowering traffic authorities and key decision makers at all levels of government with highly-accurate historical and real-time insights into traffic flows and incidents,” explains Etienne Louw, TomTom South Africa’s Managing Director.

“Coupled with the real-time traffic information provided by TomTom’s navigation solutions, existing road infrastructure can be utilised with increased efficiency to counter rising traffic congestion.”

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How to rob a bank in the 21st century

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In the early 1980s, South Africans were gripped by tales of the most infamous bank robbery gangs the country had ever known: The Stander Gang. The gang would boldly walk into banks, brandishing weapons, demand cash and simply disappear. These days, a criminal doesn’t even have to be in the same country as the bank he or she intends to rob. Cyber criminals are quite capable of emptying bank accounts without even stepping out of their own homes.

As we become more and more aware of cybersecurity and the breaches that can occur, we’ve become more vigilant. Criminals, however, are still going to follow the money and even though security may be beefed up in many organisations, hackers are going to go for the weakest links. This makes it quintessential for consumers and enterprises to stay one step ahead of the game.

“Not only do these cyber bank criminals get away with the cash, they also end up damaging an organisation’s reputation and the integrity of its infrastructure,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa. “And sometimes, these breaches mean they get away with more than just cash – they can make off with data and personal information as well.”

Because the cyber criminals operate outside bricks and mortar, going for the cash register or robbing the customers is not where their misdeeds end. Bank employees – from the tellers to the CEO – are all fair game.

But how do they do it? Taking money out of an account is not the only way to steal money. Cyber criminals can zero in on the bank’s infrastructure, or hack into payment systems and even payment documents. Part of a successful operation for them may also include hacking into telecommunications to gain access to one-time pins or mobile networks.

“It’s not just about hacking,” says Siriniwasa.. “It’s also about the hackers trying to get an ‘inside man’ in the bank who could help them or even using a person’s personal details to get a new SIM so that they can have access to OTPs. Of course, they also use the tried and tested method of phishing which continues to be exceptionally effective – despite the education in the market to thwart it.”

The amounts of malware and available attacks to gain access to bank funds is strikingly vast and varies from using web injection script, social engineering and even targeting internal networks as well as points of sale systems. If there is an internet connection and a system you can be assured that there is a cybercriminal trying to crack it. The impact on the bank itself is also massive, with reputations left in tatters and customers moving their business elsewhere.

“We see that cyber criminals use multi-faceted attacks,” says Siriniwasa. “This means that we need to come at security from multiple angles as well. Every single layer of an organisation’s online perimeter need to be secured. Threat isolation is exceptionally important and having security with intrusion protection is vital. Again, vigilance on the part of staff and customers also goes a long way to preventing attacks. These criminals might not carry guns like Andre Stander and his gang, but they are just as dangerous – in fact – probably more so.”

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Beaten by big data? AI is the answer

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by ZAKES SOCIKWA, cloud big data and analytics lead at Oracle

In 2019, it’sestimated we’ll generate more data than we did in the previous 5,000 years. Data is fast becoming the most valuable asset of any modern organisation, and while most have access to their internal data, they continue to experience challenges in deriving maximum value through being able to effectively monetise the information that they hold.

The foundation of any analytics or Business Intelligence (BI) reporting capability is an efficient data collection system that ensures events/transactions are properly recorded, captured, processed and stored. Some of this information on its own might not provide any valuable insights, but if it is analysed together with other sources might yield interesting patterns.

Big data opens up possibilities of enhancing internal sources with unstructured data and information from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Furthermore, as we move to a digital age, more businesses are implementing customer experience solutions and there is a growing need for them to improve their service and personalise customer engagements.

The digital behaviour of customers, such as social media postings and the networks or platforms they engage with, further provides valuable information for data collection. Information gathering methods are being expanded to accommodate all types and formats of data, including images, videos, and more.

In the past, BI and Data Mining were left to highly technical and analytical individuals, but the introduction of data visualisation tools is democratising the analytics world. However, business users and report consumers often do not have a clear understanding of what they need or what is possible.

AI now embedded into day to day applications

To this end, artificial intelligence (AI) is finishing what business intelligence started. By gathering, contextualising, understanding, and acting on huge quantities of data, AI has given rise to a new breed of applications – one that’s continuously improving and adapting to the conditions around it. The more data that is available for the analysis, the better is the quality of the outcomes or predictions.

In addition, AI changes the productivity equation for many jobs by automating activities and adapting current jobs to solve more complex and time-consuming problems, from recruiters being able to source better candidates faster to financial analysts eliminating manual error-prone reporting.

This type of automation will not replace all jobs but will invent new ones. This enables businesses to reduce the time to complete tasks and the costs of maintenance, and will lead to the creation of higher-value jobs and new engagement models. Oracle predicts that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI, emerging technologies, and augmented experiences could double compared to today’s operations.

According to the IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics (BDA) solutions was expected to total $166 billion in 2018, and forecast to reach $260 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% over the 2017-2022 forecast period. It adds that two of the fastest growing BDA technology categories will be Cognitive/AI Software Platforms (36.5% CAGR) and Non-relational Analytic Data Stores (30.3% CAGR)¹.

Informed decisions, now and in the future

As new layers of technology are introduced and more complex data sources are added to the ecosystem, the need for a tightly integrated technology stack becomes a challenge. It is advisable to choose your technology components very carefully and always have the end state in mind.

More development on emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT, virtual reality and others will probably be available on cloud first before coming on premise. For those organisations that are adopting public cloud, there are opportunities to consume the benefits of public cloud and drive down costs of doing business.

While the introduction of public cloud is posing a challenge on data sovereignty and other regulations, technology providers such as Oracle have developed a ‘Cloud at Customer’ model that provides the full benefits of public cloud – but located on premise, within an organisation’s own data centre.

The best organisations will innovate and optimise faster than the rest. Best decisions must be made around choice of technology, business processes, integration and architectures that are fit for business. In the information marketplace, speed and informed decision making will be key differentiators amongst competitors.

¹ IDC Press Release, Revenues for Big Data and Business Analytics Solutions Forecast to Reach $260 Billion in 2022, Led by the Banking and Manufacturing Industries, According to IDC, 15 August 2018

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