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Looking for a smart port in a storm

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Modern ports are transforming and digitalising, but high-speed connectivity remains the backbone of any attempt to create a genuinely smart port, writes VINO GOVENDER DFA, Executive: Product Innovation and Marketing.

As digitisation drives a wave of technological innovation and integration, so an increasing number of industries and businesses are seeking to transform themselves into enterprises that are more data and insights driven. The port industry is no exception.

A modern port no longer only undertakes the traditional load and discharge, storage, and transfer functions, but is now becoming the catalyst for the development of the surrounding region’s economy, trade, and finance. Furthermore, the port has now become a key node of the modern logistics chain and thus has transformed into a focal point for the flow of commodities, capital, technology, and information.

Being part of both the larger transport and logistics supply chains and, in itself, being a cluster of companies and businesses active in these sectors, the modern port is in a unique position to fully leverage the efficiencies generated by digital technologies.

Ports can apply technology to address specific challenges in the areas of asset management and utilisation as well as operations uptime. Technology can also enable more effective levels of collaboration between port management, suppliers, and customers, which can lead to improved efficiencies in capacity planning and service delivery.

The critical areas of security can also be improved through IP-based security devices and access-control systems, which are integrated via security platforms to the broader security ecosystem, including border control, private security, and the police services. The use of high-definition camera monitoring and biometric-based identity- and access-management systems provides tighter control and visibility on access and movement patterns within the port.  In addition to this, the implementations of wireless networks that can be backhauled by fibre are extremely useful in respect of asset tracking and vehicle monitoring.

Of course, the most critical requirement for any port seeking to transform itself from merely a node in the goods journey to one that serves as an integrated logistics supplier is a backbone of high-speed broadband connectivity.

High-speed connectivity is the essential foundation for the transmission of any and all information related to port operations. It is necessary for stakeholders who need access to systems as it enables access to common cloud-based business applications for port administration. There is no doubt that a strategic shift is taking place in respect of these facilities, where size is no longer the primary focus, but rather efficiency and effectiveness of operations. In the near future, it will no longer be the largest port that gets all the business, but rather the smartest one.

The advantages of a backbone of high speed connectivity, backed by the relevant IT systems, are multiple. Such an implementation can enable these new ‘digital ports’ to:

·         Improve cargo handling efficiency, as well as collection and distribution capabilities

·         Support the kind of reliable and uninterrupted IT services required for 24/7 operations

·         Play a vital role in connecting the port to the rest of the region it supports, enabling it to truly integrate its logistics chain

·         Provide a massive boost to the operation management system, thereby assisting with increasing load and discharge and yarding efficiency, improving overall port performance, and reducing operating costs

·         Deliver the backbone for a high-definition, real-time CCTV monitoring system that significantly boosts the safety and security of the port, helping to protect it against both criminal and terrorist intent

·         Deliver business collaboration services for terminal, shipper, consignee, forwarder, shipping line, customs, and other shipping stakeholders, boost the overall performance of the maritime logistics chain, and assist the port in providing more efficient and quality services to its customers and suppliers.

With a high-speed connectivity backbone in place, ports will also be positioned to undertake the next phase of digitalization, where new services either replace or augment traditional port operations. The most notable of these will be the connection of everything of relevance within the port to the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT technologies are already being applied in diverse settings – from last-mile transport optimisation to warehouse- and transport-management systems. The IoT is equally useful in terms of the logistics value chain, assisting management to understand more clearly not only what has been delivered and to where but also when it left and when it arrives at its destination.

The combination of IoT, smart data solutions and high-speed connectivity will enable ports of the future to identify and take advantage of new business models within the larger ecosystem. It will also create opportunities for new, non-traditional parties – such as technology companies and developers – to create applications and solutions for stakeholders targeted at improving performance or enhancing the business of the port itself.

Looking at this, there is no doubt that a backbone of high speed connectivity, allied to a vision that fully capitalises on the application of digital technologies, including the IoT, data- and insights-driven processes and business applications and IP-based communications and collaboration services, will be the driving force that creates the world’s first true smart ports.

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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