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AG Mobile leads #Freedom2learn Madiba campaign

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AG Mobile, MediaTek and the Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom Education Project have partnered to launch the #Freedom2Learn campaign.

The campaign will see a range of affordable “Freedom” smart devices hit South Africa markets, promoting Madiba’s legacy and the spread of education.

AG was chosen by the Long Walk to Freedom Education Project to be its exclusive partner to roll out its mobile strategy, to support their vision of “Easy Access to Education via Technology for all”.

AG Mobile and the Long Walk to Freedom Education Project have partnered with mobile agency Silverstone Solutions to create a #Freedom2Learn mobile app. The app will contain information on all of the AG Mobile products, exclusive Mandela content and a chance to take part in 67 #Freedom2Learn challenges, with prizes available. The app also provides access to participate in a massive drive to donate one million AG Freedom smart devices to children in Africa.

According to AG Mobile’s CEO, Anthony Goodman, AG Mobile wants to enable access to the internet via their smartphones and tablets, as well as encourage learning and education, the cornerstone of the Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom Education Project.

#Freedom2Learn will also promote access to education through the build and placement of Library containers in communities throughout South Africa and eventually into Africa. These Library containers will be fully equipped with learning materials, WI-FI connectivity and study facilities, further promoting access to education and learning among disadvantaged youths.

“A percentage of profits made on the sale of all AG Mobile Freedom devices will go to the Long Walk to Freedom Library Project, thus giving longevity to Nelson Mandela’s legacy on education”, says Goodman.

Corporate donations are encouraged through the #Freedom2Learn CauseWRX platform and individual donations are encouraged through the #Freedom2Learn Generosity crowdfunding platform accessible via www.freedom2learn.org.

Robert Coutts, CEO and spokesperson for the Long Walk to Freedom Education Project, says: “Literacy is the key to all education. We are looking towards the future where technology will play an increasingly important part of our literacy campaign, not to mention the fact that access to technology often accelerates the learning process.

“We may not be able to help every child but we have a responsibility to give each child the tools to help themselves. The Freedom phones and tablets will be loaded with learning and education apps to help integrate children, adults and teachers into our digital world, a necessary component of an economically active citizen.”

The mobile devices range from a feature phone, very affordable 4-inch smartphones, a 4.5-inch LTE device and a more highly specified 5-inch offering as well as tablets. All devices will feature exclusive educational content and approved never seen before Nelson Mandela content in the form of pictures, wallpapers, quotes and more. The Khan Academy App and Madiba’s Journey App are two of the apps to be made available on the AG Freedom phones and tablets.

The Khan Academy is an educational tool that enables the user to download over 10,000 educational videos and content which can be used for learning even when offline.

Users will also be able to explore Nelson Mandela’s inspiring journey through the Madiba’s Journey App. By finding key locations on the phone’s mapping system, users can follow directions and immerse themselves in narratives from poignant moments throughout South African history. Users will be able to create a customised itinerary before embarking on their journey into Nelson Mandela’s inspiring life.

There are also exciting galleries displaying sneak peeks of what sites and stories await and users will be able to ‘check in’ at each site through the App and their experiences.

The partners involved in this initiative believe that providing a mobile-first approach to education will pave the way to promoting and spreading education among learners in South Africa, and ultimately success later on in life.

“MediaTek is very pleased to be supporting AG Mobile in this incredibly worthwhile partnership with the Long Walk to Freedom Education Project to bring greater access to education and learning,” said Chet Babla, Senior Director Corporate Sales EMEA at MediaTek. “Making great technology and the mobile internet accessible to everyone is at the core of MediaTek’s vision, and this is embodied in the Freedom range of devices powered by MediaTek.”

The first Freedom Access (4 inch) smartphones will be available in Truworths stores nationwide on the MTN network. The Freedom mobile devices and tablets can also be pre-ordered at www.freedom2learn.org.

In addition to these 2 channels, we expect multiple new retailers to stock the Freedom range in the near future.

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AI, IoT, and language of bees can save the world

A groundbreaking project is combining artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to learn the language of bees, and save the planet, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It is early afternoon and hundreds of bees are returning to a hive somewhere near Reading in England. They are no different to millions of bees anywhere else in the world, bringing the nectar of flowers back to their queen.

But the hive to which they bring their tribute is no ordinary apiary.

Look closer, and one spots a network of wires leading into the structure. They connect up to a cluster of sensors, and run into a box beneath the hive carrying the logo of a company called Arnia: a name synonymous with hive monitoring systems for the past decade. The Arnia sensors monitor colony acoustics, brood temperature, humidity, hive weight, bee counts and weather conditions around the apiary.

On the back of the hive, a second box is emblazoned with the logo of BuzzBox. It is a solar-powered, Wi-Fi device that transmits audio, temperature, and humidity signals, includes a theft alarm, and acts as a mini weather station.

In combination, the cluster of instruments provides an instant picture of the health of the bee hive. But that is only the beginning.

What we are looking at is a beehive connected to the Internet of Things: connected devices and sensors that collect data from the environment and send it into the cloud, where it can be analysed and used to monitor that environment or help improve biodiversity, which in turn improves crop and food production.

The hives are integrated into the World Bee Project, a global honey bee monitoring initiative. Its mission is to “inform and implement actions to improve pollinator habitats, create more sustainable ecosystems, and improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods by establishing a globally-coordinated monitoring programme for honeybees and eventually for key pollinator groups”.

The World Bee Project is working with database software leader Oracle to transmit massive volume of data collected from its hives into the Oracle Cloud. Here it is combined with numerous other data sources, from weather patterns to pollen counts across the ecosystem in which the bees collect the nectar they turn into honey. Then, artificial intelligence software – with the assistance of human analysts – is used to interpret the behaviour of the hive, and patterns of flight, and from there assess the ecosystem.

Click here to read more about how the Internet of Things is used to interpret the language of bees.

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Download speeds ramp up in SA

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All four South African mobile network operators have improved their average download speed experience by at least 1 Mbps in the past six months.

This is one of the main findings in the latest South Africa Mobile Network Experience report by Opensignal, the mobile analytics company. It has analysed the mobile experience in the country, updating a study last conducted in February 2019. While a quick look at its South Africa awards table suggests not much has changed since the last report, it’s far from stagnating. 

Opensignal reports the following improvements across its measurements:

  • MTN remains the leader in our 4G Availability measurements, with a score of 83.6%. But the other three operators are all now within 2 percentage points of the 80% milestone — with Telkom’s users seeing the biggest increase of over 8 points.
  • All four operators improved their Download Speed Experience scores by at least 1 Mbps. But growth in our Upload Speed Experience scores has stagnated, with only winner Vodacom seeing an incremental increase.
  • MTN and Vodacom remain tied for our Video Experience award, and both have increased their scores in the past six months, putting them on the cusp of Very Good (65-75) ratings. Cell C also increased its score to tip over into a Good ranking (55-65).
  • MTN scored over 90% in 4G Availability in two of South Africa’s biggest cities and was just shy of this milestone in the others. Meanwhile, MTN and Vodacom have now passed the 20 Mbps mark in Download Speed Experience in three cities each.

A quick look at the awards table would suggest not much has changed in South Africa since the last report in February. MTN won the 4G Availability award again, Vodacom kept hold of the medals for Upload Speed and Latency Experience, while the two operators tied for Download Speed and Video Experience just as they did six months ago.

But far from stagnating, we’re seeing improvements across most of the measurements. All four of South Africa’s national operators — Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom — are now closing in on 80% 4G Availability nationally, while at the urban level, MTN has passed the 90% mark in two cities. And in Download Speed Experience, our users on all four operators’ networks saw their scores increase at least 8%.

In this report, Open Signal has analyzed the scores for all four national operators across all their metrics over the 90 days from the start of May 2019, including South Africa’s five biggest cities — Cape Town, Durban, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, and Tshwane.

MTN has been top of Open Signal’s South African 4G Availability leaderboard for a couple of years now, and the operator remains dominant with a winning score over 4 percentage points ahead of its rivals. But it was users on Telkom’s network who saw the most impressive boost in 4G Availability, as its score jumped by well over 8 percentage points.

This leap has put Telkom into a three-way draw for second place with Cell C and Vodacom, who both saw their scores increase by at least 3 percentage points.

While MTN is the only operator to have passed 80% in national 4G Availability, the other three players are all less than 2 percentage points away from this milestone. Based on the current rate of improvement, Open Signal fully expects to see all four operators pass the 80% mark in its next report — which will provide testament to the rapid maturing of the South African mobile market.

MTN and Vodacom remain neck-and-neck in the Video Experience analysis, with both operators scoring 65 (out of 100). And the two rivals both saw their scores rise by around 3 points since our last report, meaning the two continue to share our Video Experience award. Cell C and Telkom remain in third and fourth place, but both saw larger increases — of 5 and 4 points respectively — to narrow the gap on the leaders.

The increase in MTN and Vodacom’s Video Experience scores means the two operators are on the cusp of Very Good (65-75) ratings in this metric — with the users on their networks enjoying fast loading video times and almost non-existent stalling, even at higher resolutions. By comparison, Cell C’s score earned it a Good rating (55-65), while Telkom remains in Fair (40-55) territory — meaning users watching video on Telkom’s network, in particular, will likely struggle with longer load times and frequent stuttering, even at lower resolutions.

In terms of 4G-only Video Experience, Cell C’s score has increased enough to tip it over into a Very Good rating — now featuring three operators achieving 4G network scores with a Very Good ranking. And as 4G Availability continues to increase, the overall Video Experience scores will continue to climb, making mobile video viewing more of a viable proposition across all networks. And in a country where fixed-line broadband connections are relatively rare and the large majority of South Africans only connect to the internet via cellular, this improvement has the potential to transform people’s lives.

Read more from Open Signal’s report here.

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