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Carpooling: one of the futures of moblity

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Autonomous cars will be with us very soon, and in addition to being safer and better for the environment, CHRIS MEGAN, CEO and co-Founder of uGoMyWay, believes there could be less congestion as we start carpooling.

There would be something gratifying about guessing the future, particularly when it is patently counterintuitive.  Isn’t carpooling all about that quaint 70’s notion that we could all reduce our petrol costs and save the planet if only we could remember a lesson taught to all school children on their first day at school?

School children wouldn’t need to share if there were two swings available and only two school children.  But who is going to design a playground with 40 swings in it, so that no child is kept waiting? Instead, they are taught, that to be fair, we must share so that every child gets a turn….

Moving this simple metaphor along…at the turn of the last century (not too long ago), road authorities across the world, realised they could not keep building roads until the headquarters of urban central – our cities – ended up with 40 lanes in each direction on highways, not yet floating in the sky but tethered to the available land mass.  So, they capped it at three.

Consequently, the road network now grinds to a halt, frequently, and it would seem that once again, we all need to be taught how to ‘share’, to make best use of the roads that we have at our disposal.

Urban mobility in Cape Town is a crisis on the brink of disaster that will compromise economic development and is now threatening personal wellbeing.  I cannot put that strongly enough.  Time is a luxury we can no longer afford.  The question is, how could this have happened and been allowed to get to this stage?

One shock to any system rarely causes a disaster and the first shock wasn’t a shock at all.  Nearly every urban planner knows that populations urbanise and that people tend to gravitate to where there is work. However, being charitable, the extent of population growth in certain cities may have come as a surprise.

In Cape Town, the second shock was more nuanced.  A number of buildings in the CBD were overdue for modernisation.  This process allowed for more parking capacity to be accommodated by building upward.  Why not rebuild your 32-storey head office with 10 storeys of parking? After all, the building will have the same footprint at ground level.  At the same time, old areas of the city such as the Harbour, the Foreshore or the Silo District were repurposed as new retail or office space and again, furnished with ample parking for all the new staff and customers. Even more nuanced, developers want to develop where rents are accelerating, which leads to a switch from out of town development to excessive densification in CBDs.

We can add one last shock to this system by the name of the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (PRASA).  If only our passenger train network had responded positively to the economic development our city enjoys, this story could have had a very different ending.  Instead we have a 400% increase in train cancellations.  15% of all trains never show up on the entire network and only 65% of trains arrive on time. Overcrowding is so dire, the space on the outside of the carriages is now full.  In terms of safety, the situation is even worse and wholly untenable.

Overcoming nearly two decades of mismanagement, excessive bureaucracy and institutionalised corruption, PRASA has a 20-year plan to replace its 50-year-old infrastructure and rolling stock – costing a whopping R170 billion – but the likelihood is that the situation will get worse for a good few years, before it gets any better.

Any one of these shocks might have accelerated the City of Cape Town from crisis to disaster.  The combined effects of the three will undoubtedly lead to a fourth, namely the collapse of the road network into chronic congestion and daily gridlock (nothing like you are currently experiencing, much, much worse, no matter how many video-camera-wearing traffic officers there are enforcing basic road manners, although this is something…).

Despite this real and dire situation, the solution to traffic congestion is actually very simple.

Put more people into less cars!

Once again, we will have to be taught how to share, because there aren’t too many other plans available.  The faster we admit this, the sooner we might begin to avert the disaster.

Meanwhile, autonomous (driverless) vehicles are already with us…well they are currently in Singapore, but will be making an appearance here sooner than we think.  The advances in driverless technology are unstoppable and will likely replace existing private vehicles in all cities across the world in the next 15 – 20 years.  These cars (or pods) will have electric motors, rather than combustion engines, reducing their complexity from more than 200 parts to less than 15.  They will be very cheap to manufacture and significantly cheaper to maintain.  They will also run on battery technology charged by wind, solar or other renewable sources, far cheaper than fossil fuels and much better for the environment.

Ironically, these pods do not need to be parked in over densified areas, so cities could repurpose all that parking space as housing, closer to places of work, reducing the burden on over congested transportation still further, and contributing to solving the housing crisis.

This type of vehicle could operate for less than R1/km and carry four or five passengers from their doorstep, to their place of work, reliably and safely, every day for less than the price of a bus ticket.

This technology will not only challenge the concept of private car ownership, but will revolutionise all other forms of public transport and urban planning. Transport oriented development if ever there was.

Interesting therefore, that the quaint 70’s notion of carpooling and sharing scarce resources, will not only provide a solution to congestion for the next five to ten years, but will also emerge as the transport option of choice in the future of urban mobility.

Government has asked for radical economic transformation, but the point is, we can have as many ideas and set-up as many businesses as we like, if the people who need to run it and work it, cannot get there, we will not move forward.  So, what is impeding Government (local and national) from rubber stamping a framework around carpooling to get South Africa moving?

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AppDate: DStv taps Xbox, Hisense

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DStv Now for Xbox and Hisense

Usage of DStv Now, the online DStv service available free to DStv customers, is increasing rapidly with more than two million plays of live and Catch Up content per week. In addition to using DStv Now to watch TV on tablets and smartphones, an increasing number of DStv customers are also opting to use it as their primary method of getting DStv on additional TVs in the house. This is set to increase with the release of two new big-screen TV apps, one for Xbox gaming consoles (Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X) and another for Hisense smart TVs (2018 and newer models).

Expect to pay: A free download.

Platform: Any of the Xbox One range of gaming consoles and 2018 or later Hisense smart TVs.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your Xbox console or HiSense smart TV.

Santam Safety Ideas

Start-up businesses that have a FinTech or InsurTech business venture brewing are called to enter the third annual Santam Safety Ideas competition. Safety solutions or InsurTech ventures that are ready for piloting could win up to  R150 000 worth of incubation support and R200 000 in seed funding. 

The Safety Ideas competition was launched two years ago in partnership with LaunchLab,  Stellenbosch University’s startup incubator that facilitates valuable connections for corporates and startups sourced from the startup ecosystem and partner universities in South Africa. The previous winners are Herman Bester and Anton Swanevelder, co-founders of MyLifeLine – a wearable panic device that won the competition last year; and Ntsako Mgiba and Ntandoyenkosi Shezi, co-founders of Jonga – a cost-effective security system for low income families, which won the competition in 2017.

Entries close on 28 February 2019. For more information on how to enter, visit: www.santam.co.za/safetyideas/

Click here to read about the FNB Snapchat lens, Spotify Free with data saver, and 00:37.

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Fortnite fixes hackers’ hole

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Epic Games has repaired a vulnerability that exposed Fortnite, the world’s most popular game of the moment, to hackers. The hole, which was left in Epic’s web infrastructure,  allowed hackers to target players with email that appeared to come from Epic Games, but would have led them to a phishing site, where their log-in details would have been stolen.

Researchers at cyber security solutions provider Check Point Software alerted Epic to vulnerabilities that could have affected any player of the hugely popular online battle game.

Fortnite has nearly 80 million players worldwide. The game is popular on all gaming platforms, including Android, iOS, PC via Microsoft Windows and consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  In addition to casual players, Fortnite is used by professional gamers who stream their sessions online, and is popular with e-sports enthusiasts.

If exploited, the vulnerability would have given an attacker full access to a user’s account and their personal information as well as enabling them to purchase virtual in-game currency using the victim’s payment card details. The vulnerability would also have allowed for a massive invasion of privacy, as an attacker could listen to in-game chatter as well as surrounding sounds and conversations within the victim’s home or other location of play. 

While Fortnite players had previously been targeted by scams that deceived them into logging into fake websites that promised to generate Fortnite’s ‘V-Buck’ in-game currency, these new vulnerabilities could have been exploited without the player handing over any login details.

Click here to read how the Fortnite hack would have worked.

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