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Combating crime the clever and easy way

At the Critical Communications World in Berlin, Motorola showcased new solutions designed to make managing crime and emergency response easier, reports SEAN BACHER.

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When it comes to emergency operations in times of floods, fires or other natural disasters, speech beats almost any app currently available. This message was made very clear by Paul Steinberg, CTO of Motorola Solutions, at this week’s Critical Communications World conference in Berlin.
“Although many believe that two-way radios are on their way out due to smartphones being more robust and networks getting faster, in general it still takes a while to place a call on a smartphone and time is a luxury nobody has in the time of an emergency,” he said.
In addition, commercial networks will more than likely be unavailable, congested or simply do not cover the area where communication is needed in a major emergency.
“It is for this reason that two-way radios are here to stay and are in fact going to carry on getting smarter with more features to support emergency personal,” said Steinberg.
Motorola’s TETRA networks, which were first introduced in 1999 at the Oslo airport in Norway – there are now over 1 000 around the world including South Africa – clearly indicate that two-way radio still has a major role to play. The TETRA network is a completely separate network that allows emergency response personnel to communicate quickly and easily with one another in time of crisis.
While voice will continue to be the basis, public safety organizations are looking into the possibility of adding data capabilities via broadband networks, in many cases delivered by commercial carriers.
“Broadband makes video, image and other multimedia formats available to incident respondents,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg says that cities also can deploy dedicated mission-critical LTE networks to complement their current TETRA networks. However, this all depends on the frequencies that are available.
As the LTE networks are enhanced with features like push-to-talk, and streaming video which can be captured and analysed, large amounts of data will be created and this all needs to be accessed in real time.
“One person sitting at a central command station won’t be able to cope with a city’s crime on a day-to-day basis. To help make things easier we have acquired an end-to-end security platform from Avigilon. Its Appearance Search technology will help identify a person among thousands of people using artificial intelligence.”
In other cases, it can help find missing children and also apprehend shoplifters  and keep watch for suspicious activity.
All the control room operator needs to do is input appearance details of the person in question. The system will then go through previously recorded footage from all the cameras and continue monitoring anything new until the suspect is found. The closest police patrol can then be notified and the suspect apprehended in a much shorter time.
Steinberg said that, although a TETRA network would normally be deployed on a large scale, we are seeing numerous shopping centres and airports using it.
“Although we have no control over natural disasters, technology like our TETRA networks combined with smart analytics and artificial intelligence will help with rescue efforts,” said Steinberg. “I am sure once criminals know that they can be found at the click of a button, they will think twice about committing a crime.”

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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