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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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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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