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CT to put R185m in broadband

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The City of Cape Town plans to spend R185 million in the current financial year on its broadband initiative.

The City and Province have additional funding to support digital initiatives from the Western Cape Government of R11.8 million for broadband infrastructure and R23.7 million for their Digital Inclusion Project (wi-fi). 180 new Wi-Fi access points were introduced in 2014/15 and a further 120 points will follow by year-end. “Our network is now robust and extensive enough to be leveraged by the private sector for inclusive growth and economic development,” said Andre Stelzner, CIO of the City of Cape Town, to members of Accelerate Cape Town (ACT), at a forum on Digital Cape Town: Creating a Smart City on Friday, 16 October 2015.

Ryan Ravens, CEO of ACT – a business leadership organisation that represents the largest corporates in the Western Cape – said: “Cape Town, with its population of 3.7 million, is growing at 2.6% per annum. As such, we are the city with the highest urbanisation rate in SA. In order to create a stable and conducive business environment, we need to find creative ways of accelerating inclusive growth and to work more carefully with our resources. The case for business to become involved is compelling and, from a socio-economic perspective, we also know that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can generate 1.3% growth in GDP.

“By putting the broadband infrastructure in place, the City has optimised the environment for private sector involvement by providing the backbone infrastructure. And by extending this invitation to business to become involved in the provision of related products and services to citizens, we are presented with an excellent opportunity to help transform Cape Town into a smart city.”

Talent

To facilitate this process, Ravens and his team are also addressing key inhibitors of which the skills shortage is considered the greatest. “The private sector remains constrained by a dearth of relevant skills in general and, in the case of Digital Cape Town, of software engineers, data scientists, and JAVA and .Net developers in particular. We are engaging with the region’s universities and educational institutions to raise awareness, ensure collaboration with the private sector, and address this issue at foundational level.” Ravens said.

Further to a free Wi-Fi service, the organisation’s members identified open data, smart (online)

systems (for the settlement of bills, fault logging, etc.), and IT infrastructure access for educational institutions, as the smart city initiatives to be prioritised.

About 30 000 residents currently access the City’s Wi-Fi network and a tender for the provision of Wi-Fi on MyCiti buses, has recently closed. According to Stelzner, this is a highly specialised area. He says: “The construction of dedicated wireless data transmission infrastructure along bus routes is very expensive and can at best be justified along very high occupancy routes. The alternative is dependent on good LTE mobile data services from mobile operators. It is this mobile data service that will then be used for transmission between a moving bus and a terrestrial base station.”

Collaboration

Large multinational organisations, with their research and development capabilities and ready access to global best practice, are often well placed to help find viable solutions to complex technical challenges. In summarising his presentation at the event, Damien Callaghan – Senior Director for Solution Development at the Internet of Things Group at Intel – told the audience: “There is no clear definition of a smart city yet. This means that you have an opportunity to define – and realise – it in Cape Town. When doing so, start on projects that present the least resistance. Always be clear on who “owns” the data and who can license the use of it. Articulate the Rand value – and “soft” – returns upfront and, perhaps most importantly, understand that you cannot do this alone. Create a small group of eco-system partners who align with you on this journey.”

A collaborative approach will be central to unlocking the full potential of the City’s fibre network, Ravens, agreed. “This was our first forum in a series aimed at facilitating engagement between business and the City as we work to transform Cape Town into the progressive, smart and inclusive city it has every potential to be. Our next session will be smaller and focused on generating ideas on how the private sector can help.

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Epic Games brings a
Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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