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Dashcams can change insurance

Insurance providers in some countries incentivise motorists who drive vehicles fitted with a dash cam. LIZETTE ERASMUS, Insurance Expert at IntegriSure, debates whether dash cams can play a bigger role in the local short term insurance industry.

Road accidents, some of which are fatal, are a regular occurrence on South African roads. Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi released road death statistics showing a 51% increase in fatalities during the 2017 Easter period – raising concern for safe driving on the roads. The role of dash cams (or car dashboard cameras) in helping motorists with responsible driving has been much debated around the world.

Social media is littered with dash cam footage of road rage, irresponsible driving and bad accidents. With such availability of driver behaviour evidence, should dash cams play a bigger role in settling motor accident claims, determining premiums and be used as a tool to incentivise drivers in South Africa?

Unlike South Africa, insurance providers in some countries incentivise motorists who drive vehicles fitted with a dash cam. According to insurance companies in the UK, having a dash cam could reduce the premium by up to 15%.

Risk profiles depend on many factors

Being able to provide additional evidence that you were not at fault when a motor accident occurs can be beneficial during claim stage and even fast track the process. Many factors go into the process of determining a risk profile and therefore setting a premium. However, the willingness to install a dash cam for visual evidence in the event of a claim could indicate to insurance providers that one is a responsible person and consequently reflect in their premiums.

However, the bigger picture will always come into play. Your credit record, claims history, length of time you’ve had a driving license, as well as the security measurements taken, will influence the premium an insurance provider settles on for a specific client. Even if adopted, the installation of a dash cam will need to be evaluated in light of the other aspects of determining a risk profile.

Detecting fraudulent claims

Economic pressure unfortunately causes fraudulent behaviour and insurance providers have fallen prey to this type of behaviour.

Russia was one of the first countries to widely embrace the use of dash cams, mainly as a defence against police corruption, as well as insurance fraud such as ‘crash for cash’ scams. Crash for cash scams happen where fraudsters deliberately cause ‘accidents’ by running or driving into the road as soon as a car approaches, with the aim to claim for insurance.

To an extent, dash cams provide proof of foul play in the instance of this type of fraud. In addition, dash cams can help avoid the he-said she-said scenario at claim stage.

Dash cams assist with the collection of evidence, but do not eliminate the need for a thorough investigation into an incident. Dash cams see broadly into the road, therefore other detail on the road may be missed by the camera lens – which is where an eyewitness account is still vital.  Insurance providers still have to conduct thorough investigation to assess the incident and the resultant damage. Dash cams do, however, assist in speeding up the process and giving a greater scope of what happened.

The unintended consequences of dash cam adoption

As with anything, insurance providers will have to contend with other unintended consequences when assessing the viability of adopting dash cams – one of which is a legal risk. While recording via a dash cam is not illegal, sharing such footage may be an infringement of people’s right to privacy. Dash cam footage is commonly shared on social media, which can be seen as violation of privacy, resulting in litigation. Insurance providers must consider the risk of being party to these types of cases when encouraging the use of dash cams, and appropriately educate consumers.

Dash cameras benefit motorists and vehicle owners

Most dash cams are linked to the engine and are therefore programmed to start recording as soon as the ignition starts which is also beneficial in ensuring the dash cam is always recording. This could very well be a prerequisite should the technology be adopted by insurance providers. For fleet owners, dash cams can help them monitor whether their drivers are driving responsibly or not.

A vehicle owner who lends a friend their vehicle is also able to monitor their friend’s driving behaviour through the dash cam footage. Furthermore, viewing footage of your own driving can help improve one’s own driving, as you can watch and review where you need to correct your driving behaviour.

The use of technologies such as telematics and tracking devices has been adopted by the South African short-term insurance industry, and dash cams could be another device to investigate to add to that list. When all is said and done, dash cams do encourage responsible driving behaviour. Whether or not South Africa is ready for the wholesale adoption of dash cams in the short-term insurance industry remains to be seen.

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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