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A new platform for good

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A new Internet platform has been launched to help South Africans get connected to causes that can use their help.

It is called forgood and it connects people to approved Non-Profit Organisations (NPO’s) and allows them to respond to existing needs and campaigns.

Users can create their own personalised offers for a new “giving” experience. forgood also targets businesses, aiming to improve the efficacy of their corporate social investment (CSI) programmes.

“There are over 85,000 registered Non-Profit Organisations in South Africa, but very few technology platforms that connect people who want to do good – to the organisations that need their help. There are even fewer platforms out there which provide this service to business,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of www.forgood.co.za.

“In the short term, we want to connect 100,000 people to causes and bring on a group of forward- thinking businesses that would use our platform to help with staff volunteering and community engagement projects. That’s going to teach us a lot about this industry and we have some big ideas to come.

“Essentially, we want to build the digital ‘glue’ underneath the NPO industry in Africa – it’s a critical industry that is often under-supported and under-appreciated. A platform approach can provide efficiency and scale – it could be transformative.”

“Many people don’t know this, but South Africa was the second biggest climber in the CAF World Giving Index 2014.  That’s largely because last year, 4.5 million more South Africans gave up their time in some way to help a good cause than in 2013. That’s a huge number of people and a big trend – something we’d like to build technology around.

The forgood product revolves around three propositions:

  • It allows users to browse and respond to existing needs and campaigns from an approved database of causes.
  • It encourages people to change the way they think about “giving” by creating personalised offers around any interesting skills and passions they have – and matching these to the right causes. Everything from gardening, marketing, clothes and metalwork have been successfully matched to causes in early tests.
  • It offers business functionality that allows companies to manage internal CSI campaigns and report on the impact their staff are having through these mechanics.

“We’re trying something different,” said Hadfield. “The temptation might be to work inside the NPO sector as an NPO ourselves, but we’d like to bring a bit of startup hustle, automation and urgency to the space – so forgood is actually registered as a for-profit – it’s a social enterprise. We’re a company that wants to make returns for our investors – but we’ll do that while we’re making the world a better place.”

The team includes Andy Hadfield (previously of Real Time Wine, FNB and gAL.co.za) and Garth Japhet (founder of Soul City, South Africa’s longest running and most successful media NGO, South African representative for Social Media at the World Economic Forum and currently CEO of Heartlines).

Hadfield comments: “We’ve been fortunate. forgood was incubated in various forms inside Heartlines, which has given us some time to learn about what might and might not work. We’ve taken those lessons and built the current product from scratch – meaning we’re treating this like a startup. I’ve been honoured to join a team that has already done so much work in this space. This launch is about kicking it up to the next level. Come and change the world with us.”

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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