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Hospitality solutions should provide comfort and save costs

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In order to meet the ever growing demands of today’s travellers, technology in abundance is what makes a hotel function in modern times, writes MIKE VAN LIER, Director of Enterprise Business Division at Samsung Electronics South Africa.

From the moment a guest checks into a hotel until the time they leave, they encounter technology on various levels. Some are plainly obvious, such as screens and PCs installed at the reception desk, but there are also the not-so-obvious technology that makes guests’ stay more pleasurable, but they are unaware of it.

Nowadays every guest expects Wi-Fi when booking into a hotel. It has become an accepted standard and something that can’t do without. However, what might not be so clear is that once guests enter the hotel’s Wi-Fi environment, their mobile phone can be converted into a seamless extension of the hotel’s internal switchboard or PABX. This renders hostel guests’ communication fast and efficient. Apart from being a useful and time-saving service to guests, this system offers the hotel management and staff benefits as well. Likewise, in the background the hotel employees are able to communicate with each other via their mobile phones, without the exorbitant costs of cellphone call fees. This can amount to huge cost savings for the hotel, considering the number of calls between staff on a daily basis. Samsung’s Fixed Mobile Convergence, PABX and Wi-Fi solutions afford hotels and the hospitality industry this functionality.

Large format display screens are becoming much more prevalent in hotels and restaurants globally. These displays offer the perfect solution to present a myriad of information, such as conferences which might be taking place at a hotel or the foreign currency rates of exchange. All of these displays care controlled from a central point within the hotel that allows for comfortable and effective content management.

In addition, some hotels that have adopted Samsung’s Large Format Displays have used these to function as digital wall paper that can be changed to reflect any mood, season or event taking place in their lobbies, such as the Metropolitan hotel in Las Vegas.

The TV is another discreet technology that can be found within hotel rooms. Once guests enter their bedroom they expect a television set. Samsung’s unique range of Hotel TVs not only allow guests to watch normal programming and movies, but also to wirelessly connect their IOS and Android smart devices to play back their own music and videos on the TV ― known as BYOD (bring your own device). Through this solution guests are given more freedom and control over what content they want to consume and when they wish to consume it. In addition the hotel TVs can display the hotel’s entire directory of services that can easily be navigated by guests using the remote control. The traditional Guest Service Booklet in the hotel room can now be trashed and recycled in favour of a more current, eco-friendly and effective Samsung hotel TV solution.

Comfort is important within the hospitality industry and air-conditioning is most often overlooked in this instance. Air-conditioning consume huge amounts of energy leading to increased costs for a hotel. Samsung’s air-conditioning system however, provides an excellent energy efficient way of heating or cooling. Room air-conditioning settings as well as settings for public spaces in the hotel can be changed from a central point, either from within the hotel or from another location off-site.

Hotels are notoriously high paper usage environments with masses of staff carrying clip boards with endless check lists and reports. The large paper consumption should be a concern, as consumers are becoming more eco-friendly and actively seeking service providers who share the same belief. System printing solutions aimed at decreasing paper wastage and reducing printing costs is therefore a good investment. Samsung’s cloud and Tap & Print technology, using near field communications (NFC) not only benefits employees and the hotel, but also allows guests to securely print their documents at the hotel’s business center.

The hotel business has definitely expanded from its earlier sole provision of accommodation. There is now much more to consider in running such an enterprise effectively. Technology, visible or hidden, can play a big role in making the venture a success.

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Revealing the real cost of ‘free’ online services

A free service by Finnish cybersecurity provider F-Secure reveals the real cost of using “free” services by Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, among others.

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What do Google, Facebook, and Amazon have in common? Privacy and identity scandals. From Cambridge Analytica to Google’s vulnerability in Google+, the amount of personal data sitting on these platforms is enormous.

Cybersecurity provider F-Secure has released a free online tool that helps expose the true cost of using some of the web’s most popular free services. And that cost is the abundance of data that has been collected about users by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Twitter, and Snapchat. The good news is that you can take back your data “gold”.

F-Secure Data Discovery Portal sends users directly to the often hard-to-locate resources provided by each of these tech giants that allow users to review their data, securely and privately.

“What you do with the data collection is entirely between you and the service,” says Erka Koivunen, F-Secure Chief Information Security Officer. “We don’t see – and don’t want to see – your settings or your data. Our only goal is to help you find out how much of your information is out there.”

More than half of adult Facebook users, 54%, adjusted how they use the site in the wake of the scandal that revealed Cambridge Analytica had collected data without users’ permission.* But the biggest social network in the world continues to grow, reporting 2.3 billion monthly users at the end of 2018.**

“You often hear, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’ But your data is an asset to any company, whether you’re paying for a product or not,” says Koivunen. “Data enables tech companies to sell billions in ads and products, building some of the biggest businesses in the history of money.”

F-Secure is offering the tool as part of the company’s growing focus on identity protection that secures consumers before, during, and after data breaches. By spreading awareness of the potential costs of these “free” services, the Data Discovery Portal aims to make users aware that securing their data and identity is more important than ever.

A recent F-Secure survey found that 54% of internet users over 25 worry about someone hacking into their social media accounts.*** Data is only as secure as the networks of the companies that collect it, and the passwords and tactics used to protect our accounts. While the settings these sites offer are useful, they cannot eliminate the collection of data.

Koivunen says: “While consumers effectively volunteer this information, they should know the privacy and security implications of building accounts that hold more potential insight about our identities than we could possibly share with our family. All of that information could be available to a hacker through a breach or an account takeover.”

However, there is no silver bullet for users when it comes to permanently locking down security or hiding it from the services they choose to use.

“Default privacy settings are typically quite loose, whether you’re using a social network, apps, browsers or any service,” says Koivunen. “Review your settings now, if you haven’t already, and periodically afterwards. And no matter what you can do, nothing stops these companies from knowing what you’re doing when you’re logged into their services.”

*Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/05/americans-are-changing-their-relationship-with-facebook/
**Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/30/18204186/facebook-q4-2018-earnings-user-growth-revenue-increase-privacy-scandals
***Source: F-Secure Identity Protection Consumer (B2C) Survey, May 2019, conducted in cooperation with survey partner Toluna, 9 countries (USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, and Japan), 400 respondents per country = 3600 respondents (+25years)

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WhatsApp comes to KaiOS

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By the end of September, WhatsApp will be pre-installed on all phones running the KaiOS operating system, which turns feature phones into smart phones. The announcement was made yesterday by KaiOS Technologies, maker of the KaiOS mobile operating system for smart feature phones, and Facebook. WhatsApp is also available for download in the KaiStore, on both 512MB and 256MB RAM devices.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world,” said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp. “Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way.”

WhatsApp is a messaging tool used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who need a simple, reliable and secure way to communicate with friends and family. Users can use calling and messaging capabilities with end-to-end encryption that keeps correspondence private and secure. 

WhatsApp was first launched on the KaiOS-powered JioPhone in India in September of 2018. Now, with the broad release, the app is expected to reach millions of new users across Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

“We’re thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend such an important means of communication to a brand new demographic,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “We strive to make the internet and digital services accessible for everyone and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities, and others across the globe.”

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones are a new category of mobile devices that combine the affordability of a feature phone with the essential features of a smartphone. They meet a growing demand for affordable devices from people living across Africa – and other emerging markets – who are not currently online. 

WhatsApp is now available for download from KaiStore, an app store specifically designed for KaiOS-powered devices and home to the world’s most popular apps, including the Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and Twitter. Apps in the KaiStore are customised to minimise data usage and maximise user experience for smart feature phone users.

In Africa, the KaiOS-powered MTN Smart and Orange Sanza are currently available in 22 countries, offering 256MB RAM and 3G connectivity.

KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries. The platform enables a new category of devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience.

* For more details, visit: Meet The Devices That Are Powered by KaiOS

* Also read Arthur Goldstuck’s story, Smart feature phones spell KaiOS

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