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How Wi-FI can benefit law

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The Internet of Things is changing the way we work and once the new ecosystem is completely connected, many businesses will benefit – including law enforcement, says RIAAN GRAHAM, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa.

The internet of things (IoT) is challenging the way we live and work, and how government and businesses interact. In fact, this new eco-system is creating the foundational building blocks for smart cities where traditional models of service delivery are being challenged. While the move towards ‘smart’ is slow as infrastructure and connectivity needs to be deployed to truly drive an interconnected eco-system, for those that are moving towards a more mature model, the benefits are undeniable across all services – including law enforcement.

If we look at today’s judiciary system, often, judges have to rely on alternative links as GSM connectivity is not always possible due to various technical challenges. Use of a Wi-Fi hotspot could result in easy, quicker access to legal and other information, that could be critical in a trial. This could have a significant impact on the productivity of the court.

This fast and reliable Wi-Fi has the added benefit of providing journalists with the means to file stories sooner and get breaking news out more efficiently. Consider also the potential of providing legal teams who might not have the resources of larger firms with online access to research that can assist in their preparations.

Suddenly, technology becomes an equaliser with those legal professionals coming from underprivileged communities having internet connectivity they might not have otherwise had to refine their case work. But these benefits extend beyond the parameters of the court.

Police stations often have to rely on expensive satellite access to file reports and stay updated on various legal and security matters. Creating a network of Wi-Fi hotspots that not only cover the police station, but key areas of the community, could provide a much-needed boost to reducing crime. Additionally police officers in the field can be fitted with hidden cameras on their uniform as well as a dashboard camera in the police car – providing accurate evidence of incidents that can be helpful in a trial.

Such a Wi-Fi network gives community members an opportunity to engage more directly with local police and send out alerts on any criminal activity they might witness or even call for medical services when seconds matter. Extending this Wi-Fi access to a community centre provides additional opportunities for education, employment, and even the enhancement of existing crime watch programmes.

Wi-Fi will give police in these communities the capability to check on suspect IDs and vehicle license plates more effectively and cheaper than before. This also means that police officers who roam the neighbourhoods can leverage VoIP services to create community-wide alerts should the need arise.

Even Metro police officers can benefit from Wi-Fi connectivity during their road-side campaigns. By equipping them with this additional functionality, real-time information on traffic, accidents, and other activities can be monitored online. It also means regional offices will be able to determine where best to send resources during peak travel times.

Streamlining the processing of information, filing of reports, responding to community queries, and engaging with officers in the field are all valuable enhancements brought about with the availability of Wi-Fi.

As we have seen from consumer and business perspectives, Wi-Fi access empowers us  to find different ways of doing things. Having access to the internet and all the related information it provides leads to a smart way of doing things and helps government embrace the concept of smart cities. Even in sectors of the market where Wi-Fi has not been typically seen as necessary, it is incredible what innovation this connectivity can unlock.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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