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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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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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