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John Deere wants to link up with SA agri software

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John Deere is offering South African software firms with a focus on the agriculture and logistics sectors the opportunity to link their applications with its online Operations Center solution, a centralized farm management platform that collects machine, logistic and agronomic data to help farmers and their advisors to make more informed decisions.

The company has added a new sub-menu called More Tools to the John Deere Operations Center online platform, which enables third party software providers that already have existing relationships with farmers using John Deere equipment, to link their products to the centralised database. Enabling existing South African software applications to link to the John Deere Operations Center allows local farmers to collaborate with their preferred local partners on a world class platform that provides the added benefit of opening up an even wider array of globally-benchmarked software tools and farm management systems to the domestic market.

“We would love to see more home-grown South African software makers engage with us on this opportunity as it really offers everyone in the agriculture value chain a chance to benefit by moving toward a more advanced, technologically enabled and precise method of farming,” said Wayne Spaumer, Technology Specialist at John Deere. “The advantage of the Operations Center platform is that it allows farmers to choose exactly who they want to transfer their data to and to do so seamlessly via a convenient, centralised online platform. This means they can take existing information and data that they have collected with their existing software providers and make it available to new application providers and farm management systems, should they wish to gain new insights into existing historical data.”

John Deere will provide more information on how South African software providers can access the Operations Center platform at its booth at the upcoming NAMPO show which runs from [14 to 17 May]. Once they have a shortlist of interested companies that want to move forward, John Deere will host a workshop at its head office in Johannesburg where members of its global team will provide further detail.

Farmers can also access the John Deere Operations Center via mobile app, which enables access to farm information from anywhere at any time. Advanced tools allow farmers to see what is happening on their farms while also allowing them to share data with advisors and partners, which can then be used to gain valuable insights over time. Advanced software tools enable farmers and their partners to analyze and edit data, make more informed and collaborative decisions, and optimize their logistics and day-to-day operations to boost yields and increase profitability.

“Achieving optimal efficiencies and reducing waste can have a large impact on overall yields,” says Spaumer. “Using advanced software and analytic tools allows farmers to reduce the chaotic and often inefficient process of having to coordinate and manage farm activities over the phone or via lengthy meetings, which can often cause delays in work and a drop in productivity.”

The Operations Center equips users with tools that make data interpretation easier to understand by providing a bird’s-eye view of the farm in both real-time and via historic data. This allows farmers to be more agile when adapting to changing conditions and make quick decisions based on immediate insights provided by robust data.

“It’s essentially like having your farm in your pocket,” says Spaumer. “The app is easy to use and it connects you to all your machines, your fields and your operators as well as external influences like live weather information.”

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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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