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Loneliness and lack of trust dominate 2020 themes

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In the age of constant connectivity, consumers today feel more alone than ever – and find it harder to trust their peers and companies.

In its 2020 Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, released this week as the 8th annual report, Ford Motor Company identifies trust as a dominant global theme and explores how companies are earning it back.

“The rate of change globally has been on the rise – and without the trust in the institutions, brands and peers to rely on, a majority of people are feeling extremely overwhelmed,” says Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager. “Consumers want to believe that companies are doing the right thing, but companies also need to give them a clear reason to do so. At Ford, we remain deeply focused on improving the lives of consumers and their communities, so we can continue to have a trusted relationship that moves us forward together.”

Surveying 14 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the global report suggests that people’s ability to trust peers, communities, elected officials and businesses has a crucial impact on their day-to-day lives. Other consumer trends revealed in the report:

  • All Alone: Loneliness has become an epidemic of global proportions. Loneliness is particularly prevalent among young people – 62 percent of Gen Zers globally agree with the statement “I feel lonely on a regular basis” and 50% agree “I often feel lonely when I’m around other people.”
  • Below the Surface: There’s growing interest in the unseen elements of building consumer trust. Consumers want to believe that companies are doing the right thing but they need to see behind the curtain to believe it. 67 percent of adults globally agree that “Once a brand loses my trust, there is no getting it back.”
  • Call to Stand: People are asking brands to move from a product-based mindset to a values-based mindset – although it doesn’t always impact their decision to buy: 59 percent of adults globally say they care more about purchase convenience than brand values.
  • Great Expectations: As internet commerce grows, so do expectations for brands. 67% of adults globally agree with the statement “I have higher expectations for brands than I did in the past.”  
  • The Green Paradox: Worldwide, consumers are increasingly worried about climate change. Yet, that worry isn’t translating into urgency: 64 percent of people who aren’t changing their behavior to help fight climate change say they think they can’t make a difference.
  • Identity Matters: Conversations and language around identity are evolving — more specifically, understanding that identities are built from both visible attributes and invisible ones, like sexual identity, ancestry, religion and more. Only 67 percent of adults globally say “Iunderstand the concept of gender fluidity.” 
  • The Second Time Around: New upcycle companies around the globe have modernized resale shopping. The so-called re-commerce movement is on the rise for sophisticated and market-savvy shoppers, breathing new life into previously owned fashion pieces, appliances, electronics, household items and other goods — and more and more consumers are opting in. 60 percent of adults globally agree “I am more open to buying used goods than I was five years ago.”

For the full Looking Further with Ford 2020 Trends Report, please see the linkhttps://ford.to/38n1fSl for 2020 Ford Trends Report.

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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