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Looking for a smart port in a storm

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Modern ports are transforming and digitalising, but high-speed connectivity remains the backbone of any attempt to create a genuinely smart port, writes VINO GOVENDER DFA, Executive: Product Innovation and Marketing.

As digitisation drives a wave of technological innovation and integration, so an increasing number of industries and businesses are seeking to transform themselves into enterprises that are more data and insights driven. The port industry is no exception.

A modern port no longer only undertakes the traditional load and discharge, storage, and transfer functions, but is now becoming the catalyst for the development of the surrounding region’s economy, trade, and finance. Furthermore, the port has now become a key node of the modern logistics chain and thus has transformed into a focal point for the flow of commodities, capital, technology, and information.

Being part of both the larger transport and logistics supply chains and, in itself, being a cluster of companies and businesses active in these sectors, the modern port is in a unique position to fully leverage the efficiencies generated by digital technologies.

Ports can apply technology to address specific challenges in the areas of asset management and utilisation as well as operations uptime. Technology can also enable more effective levels of collaboration between port management, suppliers, and customers, which can lead to improved efficiencies in capacity planning and service delivery.

The critical areas of security can also be improved through IP-based security devices and access-control systems, which are integrated via security platforms to the broader security ecosystem, including border control, private security, and the police services. The use of high-definition camera monitoring and biometric-based identity- and access-management systems provides tighter control and visibility on access and movement patterns within the port.  In addition to this, the implementations of wireless networks that can be backhauled by fibre are extremely useful in respect of asset tracking and vehicle monitoring.

Of course, the most critical requirement for any port seeking to transform itself from merely a node in the goods journey to one that serves as an integrated logistics supplier is a backbone of high-speed broadband connectivity.

High-speed connectivity is the essential foundation for the transmission of any and all information related to port operations. It is necessary for stakeholders who need access to systems as it enables access to common cloud-based business applications for port administration. There is no doubt that a strategic shift is taking place in respect of these facilities, where size is no longer the primary focus, but rather efficiency and effectiveness of operations. In the near future, it will no longer be the largest port that gets all the business, but rather the smartest one.

The advantages of a backbone of high speed connectivity, backed by the relevant IT systems, are multiple. Such an implementation can enable these new ‘digital ports’ to:

·         Improve cargo handling efficiency, as well as collection and distribution capabilities

·         Support the kind of reliable and uninterrupted IT services required for 24/7 operations

·         Play a vital role in connecting the port to the rest of the region it supports, enabling it to truly integrate its logistics chain

·         Provide a massive boost to the operation management system, thereby assisting with increasing load and discharge and yarding efficiency, improving overall port performance, and reducing operating costs

·         Deliver the backbone for a high-definition, real-time CCTV monitoring system that significantly boosts the safety and security of the port, helping to protect it against both criminal and terrorist intent

·         Deliver business collaboration services for terminal, shipper, consignee, forwarder, shipping line, customs, and other shipping stakeholders, boost the overall performance of the maritime logistics chain, and assist the port in providing more efficient and quality services to its customers and suppliers.

With a high-speed connectivity backbone in place, ports will also be positioned to undertake the next phase of digitalization, where new services either replace or augment traditional port operations. The most notable of these will be the connection of everything of relevance within the port to the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT technologies are already being applied in diverse settings – from last-mile transport optimisation to warehouse- and transport-management systems. The IoT is equally useful in terms of the logistics value chain, assisting management to understand more clearly not only what has been delivered and to where but also when it left and when it arrives at its destination.

The combination of IoT, smart data solutions and high-speed connectivity will enable ports of the future to identify and take advantage of new business models within the larger ecosystem. It will also create opportunities for new, non-traditional parties – such as technology companies and developers – to create applications and solutions for stakeholders targeted at improving performance or enhancing the business of the port itself.

Looking at this, there is no doubt that a backbone of high speed connectivity, allied to a vision that fully capitalises on the application of digital technologies, including the IoT, data- and insights-driven processes and business applications and IP-based communications and collaboration services, will be the driving force that creates the world’s first true smart ports.

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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