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SA’s Lumkani fire detector gets to global Venture finals

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16 start-ups from across the globe with a mission to create positive change have been announced as finalists of The Venture. The forward-thinking businesses, including Lumkani from South Africa, are competing to win a share of $1 million in funding from Chivas Regal.

After receiving over 1 000 entries from five continents, Chivas Regal has selected Lumkani as part of a diverse shortlist of 16 aspiring start-ups tackling a range of social and environmental issues. The finalists have been chosen to represent their local countries in The Venture global final, based not only on their potential to be profitable as a business, but also on their ability to offer scalable and sustainable impact solutions.

Each finalist has a truly unique story to tell about the inspiration for their startup. “The devastating shack fires that took place on New Year’s day 2013 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and displaced thousands of people was a catalyst for research and development that has brought us to create an affordable fire detection device to mitigate the loss of life and property,” said David Gluckman, co-founder of Lumkani.

“Enabling the growth of social entrepreneurs has become a key focus for Chivas Regal through The Venture campaign. We are really excited to have Lumkani representing South Africa on a global stage and we urge fellow South Africans to vote for Lumkani’s life-saving initiative,” said Paul Scanlon, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard for South Africa and Namibia.

From 11 May to 14 June, Lumkani will go head to head with the rest of the finalists in a public vote, competing for an initial share of $250 000 (from the $1 million fund). People from across the world can view the finalist profiles and vote for their favourite at The Venture.

The competition will then culminate in San Francisco on 24 July when finalists pitch for the remaining share of the $1 million fund in front of an expert global judging panel. Sonal Shah, former Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the White House under US President Barack Obama, is the latest judge to be announced alongside Adrian Grenier (actor, producer and social entrepreneur), Morgan Clendaniel (Editor of Fast Company’s Co.Exist) and Alex Ricard (Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO).

In the week leading up to The Venture Final Pitch, the finalists will attend an Accelerator Week in Silicon Valley – the epicentre of the startup world – where they will receive mentorship from influential figures in social enterprise and companies such as Google, Duarte and IDEO.

To find out more and vote for your finalist, visit The Venture.

The Finalists

Country Company Founder(s) Overview
Brazil MGov Guilherme Finkelfarb Lichand MGov is a consulting firm that specialises in public policy management and social impact. We use mobile technology to better understand the demand for, and evaluation of, public services by speaking to those that they affect most; the people who use them.
Bulgaria Arthesis Demir Tonchev At Arthesis we create beautiful prosthetic covers for leg amputees who want to express themselves boldly and creatively. Wearing our covers makes amputees feel confident the same way as wearing stylish clothes. An Arthesis cover weighs about 250 grams, which makes it very convenient to wear.
Chile Algramo Jose Manuel Moller Affordable food is hard to come by in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile. There are few supermarkets and the produce at small stores can often be up to 40% more expensive than in larger outlets. To address this issue, we at Algramo buy essential products, such as rice, beans, lentils and sugar, in bulk from suppliers and distribute them directly to small convenience stores through our unique mechanical dispensers.
China Coolpeds Tony Chan At Coolpeds our mission is to offer an innovative, compact and eco-friendly way to travel. One that not only helps people get around efficiently, but also improves local communities by reducing pollution and congestion. So we’ve designed and manufactured the lightest electric transporters in the world. Our scooters are not only light, they’re also foldable, produce zero emission and will even charge your phone.
Columbia Diseclar Juan Nicolas Suarez Bonilla Where others see rubbish, garbage and waste, we at Diseclar see furniture. Thanks to our inventive manufacturing process, we’re able to turn waste materials into stylish furniture that can be used in- and outdoors.
Dom. Republic Conuco Solar Raul Aguayo Many people don’t have the space in their home or place of business to have their own solar panels installed. Conuco Solar will ensure that anyone can still have access to clean, renewable energy by essentially renting space at our solar farm, rather than having to set up their panels at home or their business where space may be limited.
Gulf Dumyé Sahar Wahbeh Dumyé handcrafts personalised cloth dolls and, for every doll we sell, we give one to an orphan to make their own through an art workshop. In this way, we believe we can bring love and light into the lives of both our children and those who have not been spoken for.
Hong Kong Diamond Cab Doris Leung Diamond Cab is the first ever barrier-free taxi service in Hong Kong. Our vision is to provide a safe, accessible service that makes it easy for a previously marginalised and vulnerable group of people to interact with the world, while also being a driving force to promote genuine social progress in our society.
Japan SenSprout Yoshihiro Kawahara SenSprout’s mission is to make farming more efficient, to produce more crops using less water. We help farmers better understand their crops and fields with our low-cost sensor technology. Our wireless field-monitoring system is enabled by a unique “printed electronics” sensor, making it possible to monitor soil conditions and environmental information in real time.
Mexico ¡Échale! a Tu Casa Mexico Francesco Piazzesi Lack of affordable housing is a social problem, so we’ve come up with a model that makes the community part of the solution. We aim to provide at-risk families across Mexico with ecological, affordable housing by helping them build their own.
South Africa Lumkani David Gluckman At Lumkani we use technology to decrease the risk of devastating fires in informal settlements. Our innovative fire detector was designed to mitigate the loss of life and property caused by the spread of shack fires.
Thailand Socialgiver Aliza Napartivaumnuay Socialgiver is a lifestyle website with a social twist. We offer handpicked services and experiences, such as hotel deals, gift-cards for restaurants and tickets for events from leading brands at exclusive rates. For every purchase, 70% goes directly to support social projects of the buyer’s choice and 30% helps grow the Socialgiver community.
UK Two Fingers Brewing Co. Will Waldron Two Fingers Brewing Co. is a beer brand that gives back to those that drink it by giving all our profits to Prostate Cancer UK. Using the finest handpicked ingredients, we create beer that’s not just better tasting, but better for men everywhere.
Ukraine Line 24 Ilona Kotova There are over 13 million elderly citizens in Ukraine and more than eight million people with disabilities. Some have no immediate family or their relatives live far away. Line 24 provides a 24-hour medical alarm service for these vulnerable, at-risk groups.
Uruguay Chipsafer Victoria Alonsoperez Chipsafer is a platform that will transform the way farmers care for their livestock. It not only tracks and detects anomalies in cattle behaviour, but does so remotely, autonomously and in real-time. Chipsafer then sends all this information directly to the farmer, who can access it on a laptop or phone.
US Vendedy Christine Souffrant Vendedy is a social enterprise startup that is digitising the street vendor industry via mobile technology. For the first time, street vendors can upload photos of their products online via mobile devices so that a traveling consumer can search, purchase, and pay for an item via SMS.

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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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