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Now IoT feeds communities

Using less than 1% of land resources than cattle, aquaponics may be the solution to feeding communities, writes BRYAN TURNER.



Advanced analytics are being used to automate fish aquaponic operations and boost nutrition for rural communities, with a little help from the Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart aquaponics, using a combination of IoT technologies and EOI (Enterprise Operational Intelligence), came to town last week, when Swedish enterprise software company IFS and agriculture company Matsei Technologies and Consulting demonstrated the technology in Johannesburg.

“Almost 7 million people in South Africa go to bed hungry every night,” said Mohamed Cassoojee, MD and country manager of IFS SA, “We have malnutrition on the one side and obesity on the other. The problem is the people getting the wrong nutrition.”

Aquaponics, a closed system for growing plants and raising fish, is the name of the game for Matsei. “Although aquaponics have been tested in rural areas, the operation needs to be a 24/7 solution,” said Leon Van Deventer, director and executive member for Matsei Technologies and Consulting. 

“We have found that it’s not that difficult to cultivate starch. The problem comes with red meat: it’s expensive, even for the middle class.”

This is where IFS comes in. 

The company offers solutions which enable data control and IoT deployment. “We need to place IoT sensors on all the points of control to ensure that control centre can be notified of any issues,” said Van Deventer.

These IoT sensors can be used in two ways: for reaction and for prediction. When used for reaction, sensors can control parts of the plant when conditions are sub-optimal or harmful to the process. For example, a pH IoT sensor will shut off a pump if the water is too acidic for the fish. A temperature IoT sensor will cool or heat water to get it to the right temperature.

For prediction, the sensor data is recorded about the conditions before and after reactionary events and relayed those in the control room. This ensures that reactionary events are less likely to occur in future.

“We are proposing a project that uses less land resources,” said Cassoojee, “The system will be producing protein and vegetables through a closed system. Sustainability is the goal – to grow fish and vegetables, creating jobs, and feeding people. These systems use 1% of land required for beef or cattle farming.”

The vision of IFS is to build sustainable communities through this digital farming programme. it aims to change the outlook on farming and agriculture business ownership, as well as to grow supply chains spanning food production, logistics, retail, and other support services. 

“Our models have to change,” said Van Deventer. “Think of it as an Uber for logistics. If we make use of existing resources like taxis that are always on the go [for logistics], we can accomplish a lot more.”

“The skills that we develop need to have jobs waiting on the other side,” said Mpho Matsitse, senior value advisor at IFS. “Nowadays, we aren’t talking about employment where you have your job and you do it and that’s it. Now is the time for continual growth. A lot of the youth is channelled into schooling or being an entrepreneur, which is not for everyone.

“We are offering a low-to-high skilled training operation, which drives job creation for those who don’t fit into schools or starting a business. It also opens up opportunities for start-ups to participate if they need to.”

Cassoojee said: “We believe that the proposed programme addresses one of our gravest challenges in South Africa, nutrition and self-sustenance, allowing technology to be a catalyst and a key value enabler to unlocking the potential we have in addressing our own social ills.“


TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.



TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform



The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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