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re:Invent :: AWS gives IoT an edge with 4 new services

AWS IoT Events, unveiled in Las Vegas this week, gives customers the ability to detect and respond to events from large numbers of IoT sensors and applications, quickly and easily.

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At re:Invent in Las Vegas this week, Amazon Web Services, announced four significant services and capabilities that make it easier to ingest data from edge devices and build rich Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
* AWS IoT SiteWise is a new managed service that collects, structures, and searches IoT data from industrial facility devices and uses it to analyze equipment and process performance data.
* AWS IoT Events is a managed IoT service that makes it easy to detect and respond to changes indicated by IoT sensors and applications, such as malfunctioning equipment or a stuck conveyor belt, and automatically trigger actions or alerts.
* AWS IoT Things Graph is a new service that makes it easy to build IoT applications with little or no code by connecting different devices and cloud services, such as linking humidity sensors to sprinklers to weather data services to create an agricultural application, through a visual drag-and-drop interface.
 * AWS IoT Greengrass Connectors gives developers the ability to connect third-party applications like ServiceNow for service management, on-premises software like Splunk for log analytics, and AWS services like Amazon Kinesis for data ingest via common cloud Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). With this ability, developers can easily add more features like location-based services, replenishment, industrial data processing, alarm and messaging, repair and maintenance, logistics, and more, without writing code. To get started, visit: https://aws.amazon.com/iot.
“Customers tell us they want to spend less time on the undifferentiated heavy lifting of getting different devices and services to work together and more time innovating on full-featured IoT applications,” said Dirk Didascalou, Vice President IoT, AWS. “We are giving customers tools that remove the cost and complexity of building applications at the edge with rich data sources to drive better business decision-making. This frees them up to spend time innovating in their core business, instead of writing code to connect devices and applications and to ingest actionable sensor data.”
Industrial companies such as manufacturers, energy utilities, and food processors want to be able to utilise their device data to drive faster and better-informed decisions, but much of this data cannot be easily collected, processed, or monitored. Extracting data from thousands of sensors across different locations is time consuming and expensive and device data is often stored on-site in specialised servers. To help customers realise the value of their industrial data, AWS is announcing:
AWS IoT SiteWise (available in preview) is a managed service that collects data from the plant floor, structures and labels the data, and generates real time key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to help customers make better, data-driven decisions. Customers can use AWS IoT SiteWise to monitor operations across facilities, quickly compute common industrial performance metrics, build applications that analyse industrial equipment data to prevent costly equipment issues, and reduce gaps in production. Customers will be able to collect data consistently from devices, identify issues with remote monitoring more quickly, and improve cross-site processes with centralised data. To learn more about IoT SiteWise, visit: https://aws.amazon.com/iot/iot-sitewise.
AWS IoT Events (available in preview) is a managed service that makes it easy for industrial, consumer, and commercial customers to detect and respond to events from many different IoT sensors and applications. Events are patterns of data that identify changes in equipment like a conveyor belt becoming stuck or a motion sensor detecting movement after hours. Using IoT Events, customers can easily detect events like this at massive scale by analysing data across thousands of IoT sensors and hundreds of equipment management applications in real time. For example, when temperature changes indicate that a freezer door is not sealing properly, business logic can be used through AWS IoT Events to send a text message to a service technician. To get started with AWS IoT Events, visit https://aws.amazon.com/iot-events.
Bayer is a global enterprise with a core focus in the life sciences fields of health care and agriculture. “At Bayer, we constantly strive for the highest operational equipment effectiveness (OEE) within our manufacturing facilities by capturing, monitoring, and analyzing equipment metrics,” said Peri Subrahmanya, Product Manager, IoT, Bayer U.S. Crop Science. “AWS IoT SiteWise allows for a seamless data capture of relevant open platform communications (OPC) data streams via a gateway device and modeling of our shelling, treating, and chopping equipment in the cloud in order to help build analytical dashboards. We can then use these dashboards to identify inefficiencies and take corrective action.”
New capabilities make it easier to build IoT applications
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Small SA town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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Facebook fact-checking goes to 10 more African countries

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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