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Shared services to drive municipal service delivery

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With pressure mounting on the government to reduce costs while improving governance and service delivery, there is an opportunity for municipalities to streamline their operations by adopting a shared services model.

During the recent 2016 Budget Speech, the emphasis was placed on the growing pressure faced by municipalities from both the rising cost of bulk services and the rapidly growing number of households. These pressures can, however, be mitigated through better coordination and shared resources. This is the view of Modise Nyawane, Managing Executive: LARA at Business Connexion.

“It makes no sense for each municipality to replicate their technology infrastructure purchases,” he says. “Municipalities can significantly reduce cost and improve efficiency by adopting a shared services model. In addition, to that, it will increase service delivery, transparency and ultimately citizen satisfaction.”

Nyawane says that by moving infrastructure to a central location and having a core team in place, there is less of a risk of billing delays. “Consolidation removes fragmentation and if your core responsibility is to do month-end runs, you do so across municipalities. This will be particularly important where there is high staff turnover – if your core functions are centralised, you will still have the required expertise to support the environment should someone leave. However, in the current environment, should someone within the billing department, leave, that job is left undone. Thereby impacting on the overall billing process and ultimately the municipality’s performance.”

He does, however, add that a change in mind-set will be required for this to succeed. “While it makes complete sense to centralise your infrastructure and core functions, there is still a level of hesitation from within the local government. We are often faced with the argument that they are happy to have their own server environment, giving them more control. The risk associated with this is, if the server crashes, the municipality comes to a complete standstill. In some instances, it could take months to replace the server,  with a huge impact on the municipality and its ability to deliver on its mandate.”

Another challenge facing municipalities is that of a shortage of the required specialised skills. “Municipalities are governed by the very specific financial legislature which requires an in-depth knowledge of the business of a municipality,” says Nyawane. “Here technology and consulting go hand in hand in ensuring that the municipality can execute on their financial obligations.”

Modernising municipalities’ infrastructure and digitising some of their operations can have a significant impact on their billing and ability to operate more effectively. “In order for us to make the vision of smart cities a reality, municipalities will have to invest in infrastructure and technology that support them in their digitising efforts. They don’t, however, need to carry the burden as an individual unit. If these solutions are rolled out at a metropolitan or even district level, providing shared services to the smaller local municipalities, the impact they have will be much bigger,” he says. “It will enable all municipalities within that district or metropolitan to deliver the same quality of services to their citizens. This resulting in driving down the cost of service delivery and improving overall transparency,” says Nyawane.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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