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Switch on the smart grid

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The infrastructure that delivers electricity from our local utility and municipalities to buildings – is over-taxed, but by linking all supply and demand elements through intelligent communication, the grid could constantly monitor demand and adjust delivery accordingly, writes NEIL CAMERON, GM at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency.

The grid – the infrastructure that delivers electricity from our local utility and municipalities to buildings – is over-taxed. Because of increasing demand during peak time periods and the imminent output of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind when South Africa’s Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) start contributing with supply, the grid is less able to provide a stable energy supply. However, by linking all supply and demand elements through intelligent two-way communication, the grid could constantly monitor demand and adjust delivery accordingly. That’s the idea behind the “smart grid.” For example, by interfacing with home appliances or building controls, the smart grid could allow those energy-consuming devices to operate in off-peak periods and disable them during peak periods to save energy, reduce strain on the grid and enable users to consume electricity when it is least expensive.

In South Africa, we do not have a ‘smart grid’ per se but the natural progression to our energy crisis is to implement the technology in order to connect demand to supply capabilities and deliver bi-directional information between the utility and the consumer.  It will drive consumer usage and behaviour through ‘time of use’ billing and enable facilities (and consumers) to reduce their consumption during peak periods. Facilities will be able to control their energy loads by having them connected to a smart grid and enable companies to manage their own load shedding. This will deliver significant financial benefits to organisations and assist the utility to manage demand better. To deliver all the benefits the smart grid has to offer, smart buildings need to be connected to it.

A smart building provides some or all of the following advanced capabilities:

·         Optimised coordination of energy loads, on-site energy generation and energy storage.

·         Fully integrated control of lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, IT, and other energy consuming systems, using weather data and information from security, scheduling and other business systems to optimise performance.

·         Advanced diagnostics and automated measurement, verification and reporting of energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings.

·         Continuous two-way communication between the building and the grid.

·         Automatic demand response to dynamic pricing signals from the grid. By utilising smart building technologies, owners and tenants can vary electricity usage in response to signals from the grid when prices change to consume electricity when it’s cheaper, and they can reduce demand when the grid is reaching capacity.

This is known as “demand response.” Smart building management systems can automate a short-term reduction in energy demand through load shedding or load shifting. For example, if the owner sets an electricity price threshold for the building and the grid signals that the price will exceed that threshold at a particular time of the day, the system would automatically reduce energy demand in the building at that time. The system could turn off non-critical loads, reduce lighting levels and let building temperatures float within limits or start the use of stored or on-site energy generation.

Combining smart grid and smart building technologies improves reliability and security, while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Johnson Controls has been providing smart building technologies to customers for years and those customers are reaping the benefits. Commercial buildings in the U.S. now consume 18 percent of the country’s energy and 36 percent of the electricity. In a recent Energy Efficiency Indicator study, 44 percent of facility executives in the U.S. selected smart building technology as one of the top three technologies expected to have the greatest price-performance improvement over the next 10 years. The time to deploy smart building technologies is now. Doing so could avoid $33 billion in energy costs and eliminate 160 million tons of carbon emissions annually by the year 2030.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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