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Tech can sustain cities

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In 2010, we passed the historic milestone of having the majority of the world’s population live in cities. With this in mind, sustainability must become a key priority for business leaders, says COLIN THORNTON, MD of Turrito Networks and Dial a Nerd.

More than ever before, technology drives our world. It powers businesses, cities and governments, and shapes individual lives in a hugely impactful way. Indeed, smart technology ensures that we have clean water, and that food is available in supermarkets. Today, we order food, clothes, and all manner of services with just three simple taps. We do our banking on the go, paying salaries while sitting in traffic!

Technology continues to shape the very fabric of our lives, and this dependence is only likely to accelerate given that, in 2010, we passed the historic milestone of having the majority of the world’s population live in cities. With this in mind, sustainability must become a key priority for business leaders and policymakers around the world.

Leveraging Data

Today, information technology has the unique capability of being able to capture the ever-increasing amounts of information generated in the world around us – whether it is sensors that monitor traffic on the roads, the passage of water through pipes or the GPS signals from mobile phones.

Every day, advanced technology is providing us with increasingly detailed information about the services we depend on – and improvements in data communications are allowing us to combine real-time data with existing information. At the same time, recent developments in analytic algorithms mean that, more than ever before, we can gain new insights from this rich data store to help us make smarter decisions.

Developing ‘Smart’ Infrastructure

Increasingly, people want to live in cities where there’s a high quality of life and where services are delivered seamlessly and efficiently. As a result, these demands are placing a huge strain on city infrastructures and the planet’s resources at large.

Arguably, we now need a “smarter” approach to delivering vital services, such as transportation, logistics, healthcare, education, public safety, energy and water delivery. Notably, it’s estimated that lost productivity and energy use due to traffic congestion alone wastes between 1% and 3% of the world’s gross domestic product! Smart technology can undoubtedly ease traffic congestion, if the right measures are implemented.

Early Signs of Success

Encouragingly, work has already begun in cities around the world to make cities smarter and more energy efficient. For example, Singapore, Brisbane and Stockholm are all working to reduce both traffic congestion and air pollution through intelligent transportation solutions, including predictive tools to route vehicles around traffic accidents.

Several cities in Italy, the island of Malta, as well as the US state of Texas are using smart electric meters and instruments to make their power grids more stable, efficient and ready to integrate renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.

In an innovative project in Glasgow, new system insights are helping the council develop strategies to provide affordable warmth to vulnerable citizens – while making progress towards the city’s 2020 reduction targets for CO2.

Rotterdam is adopting a monitoring and forecasting system to support both its water and energy that uses real-time information to manage infrastructure and operations related to the effects of climate change.

China is introducing high-speed trains and expanding its rail network between cities, adding 25,000 miles of track between now and 2020. The goal is to fuel economic development without increasing automobile or truck traffic.

In South Africa, we are beginning to develop our own smart cities and smart communities, although there are challenges around legacy infrastructure and ever changing local leadership.

Looking ahead, every city and community will be forced to adopt certain technology tools and platforms in order to attract people and talent – and also to remain up to speed with increasingly stringent environmental and sustainability standards. For both people and the environment, technology is a powerful tool that can be leveraged for positive change and sustainable development!

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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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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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