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Tech gives a boost to giving

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According to the annual Giving Report by the Charities Aid Foundation of Southern Africa, over 88% of South Africans contributed to a charitable organisation through time, money and other donations in 2018. Most people who contributed did so through a monetary donation and by signing petitions. It was also noted that because NGOs have recently upped their reporting, people can now see how their donations have made a difference and how many like-minded people donate to their chosen causes, thus spurring them to donate more.

What’s interesting is the correlation between the spike in younger people giving back and the introduction of online/digital donations. These new platforms have made it easier than ever for anyone to pay it forward. 

Below are just five of the many ways in which we are able to give back to those less fortunate using whichever platform suits you best.

Online: Quicket’s Haven Night Shelter passport 

Quicket recently partnered with The Haven Night Shelter to create the shelter passport – enabling anyone to go online and buy a passport filled with printable, charity-ready reprieve for those in need. Each ticket guarantees the grateful recipient a hot meal, a shower, and a bed for the night (provided there is one free) at any Haven night shelter in the Western Cape. In addition, they’ll receive access to the assistance The Haven provides in terms of social services and helping to get people back on their feet. 

The tickets are sold in batches of five and cost just R12 per ticket. Most customers buy a pack of 10 or even 50 at a time and keep them handy to give out as needed – especially since they don’t expire. Since the initiative was launched on the site, over 1000 tickets have been sold. Quicket also gives the option of donating straight to The Haven Night Shelter through the platform. Users can insert any amount and a donation will be made to the shelter in their name. 

In the real world: Relate bracelets 

The most heartfelt and sustainable gifts are those that endure and keep on giving. When it comes to charitable causes, giving of one’s self is of course crucial, but what if there was an avenue through which to amplify a small donation and see it resonate for generations? Fortunately there is.

Relate is a 100% not-for-profit social enterprise, which donates the majority of its revenue to credible causes and continually creates income opportunities for South Africa’s most desperate citizens. Recipients aren’t merely given cash hand-outs, but instead receive upskilling, training and education, which equips those living in poverty with the tools to uplift themselves. Among numerous ongoing partnerships and campaigns, Relate has recently launched DIG60 – an initiative in association with Ikamva Labantu – which aims to honour South Africa’s elder population, while providing support to those in need. Visit Relate.org for further information and to give the gifts of dignity and longevity.

Use your card: MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet community loyalty programme

The MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet community loyalty programme is one of South Africa’s biggest community loyalty programmes that is making a difference in the lives of South Africans. It allows supporters to raise funds for their chosen beneficiaries – be it a school, charity or environmental organisation every time they shop at any of the more than 1500 partner stores across the country. It doesn’t cost you a cent – you simply swipe your card  when you shop and the partner makes a contribution on your behalf. 

The programme raises over R7 million every month for schools, charities, animal welfare, and environmental organisations. In addition to the card that you swipe, the 22-year-old programme has entered the digital age and now has a virtual card that is accessible via their app that you can scan at till points to give back every time you shop.

Download the app or visit www.myschool.co.za for more information on how you can give back.

SnapScan: the CCID

The Social Development department of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) runs a “Show you care” campaign every year to raise funds for the homeless community of the Central City during the bitterly cold and wet winter months. This year the aim of the campaign, driven through SnapScan, is to raise R100 000 for the CCID’s NGO partners that work with this vulnerable community. Members of the public can look out for the code and details of how to donate on the CCID’s social media pages, on posters in the CBD and in over 300 participating retailers, restaurants and hotels in which table talkers with the campaign details are displayed. If anyone would like to donate via EFT, they can find the details on the CCID website. Pat Eddy, Social Development manager, says the CCID is asking people to make “a life-changing” donation, no matter how big or small. The CCID’s “Show you care” campaign supports its Winter Readiness Campaign during which “care bags” with basic toiletries, shoes, raincoats, blankets and mattress protectors and food is supplied to certain of its partner NGOs as well as the subsidising of extra beds at shelters.

On your travels: BONangels by BON Hotels 

This hotel group offers its guests an opportunity to assist them in helping those less fortunate. BONangels aims to take care of the communities that service their hotels to establish a society of guests and staff who want to give back and build a platform that allows everyone to do something for others less fortunate.

Their most recent beneficiary is the Sunflower Fund, South Africa’s well-known donor recruitment centre and registry. Show you care by registering to be a stem cell donor, donating money or volunteering on the BON Hotels website

It’s estimated that for South Africans, charitable contributions will continue to increase, and with the addition of online donations, giving back is easier. 

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Data gives coaches new eyes in sports

Collecting and analysing data is entering a new era as it transforms both coaching and strategy across sports ranging from rugby to Formula 1, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Coaches and managers have always been among the stars of any sports. They become household names as much as the sports heroes that populate their teams. Now, thanks to the power of data collection and analysis, they are about to raise their game to unprecedented levels.

The evolution of data for fine-tuning sports performance has already been experienced in Formula 1 racing, baseball and American football. All are known for the massive amount of statistic they produce. Typically, however, these were jealously guarded by coaches trying to get an edge over their rivals. Thanks to the science of “big data”, that has changed dramatically.

“American baseball has the most sophisticated data science analytics of any sports in the world because baseball has this long history of stats,” said Ariel Kelman, vice president of worldwide marketing at Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing giant that is working closely with sports teams and leagues around the world. “It’s an incredibly opaque world. I’ve tried for many years to try and get the teams to talk about it, but it’s their secret sauce and some of these teams have eight, nine or ten data scientist.”

In an interview during the AWS Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last week, Kelman said that this statistical advantage was not lost on other sports, where forward-thinking coaches fully understood the benefits. In particular, American football, through the National Football League there, was coming on board in a big way.

“The reason they were behind is they didn’t have the player tracking data until recently in in the NFL. They only had the player tracking data three years ago. Now the teams are really investing in it. We did an announcement with the Seattle Seahawks earlier this week; they chose us as their machine learning, data science and cloud provider to do this kind of analysis to help figure out their game strategy. 

“They are building models predicting the other teams and looking at players and also evaluating all their practices. They are setting up computer vision systems so that they can track the performance of the players during their practices and have that inform some of the game strategies. The teams then even talk about using it for player evaluation, for example trying to figure out how much should we pay this player.”

Illustrating the trend, during Re:Invent, Kelman hosted a panel discussion featuring Rob Smedley, a technicalconsultant to Formula 1, Cris Collinsworth, a former professional footballer in the NFL and now a renowned broadcaster, and Jason Healy, performance analytics managerat New Zealand Rugby.

Healey in particular represents the extent to which data analysis has crosses sporting codes. He has spent four yearswith All Blacks, after 10 years with the New Zealand Olympic Committee, helping athletes prepare for the OlympicGames. 

“The game of rugby is chaos,” he told the audience. “There’s a lot of a lot of things going on. There’s a lot of trauma and violence and it can be difficult to work out the load management of each player. So data collection is a big piece of the technical understanding of the game.

“A problem for us in rugby is the ability to recall what happened. We have to identify what’s situational and what’s systemic. The situational thing that happens, which is very unlikely to be replicated, gets a lot of attention in rugby. That’s the sensational big moment in the game that gets talked about. But it’s the systemic plays and the systemic actions of players that lies underneath the performance. That’s where the big data starts to really provide some powerful answers. 

“Coaches have to move away from those sensational andsituational moments. We’re trying to get them to learn what is happening at that systemic level, what is actually happening in the game. How do we adjust? How do we make our decisions? What technical and defensive strategies need to change according to the data?”

Healey said AWS was providing platforms for tracking players and analysing patterns, but the challenge was to bring people on this technology journey.

“We’re asking our coaching staff to change the way they have traditionally worked, by realising that this data does give insights into how they make their decisions.”

Kelman agreed this was an obstacle, not just in sport, but in all sectors.

“Across all of our customers, in all industries, one of the things that’s often underestimated the most is that getting the technology working is only the first step. You have to figure out how to integrate it with the processes that us humans, who dislike change, work with. The vast majority of it is about building knowledge. There’s ways to transfer that learning to performance.”

Of course, data analytics does not assure any side of victory, as the All Blacks discovered during the recent Rugby World Cup, when they were knocked out in the semi-finals, and South Africa went on to win. We asked Healey how the data-poor South Africans succeeded where the data-rich All Blacks couldn’t.

“You have to look at how analytics and insights and all thesetechnologies are available to all the coaches these days,” he said. The piece that often gets missed is the people piece. It’s the transformation of learning that goes into the player’sactual performance on the field. We’re providing them with a platform and the information, but the players have to make the decisions.. We can’t say that this particular piece of technology played a role in winning or losing. It’s simply just a tool.”

The same challenge faces motor racing, which generates massive amounts of data through numerous sensors and cameras mounted in vehicles. Rob Smedley, who spent 25 years working in engineering roles for Formula 1 teams, quipped that his sport had a  “big data” problem before the phrase was invented. 

“We’ve always been very obsessive about data. Take car telemetry, where we’ve got something like 200 to 300 sensors on the car itself. And that goes into something like two to three thousand data channels. So we’re taking about around 600 Gigabytes of data generated every single lap, per car. 

“On top of that, where we’ve also got all the time data and GPS data. The teams are using it for performance advantage. We’re into such marginal gains now because there are no bad teams in Formula 1 anymore. Data analytics provide those marginal gains.”

• Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT faces 5-year gap

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In five years, the world will have more than 40 billion devices. Locally, IoT specialist,Eseye, says that South African CIOs are recognising IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (Machine to Machine) technologies as strategic imperatives, but the journey is still in its infancy.

“As legacy systems start to reach end of life, digital shifts will become inevitable. This, coupled with an increasing demand for improved bottom line results from existing and new markets, makes IoT a more viable option over the next five years. This is particularly prevalent in manufacturing, especially where time to market and product diversification has become necessary for business survival,” says Jeremy Potgieter, Regional Director – Africa, Eseye.

He says that within this sector one thing matters – output: “Fulfilling the product to market lifecycle is what makes a manufacturer successful. Addressing this functionality and production optimisation through technology is becoming more critical as they focus on increasing output and reducing downtime. By monitoring machinery and components in the production line, any concerns that arise, which impacts both the manufacturer and consumers alike, will be more efficiently dealt with by using an IoT approach.”

Potgieter says that there is also the growing strategic approach to increase the bottom line through new markets. As manufacturers seek new revenue streams, Eseye is encouraging the use of rapid IoT enabled device product development : “By addressing the connectivity aspects required at deployment, manufacturers are immediately diversifying their portfolios. Eseye, as an enabler, assists by providing market ready SIMs, which can be embedded into IoT connected devices at OEM level, connecting them to a plethora of services (as designed for) upon entry to market, anywhere in the world.”

In addition, Potgieter says that organisations are increasingly looking towards IoT connectivity managed services to capitalise on specialist expertise and ensure the devices are proactively monitored and managed to ensure maximum uptime, while reducing data costs.

Impacting IoT adoption though, is undoubtedly the network infrastructure required. Potgieter says that this varies significantly and will depend on criteria such as sensor types and corresponding measurements, the overall communication protocols, data volume, response time, and analytics required: “While the majority of IoT implementations can be enabled using cloud-based IoT platform solutions, the infrastructure required still remains important. A cloud platform will simplify infrastructure design and enable easy scaling capability, while also reducing security and data analytics implementation issues.”

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