Free Introductory Coding workshop for high school girls

Free Introductory Coding workshop for high school girls

American cornerin Cape Town. (image: U.S. Embassy and Consulates in South Africa)

The American Corner- which was officially opened to the public in 2015 is bringing introductory coding workshops to high school girls in Cape Town, South Africa.

Located inside the Central Library in the Central Business District, the space offers a coffee bar, free Wifi, iPad bar, laptop bank with Chromebooks and Macbooks and video production equipment there’s also editing suite, broadcast quality cameras, and green screen technology available to the public at no cost.

In partnership with the US Consulate, Code for Cape Town is offering a two day Power of Coding workshop.

Power of Coding is a 3-hour workshop aimed at introducing learners to what coding is, how it applies to learners’ interests and giving them an idea of whether they have the aptitude for a career in web development. Learners will code their first project and, at the end of the session, take a test to determine whether they qualify to apply for Code for Cape Town’s full learning programme, which includes code classes, visits to tech companies and the chance to meet inspiring women in tech. As a project which empowers young women to leverage technology for social innovation, Code for Cape Town is looking for high potential, committed learners who will thrive in the opportunities provided by the organisation and partner initiatives.

Saturday workshops will be held at the American Corner in Cape Town Central Library from 09:00-12:00 on 4 February and 4 March 2017. There are 20 free tickets per workshop. The coding workshop is valued at R300 but learners are invited to attend for free. To book a spot, interested pupils can sign up on Quicket.

Staff Writer

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Digitising archived broadcast footage – creating additional value

Digitising archived broadcast footage – creating additional value

Paul Divall, Managing Director, Intelligent Technologies – The Jasco Group

As we replace manual and paper-based processes and methods with technological innovations and automated processes, the digital age is rapidly permeating every aspect of our world. Books, documents, sound recordings and the like are being converted for electronic storage, which is beneficial from a preservation and retrieval perspective. One such industry that can benefit from digitisation is the broadcast industry, particularly with regard to archived footage.

It’s easy to imagine warehouses and storage rooms filled with thousands of reels of broadcast recordings, taking up space, gathering dust and costing money. These physical repositories pose a risk and can easily be destroyed and lost forever. If not destroyed by fire or flood, these reels of film and tape will eventually degrade over time until they are no longer usable. By converting broadcast footage into a digital format now, broadcasters will be able to store archived footage safely and easily. In addition to being able to retrieve archived footage quickly, there are a number of other benefits that broadcasters will realise, through the digitisation of their historical footage.

It’s time to digitise the past

Southern African broadcasters host a sizeable collection of audio visual content that has specific value to our culture, society and history that has been built up as part of a mandate to document, preserve and conserve the audio-visual content for the purposes of informing, educating and developing our culture. These collections, particularly the 1-inch and U-matic tape formats, have suffered serious deterioration. Analogue media carriers and playback machines are now outdated, so reliability and maintenance thereof is becoming a major issue. Moreover, Video Tape Recorders (VTRs) are no longer in production and as such, there is a decline in the availability of spare parts or skilled technicians to service them. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important to digitally reproduce these creative and historic assets in order to preserve them for future generations to use, before it’s too late.

Television broadcasters are faced with two sets of demands when it comes to their archived footage. One demand is being made from within their own organisation where there is a need to archive their output and mine previous outputs as a source for re-runs or to create a free library of footage. This type of demand is echoed by other broadcast companies and production organisations that are looking for such footage. The other demand comes in from those who wish to service or capitalise on the demand for archival TV. This can be, for example, teachers or historians and online television distributors like ShowMax and Netflix, looking to capitalise on old programming. Where the broadcaster is a public one, the argument has been made that archived material belongs to the public, because they paid for it. By digitising this content, broadcasters can make it available (on a free or pay-per-use basis) and can showcase the diversity of material that they hold, making it available to researchers and consumers in a convenient form.

It’s time to reduce the cost of your archive

By transferring to a digital archive this will reduce facility costs and space requirements significantly, allowing for optimised workflows in a file-based environment. In order to keep a tape media archive for the next 10 years and beyond, the recommendations from SMTPE and the tape manufacturers is to maintain constant cold temperature and humidity requirements, which mirror the requirements of datacentres. As the data density of analogue media is low, the space and cost of maintaining the archives becomes increasingly expensive while availability of playback machines and spare parts are increasingly limited. Transferring the archive into digital format will reduce costs of the overall facility including temperature control, a reduction in space requirements whilst optimising workflow and access in a file-based environment.

It’s time to monetise the past

Once historical tapes or reels (as the case may be) and their associated metadata have been digitised, it becomes quick and easy to search for a specific broadcast, which is particularly useful in live streaming scenarios. For example, a spectacular goal from a memorable sporting match could be retrieved and inserted into a current live match. As previously mentioned, digitised broadcasts could also provide a new revenue generation stream where this archived footage could be sold to other broadcasters and production houses. Every TV user is now accustomed to storing and retrieving programmes at home and this has been the case since VHS recorders became common in the 1980s, which generates an increased presumption that old shows and broadcasts must be available somewhere. Entire TV channels are built on the belief that archival material can find an audience well after its original broadcast and DVD releases of old shows continue to grow. It’s time for broadcasters to monetise these opportunities as new channels such as YouTube or Over the Top (OTT) services provide new demand for content and new ways to engage with audiences. Archival content is a unique asset, which could differentiate broadcasters from their competitors and reconnect them with their viewership.

How technology can help

It’s time for broadcasters to put in place a solution to efficiently and effectively promote tapeless workflows from beginning to end, as well as a preservation solution that can work archived physical footage for storage in a digital file based server system. Technology exists that makes it possible to undertake large-scale mass preservation and digitisation and migration of audio, video and film archives, automating as much of the process as possible to eliminate the opportunity for human error. This migration/digitisation is done in conjunction with restoration and treatment remedies to ensure that the digital footage is a faithful replication of analogue.

Once audio visual content has been electronically converted, there are technologies that offer access solutions that are either automated or offer assisted indexation, metadata management and documentation based on open standards for interoperability. Such solutions are secure and sustainable, effectively hosting, preserving and storing for access and enabling monetisation with media distribution partners. Digitisation partners are able to train broadcast staff on how to operate and manage these solutions in order to maximise productivity and potential for additional revenue. In short, the time for broadcasters to digitise their historical broadcasts and recording is now. Not only will it simplify their processes and allow broadcasters to finally retire outdated playback technology, it will open up new potential revenue streams, and bring to light previously unconsidered opportunities for education and research as well.

By Paul Divall

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Mobile World Congress 2017- What to expect

Mobile World Congress 2017- What to expect

The Mobile World Congress 2017 will be held in Barcelona.

The Mobile World Congress, which kicks off on the 27th of February, is an annual for the mobile and related industries held in Barcelona,Spain, the mobile world capital and organised by GSMA. The congress brings together over 2200 exhibitors, as well award winning conference leaders and visionaries to discuss the latest topics and trends in the industry.

Below are a few of the speakers and the topics which will be discussed at the upcoming event.

BICS – M&A activity will fuel collaboration

Daniel Kurgan, CEO, BICS

“The digital revolution has sparked a new age of communication. New, branded digital experiences including messaging apps, chat bots and the IoT, have crept into the mobile market, and consumers expect instant connectivity and seamless services, wherever they are in the world.

“At MWC 2017 and beyond, we will witness more convergence across the telecoms space as service providers develop cross-platform propositions to support content services, and look to diversify in order to target vertical markets. Wholesalers are set to play a crucial role in the development and transformation of the telecoms industry this year, acting as facilitators of new partnerships across the sector.

“This year, we’ll see more M&A activity as mobile operators and pure-play telecoms businesses look to partner with digital service providers, cloud communications companies and even fintech companies to embed mobile and rich communications services into their core proposition.”

NETSCOUT – The IoT trojan horse

By Michael Segal, Area Vice President, Marketing Strategy, NETSCOUT

“At Mobile World Congress, there will be a focus on IoT from all sectors and industries attending the show. Markets as diverse as healthcare and manufacturing are becoming more dependent on automation, IoT, and M2M communications to drive business processes and mission critical systems. However, progress will be hampered by a new breed of malware threats that use IoT devices as hosts and M2M networks to propagate and run amok in factories, hospitals and smart homes.

“To date, innocuous devices such as routers, webcams, and even printers, have been used as a bridgehead for nefarious hackers and botnets. These types of attacks will become more prevalent as we go through the year and will intensify in scale when commercial applications are affected.

“There will be serious consequences not only for operators, but also for both enterprises and public sector organisations that do not keep their IoT networks in check, as well as other enterprises that will become more susceptible to DDoS attacks from IoT devices they don’t own. Attendees will use MWC to explore how businesses can better collaborate to fight the threat of IoT-related hacks.

“Putting DDoS protection in place is only part of the solution. It’s imperative that companies look at securing M2M networks and systems, ensuring they are continuously monitored in real-time to safeguard against threats but also to ensure maximum output and productivity.”

Blue Danube – Operators look to address capacity demand for video

Mark Pinto, CEO, Blue Danube

“Wireless networks are being placed under immense strain due to high volumes of data traffic, largely generated by video content. The amount of video streamed live or on-demand is growing exponentially every day. This is driven by OTT video services and supplemented by adverts, promotional videos and user generated content. Frustration with video delays, interruptions or crashes is a significant customer satisfaction issue. The situation is compounded by user desire to stream new HD video formats such as 4K, which require more bandwidth, typically around 25Mbps. To date, the only obvious solutions to address the capacity demand on LTE networks would be to invest in additional spectrum or new base station sites. This is costly and time consuming.

“At MWC, operators will be looking for technology that delivers additional capacity, cost-effectively and as soon as possible. 5G will understandably be high on the agenda as a solution, however it is still many years from being ready for commercial deployment, especially for mobile applications. Operators want to ensure a sustained and high quality viewing experience for their subscribers now and well into the next decade. Fortunately, it’s possible to achieve this by deploying smart antenna solutions that can be integrated directly into the network to address capacity demands on LTE networks, but also support 5G and fixed wireless applications as and when required.”

OpenCloud – Network operators become content kings

Chris Haddock, Head of Marketing, OpenCloud

“We can expect M&A discussions to be aplenty at Mobile World Congress, as operators look to acquire content providers, following the trend set by AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner this year. TV and streaming services are no longer just the remit of broadcasters and OTT players. Mobile operators will begin to offer unique content packages, as they shift to a multi-play business model, providing content services at any time, to subscribers anywhere.

“Operators will not create their own content, but through strategic partnerships and acquisitions will acquire a range of exclusive content, offering it to subscribers as a way to differentiate their propositions. Subscribers will start selecting operators based on the content that they provide (for example, choosing sports, TV or film packages). This will help to attract and retain customers, and provide an additional revenue source for multi-play operators.”

Infobip – Enterprises start chatting

Silvio Kutic, CEO, Infobip

“At MWC this year, we’ll see bolder moves from instant messaging apps as they enter the A2P messaging space. Internet brands have dominated consumer messaging with the likes of WhatsApp, Line, and Viber, all focused on person-to-person (P2P) communication. The next step will be to open their APIs to enterprises.

“Brands are starting to adopt multichannel and omnichannel strategies to better engage customers and drive sales, with a growing number of companies looking to add a ‘sexy’ messaging app to their marketing mix.

“Many brands like the idea of having a popular messaging app as part of the business communications suite. They feel it will add vibrancy to customer engagement. But will it work as a standalone tool? Probably not. For OTT companies to succeed in the A2P messaging space, many will seek partnerships with established business messaging providers.

“At this year’s event it will be interesting to find out if any new services are in development, and learn how internet brands and their enterprise customers can collaborate to deliver those services.”

Procera – Telecom regulators will focus on network quality

Cam Cullen, VP Global Marketing, Procera Networks

“Both the FCC in the US and BEREC in Europe have issued guidance that asks telecom operators to detail the actual QoE delivered to subscribers on their networks – including throughput, latency, and packet loss for all service plans. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated in how they use broadband and more sensitive to network disruption as a result, especially if it leads to slow social networking, stuttering video streaming, or laggy gaming. As more and more consumers rely exclusively on their broadband connections for video and voice services, regulators will go a step further and be pulled into mandating quality measurements for operators.”

Staff Writer

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Top tech trends in security for 2017

Top tech trends in security for 2017

By Roy Alves, Country Manager, MEA, Axis Communications.

Security will be a huge trend in 2017, following a number of high-profile cyber-attacks and hacks last year. With surveillance security continuing to develop as a result of breakthroughs in big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning, a number of surveillance specific security trends will also drive innovation and investments within the industry during 2017.

The first of these is cybersecurity because IoT is culminating in hundreds of millions of internet-connected devices the likes of fridges, DVRs and security cameras, becoming possible targets by hackers. Axis has always taken its customers’ security seriously, but we will hopefully see 2017 as the year when all manufacturers make this a priority. The biggest challenge we see with cyber security is to find the right balance between secure devices/systems and complexity/ease of use. We will continue to strengthen our existing offerings and make it easier for our customers to keep their networks and devices secure.

Security as a service is another big trend as we expect customers to start viewing their security as a service – with remote and professionally hosted solutions as well as monitoring of video transmitted from the customer’s site. This will not only free up internal resources, which could be better focused elsewhere, but also improve the service levels, enable better device-management, and strengthen cyber security.

Better integration & analysis of video

Adding to the reduction in complexity and freeing up of resources is the trend of offering integrated solutions. Customers aren’t looking to buy hardware/software – what they really want is to reduce shoplifting, or make sure only authorised people can access the cash office, or keep track of potential threats in an airport. The convergence of hardware into end-to-end solutions will be able to address specific security problems and these will consist of high-performance cameras, storage and access controls that are all tightly integrated with video management and analytics tools. This approach will be easier for customers to purchase, install and implement, while offering a great return on their investment.

This tighter integration will be one of the factors, spurring on the expanded use of analytics. While high quality video footage is a core feature of modern security cameras, ultimately that information needs to be assessed and analysed, before a decision can be made to respond to its content. The recent advances in camera technologies, such as thermal imaging and enhanced low-light capabilities have been significant steps forward.

However, in the end, they just generate more footage that needs to be watched/reviewed. The security industry has been working hard on video analytics software that can work in real time to help professionals make informed decisions. We expect to see 2017 as the year when these new camera capabilities are combined with real-time analytics, to address several security challenges that includes facial recognition, forensic analysis and perimeter protection.

Deep Learning

All of this data and analysis of the information through analytics will provide a boost to other technologies such as deep learning. As more data is gathered, computers can start to learn about what behaviour is expected for certain typical locations or environments and flag up incidents when unexpected activities occur. This is only the beginning and is a very exciting space to keep an eye on.

Additionally, physical security doesn’t just involve the surveillance of people, places and stuff. It’s also about access to places, communication and managing emergencies – and sometimes having to do that kind of thing from a significant distance. So, we see 2017 as being the year when fully-integrated physical security systems, combining cameras, intelligent doors, intercoms and speakers become viable.

Ultimately, we think IoT should be about better security, more efficient businesses, organisations and cities. This will be brought about by technologies such as “smart” cameras, door stations and audio equipment with network connectivity. 2017 will add more ‘smarts’ to those devices, while also enabling customers to focus on what they do best and allowing security specialists to improve the services they provide.

By Roy Alves, Country Manager, MEA, Axis Communications

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Major developments expected for fintech in 2017

Major developments expected for fintech in 2017

Dominique Collett , senior investment executive at Rand Merchant Investments.

From digital banks to mobile-payment solutions, technology is set to change the South African financial services landscape at a pace that will continue to surprise even the most hard-core non-believer.

Digital banks

On the banking front, 2017 will be the year of the digital bank, both globally and locally. In South Africa we will see Discovery Bank and CBA Tyme – both digital banks – start operating and it should be interesting to see how the market responds.

SME financing

Politicians and economists tell us that the economic future of the world is in the hands of small business owners. But financing in this sector is almost just as often mentioned as a major stumbling block. It was a huge talking point in 2016 and SME finance will be a massive trend in 2017. Interesting funding models such as invoice and discount financing and digital lending models will continue to gain traction aided by rapid developments in technology. Companies such as Merchant Capital and Lula Lend will continue to grow locally.

Bitcoin

In 2017, we will embrace Bitcoin after the world got hyped up on blockchain in 2016. I think banks will soon see that blockchain doesn’t really make sense and there will be a move back to Bitcoin – the largest and original application of the blockchain. The move to Bitcoin will be helped along by increased instability in governments. It is still far from becoming mainstream, but I expect to see more of Bitcoin locally. Expect to see more of local companies like Luno (BitX).

Data analytics

A lot is said about big data and everyone is implementing technology that will gather huge amounts of data. But just having data has little purpose if you do not analyse it and use the results to your own advantage. Advanced data analytics will continue as a major trend. We see many advanced data analytics startups globally and they are gaining traction. Institutions are beginning to understand that they need to work with startups such as Isazi Consulting and Emerge Analytics to offer a service that they cannot build in-house. Advanced data analytics is used for credit scoring and insurance risk selection, but we will start seeing more applications for it.

Partnerships

Partnerships are an important aspect when we look at the growth of fintech. Bank and insurance executives are beginning to understand this, and we will start seeing more successful partnerships between the large institutions and the smaller fintechs.

Mobile payments

In 2015 the discussion was around card versus mobile phone payments, and many partnerships were formed around payment technology. Locally we have seen the rapid development of mobile phone payment solutions such as SnapScan, Zapper and Wicode. We won’t be ditching our cards any time soon, but smartphone apps linked to our cards will change the nature of card usage, as customers get more comfortable using their phones for payments.

Price comparison websites

As more and more consumers become sensitive to price and service, price comparison websites will start to gain more traction. They are already huge in the UK, but not really in any other developed markets. South African consumers are becoming more aware of the lack of transparency around banking charges and interest rates. They are demanding more information on how much they pay, and they will rely on technology to supply the answers.

While AlphaCode is supporting more and more financial comparison online services, its member www.fincheck.co.za, stands out. After less than one year of existence, it is the most significant given the number of products it compares, the number and nature of its partnerships with legitimate financial providers/institutions, the support and endorsements from institutions such as the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and Micro Finance South Africa (MFSA) ― and its rapidly escalating number of users.

Real estate disruptors

But it is not only the banking environment that changes as a result of the development of financial technology. New-age real estate advisors such as Leadhome and Propertyfox are threatening the traditional market with their non-traditional fee and commission structures. These platforms could do more, like adding mortgage origination or robo-advisors. And yes, not all role-players in the fintech space will be human!

Robo-advisors

We will see robo-advisors become a buzzword and a mainstream product as big players launch their own robo-advisors. A surprising number of institutions already have this in advanced planning stages. It won’t disrupt the industry; it will merely become a new distribution channel.

2017 promises to be the year of major developments on the fintech front, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

By Dominique Collett

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Nokia update a step forward for IoT

Nokia update a step forward for IoT

Nokia announces update to IMPACT solution.

Nokia today announced an update to its Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things (IMPACT), the update will allow customers to easily deploy new services and business models that are key for IoT vertical applications. These include smart parking, smart lighting and transportation/automotive.
Nokia IMPACT gives communication service providers, enterprises and governments a secure, standards-based platform on which to build and scale new IoT services. It manages data collection, event processing, device management, data contextualization, data analytics and applications enablement for any device, any protocol and across any application. It also features robust, multi-layered security across the platform to safeguard data, identities and devices.

The updated version of the Nokia IMPACT IoT Platform provides new capabilities and a suite of pre-integrated applications that allow customers to easily create and deploy secure revenue-generating IoT services. New features of the Nokia IMPACT IoT platform include:

  • NB-IoT and LoRa Connectivity: Building upon existing Lightweight M2M (LWM2M) and Category M1 (CAT-M1) device support, interfaces to both licensed NB-IoT and unlicensed LoRa networks provide customers with additional IoT network efficiency improvements via low-power wide area networks (LPWAN).
  • Video Analytics: Powered by Nokia Bell Labs’ machine learning algorithms, IMPACT provides new functionality for a range of IoT applications by automatically detecting anomalies in video feeds in real time, such as traffic accidents, speeding vehicles and unauthorized entry into secure locations, and triggering alerts for further action.
  • Smart Parking Application: Allows municipalities to better manage inventory, resulting in more efficient use of parking spaces, reduced traffic and pollution; provides drivers with real-time information on parking space availability and streamlines payment processes.
  • Smart Lighting Application: Enables municipalities to optimize electricity use and reduce costs through real-time inventory management; automatically detects lighting issues and failures to help ensure maximum uptime.
  • Vehicle Applications: Enables predictive maintenance, fuel efficiency, supply chain optimization and geo-fencing solutions triggered by vehicle data, including fuel levels, speed and GPS location. This data can be collected from a Connected Head Unit or an aftermarket (ODB2-based) device.

Frank Ploumen, CTO of IoT platform and applications at Nokia, said: “In addition to delivering industry-leading device management, security and analytics capabilities, IMPACT uniquely provides a single, horizontal platform allowing customers to manage and analyze data across multiple IoT applications. This makes each application richer and the insights more valuable. Our focus is on enabling customers to more easily build and deploy new, high-value services and business models while keeping data secure and optimizing the network infrastructure efficiency.”

About the Nokia IMPACT IoT Platform
The Nokia IMPACT IoT platform was developed to address a fragmented and complex IoT ecosystem, comprised of disparate applications and devices. Its common platform provides horizontal services for all IoT applications, enabling customers to streamline their operations by automating the management of IoT devices and applications.

The Nokia IMPACT IoT platform includes Nokia’s connected device management, the industry’s leading converged device management solution that provides lifecycle management for more than 80,000 models of broadband, home and IoT devices.

It also features the Nokia NetGuard Endpoint Security (NES) network-based anti-malware solution. Analyzing traffic patterns from within the network, NES is much more efficient than traditional antivirus software, as it cannot be disabled and protects IoT devices without requiring any on-board security software, enabling customers to deliver superior protection while providing valuable insight to better manage and maintain the security of IoT-based networks.

  • Deployed by a number major tier-one communications service providers, the Nokia IMPACT IoT Platform includes the following additional benefits:
  • IoT-optimized architecture that retains the value of existing infrastructure (e.g., leveraging LWM2M and CAT-M1) yet is flexible enough to support emerging technologies, such as LPWAN.
  • Scalable solution that can support up to half a billion devices in a single deployment; cloud-based architecture enables customers to add server capacity on-demand to support large numbers of additional IoT devices.
  • A single, simplified platform that can move from M2M through the IoT revolution with easy deployment and scaling.
  • A comprehensive solution set that can be extended to meet evolving needs by supporting emerging technologies in a changing business ecosystem.
  • Security at all layers, from network-based cognitive security analytics to built-in protection of user privacy; protects the network, devices, applications and data with anomaly and malware detection and provides easy-to-deploy OTA updates.
  • Easy device certification through Nokia’s device certification program, allowing customers to onboard devices and device-agnostic applications cost effectively.

Staff writer

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Africa's chance: 10,000 EUR Startup Challenge returns

Africa's chance: 10,000 EUR Startup Challenge returns

The Innotribe Start Up Challenge will return to Africa for its 3rd consecutive year. (Image source: Swift)

SWIFT Innotribe, one of the worlds leading startup competitions, announced today that the Startup Challenge for Africa is open for applications.

In its third successive year, the Startup Challenge will be part of SWIFT’s African Regional Conference (ARC) held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 16-18 May 2017. ARC brings together policy makers, industry leaders and the broader financial community from across the African continent. Typically attracting up to 500 delegates from around 40 countries, ARC is a unique forum for networking, education, discussion and debate and a great platform for FinTech startups to connect with the financial sector.

Sido Bestani, Head of Middle East, Turkey and Africa, says: “FinTech companies are increasingly part of the fabric of Africa’s financial services industry. Now in its third year, Innotribe’s Startup Challenge for Africa plays an important role in finding the continent’s most exciting young companies, bringing them together with the financial sector and helping them grow.”

Innotribe will select 10 startups, from all the applicants, to enter the Startup Challenge programme, there they will showcase their products during ARC, and receive expert coaching and mentoring. Innotribe will closely work with industry experts, bank decision-makers, VCs and angel investors to select the showcase participants and their strong expertise will also serve to advise and coach the startups prior to the event.
The three best startups during the showcase will be nominated by the audience as finalists, automatically securing their participation to Sibos, SWIFT’s annual global financial services conference, held in Toronto, Canada, from 16-19 October 2017. They will also receive a 10,000 EUR cash prize each.

Reflecting on the last three years, Fabian Vandenreydt, Global Head of Securities, Innotribe, and the SWIFT Institute at SWIFT, says: “Our partnership with ARC has allowed us to highlight Africa as a hotbed of FinTech activity with a lot of ideas, resources and talent to support. Through the Startup Challenge, we want to spotlight innovation playing a role in the future of the financial industry across the continent and provide an opportunity for young African companies to use Innotribe’s global network to help them maximise their huge potential.”

Applications to the 2017 Startup Challenge are now open until mid-March 2017.
The successful applicants will be announced in April 2017.
If you’re interested in applying to the programme, please read the Terms and Conditions to get all information you need and fill in the application form.

Staff Writer

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Affordable infrastructure to support implementation of IoT in Africa

Affordable infrastructure to support implementation of IoT in Africa

A passive ceiling zone enclosure to provide an affordable transition into IoT.

Siemon, a leading global network infrastructure specialist, has announced a new passive ceiling zone enclosure in Africa that installs flush within a 2 X 2 foot drop ceiling tile space. Flexible and cost efficient, which are two key aspects when building in Africa, the new enclosure supports zone cabling in today’s highly automated buildings by enabling shorter, easy-to-manage copper or fibre connections directly to building devices or to equipment outlets supporting a variety of low-voltage building systems.
Designed to meet UL 2043 plenum ratings for digital ceiling deployments, the new passive ceiling zone enclosure is ideal for connecting directly to LED lights, security cameras, wireless access points or building automation controllers, or to outlets serving voice, data, digital signage and other low voltage systems. It includes a 4U adjustable rack system that tilts 45 degrees for easy access to terminations. It also supports a recommended 96-copper port count to harmonise with IEEE 802.3 Type 2 and Type 3 Power over Ethernet (PoE) bundle size limitations and eliminate over congestion for optimised zone cabling deployments.
“Digital ceiling deployments extend the benefits of the Internet of Things throughout facilities by converging multiple low-voltage building systems on a unified structured cabling system that delivers PoE to a multitude of devices, allowing for smart, connected buildings that are efficient, secure and easy to manage,” says Lee Funnell, technical manager EMEA at Siemon. “Our new passive ceiling zone enclosure supports cost-effective zone cabling in these environments, providing intermediate connection points between the telecommunications room and a wide range of low-voltage building devices for reduced disruption and installation time when performing moves, adds and changes.”

passive ceiling zone enclosure
As the Internet of Things starts to come into affect on the African continent, a system is need that will allow for easy installation, at a reasonable price and that is durable. Siemon’s product is extremely lightweight for easy overhead installation, the enclosure features a lower profile for installation in a wider range of ceiling spaces while supporting a load capacity of 31.7kg (70 lbs.). Its hinged door features foam gasketing to minimise vibration and accepts cut ceiling panels to blend into the surrounding ceiling décor. Part of Siemon’s line of ConvergeIT™ cabling solutions for intelligent buildings, the passive ceiling zone enclosure is ideal for use with Siemon plenum-rated cables, cords and connecting hardware to provide connections in the plenum space.

Staff Writer

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E-commerce trends to hit SA in 2017

E-commerce trends to hit SA in 2017

Kevin Tucker, CEO of PriceCheck.

E-commerce, as a global trend in its own right, is set to increase in popularity and consumer uptake in South Africa this year. This is as a result of a number of supporting trends, from greater variety offered by e-tailers, to the evolution of tech offerings – such as shopping apps – and the profile and behaviour of shoppers themselves.

This is according to Kevin Tucker, founder of PriceCheck – Africa’s largest product discovery and comparison service. Tucker notes that while there is already a lot of variety available online, more brick and mortar stores are joining-in. “This has been greatly enabled by umbrella platforms such as PriceCheck Marketplace which is a perfect solution for retailers to move into the e-tailer space.”

Tucker highlights the top five global e-commerce trends set to take off locally in 2017:

International online retail sale days

International online sale days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are massively popular and profitable e-commerce opportunities and present South African e-tailers with the chance to reach more consumers (who are actively looking to make purchases) than they normally would. This trend really has great potential locally, particularly if retailers form partnerships or cross-channel agreements with each other. For example, an electronics retailer could join forces with a gaming retailer to form better deals, reach more potential customers and move more stock.

Faster delivery turn around

What has been a hurdle in the local context, due to the unreliable nature of the South African postal service, delivery in South Africa through various providers and couriers has improved over the last few years. This improvement is likely to continue with delivery methods taking priority for businesses looking to stand out in the local e-commerce sector.

Variety

A major influencer of local e-commerce growth in 2017, the increase in variety of product offerings online, e-tailers and the presence of online marketplace platforms is likely to continue.

While South African consumers have been able to make online purchases for everything from tickets for live shows to their Friday night take-aways, the variety of product and supplier options will continue to rise alongside the establishment of platforms such as PriceCheck Marketplace which provides brick and mortar stores with a reliable avenue to enter the e-commerce space.

Customer behaviour evolution

As e-commerce offerings increase with the inclusion of brick and mortar stores and their products, which may not have traditionally been sold online, South African consumers will continue to become more aware of the safety and convenience of online shopping and will become more inclined to turn to e-commerce platforms for everyday convenience purchases – moving beyond current trends which fall more towards fashion and electronics.

Mobile at centre stage

The use of mobile devices – and smartphones in particular – within the e-commerce space is a major consideration for organisations in terms of ensuring mobile-friendly online display settings, opportunities in developing mobile applications and introducing new payment options.

While the majority of mobile online shopping transactions tend to take place on desktops, shopping apps which are easy and convenient to use on mobile devices are likely to increase in popularity in South Africa this year.

Likewise, with increasing interest of local banks to improve their online payment systems, new payment options may further simplify e-commerce websites and the way online shopping is done.

Tucker says, “As mobile penetration continues to increase rapidly, as it has in the past decade, Africa’s current contribution to global e-commerce sales is set to rise exponentially.”

“It is important to note that South Africa, as one of the most significant e-commerce contributors on the continent, is likely to take the lead in next level e-commerce adoption with sales expected to increase by around 40% over the next 10 years as consumers continue to shift their purchasing behaviour to increasingly favour the convenience of online platforms.”

“Staying up-to-date with the latest e-commerce trends and innovations in 2017 will benefit both customers and retailers by providing an optimal user experience as well as giving brands a better understanding of their client base,” he concludes.

By Kevin Tucker, founder of PriceCheck

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Luxury hotel attacked by hackers leaving guests locked out

Luxury hotel attacked by hackers leaving guests locked out

The hackers demanded $1 650 in Bitcoins in ransom. (image: Yu Samoilov)

A luxury hotel in the Alps was attacked by ransomware leaving guests locked out of their rooms. The Romantik Seehotel Jägerwir in Austria was forced to pay the cybercriminals a couple of thousands in Bitcoins to have their locking system unlocked. Having being the third attack of its kind, the 4 star hotel went public with the reports to warn others about the dangers of cybercrime.

Tyrone Erasmus, Director of MWR InfoSecurity believes that the attackers were strategic when attacking the hotel. He says, “This is an interesting case as the technique used to hold the hotel to ransom was unconventional and entirely targeted. Commonly, ransomware affects the availability of data held by businesses but in this case the attackers understood that denying access to hotel rooms would be an effective way to extort money. This was a targeted attack against the hotel’s room access control systems with the intention of extorting money, indicating that the attackers may well have already had a foothold within the hotel’s IT system”.

After the attack, the hotel replaced their existing system and delinked some computers in an effort to prevent future attacks, according to reports by The Local. A traditional locks and keys system which the hotel used when it first opened is another measure taken by the hotel.

Erasmus say, “Having a layered defence model that makes use of prevention and detection controls would have helped this business identify and defend against this attack. Criminal syndicates are evolving rapidly and new and unique ways to hold critical systems within a business to ransom can and should be expected”.

Staff Writer

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