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CNN’s Decoded Explores How Internet Of Things Is Changing The Way We Live



, SiliconNigeria

In a new episode of Decoded, CNN’s Anna Stewart explores the smart, connected devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). From ordinary household items to complicated industrial systems, smart devices are changing the way we live.

Stewart visits the Expo 2020 site in Dubai to see how smart cities are using IoT to enable more informed city planning. Helmut Von Struve, CEO of Siemens Middle East gives an example, “Artificial intelligence can say within 20 minutes, 30 minutes, there would be maybe 150 people walking in this direction. So, you can already start cooling the building down.”

IoT devices are also being used to combat climate change. In Boston, a connected forest is helping scientists study how much carbon dioxide trees take out of the atmosphere. Jackie Hatala Matthes, Senior Scientist at the Harvard Forest describes the project, “With IoT, we’re able to get really high-resolution data, high temporal resolution data, and we’re able to look at those changes in real time, which helps to feed into other global models of climate change.” One of the trees even uses IoT to tweet the data and communicate in real time what the tree is experiencing.

In Shenzhen, known as the Silicon Valley of hardware, the programme meets German entrepreneur Florian Simmendinger who has developed a modern twist on a metronome. He explains that although it’s possible to create smart devices for many tasks now, the best ones are those that fulfil a need, “If you find something meaningful that actually improves the product experience, then you know you have a real winner on your hands when it comes to an IoT product. There’s definitely a case in the IoT space of just because you can connect something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.”

At the Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, Stewart meets Ibrahim Al Najjar, Vice President IT, at DP World who demonstrates how a network of connected sensors, devices, and software all communicate to operate the smart port.

Stewart also meets the man who created the term ‘Internet of Things’. In the late 1990s, Kevin Ashton was searching for a name for his presentation on supply chain logistics, “At that time the internet was such a big buzzword. I needed to shoehorn the word internet in to like get any attention at all. and here we are now. Still talking about it. That’s the biggest surprise.”

Ashton describes what makes a good IoT device, “The thing that I look for to make it the Internet of Things is it knows something about the world without a human being telling it. I don’t really think about these voice assistants people have in their kitchen where you say you know, Alexa, add this to my shopping list. Well, in my world, Alexa would know that you needed to add it to the shopping list, it wouldn’t need you to tell it.”

The idea that everything we touch, every we move we make, can be monitored and uploaded to the cloud may seem convenient and efficient, but for some it raises concerns about regulation and trust. Stewart speaks to professional hacker Ken Munro, CEO of Pen Test Partners. He demonstrates how easy it is to hack IoT devices like a children’s doll with speech recognition and warns, “As we know, legislation often trails innovation. So I think it’s really important that we bring in some regulation to help manufacturers prioritise cybersecurity and also help protect us consumers from manufacturers who may be a bit fast and loose with security.”

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Nigeria May Benefit From Webb Fontaine’s AI Research Centres



, SiliconNigeria
  • Holds webinar July 12 on AFCFTA

Mr. Ope Babalola, Managing Director, Webb Fontaine Nigeria, says the global trade facilitation company will open world-class AI Research and Development (R&D) Centres in Africa to create efficiency in trade.

Webb Fontaine is a leading provider of solutions for trade facilitation, powered by world-class technology including artificial intelligence. It develops new-generation IT systems that take trade and customs processes to the next level for the benefit of the global trading community.

Mr. Babalola says the R&D Centres will not only benefit Web Fontaine’s work, it will also lead to a surge in demand for highly skilled staff and the hiring of as many programmers from Africa as possible. “We want Africa to have at least one or two world class Research and Development Centres. We will train them, work with them and help them to develop the Customs industry across the entire continent, especially in regions covered the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“We would like the first of these centres to be in Nigeria. One can imagine the job opportunities and the exposure it would create and we think Nigeria is the best place for this to happen,” he says.

Webb Fontaine has been working with the Nigerian Government and Nigerian Customs Service since 2006 when it implemented Asycuda​++, eventually developing a system called NICIS II and the current Single Window digital platform to enhance Customs services.

The company last month was awarded a 10-year contract by the Government of Niger Republic to implement and manage the new Niger National Single Window project (NNSW), including the roll out of a state-of-the-art Port Community System created specifically for the landlocked West African nation.

Meanwhile, Webb Fontaine, one of the leading providers of Customs and trade solutions to governments worldwide, will gather a panel of industry mavens to talk about ‘Technology and Trade in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities’ in a webinar series on July 12 at 1200 CET.

The panel discussion will explore revolutionary thinking and innovative insights on International trade in Africa, the impact of African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement and the collaborative role of African nations in achieving economic integration as a continent.

The webinar, aimed at both private and public sector professionals, with its overarching theme of trade and technology in Africa, will further explore the implications of geopolitical developments, establishment of free trade zones and its cumulative impact on the continent’s trade policies. With the global COVID-19 pandemic being a major economy disruptor, the discussion will also touch upon the consequences of such turbulences in the African supply chain.

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Solad and Arizona State University to Utilise AI for Nigeria Mini Grids



, SiliconNigeria

Solad Power Group, one of Nigeria’s leading distributed energy solutions providers, has agreed to a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) to utilise the university’s proprietary artificial intelligence data platform to assess mini-grid projects in Nigeria quickly and efficiently. 

As a participant in the World Bank supported Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Mini-Grid programme, Solad is rolling out solar solutions to markets across Nigeria. The Company has a near-term pipeline of 12 priority projects. The partnership with ASU’s Laboratory For Energy And Power Solutions (LEAPS) enables the accelerated deployment of 25 new sites. Data will be collected through LEAPS’ existing partnerships with YouthMappers and Nigerian universities, whose students will deepen their knowledge of and exposure to distributed energy solutions.

Mini-grid companies must conduct site feasibility studies before they can design and install a project. This is often a limited but protracted process built on insufficient data from short site visits, which can compromise the outcome. Solad is focused on leveraging the latest technology to enhance its feasibility assessments using global satellite imagery, AI-aided mapping models and advanced power engineering software.

Commenting on the alliance, Solad’s Chairman Constantine ‘Labi Ogunbiyi said: “We are proud to be collaborating with the largest research university in the United States. By combining ASU’s unique data platform with our own project portfolio and market access, we can deliver new power solutions much more efficiently. This means we can rapidly expand and validate our project pipeline while ASU grows its knowledge and understanding of market viability with Nigerian students participating in the process. Once the first phase is successful, we intend to expand collaboration to include hundreds of additional sites. Using ASU’s accurate technical and business data metrics, we will continue to invest in energy as a service allowing us to connect Nigerian MSMEs to the world, beginning with clean energy systems providing consistent power supply, and expanding our services through a mobile first, digital eCommerce portal.” 

Dr. Nathan Johnson, Director of ASU LEAPS, remarks about the importance of innovation and partnerships: “The public-private partnership with Solad will accelerate identification and development of mini-grid sites to expand access to reliable, affordable, and renewable energy. The technical analysis provided by ASU is paired with innovative business models by Solad to create bankable mini-grid investments that address the goals of all stakeholders. Solad’s approach provides a tangible return on investment to facilitate site expansion and economic development.” 

Solad focuses on under-served segments of the energy market, prioritising support for the millions of market traders who struggle with access to unreliable or prohibitively-expensive energy solutions. SMEs make up 96% of all businesses operating in Nigeria, contributing nearly 50% of GDP and providing 84% of all jobs in the country. They consistently reference access to electricity as the single most important obstacle that they face. With Lagos alone having a population of 20 million people, the opportunity set is huge. Solad already has 10,000 existing small business customers and an expansion programme that targets an additional 20,000 businesses within 2 years.

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IBM Announces Breakthrough Hybrid Cloud and AI Capabilities to Accelerate Digital Transformation



, SiliconNigeria

IBM has announced advances in artificial intelligence (AI), hybrid cloud, and quantum computing at the company’s Think conference.

The innovations highlight IBM’s role in helping its clients and partners accelerate their digital transformations, return to work smarter, and build strategic ecosystems that can drive better business outcomes.

IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna said, “We will look back on this year and last as the moment the world entered the digital century in full force. In the same way that we electrified factories and machines in the past century, we will use hybrid cloud to infuse AI into software and systems in the 21st century.

“And one thing is certain: this is a future that must be built on a foundation of deep industry collaboration. No one understands this better than IBM, which is one of the reasons we are boosting investment in our partner ecosystem. Also at Think 2021, we are unveiling our latest hybrid cloud and AI innovations – the very technologies that serve as the building blocks of a new IT architecture for business.”

IBM is all-in on hybrid cloud and AI because we understand that businesses need a clear and credible path to modernizing their mission-critical systems. A new IBM study on the adoption of AI for business reveals that the imperative to embed AI into business processes became more urgent during the pandemic.

Of IT professionals surveyed, 43 percent said that their companies had accelerated their rollout of AI. And nearly half of global IT professionals surveyed said they evaluate AI providers in large part on their ability to automate processes. That is why IBM has invested heavily in building rich and powerful AI capabilities for business.

We are already helping thousands of clients across every industry transform their businesses with the power of our hybrid cloud and AI platform. The following innovations are designed to equip businesses for the next stage of their digital journeys.

New Capabilities Bring Data and AI Together

AI to Help Automate How Customers Access, Unify and Manage Data Anywhere with Cloud Pak for Data: A breakthrough capability in Cloud Pak for Data that uses AI to help customers get answers to distributed queries as much as 8x faster than previously and at nearly half the cost of other compared data warehouses. AutoSQL (Structured Query Language) automates how customers access, integrate and manage data without ever having to move it, regardless of where the data resides or how it is stored.

 AutoSQL solves one of the most critical pain points customers are facing as they look to reduce the complexity of curating data for AI and eliminate the high cost of moving data, while also uncovering hidden insights to make more accurate AI-driven predictions.

With the launch of AutoSQL, IBM Cloud Pak for Data now includes the highest-performing cloud data warehouse on the market (based on our benchmarking study) that can run seamlessly across any hybrid multi-cloud environment – including private clouds, on-premises and any public cloud. AutoSQL will be one of several new technologies woven into a new data fabric in the Cloud Pak for Data.

The new intelligent data fabric will automate complex data management tasks by using AI to discover, understand, access and protect distributed data across multiple environments, while unifying disparate data sources across a common data foundation. For more information, read the blog: 5 Things to Know about Cloud Pak for Data and New Data Fabric.

Watson Orchestrate Helps Professionals Automate Work to Increase Productivity: Watson Orchestrate is a new interactive AI capability designed to increase the personal productivity of business professionals across sales, human resources, operations and more. Requiring no IT skills to use, Watson Orchestrate enables professionals to initiate work in a very human way, using collaboration tools such as Slack and email in natural language.

 It also connects to popular business applications like Salesforce, SAP and Workday®. Watson Orchestrate uses a powerful AI engine that automatically selects and sequences the pre-packaged skills needed to perform a task, and connects with applications, tools, data and history on-the-fly. This can help workers more quickly perform routine tasks, such as scheduling meetings or procuring approvals, or more mission-critical tasks, like preparing proposals or business plans.

Watson Orchestrate is the latest AI-powered automation capability from IBM designed to help people reclaim a significant amount of their time to focus on more strategic tasks. It was developed by IBM Research and is now available in preview as part of the IBM Automation Cloud Paks and is expected to be generally available later this year. For more information, read the blog: 5 Things to Know about Watson Orchestrate.

Maximo Mobile Transforms the Work of Field Technicians: IBM has launched Maximo Mobile, an easy-to-deploy mobile platform with IBM’s leading Maximo asset management solution at the core. Maximo Mobile is designed to transform the work of field technicians who maintain physical assets such as roads, bridges, production lines, power plants, refineries and more.

 A new, intuitive interface provides technicians with the right asset operational data at the right time. Even in the most remote locations, users can access Watson AI and in-depth organizational knowledge to easily solve complex issues. This powerful combination of AI, intelligent workflows, remote human assistance and access to digital twins puts decades of industry experience directly into the hands of technicians for safer, more efficient operations. For more information, watch the video: Empowering the Technician of the Future with Maximo Mobile.

New AI Transforms How Companies Develop, Deploy and Operate IT and Modernize Applications

Project CodeNet Dataset Advances AI’s Understanding and Translation of Code: IBM Research is releasing Project CodeNet, a large-scale, opensource dataset comprised of 14 million code samples, 500 million lines of code and 55 programming languages, to enable AI’s understanding and translation of code.

Project CodeNet is currently the largest, most differentiated dataset in its class and addresses three main use cases in coding today: code search (automatically translating one code into another, including legacy languages like COBOL); code similarity (identifying overlaps and similarities among different codes); and code constraints (customizing constraints based on a developer’s specific needs and parameters).

IBM believes Project CodeNet will serve as a valuable benchmark dataset for source-to-source translation and transitioning legacy codebases to modern code languages, helping businesses speed up their application of AI. For more information, read the blog: Kickstarting AI for Code: Introducing Project CodeNet.

Mono2Micro Helps Take the Pain Out of Cloud Migration: IBM has added a new capability into WebSphere Hybrid Edition that enables enterprises to optimize and modernize their applications for hybrid cloud. IBM Mono2Micro uses AI developed by IBM Research to analyse large enterprise applications and provide recommendations on how to best adapt them for the move to cloud. It can simplify and speed up an error-prone process, which can reduce costs and maximize ROI. IBM Mono2Micro is one of IBM’s suite of AI-powered products and services that can make it faster to migrate to the cloud. For more information, read the blog: IBM Mono2Micro: Three Things You Need to Know.

Leading Brands Adopt IBM Hybrid Cloud and AI Solutions

IBM Watson Assistant Fuels COVID Response for CVS Health: IBM is collaborating with leading diversified health services company, CVS Health to help the national health care company handle a tenfold spike in call volume as the US rolls out its Covid-19 vaccination program. IBM Global Business Services (GBS) and CVS Health developed and delivered a customer care solution using IBM Watson Assistant on IBM Public Cloud in just four weeks.

 Infusing AI and natural language processing into the critical workflow of its telephonic customer care system, CVS Health has been able to quickly and accurately respond to a range of questions on COVID-19 from tests, to vaccines, symptoms, proof of vaccination, cost and more, freeing up human agents to handle the most complex requests.

As government guidance has evolved, the team’s rapid updates have enabled the virtual agent to customize responses based on vaccine status across all 50 US states. Since launching in early January, the virtual voice assistant has handled millions of calls –a majority without human assistance –and cut call length down significantly.

EY and IBM create Financial Services Center of Excellence for Hybrid Cloud: EY and IBM have established a Center of Excellence that offers new open hybrid cloud solutions built with Red Hat OpenShift for the IBM Cloud for Financial Services. The solutions will be centered on regulatory compliance, digital trust and security, leveraging IBM technology and EY experience working with financial institutions to drive digital transformation and accelerate cloud adoption.

They will be designed to address the specific and evolving requirements of financial services organizations as they transition to the cloud and transform business processes. IBM Cloud for Financial Services incorporates regulatory and compliance standards and offers a highly secure environment for financial services institutions to transact with their technology partners and customers. For more information, read the blog: 5 Things to Know About EY & IBM Center of Excellence for Hybrid Cloud 

New Benefits to Drive Partner Success: As part of a $1 billion investment to support its partner ecosystem, IBM unveiled new competencies, skills training, and benefits to ensure its partners succeed in an increasingly competitive market. For example, IBM has created a new competency framework to enable partners to demonstrate expertise, technical validation, and sales success in specialized areas such as hybrid cloud infrastructure, automation and security.

 IBM ecosystem partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has already achieved competencies for building an industrial and manufacturing AI solution for data scientists and AI developers. To further its investment in ecosystem partners, IBM is also expanding availability of its Cloud Engagement Fund (CEF), to all partner types, whether they build on, service, or re/sell IBM technology. CEF provides investment through significant technical resources and cloud credits for partners to help migrate customer workloads to hybrid cloud environments.

IBM’s collaboration with Siemens Digital Industries Software is just one example of how the CEF is helping IBM partners scale. Through this joint initiative, Siemens will apply IBM’s open hybrid cloud approach, built on Red Hat OpenShift, to extend the deployment flexibility of MindSphere, the industrial IoT-as-a-service solution from Siemens. For more information, read the blog: IBM Announces New Benefits to Drive Partner Success as Ecosystem Momentum Accelerates.

IBM Brings Quantum Computing One Step Closer to Everyday Use

Qiskit Runtime Software Boosts Quantum Circuit Processing Speed by 120x: IBM is making it faster and easier for developers to use quantum software by introducing Qiskit Runtime. This software is containerized and hosted in the hybrid cloud, instead of running most of its code on the user’s computer. Together with improvements in both the software and processor performance, this allows Qiskit Runtime to boost the speeds of quantum circuits, the building blocks of quantum algorithms, by 120 times.

Qiskit, the IBM-developed open-source framework for quantum computing for a global community of developers, aims to make quantum computing accessible to all. By introducing Qiskit Runtime, IBM is enabling quantum systems to run complex calculations such as chemical modeling and financial risk analysis in hours, instead of several weeks.

To show the power of the software, IBM recently demonstrated how the lithium hydride molecule (LiH) could be modeled on a quantum device in nine hours, when previously it took 45 days. This kind of improvement is key to scaling quantum computation for new use cases. For more information, read the blog: IBM Quantum Delivers 120x speedup of quantum workloads with Qiskit Runtime.

The announcements made during today’s Think event come just days after IBM unveiled the world’s first two nanometer chip which will enable faster, more efficient computing from the datacenter to the edge; Cloud Engine, a front-end platform that can help developers quickly deploy cloud-native applications without having to acquire new skills or configure complex code; Spectrum Fusion, a fully-containerized version of IBM’s storage and data protection software designed to provide a streamlined way to discover data from across the enterprise; and IBM’s alliance with Zscaler on Zero Trust where IBM Security Services combines the technology of Zscaler and the expertise of IBM to help clients adopt an end-to-end secure access service edge (SASE) approach, marrying authentication and permission to deliver security and privacy enhancements.

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