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Tomorrow’s cities: How big data is changing the world

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Should happiness become a general measurement of city life?

You may not be that bothered about the idea of living in a smart city but I bet you’d love to live in one that was happy.

The data to measure the happiness of a city is already all around us, in the tweets we send on an hourly basis to the profiles we share on Facebook.

And increasingly that data is being captured and analysed to gauge the health and happiness of a nation.

Take the Hedonometer project which this year set out to map happiness levels in cities across the US using data from Twitter.

Using 37 million geolocated tweets from more than 180,000 people in the US, the team from the Advanced Computing Centre at the University of Vermont rated words as either happy or sad.

As well as discovering, somewhat depressingly, that people were happiest when they were further away from home, the study threw up some interesting facts about how healthy they were too.

It found words such as “starving” and “heartburn” were written far more frequently in cities with a high percentage of obese citizens.

Such data could be incredibly useful to city governments, for informing them about what policies were needed in any given area.

“Cities looking to understand changes in the behaviour of their citizens, for example to locate ads for public health programmes, can look to social media for real-time information,” said Chris Danforth, one of the project leaders.

Data overload

A WORLD OF BIG DATA

Twitter Map
  • Each engine of a jet on a flight from London to New York generates 10TB of data every 30 minutes
  • In 2013 internet data, mostly user-contributed, will account for 1,000 exabytes. An exabyte is a unit of information equal to one quintillion bytes
  • Open weather data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has an annual estimated value of $10bn
  • Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data
  • 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the past two years
  • Every minute 100,000 tweets are sent globally
  • Google receives two million search requests every minute

Back in 2010 Google chief executive Eric Schmidt noted that the amount of data collected since the dawn of humanity until 2003 was the equivalent to the volume we now produce every two days.

This data comes not only from posts to social media sites, mobile signals and purchase transactions but increasingly from sensors on objects from lamp-posts to skyscrapers.

The so-called internet of things offers a new way to analyse and measure city life, from whether water pipes are leaking to how traffic is flowing on the roads and whether buildings are using energy in the most efficient way.

A prediction from architect and urban planner Prof Mike Batty back in 1997 that by 2050 everything around us would be some form of computer is already starting to come true.

In Birmingham, lamp-posts are being fitted with sensors that can transmit information about cloud cover to offer hyper-local weather forecasting.

In Norway, more than 40,000 bus stops are tweeting, allowing passengers to leave messages about their experiences, and in London the mayor’s office has just begun a project to tag trees so that people can learn about their history.

Sensors on objects also allow people to tell stories about city life in whole new ways.

At MIT’s Senseable City Lab, 5,000 pieces of rubbish in Seattle were geo-tagged and tracked around the country for three months to find out whether recycling was really efficient.

The project proved three things, Carlo Ratti, head of the lab, told the BBC.

“The project showed us that we need to design a better system because some of this stuff was moving thousands of miles in the wrong direction.

Raining taxis, MIT Senseable City Lab
MIT is using weather data to guide taxi drivers in Singapore to where it is going to rain

“It also promoted behavioural change. We shared the information with citizens and one guy stopped drinking water in plastic bottles when he saw that [they were] all going straight to landfill.”

A third, more unexpected result of the trial happened when a burglar stole some of the tags from the labs.

“It was very funny and it didn’t take the police long to trace him,” said Dr Ratti.

Now the team is working on a project in Singapore which offers advanced weather forecasts to taxi drivers to get them to places in the city ten minutes before it starts to rain.

Fridge sensors

Big data is not always such fun.

Supermarket chain Tesco is installing sensors across its stores to reduce heating and lighting costs.

The records of the fridge systems in one store alone produce 70 million data points a year.

“How do you make sense of that amount of data?” asked John Walsh, energy manager for Tesco Ireland.

And in this case the only objective is to run the fridges more efficiently.

Escalate that to a city, with data from transport systems, utilities, rubbish collection, hospitals, schools, offices and government, and the scale of the problem is obvious.

Tesco turned to IBM’s data analytics, also used by many cities.

City planning

3D visualisation of Vancouver
Vancouver is making sense of data using a 3D visualisation of the city

Computer-aided design company Autodesk has been working with San Francisco, Vancouver and Bamberg, in southern Germany, to build 3D visualisations over which government can overlay data sets to see how a city is performing at any time.

Presenting data in new ways has had surprising consequences.

In Germany the model was used to show people what the impact of a new railway line would be.

“It was almost like a gaming environment. People could put it on their iPad and zoom around the model,” said Phil Bernstein, vice-president of industry relations at Autodesk.

Previously anyone wanting to get involved in city planning would have had to make a trip to the town hall to look at maps that they may not have understood. Making them have much more visual impact could revolutionise how cities are built, he thinks.

“It is a political act as well as a technical act. It makes the decision-making process transparent and democratic, and the design process more inclusive.”

Digital copy

Code with words Big Brother is Watching embedded
With data increasingly becoming a commodity, how do we protect our own?

Whether we like it or not, we are already starting to interact with our cities, whether via the text message that offers you 20% off purchases from the shop you have just walked past or location-sensing apps on our smartphones that tell us about the nearest coffee bar.

“My phone knows that I normally work until 17:30 and knows the next bus I should catch before I even ask it. It is beginning to predict my life,” said Andrew Hudson-Smith, who heads University College of London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.

We are basically building a digital copy of our physical world and that is having profound consequences”

Carlo Ratti Director of MIT’s Senseable Cities Lab

“I could turn it off but I don’t because I find it very useful but I am basically giving everything to Google. It is fantastic but scary at the same time and shifts the way the world works,” he said.

His lab has been at the forefront of some big data collection projects, and while he sees huge value in it for researchers he recognises that it raises huge ethical issues.

“We can collect every tweet. People have clicked “yes” to those terms but don’t realise that everything you share can be collected. We could be walking blindly into a 24/7 surveillance society,” he said.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, agrees that big data could become just another word for Big Brother.

“The core functionality of a smart city requires a vast amount data to be collected on every aspect of our lives every minute of every day. The question is how does that data get used? And it doesn’t require a huge amount of imagination to see how it could be used to monitor people in a very real Big Brother way.

“At present the control of information is being taken away from citizens, and companies providing services are rushing to find ways of generating revenue from the data they hold. The danger is that when smart cities become a reality, individuals will not be able to control the ways they are monitored or what happens to the information, which is exactly the opposite of how it should be.”

The issue has huge implications for society and is going to need serious debate, Dr Ratti believes.

“We do need to think about how we want tomorrow’s society to work but it is a bigger discussion than just smart cities,” he said.

“We are basically building a digital copy of our physical world and that is having profound consequences.”

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23253949?ocid=socialflow_twitter_bbcworld

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Enterprenuer

AUTOMATION WILL MAKE LIFELONG LEARNING A NECESSARY PART OF WORK

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Shifts in skills are not new: we have seen such a shift from physical to cognitive tasks, and more recently to digital skills. But the coming shift in workforce skills could be massive in scale, write Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund, and Eric Hazin in Harvard Business Review.

President Emmanuel Macron together with many Silicon Valley CEOs will kick off the VivaTech conference in Paris this week with the aim of showcasing the “good” side of technology. Our research highlights some of those benefits, especially the productivity growth and performance gains that automation and artificial intelligence can bring to the economy — and to society more broadly, if these technologies are used to tackle major issues such as fighting disease and tackling climate change. But we also note some critical challenges that need to be overcome. Foremost among them: a massive shift in the skills that we will need in the workplace in the future.

To see just how big those shifts could be, our latest research analyzed skill requirements for individual work activities in more than 800 occupations to examine the number of hours that the workforce spends on 25 core skills today. We then estimated the extent to which these skill requirements could change by 2030, as automation and artificial technologies are deployed in the workplace, and backed up our findings with a detailed survey of more than 3,000 business leaders in seven countries, who largely confirmed our quantitative findings. We grouped the 25 skills into five categories: physical and manual (which is the largest category today), basic cognitive, higher cognitive, social and emotional, and technological skills (today’s smallest category).

The findings highlight the major challenge confronting our workforces, our economies, and the well-being of our societies. Among other priorities, they show the urgency of putting in place large-scale retraining initiatives for a majority of workers who will be affected by automation — initiatives that are sorely lacking today.

Shifts in skills are not new: we have seen such a shift from physical to cognitive tasks, and more recently to digital skills. But the coming shift in workforce skills could be massive in scale. To give a sense of magnitude: more than one in three workers may need to adapt their skills’ mix by 2030, which is more than double the number who could be displaced by automation under some of our adoption scenarios — and lifelong learning of new skills will be essential for all. With the advent of AI, basic cognitive skills, such as reading and basic numeracy, will not suffice for many jobs, while demand for advanced technological skills, such as coding and programming, will rise, by 55% in 2030, according to our analysis.

The need for social and emotional skills including initiative taking and leadership will also rise sharply, by 24%, and among higher cognitive skills, creativity and complex information and problem solving will also become significantly more important. These are often seen as “soft” skills that schools and education systems in general are not set up to impart. Yet in a more automated future, when machines are capable of taking on many more rote tasks, these skills will become increasingly important — precisely because machines are still far from able to provide expertise and coaching, or manage complex relationships.

While many people fear that automation will reduce the number of jobs for humans, we note that the diffusion of AI will take time. The need for basic cognitive skills as well as physical and manual skills will not disappear. In fact, physical and manual skills will remain the largest skill category in many countries by hours worked, but with different importance across countries. In France and the United Kingdom, for example, manual skills will be overtaken by demand for social and emotional skills, while in Germany, higher cognitive skills will become preeminent. These country differences are the result of different industry mixes in each country, which in turn affect the automation potential of economies and the future skills mix. While we based our estimates on the automation potential of sectors and countries today, this could change depending on the pace and enthusiasm with which AI is adopted in companies, sectors, and countries. Already, it is clear that China is moving rapidly to become a leading AI player, and Asia as a whole is ahead of Europe in the volume of AI investment.

We see retraining (or “reskilling” as some like to call it), as the imperative of the coming decade. It is a challenge not just for companies, which are on the front lines, but also for educational institutions, industry and labor groups, philanthropists, and of course, policy makers, who will need to find new ways to incentivize investments in human capital.

For companies, these shifts are part of the larger automation challenge that will require a thorough rethink of how work is organized within firms — including what the strategic workforce needs are likely to be, and how to set about achieving them. In our research, we find some examples of companies that are focusing on retraining, either in-house — for example, Germany’s SAP — or by working with outside educational institutions, as AT&T is doing. Overall, our survey suggests that European firms are more likely to fill future staffing needs in the new automation era by focusing on retraining, while US firms are more open to new hiring. The starting point for all of this will be a mindset change, with companies seeking to measure future success by their ability to provide continuous learning options to employees.

The skill shift is not only a challenge, it is an opportunity. If companies and societies are able to equip workers with the new skills that are needed, the upside will be considerable, in terms of higher productivity growth, rising wages, and increased prosperity. M. Macron’s point about technology being a force for good will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, a failure to address these shifting skill demands could exacerbate income polarization and stoke political and social tensions. The stakes are high, but we can already see the outlines of what needs to be done — and we have a little time to work on solutions.

 

 

 

Source: Harvard Business Review

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Innovations

WHY BRAND PURPOSE IS THE ULTIMATE DISRUPTIVE FORCE

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As SXSW gets going, it’s worth remembering that disruptive brands need to be prepared to take a side, says Jason Foo.

Uber: has been found wanting when it comes to purpose

As the “Futurati” descend on Austin this week for SXSW and discuss the disruptions of the future, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the market advantages gained by organisations from these “disruptions” are only temporary.

Disruption is not a new concept, either. It has always been the engine of change and progress – having taken us from living in caves, to being able to create fire, to then inventing the wheel.

What has changed is that it has never been easier, faster or cheaper to usher in new waves of it: Technological advancement is accelerating exponentially, supported by our burgeoning application of artificial intelligence.

All this will be on show at SXSW, although this year – partly as a result of the political situation – social impact, civic activism and brand purpose provide a key thread of the agenda.

Take New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s opening keynote focusing on gender bias in advertising; Tinder discussing its partnership with LGBTQ advocacy group, GLAAD; and Refinery29 talking cyberbullying with pop star Kesha. It seems brands are waking up to the fact that, if you rely on technology alone as the basis for advantage, your disruptive impact will be only temporary. Just as surely, you will be disrupted by the next waves of progress.

Indeed, some of the most famous and current ‘disruptors’, such as Uber and Deliveroo, might have found that they successfully used technology to shake-up their sectors, but they have been found wanting when it came to purpose beyond profit. Treatment of staff, assault and car accidents have tarnished Uber, while Deliveroo has found itself in the spotlight for questionable employment techniques.

Fortunately, by embracing ‘purpose’, brands can insulate themselves against some of the wider forces at play – and many at SXSW have recognised this and are addressing it in their sessions: “Advertising for Good, What is it good for?”; “AI for Good: Unleashing the potential for everyone”; “Build a culture of Good: Unleash results”; “Design Sprints for Social Good” – the list goes on.

Brand purpose, this most powerful form of disruption has been borne, to a large extent, from the crisis of trust and engagement with brands, with organisations and with governments. Commentators have spoken of widespread feelings of disaffection and alienation and vast swathes of society are looking for new ways to be heard, represented and served.

These people are also voting with their wallets. Brands need to take heed, or pay the consequences.

The answer to this is actually very simple and costs very little: demonstrate that you are trustworthy and build a meaningful connection with consumers based upon things you mutually care about.

Tesco has clocked on to this, signalling its desire to build consumer trust by focusing on ‘purpose’ – with its chief executive Dave Lewis saying that this is “what anyone in the UK should expect from a business”.

The brand has just launched a press and social campaign about its commitment to tackle food waste and has said that it will ensure that no food fit for human consumption will be wasted by its UK operations by the end of this year.

According to data from Lewis’s former employer, Unilever, 33% of adults would buy a product from a brand because they believe it is doing social or environmental good.

And Unilever itself has put purpose at the heart of its business. It is no coincidence it is the eighth most-applied to organisation on LinkedIn and attracts the best talent.

What’s more, the recent attempted takeover of Unilever by Kraft Heinz was a fascinating assertion of the role of purpose in insulating the organisation from an unwelcome or “disrupting” takeover. While Kraft Heinz and its backers could see the opportunity to strip costs out of Unilever – and make it more purely profit focused – Unilever’s board and shareholders were of the view that it contributes more than that.

Unilever’s triple-bottom-line commitment of people, planet, profit is driving the growth of the company: its sustainable living brands grew 30% faster than the rest of Unilever’s business in 2015.

Newer companies than this august institution should learn from this. It’s clear that brands that nail their relationships to the cultural good are used more, advocated for more, preferred more and even forgiven more than those that don’t.

It’s not just about creating a product but about building a movement: Among staff, shareholders and customers.

Disruptive brands need to be prepared take a side and be as pioneering in their purpose as they are in their business model. Through this they can create a business people will not only notice, but may come to love. This is a message that attendees at SXSW will hear time and again over this coming week. Now that’s disruptive.

source: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/why-brand-purpose-ultimate-disruptive-force/1427109?_lrsc=0e85ede2-ee19-4db6-a60b-cf035bb5acf4&utm_source=Elevate&utm_medium=referral#t4hgg1KYCT1kVagQ.99

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Research

CHINESE PHARMA FIRMS TARGET THE GLOBAL MARKET

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A new Chinese drug for colorectal cancer could mark an important milestone

WALK into the Shanghai laboratories of Chi-Med, a biotech firm, and you encounter the sort of shiny, cutting-edge facilities common in any major pharma company in America, Europe or Japan. Chi-Med has just had positive results in a late-stage trial of its drug for colorectal cancer, which is called Fruquintinib. If the drug is approved both in China and in Western markets it could be the very first prescription drug to be designed and developed entirely in China that will be on a path to global commercialisation.

Given China’s ageing population, higher incomes and rising demand for health care it is clear why innovation in drugs is a priority for the country. Its national market for drugs has grown rapidly in recent years to become the world’s second-largest. It could grow from $108bn in 2015 to around $167bn by 2020, according to an estimate from America’s Department of Commerce. By comparison, America spends about $400bn a year on drugs.

Chinese firms mainly sell cheap, generic medicines that earn only razor-thin margins. The pharma industry is extremely fragmented, with thousands of tiny manufacturers and distributors. That helps explain the limited amount of finance that is available for investment in new medicines. Most Chinese pharma firms devote less than 5% of sales to R&D, according to a report last year from the World Health Organisation (big global drug firms typically spend 14%-18% of sales on R&D). And the bulk of that spending goes to research into generics.

But things are changing quickly. The government is encouraging the industry to consolidate, chiefly by raising standards for the quality of new medicines. It is also improving the country’s regulatory infrastructure, which should make it more efficient, and faster, to develop drugs. The value of deals in the health-care sector has been increasing as a result. ChinaBio, a research firm, reckons that over $40bn of foreign and local money went into the life sciences in China in 2016. In the same year just three Chinese biotech firms—CStone, Innovent and Ascletis—together raised more than $500m of financing.

Another boost is the arrival of talent from abroad, whether Chinese-born executives returning with a Western education or Westerners with experience of multinational pharmaceutical firms. Christian Hogg, the boss of Chi-Med—which was founded in 2000, has eight drugs in clinical development and listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 2016—used to work at Procter & Gamble, a global consumer-goods firm. Samantha Du, the firm’s very first scientific officer, was formerly an executive at Pfizer, an American pharma giant. Now known as the godmother of Chinese biopharma, she used to manage health-care investments for Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm. In 2013 she helped found Zai Lab, which licenses late-stage drugs from Western pharma companies to develop and sell in China. Zai Lab also aims to develop innovative medicines in immuno-oncology.

Another firm attracting attention is BeiGene, an oncology firm based in Beijing, which has four clinical-stage drug candidates and which raised $158m in an IPO last year. Chi-Med’s Fruquintinib may even be beaten in the race to approval in America and Japan by a cancer drug called Epidaza from Chipscreen Biosciences of Shenzhen. China approved it in 2015.

It is too early to say whether these innovative firms will remain rarities. Only a few large ones have emerged, since the industry is resisting consolidation. But the size of the local market will itself help the industry grow. And developing a drug in China is far cheaper than it is in America or Europe. Given the outrage at the high cost of drugs in America, in particular, there is every incentive for Chinese firms to develop medicines for the global market.

source:http://www.economist.com/news/business/21718937-new-chinese-drug-colorectal-cancer-could-mark-important-milestone-chinese-pharma-firms?fsrc=scn/li/te/bl/ed/abetterpillfromchinachinesepharmafirmstargettheglobalmarket

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