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Fashola Explains Idea Behind October 15 – #HornFreeDay, As Lagos Holds First Drivers’ Appreciation Day

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It is for our own good, it is for our own health, it is for our own life, he says.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Thursday threw more light on the idea behind his administration’s innovative initiative, “A Day Without Horn In Lagos” coming up on October 15, 2014, describing it as a step towards sensitizing residents to the harmful effects of noise pollution.

Speaking at the State’s first “Lagos Drivers’ Appreciation Day” held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry House, Alausa, Ikeja, venue of the event, Governor Fashola said the Horn free day was an initiative of his administration to persuade citizens that there is a better way to live than indulging in noise pollution which has been found to be harmful to their health.

The Governor said in pursuance of the efforts to reduce environmental pollution in the State his administration has thought up the initiative meant to sensitize Lagos residents to the dangers caused by noise pollution to their health and that of their neighbours and family members.

Re-enforcing the remarks of the Guest Lecturer who put the harmful noise level at 70 decibels and above, the Governor said there is need to come down significantly because according to the global standard for measuring noise, “90 decibels is rather too high and harmful to human health”.

“It is for our own good, it is for our own health, it is for our own life. It is not because Governor Fashola said so. It is not because Lagos State Government said so. It is simply because it is good for us. Doctors have told us it is for our own ultimate good”, the Governor said.

According to him, “What we see in a way that we now choose to live is that because we live in a very noisy environment, which we can really diminish, we tend to be very noisy ourselves. We speak at the top of our voices, we play music at very high decibels and we do very many things at very high levels”.

The Governor pointed out that the campaign against noise pollution was a response to the petitions and complaints of “citizens and tax payers who, on daily basis, write and petition us that somebody is preventing them from sleep either from the noise they are making or from other uncharitable activities they are carrying on without regard for the wellbeing of their neighbours”.

Governor Fashola said the gathering also came from the challenge that he posed when Lagos State hosted the National Council on Transportation about a year ago during which he observed in his speech that in some other parts of the world, one could spend days on their roads and would  not hear any noise.

He further recalled, “Occasionally, when you hear a siren you know something has gone wrong in that system; you know that either an ambulance is on its way to an emergency or firemen are on their way to a fire or policemen are tracking and chasing criminals; and I said then that why should we be different, are we not Nigerians?”.

Saying that such a change should start from Lagos “the Centre of Excellence”, Governor Fashola expressed joy that the Ministry of Transportation and all her affiliated agencies, the Drivers’ Institutes, the Transport and the Law Enforcement Institutes, have all taken the challenge up to the level of implementation.

He declared, “We are gathered here today to sensitize ourselves in preparation for the day we have chosen as a Horn-Free Day; the No-Noise day or whatever you chose to call it, but let us just bring down the noise in our society. On that day we will not be gathering like this. Each one of us and all of us will be consciously doing something to start this very exciting journey in order to reduce noise in our society”.

Thanking the Guest Lecturer for her “very informative presentation” about the adverse effect of noise on the quality of life of human beings, on their well-being and on their health, Governor Fashola said reduction in noise pollution would clearly bring about  “better life, a healthier life and a more prosperous life”.

The Governor charged the audience, “I want you to remember as we leave here today that starting from the 15th of October, whether we reduce noise or not starts from you and I.  If you and I make the commitment to do something positive in order to reduce noise, clearly you and I will benefit”.

He also thanked members of BE ROAD FRIENDLY CLUB who, he said “have continued to be our champions of very excellent traffic behaviour”, adding,”It shows that our transport advocacy is not only to the elderly but we have gone to the schools and many of our schools now have this club. So we are catching them from the very beginning and exposing them to the very best culture of road traffic use and public transportation etiquette”.

Governor Fashola, who expressed confidence that the initiative of Horn-Free Day, as a starting point for noise reduction in the State, would be successful, cited the response of the citizens to such initiatives as environmental sanitation which has raised the State from the label of dirty to the cleanest city in the country, the level of voluntary tax compliance in the State about which other countries now seek to learn and the cooperation and collaboration among all the citizens in the efforts which finally saw the  containment of the Ebola Virus Disease in the State.

The Governor commended the drivers, especially the awardees, for their commitment to obedience of traffic regulations adding, “Your presence here today in your numbers has clearly sent a strong message of your commitment to improving our public transportation practices and processes in Lagos State”.

“We will continue to show up models of excellence like the Centre of Excellence that we are, people who understand that driving on our roads is very serious business and that it has consequences when it is done properly just as it has very serious  consequences when things go wrong”, he said.

Expressing excitement in anticipation of the Horn-Free Day, Governor Fashola declared, “It is the day from which we take the first step towards a journey of very many rewards. I promise you that our lives will change for the better if we are able to do this. People that doubted our capacity have always been surprised that whenever the people of Lagos get together there is nothing that they cannot achieve”.

In her Lecture titled, “Noise Pollution Is Too Serious To Be Ignored”, the Guest Lecturer, Dr. Kubie Enitan Layeni-Adeyemo, described noise as an unwanted sound adding that if noise is not below 70 decibels it is like spending a day in a factory full of noise.

Citing such noise to include those from generators, aircraft, and even dogs, the Guest Lecturer said a research by the National Research Centre has proved that noise levels produced in different sources at different times of the day are well over the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency and that noise pollution do contribute to many health problems.

Such health problems, she said, include partial or permanent deafness, loss of concentration, nervous breakdown and other physical and psychological problems adding, “Noise pollution is excessive noise which may harm our activity or balance of human or even animal life”.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, promised that Lagos Drivers have been mobilized for 15th of October Horn-Free Day adding that all the motor parks in the State now wear banners put up by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other stakeholder unions while contact has also been made with drivers’ employers within and outside the State for the occasion.  He also said the Drivers’ Appreciation Day and the Horn-free Day would be an annual event.

Highlights of the event included the award of certificates to drivers from diverse organizations both private and public who successfully completed the State’s School of Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme and presentations by members of BE ROAD FRIENDLY CLUB and a drama group from the University of Lagos.

Also present at the occasion were the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Oluseyi Coker, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), members of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) and other agencies of the Ministry of Transportation as well as top government functionaries.

source:http://www.theparadigmng.com/?p=23587&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=fashola-explains-idea-behind-october-15-hornfreeday-as-lagos-holds-first-drivers-appreciation-day#

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GOOGLE HOME HUB SAYS NO TO SMART-HOME CAMERAS IN YOUR BEDROOM

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The new Google Home Hub sports a 7-inch touchscreen, a fabric-encased full-range speaker, a light sensor and two far-field microphones. But even more interesting is a hardware feature it doesn’t have.

The $149 device has no camera, so you can’t use it for video calls or taking photos.

While that omission at first blush may not seem like a big deal, it raises a handful of thorny questions about how many cameras and microphones people want to have in their connected homes and how much they trust giant tech companies to protect their data and privacy in their most intimate spaces.

The Home Hub, which Google introduced at its Made By Google product launch event Tuesday in Manhattan, is a mashup of a smart speaker and a tablet that’s often called a smart display. It uses the voice-powered Google Assistant to let you play YouTube videos, check your home security camera feeds and control connected smart-home devices like lights.

The device will go up against a growing list of competing smart displays, including the Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo Show and Echo Spot, the new Facebook Portal, and the Google Assistant-powered JBL Link View and Lenovo Smart Display. All five of those devices include cameras for video chats.

The Hub comes out at time when tech companies are facing greater scrutiny for how they manage users’ data and how much of that information they keep. Just this week, Google shut down its unpopular Google+ social network after the company was forced to disclose a bug that put users’ data at risk. Earlier this year, Facebook sustained a torrent of criticism after the data of millions of people landed in the hands of consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which exploited the information for targeted election ads.

Simultaneously, many of these same companies are asking consumers to add more and more cameras, mics and sensors to control their homes.

So far, smart-home customers haven’t raised persistent concerns about these devices tracking them, instead focusing more on the convenience they can offer. But that dynamic has the potential to quickly change if there’s ever a major breach related to the audio, video and shopping data these electronics can track.

When the Hub comes out on Oct. 22, consumers will get to decide whether they want to make the Hub a bigger success than its many rival camera-toting smart displays. Whether they side more with the privacy of having no camera or the convenience of video features may signal what direction smart home technology will go in the future.

“It’s kind of less is more,” said GlobalData analyst Avi Greengart, who attended the Google event. “They’re omitting a piece of hardware that costs money and does raise some privacy implications.”

Google’s view on going camera-free

While Amazon in particular has pushed full-force into offering smart speakers with cameras, including those marketed for the bedroom, Google took a decidedly different approach with the Hub.

“For us, in general, it’s not about one product or another, just the word camera — hey, put a camera in your bedroom,” Mark Spates, Google’s product lead for smart speakers, said at Tuesday’s event. “It’s a comfort thing. For us, we wanted to make sure that you could use this anywhere in the home.”

Google wanted to give customers that option after finding that people put the Google Home Mini — its most popular smart speaker — in hallways, washrooms, bedrooms and everywhere else in their homes, he said. Looking to build on the Mini’s success and avoid limiting where the Hub can go, he said, Google opted to leave out a camera.

Diya Jolly, Google’s vice president of product management, added that the company saw an opportunity to offer a different kind of smart display, after several competing devices already offered a camera. She said Google was willing to explore adding a camera to a later version, but “we wanted to see how consumers reacted and how they liked” the new Hub.

“We wanted to give users a choice of not having a camera,” she said. “There are many other devices out there that have a camera, but none that doesn’t have a camera.”

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A marketing picture from Amazon of the Echo Spot as a bedroom nightstand clock.Amazon

In stark contrast with the Hub, competing smart displays are heavily promoting their video capabilities. The new Facebook Portal was created especially for Facebook Messenger video calls, and Amazon’s Echo Show and Spot have been marketed for their video call functions. Amazon even included a “drop in” feature that lets people connect automatically with a Show or Spot if they’ve been approved to do so by the device’s owner.

Amazon also created another product called the Echo Look that’s marketed for your bedroom or closet. It uses a camera to take pictures of your outfit choices to give you AI-powered fashion advice. The Spot, too, is marketed as a replacement for your bedroom nightstand clock.

Privacy in focus

In a nod to privacy concerns, Facebook, JBL and Lenovo offer physical privacy shutters for their smart displays’ cameras. Amazon doesn’t, instead offering a button to disable the mic and camera on the Show and Spot.

“Customers have made millions of video calls this year alone, and they tell us that they love the ability to drop in from room to room within their homes or take a photo on our devices, which is why we believe the camera is important,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.

“We also built these devices with privacy in mind from the beginning,” she added, mentioning that when you press the microphone/camera off button, it cuts off power to both pieces of hardware. Also, a red light on the device is used to reinforce the fact that the mic and camera are off. “We will continue to learn from our customers and adapt our products to best meet their needs.”

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Say hi to the Facebook Portal.James Martin/CNET

Following Facebook’s privacy blunders, the company took pains to emphasize the Portal’s privacy features, including the ability to turn off the mic and camera with one tap and the use of a passcode to unlock the screen.

Both Amazon and Facebook said they don’t record, store or listen to your calls through Facebook’s Portal or Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices.

JBL and Lenovo didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story.

By leaving out a camera Google avoids the privacy concerns raised by Amazon’s rival products and prevents a potentially messy video breach from ever happening. Amazon faced criticism for the Look, with one writer for Forbes suggesting its camera may someday be able to identify skin cancer or depression. Amazon strongly denied these claims.

“Amazon is trying something completely different,” Greengart said. “I don’t think it hurts Google to omit it, and for people that do want a camera, there are those options from Amazon and Google’s partners.”

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MICROSOFT HAS KILLED MINECRAFT FOR APPLE TV

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Microsoft is no longer supporting the Apple TV version of Minecraft. The app has has been pulled from the App Store, and an in-game message notes that it won’t receive any further updates, though it’ll continue to be playable. Refunds will be issued for any purchases made up to 90 days before the announcement comes into effect. And it actually went into effect on September 24th, so it’s even more of an indictment of the state of Apple TV gaming that no-one really seemed to notice until this week.

Minecraft is one of the biggest games in history and has managed to find an audience on virtually every console, phone, and computer out there — including the iPhone, from which the Apple TV version was derived. But the Apple TV has been hampered as a games platform ever since Apple bungled the launch by unexpectedly requiring developers to support the Siri Remote. The company backtracked the following year, but the damage was done.

Apple hasn’t entirely given up on Apple TV gaming. Last year’s iPhone keynote saw Sky, the next game from Journey and Flower studio Thatgamecompany, shown off for the first time on the Apple TV 4K. But even that game is yet to see release, and it’s clear that Apple’s focus is elsewhere.

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UBER’S NEXT CONQUEST: YOUR DATA

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After replacing Travis Kalanick in August 2017, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is shifting the company’s focus. Though the company has always sought to become a world-class transportation platform, it has recently begun to describe itself as “Amazon for transportation” — an ambition which indicates the company is making a monopolistic data play.

Amazon has always been an inspiration for Uber’s leadership, but the form of that inspiration has shifted over the course of the company’s growth. Kalanick wanted to emulate Amazon’s strategy of pursuing market share and growth at the expense of profits — or, more accurately, with massive losses before using scale to reduce the marginal cost of expansion to turn a profit. Unfortunately for Kalanick, that strategy didn’t translate to Uber’s ride-hailing business.

Scale economies work for companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon because the digital nature of their operations allows growth at little marginal cost in many aspects of their businesses. This is why many of these digital companies have so few employees compared to traditional auto companies. However, as transportation expert Hubert Horan explained: “Drivers, vehicles and fuel account for 85% of urban car service costs,” making scale economies very difficult for Uber’s ride-hailing service to achieve even as it outsources the ownership and maintenance of vehicles to its drivers.

Uber’s leadership is inspired by Amazon’s platform and the power and dominance that has come with it.

Uber’s margin improvements have typically come from cutting driver pay, not scale economies, and Kalanick’s plan to reach profitability relied on further reducing the share of revenue going to drivers. In the last few years that Kalanick served as CEO, the company became focused not just on developing autonomous vehicles, but on winning the self-driving race. We now know that autonomous vehicles will not be able to replace drivers nearly to the degree Kalanick had hoped, nor on the accelerated timeline he was relying on. This necessitates a new plan for the company’s future.

We don’t know whether Kalanick was in the process of formulating a new strategy, but over the past few months Khosrowshahi’s vision has become increasingly clear. He wants to make Uber into the “Amazon for transportation.” This time, instead of taking the wrong lessons from Amazon on scale economies, Uber’s leadership is inspired by Amazon’s platform and the power and dominance that has come with it.

From Ride-Hailing to Transportation Platform

Though Uber’s ride-hailing service has always been the center of its business, Khosrowshahi’s plan shifts the focus to its app — or, rather, its platform. He’s no longer just talking about the ride-hailing business, but about existing food delivery and freight services along with it, new scooters and bike offerings from Lime, car rentals from Getaround, public transit ticketing through Masabi, and the prospect of flying cars. Basically, the more services available, the more people the platform can serve.

Uber’s approach to autonomous vehicles has also shifted. Rather than trying to win the race to develop self-driving tech, Khosrowshahi has said his ultimate goal is to have “access” to the technology. He opened the door for Google’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise to offer their autonomous vehicle services on Uber’s platform, and Ford AV CEO Sherif Marakby recently told the Vergecast that they’d be open to offering their autonomous service on the platform as well.

Khosrowshahi predicts the traditional ride-hailing service to be only 50 percent of its future business, as scooters and bikes cannibalize the short trips currently made in vehicles. It’s hard to imagine Kalanick making a similar statement, but that doesn’t mean Khosrowshahi’s ultimate goal is any less inspired by monopolistic ideals.

Uber Wants to Control Urban Transportation Data

Uber is a private company with plans to go public in 2019. It has yet to turn a profit. Khosrowshahi has encouraged investors to commit for the long haul, as his plans to diversifying the company’s transportation options will not deliver short-term profits. At the same time, his value proposition to investors has changed: Now, they have access to Amazon-like power exerted on urban transportation networks.

In his book on these new digital monopolies, Platform Capitalism, Nick Srnicek identifies the importance of network effects in increasing a platform’s value. For platforms, data is raw material that can “be extracted, refined, and used in a variety of ways. The more data one has, the more uses one can make of them.”

Uber will not only use data on its own services, but data from every third-party service offered through its platform.

Uber already has a large, global user base (and dataset). The expansion of transportation options on its platform — both its own and those of other companies — adds value for existing users while attracting new ones interested in getting around by anything other than a car. New modes of transport and a growing user base will produce more data, showing the company where more people are going and how additional transport modes are used. Uber will not only use data on its own services, but data from every third-party service offered through its platform. All of this data feeds a flywheel that will improve Uber’s service exponentially over time.

In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Khosrowshahi was asked why he was allowing other services onto Uber’s platform. He likened it to Amazon offering branded products while letting other businesses sell their products through the Amazon marketplace. He left out how Amazon uses its sales data to see which third-party products are selling well and make cheaper versions of its own, undercutting the original product and leaving its seller with no means of challenging Amazon. Will Uber eventually do the same to Lime’s scooters or Getaround’s car rentals? It’s not impossible to imagine.

Cities Need to Act Now

City governments around the globe have struggled to effectively regulate ride-hailing apps, but there’s been some recent progress. In August, New York City passed new regulations limiting the number of ride-hailing vehicles, at least for a 12-month period as it further studies the issue. It will also ensure that drivers are paid the minimum wage of $15 per hour with a bit extra to cover vehicle costs.

Another regulatory bright spot: bikes and scooters. Having learned their lesson from letting ride-hailing companies evade regulation, city governments were quick to develop policies for new micromobility services. Mayors make it known that they, not tech companies, had ultimate authority over what happened on city streets.

As Uber sets out to capture a significant chunk of urban transportation data with its new Amazon-inspired platform model, city governments need to make clear that data from activities occurring on the street is not proprietary information. This data belongs to the people as represented by their government. Uber should not have a better idea of how different transportation data modes are operating than governments themselves.

Under Khosrowshahi’s leadership, Uber’s tone has undoubtedly changed — probably for the better. Bikes and scooters will likely capture a significant portion of the ride-hailing service’s current users. However, Uber’s push to become the world’s dominant transportation platform is cause for concern. City officials must establish their right to transportation data. At the very least, they should build publicly owned alternatives that serve the interests of residents — not multinational companies.

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