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Uber Offers to Assist Smart Cities Drive with ‘Anonymized’ Ride Data

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Uber Technologies is offering data from trips on its ride-hailing platform to city officials, planners and policymakers to help them better understand traffic patterns and improve investments in infrastructure, according to a report by pcworld.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek could not confirm if the moves will be extended to Uber’s African operations like Nigeria, however, it is believed that the move will likely win Uber goodwill with city officials, even as the company has resisted other bids for data by some cities.

New York, for example, wants to collect trip records from vehicles on hire to monitor adherence to driver fatigue regulations, which Uber has rejected citing individual privacy issues.

Some of the data collected by Uber over 2 billion trips across 450 cities will be provided under the new program, called Movement. However, the data will be “anonymized and aggregated into the same types of geographic zones that transportation planners use to evaluate which parts of cities need expanded infrastructure, like Census Tracts and Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs),” Jordan Gilbertson, Uber’s product manager and Andrew Salzberg, head of transportation policy, wrote in a blog post Sunday.

Other ride-hailing companies have also offered data to planners. Cooperation with city planners could ensure that the ride-hailing concept gets more firmly entrenched in urban transport planning.

Easy Taxi, which started operations in Latin America, Grab in Southeast Asia and French operator Le.Taxi in December joined a partnership with the World Bank and other organizations to make traffic data derived from their drivers’ GPS streams available under an open data license.

Uber has set up a website for providing the information. Access to the data on the website will be on invitation initially, though the company promises to make it available freely to the public soon.

The insights on the Movement website are available under the Creative Commons, Attribution Non-Commercial license, which would restrict the use of the data for commercial purposes.

“Since Uber is available 24/7, we can compare travel conditions across different times of day, days of the week, or months of the year—and how travel times are impacted by big events, road closures or other things happening in a city,” the executives wrote.

The concept of sharing aggregated data with cities is already being tried by Uber in Australia, where it has tied with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia to measure the performance of transport systems. Data from Uber was also used to analyse the impact of the Metrorail outage in Washington, D.C., on March 16 last year on congestion citywide during the evening commute hours, and was used to analyze travel conditions during the 2015 holiday season in Manila.

Uber’s provision of data to local authorities is likely to come under close scrutiny by consumer groups who have in the past complained about the company’s collection of user data. In December last year, the company said it would collect location data “from the time you request a trip until . . . up to five minutes after the driver ends a trip, even if the Uber app is in the background.” Users can, however, opt out from the monitoring, the report by pcworld reads.

In a privacy policy change from July 2015, the company said it would be tracking the location of its users’ devices even when they are not using its service and the app is running in the background.

 

 
 

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E-Business

YouTube Go launches in Nigeria

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YouTube has announced that the YouTube Go app previewed at the recent Google for Nigeria event is now available for initial public download in Nigeria.

YouTube has been reimagined to meet the needs of the next generation of users in YouTube Go, which is available for initial download in the Google Play Store. YouTube plans to continue to learn from our users to improve the app over time.

Speaking on the announcement, Johanna Wright, VP Product Management at YouTube, said: “YouTube Go has been designed to take into account the challenges faced by YouTube users in countries like Nigeria, such as data cost and connectivity. With YouTube Go, we are making it possible for everyone in Nigeria to be able to discover videos that they love, regardless of their network status or data consumption preferences.”

With more Nigerians coming online every year, and most of them only using their mobiles for internet access, we are working hard to make products that are tailored to Nigerians’ specific needs.

“You can save videos for offline watching, and can choose what resolution video to save – basic quality or standard quality – giving you better control over how you use your precious data.”, he added.

Built from the ground up to meet the needs of the growing online youth population, YouTube Go offers easy video downloading, phone-number sign-in, effortless searching, and more effective ways to control data use.

YouTube Go also features a home screen that shows both personalized recommendations as well as trending and popular videos nearby, allowing users to see the latest content that the people around are watching, upfront.

It offers a ‘preview video’ function to make it easier to decide what to watch or download.

Before developing YouTube Go, the YouTube team spent thousands of hours gathering information, conducting interviews, doing testing, and refining the product. The result is YouTube Go, an entirely new YouTube app that is designed to be offline first.

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Improved Security Strategies Required for ePlatforms Uptakes- ITSSP

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By peter oluka ‎

Nigeria requires adequate cyber security measures to sustain the growth of service deliveries through e-Platforms, said information security experts.

Professor Adesina Sodiya, president of ITSSP in a telephone interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, described cybercrime as a growing global threat, but every country has learnt to defend its cyber space.

Prof. Sodiya said, ‎”Cybercrime is a global challenge; and the recent attacks in Nigeria have been affecting critical areas of our activities. That is why this group is concerned about the development of solutions to tackle the menace. We have to continue to discourse the way forward in terms of our national cyber development”‎

He said that, ‎as a country, professionals must be engaged to develop the cyber defence strategies. “Many countries have gone ahead with the development of defence mechanisms in the cyber space; Nigeria must not be left behind. We have not gotten there.‎

“Why do we need to be more serious about cyber space? There is a popular saying today that the next world war will happen at the cyber space.

“As at now, many countries are gathering information about other countries. They are peeping into other countries’ activities, which calls for us to develop our cyber security strategies to monitor inflow and outflow of data”.

Mr. ‎Aderogba Adeoye, former president of ITSSP also told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that increase in these e-platforms calls for improved cyber security awareness.‎

“Everybody is talking about e-platforms. If we are to run the e-platforms, it entails a need to develop capacities for security. Your data or information can be wiped off in a twinkle of an eye. As far as the e-commerce platforms are concerned, the intention is to make profit.‎

“For us to continue reaping benefits in e-services applications the capacity development of the human capital must be taken very serious. This is what the conference tends to address.‎

“We are not relenting. ITSSP is an interest group of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS); it is important to us to advocate for focus on issues related to cyber security”, he said.‎‎

He added that recent advocacies have yielded results with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), for instance, introduced information security departments. “That is a right step in good direction. The other day we engaged the Ministry of Justice and the National Security Adviser (NSA) and they were convincing enough on how admitting electronic evidences are helpful in combating cybercrimes”. ‎

“In order to build capacity government has to enhance IT policing activities by ensuring that anybody executing government projects, in IT, are registered professionals. This is another way to elicit adherence to the rules of the business,” Adeoye added. ‎‎

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Stakeholders Frown at Nigeria’s Position on eReadiness Report

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by Chike Onwuegbuchi

Information and communications technology stakeholders have frowned at the recent position of the Nigeria on eReadiness status where the country is placed 119 out of 139 countries.

eReadiness refers to a country’s capacity and state of preparedness to participate in the electronic world.

The state of maturity is commonly measured by the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and the ability of its government and citizens to utilize the positive impacts of ICT for sustainable development.

Chris Uwaje, director general, Delta State Innovation Hub, who disclosed the country’s position said: “In the e-readiness report just released early this week Nigeria is sitting at 119.”

He said; “eReadiness status is about the aggregate measure of how countries are faring using ICT or within the ICT landscape, it embodied economic, educational and social index, measured along the lines of sustainable development goals. Each country has an index that they need to pass, it just like exam. But the aggregate sum of our domain platform today is really unacceptable. It keeps us into that realm of super consumption country in ICT but less in innovative and creativity and that is wrong.”

He explained that the more we consume the more we cannot create employment. “The more we consume, the more we are funding capital flight, the more we consume the more our educational sector will be malnourished in terms of knowledge, and will not be attractive, that is why more Nigerians are now in Ghanaian universities and in Republic of Benin universities.

“For the country to move up it is about knowledge Olympiad. We need to refine our educational system, government need to invest more on knowledge parks, incubators, and fund incubators. We have to ensure that lectures and those who can replicate knowledge are given added resources and reward system that enables them. Because we need to create a digital army for this country, so that when financial sector, aviation, transport or any other sector is attack can we defend it?”

Amos Emmanuel, chief executive officer, Programos Software, said that Nigeria has a lot to do if she has to move up in the ladder of e-readiness.

“The game of e-readiness has changed; it is no longer like technological transfer from Europe or America the focus is now on innovation base on the environment. Nigeria needs to reformulate its digital policy,” he said.

He blamed the country’s socio-cultural environment as impediment to application of information and communications technology to every sector of the economy.

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