How maps are powering the tech revolution

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From Hugh Grant to maps – this space now houses Ordnance Survey’s start-up hub

Remember Hugh Grant’s bachelor pad in About a Boy? This epitome of a cool central London home has now given itself over to the British map maker Ordnance Survey.

It’s the site of their start-up hub, helping young companies which are using their mapping technology. It’s a world away from Ordnance Survey’s (OS) concertina’d, paper-based business, but location, location, location still matters here.

Where we are and where we want to go is at the heart of so many of the world’s most innovative businesses.

Think of Uber, Deliveroo, Airbnb, the development of driverless cars, and drone deliveries. All of these companies need location data to power their software.

In fact there are very few sectors which don’t rely on it. Some estimates say the global market for core geographical information will exceed $13bn (£9.6bn) by 2025, according to consultancy firm Navigant.

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Ordnance Survey

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Maps are increasingly being digitised for use in new technologies

Carmakers are among the companies hungry for mapping data, according to Martin Garner of tech consultants CCS Insight. “Developments in mapping are mainly being led by the transportation industry in its push towards intelligent and self-driving cars and trucks,” he says.

In December 2015, for example, BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen’s Audi acquired the digital mapping company HERE from Nokia for $3.1bn to provide their own in-house source of data.

Mr Garner says the value of location data lies in its ability to mirror every aspect of the world around us. He says technology is turning maps into living databases of places, objects and people where live information comes from a wide range of sources, and is used by lots of different people.

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Ordnance Survey technology is being used in the development of driverless tractors

OS, founded back in 1791, makes most of its £150m yearly revenue from the private companies who use its data – such as Garmin’s sat navs – and through big public sector agreements providing data for bus routes, planning and flood prevention.

But a third of its products can be used for free. It’s that information – on our roads and rivers – which provides the backbone for so many other companies, including Google Maps.

OS decided to open the Geovation hub in London in 2015. The company felt it was behind the curve on how its mapping data was being used and that it wasn’t seeing the benefits of giving the information away for free.

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The company has been mapping Britain since 1791 – the official year of its foundation – including these maps from the 1920s

The hub’s 900 members range from industry stalwarts to A-level students, but are mainly start-up companies who rely on location data to develop their products.

Taking a leaf out of the financial industry’s book, they’ve even developed a new word for the companies they work with: Geotech.

For Alex Wrottesley, who runs the hub, there are many advantages of this kind of interaction with start-ups, and he says it’s often the best way of bringing things to market.

One of the companies based in the hub is Openplay, which aims to create a comprehensive list of leisure activities and venues across the UK, including in church halls and community centres.

Its boss, Sam Parton, uses a combination of OS maps and shoe leather to build the database. “Parks and open spaces don’t have postcodes so it can be very difficult to find events happening in them. We’ve gone out and practically listed them ourselves,” he says.

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Sam Parton from Open Play is using OS data to build a database of leisure venues

Richa Bhalla who runs Pedals, a green courier company based in the Geovation Hub, says mapping is about more than getting goods from A to B. It tries to use commuters to deliver packages in the safest and least polluted way they can.

Pedals overlays OS data with other sources to do this. “It is all about logistics, getting to places as fast as possible, using green cycle lanes rather than busy roads,” Richa says.

Apart from those companies that have won free placements on one of their accelerator schemes, the programme is funded by a small fee from the businesses who work there and sponsorship deals with private companies.

However, the OS is also looking to the start-ups as future money spinners – as it starts to take stakes in the most successful. The aim, it says, is “to create new revenues for our long-term future”.

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Richa Bhalla from Pedals says coming up with greener routes is something she really cares about

Implicit in this drive for innovation and those words “long-term future”, is the axe that has hung over the future of the OS in recent years.

OS was made a government-owned company in 2015 – a technical term meaning it has greater commercial freedoms such as how to pay its staff – but it remains in the control of the state alongside the likes of Companies House, Network Rail and the Royal Mint.

There was speculation when this happened that the government could look to sell it. However, in a recent statement, the Department for Business said categorically “there are no plans to privatise Ordnance Survey”.

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The Geovation hub is a world away from the traditional cartography done by the Ordnance Survey

OS sees its long-term future in embracing new technologies like providing data for smart cities, the roll out of 5G and driverless cars.

And it’s not the only one. James Hodgson, a senior analyst in smart mobility and automotive at ABI Research, says the mapping industry is being transformed.

“Profitable map building isn’t a matter of owning the capital for map creation,” he says. Instead, it’s about having the ability to ingest data from lots of devices to “build a continuously up-to-date, accurate representation of the world”.

“As traditional map building becomes less viable and less profitable, the traditional map builders are having to innovate.”

Mr Wrottesley is confident OS knows what its core customer wants: “We’ve been selling our services for 200 years.”

For OS – like others in the mapping industry – it’s about how to map the next few decades as well.

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10 toughest places for girls to go to school

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South Sudan has been named as the worst place in the world for education for girls

Debates about schools in richer countries are often about the politics of priorities, what subjects should be given most importance, who needs extra help and what needs more public spending.

But for families in many developing countries questions about education can be a lot more basic – is there any access to school at all?

Figures from the United Nations suggest there has been “almost zero progress” in the past decade in tackling the lack of school places in some of the world’s poorest countries.

A further report examined the quality of education, and the UN said the findings were “staggering”, with more than 600 million children in school but learning next to nothing.

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In Niger, four out of five adult women remain illiterate

While in affluent Western countries, girls are often ahead of boys in academic achievement, in poorer parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, girls are much more likely to be missing out.

And on the UN’s International Day of the Girl, the development campaign, One, has created a ranking for the toughest places for girls to get an education.

Conflict zones

Across these 10 countries, most of those without school places are girls.

These are fragile countries, where many families are at risk from poverty, ill health, poor nutrition and displacement from war and conflict.

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Refugees displaced by fighting this summer in South Sudan

Many young girls are expected to work rather than go to school. And many marry young, ending any chance of an education.

UN figures indicate girls are more than twice as likely to lose out on education in conflict zones.

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Refugees in Chad: Conflicts have disrupted the educations of tens of millions

The rankings are based on:

  • the proportion of girls without a primary school place
  • the proportion of girls without a secondary school place
  • the proportion of girls completing primary school
  • the proportion of girls completing secondary school
  • the average number of years girls attend school
  • female illiteracy rates
  • teacher training levels
  • the teacher-pupil ratio
  • public spending on education

For some countries, such as Syria, there was insufficient reliable data for them to be included.

Here are the top 10 toughest places for girls’ education:

  • South Sudan: the world’s newest country has faced much violence and war, with the destruction of schools and families forced from their homes. Almost three-quarters of girls do not even make it to primary school
  • Central African Republic: one teacher for every 80 pupils
  • Niger: only 17% of women between the ages of 15 and 24 are literate
  • Afghanistan: wide gender gap, with boys more likely to be in school than girls
  • Chad: many social and economic barriers to girls and women getting education
  • Mali: only 38% of girls finish primary school
  • Guinea: the average time in education among women over the age of 25 is less than one year
  • Burkina Faso: only 1% of girls complete secondary school
  • Liberia: almost two-thirds of primary-age pupils out of school
  • Ethiopia: two in five girls are married before the age of 18
  • A shortage of teachers is a common problem across poorer countries.

    Last year, the UN said another 69 million teachers would need to be recruited worldwide by 2030 if international promises on education were to be kept.

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    Florence Cheptoo learned to read at 60, when her grandchild brought home a library book

    The report says there are great economic dividends if girls can be kept in school.

    And there are great gains for individuals, such as Florence Cheptoo, who lives in a remote village in Kenya and learned to read at the age of 60.

    Gayle Smith, president of the One campaign, called the failures in education for girls a “global crisis that perpetuates poverty”.

    “Over 130 million girls are still out of school – that’s over 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and politicians whose leadership the world is missing out on.”

    More from Global education

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    Portsmouth owner Eisner’s journey from Disney to Pompey

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    Michael Eisner watched a lot of football in Europe and the US before buying Portsmouth

    Two decades at the helm of global entertainment giant Walt Disney might seem a strange apprenticeship for taking over a lower-level English football club, but Michael Eisner insists it is the latest logical move in his high-flying business career.

    The 75-year-old American completed his takeover of historic south coast club Portsmouth in August for £5.67m, buying it from fans who had stepped in with their own money to save the club.

    The club, nicknamed Pompey, had fallen on hard financial times since winning the FA Cup in 2008, and had dropped from the Premier League to the bottom tier, but did get promoted back to League One at the end of last season.

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    After a lifetime working for some of the biggest US and international TV and film firms, including ABC and Paramount as well as Disney, the native of New York state had launched his own investment firm, and was looking for interesting projects to back.

    Mr Eisner, whose net worth is estimated at $1bn (£760m), and his Tornante group will invest £10m in the club.

    ‘Passion is key’

    “What is an American guy doing getting involved with English football?,” he says.

    “Well, I am qualified for this new role. In a way I feel my whole career has led up to this.”

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    Portsmouth FC is starting out on what Mr Eisner hopes is a march back up the league tables

    Indeed, during his time in the entertainment industry Mr Eisner was involved in a number of sports-related projects, including TV scheduling, film production, and the acquisition of clubs.

    “There are differences between sport and entertainment – one must be scripted, planned, produced, and the other is more spontaneous, extemporaneous. But both have conflict, a climax and an ending,” he observes.

    “And whatever your brand, product, league, club – the idea of loyalty or passion is key.”

    And Eisner says it was the raucous fan reaction to Portsmouth winning promotion, and the League Two title, last season that was the final factor in convincing him to buy the club.

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    Mr Eisner says it was the passion of the fans that convinced him to buy Portsmouth FC

    “Because of this mad enthusiasm I found Pompey irresistible,” he said at the Leaders sports conference in London.

    “I had first heard about the possibility of acquiring the club when I was looking at the possibility of buying a US sports team. Investing in US sport is very expensive. The NFL has its physical problems which scare me.

    “It [football] just seemed a great thing to me and my family. We got hooked on the game in the UK.”

    ‘Excitement and history’

    Mr Eisner and his three sons, Breck, Eric, and Anders, make up the Portsmouth board, along with Andy Redman, president of Tornante, and Portsmouth FC chief executive Mark Catlin.

    Despite its recent woes the club has a strong heritage, winning the League title in 1949 and 1950, and FA Cup in 1939 as well as nine years ago.

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    Mr Eisner says he was struck by Portsmouth’s historic past

    “When I passed through the Fratton Park turnstiles I felt like I did when I stepped through the doors at Disney – a sense of excitement and of a rich history,” he says.

    “Portsmouth fans are passionate. [After] four strange owners the fans stepped in and bought the team.

    “Pompey fans had done a remarkable job but it seemed they would need additional investment to build the brand.”

    He says there were another reasons, apart from fan passion and history, that he and his family wanted to buy a football club.

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    The new owners say they have plans to upgrade Fratton Park stadium

    One is the fact that football has a global appeal, and also – in a currently fractured media landscape – “the only appointment-to-view [TV] is for sports events”.

    “Today, viewers can watch the shows they want any time they want on on multiple devices. But sport fans want to watch their teams compete in real time,” he says.

    That means that sports, and football, TV rights will always be in high demand by broadcasters looking for content.

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    Mr Eisner was introduced to the fans before the opening game of the season against Rochdale

    As well as the expertise and cash that Eisner is providing, he is also promising to improve the stadium and promote managerial stability.

    “Over time we will make the match day experience the pleasure it should be,” he says, adding the club will also continue to build on its strong community work, for which it has won a number of Football League awards.

    Michael Eisner: A Sporting Life

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    Michael Eisner at the launch of an ESPN sports-themed restaurant

    “At ABC TV in 1970 we made a crack in the traditional entertainment wall, by moving NFL Football to prime time on a Monday night. ABC was the smallest network and needed success,” he says.

    It became one of the longest-running prime time shows ever on commercial network TV.

    At Paramount he oversaw production of sports films Players, North Dallas Forty, and the Bad News Bears trilogy.

    In 1984 he became Disney chairman and the company produced the film The Mighty Ducks. Disney in 1993 then created an actual ice hockey team called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, now the Anaheim Ducks. In 2006-07 the team won the NHL’s Stanley Cup.

    Disney also produced baseball film Angels in the Outfield in 1984. In 1997 Disney took over the California Angels team. It was renamed the Anaheim Angels and under Disney’s ownership won its first World Series championship in 2002.

    During Mr Eisner’s time at Disney it also acquired leading sports cable TV channel ESPN in 1996.

    His current private firm bought the Topps sports trading card firm in 2007. It is licensed to produce English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Uefa Champions League, and Indian Premier League cricket products.

    ‘Triumph of the underdog’

    Mr Eisner now says the club, which sits mid-table in League One, now needs stability and continuity on and off the playing field.

    He believes if club owners give their manager support, then the coaching team will have the confidence to lead the team to success.

    “If you look at the great sports teams, you try to find a great manager and stick with him through thick and thin,” he says.

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    Mr Eisner says there are similarities between Portsmouth and Disney fans

    He says he hopes current manager Kenny Jackett will be in the post for a decade, and oversee success during that time.

    “The Disney fans are similar to Portsmouth fans,” he says. “When I went there it was about to be broken up. The fans’ love of Disney helped support it.

    “All of Disney’s sports films had the same theme – the triumph of the underdog. With Portsmouth we hope to get it right in fact, not fiction.

    “We will get there – being slow, steady and smart.”

    Source : [1]

    Four solutions to the disposable coffee cup problem

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    Is the price of our growing addiction to takeaway hot drinks an ever higher mountain of landfill?

    Since last year, when we were all made aware of the UK’s unrecycled cup mountain, some of us have found it hard to buy a takeaway coffee without being wracked with guilt.

    In the UK, we throw away an estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. In theory, they are “recyclable”, but in practice, only a tiny percentage is dealt with sustainably.

    Yet so far, there’s no agreed way forward.

    Parliament’s environmental audit committee has been hearing the latest thoughts from campaigners and industry on how we can improve on our record in this area.

    A lot of the biggest names in takeaway beverages, including Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Pret A Manger and Starbucks, have signed up to a scheme to collect and recycle more of the current type of cups. Costa is also collecting cups from rival brands in its shops.

    But others believe a more fundamental rethink would work better.

    Here are four ways the coffee cup waste problem might be tackled.

    1. Frugalpac: ‘Just change the cups’

    Conventional cups can be recycled, but only in special facilities, thanks to the lamination that makes them waterproof.

    Frugalpac, based in Ipswich in the UK, manufactures cardboard cups that can be recycled in regular recycling plants.

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    “We looked at this three years ago: everyone was blaming someone else, the cup makers, the coffee shops, councils. We thought, why don’t we go out there and solve the problem?” says Frugalpac’s founder, Martin Myerscough.

    He has a patent for his cup – made of recycled materials, with an only very lightly attached plastic lining (representing about 10% of the weight of the cup), that separates easily during recycling.

    It’s a more pragmatic solution, he argues, than trying to set up specialist collection points for conventional cups, because we already have recycling bins.

    He has done trials with independent coffee shops and is working with Starbucks.

    Of course, consumers will still have to remember to put them in the right bin, and he is still working on replacing the plastic lid.

    2. CupClub: ‘Like city bike rental for cups’

    Safia Qureshi points to chai wallahs in India as one of her initial inspirations. There, tea is poured into glasses that are washed and reused. We all used to drink milk and Coca Cola from returnable, reusable bottles.

    So why not coffee?

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    “The current model for reusable cups is that the consumer needs to buy the cup and take it in. The ratio of consumers doing that is 2% of all the total coffee sold,” she points out.

    Instead, she proposes that the customer joins Cup Club and picks up a reusable cup when they buy their coffee. It can be returned later to one of several collection points. Cup Club is responsible for collecting washing and redistributing the clean cups to participating retailers.

    Because the cups are tagged and registered to your account – using RFID, the same technology that’s on an Oyster travel card – Cup Club can text you a reminder if you’ve forgotten to return a cup and charge you if you keep it.

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    Cup Club

    “I’m very passionate about putting an end to products that are only used one time,” says Ms Quereshi “It’s a selfish and arrogant stance.”

    She’s starting with company offices and universities, but is aiming ultimately for a London-wide scheme.

    Its success will rely on enough retailers subscribing, but she has received an Ellen MacArthur Circular Design Challenge award, which will support her in developing the idea further.

    3. TrioCup: the origami cup

    Tom Chan, an engineering student from Hong Kong studying in the US, said he saw the coffee cups piling up in the rubbish bins outside his university building and wanted to do something about it.

    He has now patented his TrioCup, a triangular-shaped cardboard cup, with sticking up flaps “like bunny ears”. Those ears can be folded down and tucked in to close it.

    The entire cup is recyclable and, without the need for a separate plastic lid, potentially cheaper than normal cups.

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    “I decided if I were to make a new cup, it needed to have more features than just being eco-friendly,” he says.

    So he aimed for some other selling points too, such as spill-resistance.

    “From my anecdotal research, a lot more people spill their coffee than you think.”

    He says you can drop a TrioCup from waist height and most of the coffee will stay in the cup.

    He thinks the shape makes the cups easier to hold and gives them “a cool aesthetic”.

    Even the origami folding technique is pretty simple, he says.

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    Next month, Mr Chan, another recipient of an Ellen MacArthur award, will be making several thousand cups per week for use in the university coffee shop.

    4. Cupffee: the edible cup

    The ultimate waste-free cup, though, must be this: a coffee cup made of cereals that you can munch on like an ice cream cone, once you’ve downed your drink.

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    Three friends from Plovdiv in Bulgaria, Miroslav Zapryanov, Mladen Dzhalazov and Simeon Gavrailov, came up with their “waffle” recipe containing no preservatives, colourings or coatings a few years ago and have been working on commercialising it ever since.

    Apparently slightly sweet and crisp, it will hold your coffee for up to 40 minutes. And if you decide not to snack on it, it will biodegrade within weeks.

    They say they were inspired by a desire to change the world. They might only be changing the diets of a limited number of Bulgarian coffee drinkers, but they are ambitious.

    The founders say that with a shelf life of six months the Cupffee could meet the needs of the big High Street coffee chains.

    But many other firms are thinking along similar lines, at least when it comes to compostable cups.

    Companies such as Bristol-based Planglow have successfully commercialised what they say is fully biodegradable food packaging, including coffee cups.

    And they boast clients from restaurants to contract caterers, sandwich shops to Parliament, so policy makers presumably are familiar with this option.

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    From fluffy pillows to concrete: The uses of captured CO2

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    Your fluffy pillows and memory foam mattress could be helping to reduce CO2

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are contributing to global warming, so could technologies removing some of the gas from the atmosphere help slow the process?

    When you tuck yourself into bed tonight – curling up on your memory foam mattress and fluffy pillows – consider this: you could be helping to reduce climate change.

    This is because CO2 can now be captured from the air and stored in a range of everyday items in your home and on the street.

    It can be used to make plastics for a whole host of things: the insulation in your fridge-freezer; the paint on your car; the soles of your shoes; and the binding of that new book you haven’t read yet.

    Even the concrete your street is made of could contain captured CO2.

    UK-based Econic Technologies has invented a way of encouraging CO2 – a typically unreactive gas – to react with the petrochemical raw materials used in the making of many plastics.

    In this catalysed form, the CO2 can make up to 50% of the ingredients needed for making plastic. And recycling existing CO2 in this way reduces the amount of new CO2 emissions usually resulting from the process.

    “Our aim is that by 2026, the technology will be used to make at least 30% of the polyols [the units making up plastic] made globally, and that would reduce CO2 emission by 3.5 million tonnes each year,” explains Rowena Sellens, chief executive of Econic Technologies.

    “This is equivalent to taking more than two million cars off the road.”

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    CarbonCure’s Robert Niven thinks his firm’s concrete is far more environmentally friendly

    The company is currently working with partners in industry to introduce its technology to market.

    Canadian company CarbonCure Technologies is recycling CO2 and putting it into concrete.

    CarbonCure takes waste CO2 from industrial emitters – such as fertiliser producers – and injects controlled doses of the liquid gas directly into the concrete truck or mixer.

    The reaction that takes place creates calcium carbonate particles that become permanently bound within the concrete – and make the concrete up to 20% stronger.

    Today, CarbonCure’s technology is installed in more than 60 concrete plants across Canada and the US, supplying hundreds of construction projects.

    Another company, Carbon Engineering, captures CO2 and uses it to make diesel and jet fuel. While Carbon Clean Solutions, in the Indian port of Tuticorin, captures CO2 from a coal-fired power plant and turns it into soda ash (sodium carbonate), an ingredient in fertilisers, synthetic detergents and dyes.

    But will such carbon capture efforts really make much difference?

    Simply put, levels of “greenhouse gases” – CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are the main ones – have been rising rapidly because we’ve been burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – to make electricity and power our transportation, amongst other human activities.

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    Should we be reducing the amount of CO2 used in making plastics, or simply using less plastic?

    At the 2015 Paris climate conference, 195 countries agreed to try to keep global temperatures to within 2C of pre-industrial times by reducing emissions.

    But to achieve this target by 2030, the world needs to cut emissions – CO2 accounts for about 70% – by 12 to 14 gigatonnes per year, says John Christensen, director of a partnership between the UN Environment Programme and the Technical University of Denmark.

    A gigatonne is a billion tonnes.

    Econic, by contrast, hopes that by 2026, its technology will be responsible for reducing CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tonnes each year.

    And CarbonCure has demonstrated that its technology can help a typical medium-sized concrete producer reduce CO2 emissions by 900 tonnes a year. Globally, the concrete industry could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 700 million tonnes a year, the company believes.

    “It’s great to have these options coming up,” says Mr Christensen, “but there’s no silver bullet, no single solution.”

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    Greenpeace’s Doug Parr thinks renewable energy is a better way to reduce CO2 emissions

    Environmentalists are also concerned that such carbon capture technologies merely delay the fundamental shift society needs to make to become a low-carbon economy. A plastics factory producing less CO2 is still environmentally unfriendly, the argument goes.

    “Research into new technologies and approaches that can help reduce carbon emissions is vital, but it must not become an excuse to delay action on tackling the root of the problem – our dependence on fossil fuels,” says Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK.

    “A process that appears to reduce emissions or increase efficiency can lock us into maintaining industries that could be replaced with much greener options.”

    In addition, Mr Christensen points out that these carbon capture technologies tend to be very costly because they are so small-scale.

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    “The advances are positive but it’s far from what is needed,” he argues.

    Another challenge is what to do with the recycled carbon. Some have suggested burying it in the ground or deep under the ocean, but the consequences of this are not fully understood.

    So it’s better to reduce the amount of emissions we produce in the first place through increased use of renewable energies, such as wind, hydro and solar power, environmentalists argue. This could reduce emissions by up to 50% of the amount needed.

    “Use all the technologies available to bend the [emissions] curve down. Then carbon capture can come in,” says Mr Christensen.

    “It could have an important role to play.”

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    The shampoo bottle saving babies from pneumonia

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    Media captionThe Bangladeshi doctor who turned a shampoo bottle into a low-cost lifesaver

    “It was my first night as an intern and three children died before my eyes. I felt so helpless that I cried.”

    In 1996, Dr Mohammod Jobayer Chisti was working in the paediatric department of the Sylhet Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh. That evening he made a promise that he would do something to stop children dying from pneumonia.

    About 920,000 babies and small children die from the disease each year, mostly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

    After two decades of research, Dr Chisti has now come up with a low-cost device with the potential to save thousands of babies’ lives.

    Expensive machines

    Pneumonia affects the lungs after infections from bacteria like streptococcus (strep throat) or a virus such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The lungs become swollen and fill with fluid or pus, reducing their ability to take in oxygen.

    In developed countries hospitals use ventilators to help children with pneumonia to breathe.

    But each machine can cost up to $15,000 (£11,000) and must be operated by specially-trained staff which can make them too expensive for hospitals in developing countries such as Bangladesh.

    The World Health Organisation’s recommended low-cost alternative treatment for severe pneumonia – low-flow oxygen – still results in one in seven children dying.

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    The pressure from the bubbles in Dr Chisti’s device keeps the small air sacs of the lungs open

    Dr Christi got his inspiration from a machine he saw while working in Melbourne, Australia. This uses continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to prevent the lungs from collapsing, helping the body to absorb enough oxygen. But it is expensive.

    When he returned to work at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, he started work on a simpler, cheaper bubble CPAP device.

    He and a colleague took a discarded plastic shampoo bottle from the intensive care unit, filled it with water and inserted one end of some plastic supply tubing.

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    If you have created a life hack or innovation that you are proud of, or spotted one while out and about on your travels, then share your picture with us by emailing [email protected], use the hashtags #Jugaad and #BBCInnovators and share your picture with @BBCWorldService, or upload your submission here.

    Learn more about BBC Innovators.

    “The children inhale oxygen from a tank and exhale through a tube which is inserted into a bottle of water producing bubbles in the water,” Dr Chisti explains.

    The pressure from the bubbles keeps the small air sacs of the lungs open.

    “We tested it on four or five patients at random. We saw a significant improvement within a few hours.”

    Successful Trial

    “Doctors worked so hard; oxygen, a pipe for food, and then a white round bottle was connected with water bubbling away,” says Kohinoor Begum, whose daughter Runa was treated by the device.

    “After the treatment, when my child recovered, I felt so happy.”

    After a two year study, Dr Chisti published the results in The Lancet magazine. It showed children treated with the bubble CPAP device had much lower death rates compared with those treated with low-flow oxygen. At a cost of just $1.25 (£1), the device appeared to cut mortality rates by 75%.

    The device also makes much more efficient use of oxygen, slashing the hospital’s annual oxygen bill from $30,000 (£23,000) to just $6,000 (£4,600).

    Dr ARM Luthful Kabir, professor of paediatrics at Ad-din Women’s Medical College, says a nationwide study is still needed but the results are encouraging.

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    Kohinoor Begum and Rezaul Karim with daughter Runa, one of 600 babies treated using the device

    “I think this innovation has great potential to reduce the mortality rate drastically because any hospital can afford this,” Dr Kabir says.

    So far, about 600 children have benefited from the low-cost life saver.

    Dr Chisti has been promoted and is now head of clinical research at his hospital but the father-of-three still finds time to play with the children on the ward.

    When asked how he feels to be fulfilling that promise he made 20 years ago he replies: “I have no language to express this.”

    He wants every hospital in developing countries to have the CPAP device available to them.

    “On that day, we can say that pneumonia-related mortality is near zero.”

    Source : [1]

    Have you been nudged? – BBC News

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    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Richard Thaler has won a Nobel prize for his research into ‘nudge’ theory

    Think the Nobel prize for economics has nothing to do with you? In some years that may well be true.

    But this year’s award has gone to Richard Thaler who, in his book Nudge, was one of the first to outline how tiny prompts can alter our behaviour.

    The Nobel judges are clearly keen on the discipline, since they awarded fellow behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman the Economics prize in 2002.

    Since when “nudge theory” has been applied to a wide range of problems.

    Here are a few ways you may have been nudged yourself.

    Fly in my bowl

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    Getty creative

    In probably the most well-known example, spillage around the toilet, an age old problem for at least half of the human race, was cut by 80% using an ingeniously simple intervention.

    First introduced at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam back in 1999, the idea was simple: etch the image of a fly in the urinal and men cannot help but take aim, saving on clean-up costs as well as alleviating unpleasantness.

    The painted porcelain was one of Prof Thaler’s early favourite examples of tweaking the environment in a way that makes us change how we behave.

    • ‘Nudge’ economist Richard Thaler wins Nobel Prize
    • Kamal Ahmed: The economics of how we live

    Taxing issues

    When David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, one of his pet projects was the “Nudge Unit” or to give it its official title: the Behaviourial Insights Team.

    It set about encouraging better behaviour amongst UK citizens in a range of ways from letting you know that other people had filled in their tax returns (so you should do yours now) to offering a more personal approach at the job centre.

    But the most eye-catching, for those on the receiving end, was what you were sent if you failed to pay your car tax.

    A big heading shouted: “Pay your tax or lose your Ford Fiesta” (or whatever car you owned) accompanied by a photograph of the untaxed car. The focused approach paid off.

    A more positive tone was taken with the wealthy failing to pay their taxes. They received letters explaining how their taxes would help improve local services, and pointing out what would disappear without funding. These tweaks saw £210m in overdue tax paid into the Treasury.

    Baby face

    Woolwich in south-east London had a problem with anti-social behaviour. During the riots in 2011 several shop fronts were smashed in.

    The following year advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, embracing the new science of behavioural economics, offered an innovative strategy.

    Knowing that even the toughest heart is melted by the sight of a infant, they spent a night with graffiti artists painting pictures of local babies’ faces onto the shutters protecting the shop windows.

    The move was credited with helping to reduce anti-social behaviour by 18% in Woolwich.

    Ringing up sales

    If you’ve ever been on the phone to a salesperson, you may well have heard one of the following:

    “Most people in your position buy this” or “This deal is only available today”.

    The first plays on our susceptibility to “social norming” – we think if others are doing it they must have a good reason.

    The second is based on loss aversion: we hate the idea of missing out.

    Thirdly, there can often be a tone of inexplicable cheeriness. Relentless positivity is catching apparently, and makes us feel good about signing up.

    Big brands have embraced the idea. For example, a team from Ogilvy and Mather has coached staff selling subscriptions to the Times and the Sunday Times to use these persuasive techniques. Did they work on you?

    Image copyright
    Getty creative

    Opting out

    In the past, people who want to donate their vital organs in the event of their death have usually been asked to “opt in” by putting their name on a register. Thanks in part to behavioural economics, there’s a growing trend to adopt policies that presume consent and ask objectors to “opt out”.

    Though the results are inconclusive it’s clear we’ve embraced the concept – that we need to design the system in a way that helps us to “do the right thing” rather than rely on individuals’ consciences.

    Likewise, we all know we need to save for our retirement, but it can be hard to summon the will-power.

    The “save more tomorrow” approach pioneered in the United States saw employees automatically signed up to pay into a pension, but starting with very small contributions to avoid loss-aversion that could make them baulk. Only later do payments rise.

    All if all this makes you feel as though the policymakers and marketers are only out to manipulate us, well at least thanks to Prof Thaler we now understand what they’re up to a little better.

    Source : [1]

    ‘I quit Google and launched a business with my mum’

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    Rahul Akerkar

    Image caption

    Munaf Kapadia and his mother Nafisa

    Munaf Kapadia runs a successful “pop up” restaurant at his family’s home in Mumbai. His mother also works as head chef.

    While watching TV one Sunday afternoon back in 2014, Munaf Kapadia had an argument with his mother that would change his life.

    The then 25-year-old Google employee wanted to watch US cartoon the Simpsons, but as usual, his mother Nafisa preferred to see her favourite Indian soap opera and switched channels.

    It got Mr Kapadia thinking.

    His mum had lots of skills, but in his view she spent too much time watching bad TV.

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    Diners usually eat Bohri food from the same large platter, or “thaal”

    Determined to get her doing something more meaningful, he struck upon an idea.

    Nafisa had always been good at cooking “Bohri” food, an Indian cuisine that is much feted, but hardly served anywhere in their home city of Mumbai.

    And so he decided to email 50 friends, inviting them for lunch at the family home.

    “We settled on a group of eight friends of friends, and served them my mom’s food,” recalls Mr Kapadia, now 28.

    “Then we started doing it every Saturday and Sunday, opening it up to the public and charging like a restaurant. That’s how The Bohri Kitchen was born.”

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    Members of the public dine at the Kapadias’ home every weekend

    Traditionally, Bohri cuisine has only been available within the Dawoodi Bohra community, a small Muslim sect that lives in parts of India and Pakistan.

    As Mr Kapadia says, “you literally had to beg Bohri friends or gatecrash Bohri weddings” to get a spoonful of it.

    It blends Gujarati, Parsi, Mughlai and Maharastrian influences, and is often enjoyed by groups of friends or families, who eat from the same large steel platter, or “thaal”.

    For his first “pop-up” lunch, Mr Kapadia charged guests 700 rupees (£8, $11) per head for a traditional seven-course banquet. By the time they had finished eating he knew the idea had potential.

    Image caption

    Mutton Khichda – goat meat cooked with dal and rice along with various Indian spices

    Typical Bohri Kitchen dishes:

    • Mutton Khichda – goat meat cooked with dal and rice along with various Indian spices
    • Chana Bateta Thulli – chick peas and potatoes cooked in a tamarind-based sauce, served with cracked wheat
    • Chicken Angara – smoked chicken in a tomato-based gravy, served with homemade Indian flatbreads

    “I was really shocked, but they actually hugged my mom. They said, ‘aunty, you have magic in your hands, this food is outstanding!’.”

    He adds: “I saw the glint in my mom’s eyes when she got that acknowledgement, which she is not used to, because we in the family take her cooking for granted.

    “That’s when I decided to just keep on doing this, I thought let’s try to keep getting new people exposed to my mother’s cooking skills.”

    Image caption

    The Bohri kitchen has launched a takeaway business

    So Mr Kapadia quit his marketing job at Google, and in January 2015 launched the “The Bohri Kitchen” as a brand.

    Thanks to word-of-mouth publicity and some good reviews, it quickly gained a reputation among adventurous young food-lovers.

    Mr Kapadia now charges 1,500 rupees per meal, typically offering lunches and occasional dinners at his parents’ home.

    He has also launched a separate takeaway and catering business, which operates through the week, and employs three members of staff from outside the family.

    The firm recently broke into profit and is now looking to open outlets across India.

    More The Boss features, which every week profile a different business leader from around the world:

    But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. For one thing, it took Mr Kapadia a while to get used to hosting strangers in his home.

    “We started a ‘no serial killer policy’, so customers can’t just book a seat, they have to ask for it,” he says. We then do a background check by calling them up and asking a few questions to make sure they’re legitimate.”

    There have been other challenges too, including convincing his parents that he wasn’t crazy for leaving his job at Google, and learning how to hire good staff.

    “My biggest challenge now is ensuring that our takeaway produces the same quality of food that my mother makes at home.”

    Image caption

    Bohri Kitchen samosas are stuffed with smoked lamb mince, coriander, onion and lemon

    Ravinder Yadav, of management consultancy Technopak Advisors, says that many Indian food businesses struggle to build a loyal customer base.

    “These days, consumers in India have plenty of options when it comes to eating out. So making sure you know who your consumer is, and creating something that they will keep coming back to, is vital, even for the biggest brands.”

    Still, he says in some respects things are getting easier.

    “Finding investment is less of a challenge in India nowadays. And the government is making it easier to do business, so it’s simpler to get the licenses you need and to meet other regulations.”

    Image copyright
    Kinjal Pandya-Wagh

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    The dessert Doodhi Halwa is made by slow-cooking calabashes in milk, with dry fruits and sugar

    India’s food services industry is also expanding fast. In the past decade, consumer spending power has grown, along with people’s appetite for eating out and ordering takeaways.

    Mr Kapadia’s mother, the hidden culinary talent behind The Bohri Kitchen, says that the business has brought out a different side of her personality.

    “I have never looked at this from a business angle, it’s just something that I love doing,” she says.

    “And when guests say my food reminds them of home, it’s amazing. I get a lot of satisfaction and happiness.”

    But has her son managed to wean her off her TV habit? Not likely, she says with a giggle.

    “I still watch all my favourite soaps while cooking for our guests.”

    You can hear an interview with Munaf Kapadia on The Big Debate on BBC Asian Network, Monday 9 October.

    Source : [1]

    How the search for a ‘death ray’ led to radar

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    Getty Images

    You can trace the extent of our reliance on air travel to many inventions. The jet engine, perhaps, or the aeroplane itself.

    But sometimes inventions need other inventions to unlock their full potential.

    For the aviation industry, that story starts with the invention of the death ray, or at least an attempt to design a death ray, back in 1935.

    Officials in the British Air Ministry were worried about falling behind Nazi Germany in the technological arms race.

    The death ray idea intrigued them: they had been offering a £1,000 prize for anyone who could zap a sheep at a hundred paces. So far, nobody had claimed it.

    But should they fund more active research? Was a death ray even possible?

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    Harry Grindell Matthews claimed to have invented a death ray in 1923, but couldn’t persuade the British government to buy it

    Unofficially, they sounded out Robert Watson Watt, of the Radio Research Station.

    And he posed an abstract maths question to his colleague Skip Wilkins.

    “Suppose, just suppose,” said Watson Watt to Wilkins, “that you had eight pints of water, 1km [3,000ft] above the ground.

    “And suppose that water was at 98F [37C], and you wanted to heat it to 105F.

    “How much radio frequency power would you require, from a distance of 5km?”


    Skip Wilkins was no fool.

    He knew that eight pints was the amount of blood in an adult human, 98F was normal body temperature and 105F was warm enough to kill you, or at least make you pass out, which – if you’re behind the controls of an aeroplane – amounts to much the same thing.

    So Wilkins and Watson Watt understood each other, and they quickly agreed the death ray was hopeless: it would take too much power.

    But they also saw an opportunity.

    Clearly, the ministry had some cash to spend on research. Perhaps Watson Watt and Wilkins could propose some alternative way for them to spend it?

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    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Robert Watson Watt played a key role in developing radar technology

    Wilkins pondered. It might be possible, he suggested, to transmit radio waves and detect – from the echoes – the location of oncoming aircraft long before they could be seen.

    Watson Watt dashed off a memo to the Air Ministry’s newly formed Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence. Would they be interested in pursuing such an idea? They would indeed.

    What Skip Wilkins was describing became known as radar.

    50 Things That Made the Modern Economy highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations that helped create the economic world.

    It is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

    As Robert Buderi describes in his book The Invention That Changed the World, the Germans, the Japanese and the Americans all independently started work on it too.

    Spectacular breakthrough

    But by 1940, it was the British who had made a spectacular breakthrough: the resonant cavity magnetron, a radar transmitter far more powerful than its predecessors.

    Pounded by Nazi bombers, Britain’s factories would struggle to put the device into production. But America’s factories could.

    For months, British leaders plotted to use the magnetron as a bargaining chip for American secrets in other fields.

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    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided Britain should share its radar research with the US

    Then Winston Churchill took power, and decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.

    Nerve-wracking journey

    Britain would simply tell the Americans what they had, and ask for help.

    So in August 1940, a Welsh physicist named Eddie Bowen endured a nerve-wracking journey with a black metal chest containing a dozen prototype magnetrons.

    First, he took a black cab across London: the cabbie refused to let the clunky metal chest inside, so Bowen had to hope it wouldn’t fall off the roof rack.

    Then, he took a long train ride to Liverpool, sharing a compartment with a mysterious, sharply dressed, military-looking man who spent the entire journey ignoring the young scientist and silently reading a newspaper.

    Then, he took a ship across the Atlantic. What if it were hit by a German U-boat? The Nazis couldn’t be allowed to recover the magnetrons; two holes were drilled in the crate to make sure it would sink if the boat did. But the boat didn’t.

    Image copyright
    MIT Museum

    Image caption

    MIT’s Radiation Laboratory went on to spawn 10 Nobel laureates

    The magnetron stunned the Americans. Their research was years off the pace.

    President Roosevelt approved funds for a new laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – uniquely, for the American War effort, administered not by the military but a civilian agency.

    Industry got involved: the very best American academics were headhunted to join Bowen and his British colleagues.

    Patchy rollout

    By any measure, MIT’s Radiation Laboratory – known as the Rad Lab – was a resounding success. It spawned 10 Nobel laureates. The radar it developed, detecting planes and submarines, helped to win the War.

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Radar played a crucial role in helping Britain and her allies win World War Two

    But urgency in times of war can quickly be lost in times of peace.

    It seems obvious that civilian aviation would need radar too, given how quickly it was expanding.

    In 1945, at the War’s end, US domestic airlines carried seven million passengers. By 1955, this figure had risen to 38 million.

    And the busier the skies, the more useful radar would be at preventing collisions.

    But rollout was slow and patchy. Some airports installed it; many didn’t.

    In most airspace, planes weren’t tracked at all. Pilots submitted their flight plans in advance, which should in theory ensure that no two planes were in the same place at the same time.

    But avoiding collisions ultimately came down to a four-word protocol: “see and be seen”.

    Disastrous crash

    On 30 June 1956, two passenger flights departed Los Angeles Airport, three minutes apart: one was bound for Kansas City, one for Chicago. Their planned flight paths intersected above the Grand Canyon, but at different heights.

    Then thunderclouds developed. One plane’s captain radioed to ask permission to fly above the storm. The air traffic controller cleared him to go to “1,000 on top” – 1,000ft above cloud cover. See and be seen.

    Nobody knows for sure what happened: planes then had no “black box” flight recorders, and there were no survivors. At just before 10:31, air traffic control heard a garbled radio transmission: “Pull up! We are going in…”

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    Image caption

    The 1956 crash was a watershed moment in the history of airline safety

    From the pattern of the wreckage, strewn for miles across the canyon floor, the planes seem to have approached each other at a 25-degree angle, presumably through a cloud.

    Investigators speculated that both pilots had been distracted by trying to find gaps in the clouds, so passengers could enjoy the scenery.

    Accidents happen. The question is what risks we’re willing to run for economic benefits.

    More from Tim Harford:

    Why did we use leaded petrol for so long?

    How the smartphone became so smart

    Battery bonanza: From frogs’ legs to mobiles and electric cars

    How economics killed the antibiotic dream

    That question is becoming pertinent again with respect to crowded skies: many people have high hopes for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

    They’re already being used for everything from film-making to crop-spraying.

    Companies such as Amazon expect the skies of our cities soon to be buzzing with grocery deliveries.

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    There have been occasions of near misses between drones and other aircraft

    Civil aviation authorities are grappling with what to approve. Drones have “sense-and-avoid” technology, and it’s pretty good, but is it good enough?

    The crash over the Grand Canyon certainly concentrated minds. If technology existed to prevent things like this, shouldn’t we make more effort to use it?

    Within two years, what’s now known as the Federal Aviation Administration was born in the United States.

    And American skies today are about 20 times busier still. The world’s biggest airports now see planes taking off and landing at an average of nearly twice a minute.

    Collisions are absurdly rare, no matter now cloudy the conditions.

    That’s thanks to many things, but it’s largely thanks to radar.

    Tim Harford writes the Financial Times’s Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

    Source : [1]

    Could a hacker hijack your connected car?

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    Getty Images

    Image caption

    What if your self-driving car took on a mind of its own?

    As more carmakers adopt “over the air (OTA)” software updates for their increasingly connected and autonomous cars, is the risk of hacker hijack also increasing?

    Imagine jumping in your car but being taken somewhere you didn’t want to go – into oncoming traffic, say, or even over a cliff.

    That may seem like an extreme scenario, but the danger is real.

    Hackers showed two years ago that they could remotely take control of a Chrysler Jeep.

    And earlier this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk warned about the dangers of hackers potentially taking control of thousands of driverless cars.

    “I think one of the biggest concerns for autonomous vehicles is somebody achieving a fleet-wide hack,” he said, speaking at a National Governors Association meeting.

    “In principle, if someone was able to… hack all the autonomous Teslas, they could say – I mean just as a prank – they could say ‘send them all to Rhode Island’ – across the United States.

    “And that would be the end of Tesla, and there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island.”

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Tesla can update its cars’ software wirelessly, but what are the risks?

    Mr Musk insists that a kill switch “that no amount of software can override” would “ensure that you gain control of the vehicle and cut the link to the servers”, thus preventing the Rhode Island scenario.

    As cars become more sophisticated, incorporating semi-autonomous features such as lane keeping, automatic braking and self parking, and their “infotainment” systems are connected to the internet, the amount of software code needed to control these systems is ballooning.

    Keeping all these software programs updated has typically required drivers to visit the dealership.

    “For automakers and their customers alike, such repair-shop visits are a huge waste of time and money, and online updates can significantly reduce this,” explains Dr Markus Heyn, board member of automotive electronics and processing supplier, Bosch.

    So OTA updates give manufacturers the ability to respond quickly as problems arise. And fixing bugs this way is safer than sending out physical USB sticks – which is what Chrysler did to patch its Jeep.

    Critics pointed out that criminals could have intercepted the USB sticks and sent out their own malware-infected versions instead.

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Can you be sure your self-driving car is taking you where you want to go?

    It’s hardly surprising then that there are strong moves in the industry towards OTA updates, which mean that new features can be added, and bugs patched, in just an hour or two, all without inconvenience to the owner.

    General Motors, for example, says it expects to be updating engine software using its OnStar network by the end of this decade, thanks to a new electrical architecture for its vehicles.

    Meanwhile, Bosch is planning to start offering OTA updates through control units and in-car communication infrastructure developed in-house, distributing the updates via its “internet of things” (IoT) cloud.

    Research consultancy IHS Markit estimates that by 2022, 160 million vehicles globally will have the capability to upgrade their onboard computer systems over the air.

    Electric carmaker Tesla recently demonstrated the benefits of OTA updates when Hurricane Irma was threatening Florida early in September.

    As people were warned they should evacuate, Tesla owners were given an unexpected and potentially life-saving freebie – an extra 45 miles of range.

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Florida Tesla owners fleeing Hurricane Irma were given extra range via an over-the-air update

    The ability to go further without a recharge was already built into the cars, but was unavailable to drivers until the company unlocked extra battery capacity.

    “We have a certain number of cars which we sell at a 60kW [kilowatt] price point, but for reasons of manufacturing efficiency we install a 75kW battery, which people can upgrade,” a spokeswoman explains.

    “A customer wrote to us and asked if it would be possible to increase it temporarily as they were planning their route out of Florida.”

    Tesla unlocked the extra power by sending an OTA update to the cars via wi-fi or 4G.

    But there’s no doubt that OTA updates present a new set of risks.

    For a start, we’ve all, at one time or another, attempted to update the software on our computer or phone, only for the process to go wrong.

    An unusable car could be rather more of a problem than a “bricked” – or unusable – phone.

    More Technology of Business

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    Getty Images

    In 2015, 15% of car recalls in the US were related to software errors, up from 5% four years before.

    When an update fails it’s automatically re-sent, but this doesn’t always have the desired effect. On one occasion early last year, a Tesla software update designed to add an “autopilot” feature is believed to have affected the climate control of thousands of vehicles.

    Then there is the risk of “man-in-the-middle” attacks – hackers intercepting the updates in transit.

    This is why extra special care is taken over OTA updates, says Robert Moran, an expert in car connectivity and security at NXP Semiconductors.

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    You wouldn’t want hackers taking control of your car on this road…or any other for that matter

    “There are checks at each stage of the update process,” he says. “Updated software coming over the air is going to be received in parallel.

    “Only once it’s passed a number of security checks – Does it have validation? Is it from a trusted source? – is the new software actually used.

    “It’s at a different level to what we have with laptops today.”

    Manufacturers are also addressing the hacker threat by isolating the various systems in the car so that, for example, the radio is isolated from the steering wheel, the powertrain from the brakes – each system protected by its own encryption.

    “Ultimately, as cars have become more connected, it does potentially create a bigger target,” admits Mr Moran, “and hackers have always altered their techniques as technology changes.”

    But, he argues: “The fact that we can provide over-the-air updates is a security feature in itself, as it gives us the ability to respond and make changes.”

    Carmakers know that consumer trust is crucial, so security it paramount. The big question is whether they are cleverer than the hackers.

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    Source : [1]