Beyond open data: Insights through analytics

city analysis (Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com)

The federal government is taking big steps to share information and make data more free and open. Thanks to legislation like the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, agencies are now required to post standardized spending data on the USASpending.gov site. Other initiatives, like the Government Publishing Office’s GovInfo.gov, let citizens use full-text searching and metadata to sift through decades of digitized content. It seems as if we are entering a new chapter of open data. But what, exactly can governments do with this data on hand? How do citizens and public officials make the most of this unprecedented level of access to information?

Analytics are what allows government to use “data as a flashlight, not as a hammer,” according to “A Practical Guide to Analytics for Governments,” recently produced by the team at the SAS Institute and published by Wiley.

The book celebrates information sharing and the wide range of data available on the municipal level in particular — from smart streetlights that also collect info on pedestrian foot traffic to rail equipment outfitted with sensors so that repairs can be made as needed, rather than on a maintenance schedule. (An innovation that Washingtonians inconvenienced by D.C. Metro’s months of “SafeTrack” repairs might envy). Overlaying of municipal code enforcement and police activity data reveals unexpected correlations between property neglect and crime, and having studied algebra in high school is connected to markedly higher income achievement later in life.

“Armed with insights” from shared data, officials in Arizona’s Pinal County used the strength of analytics to more effectively understand already-existing health data in a way that would better protect the public from heat stroke. Investigators were surprised to discover that analytics revealed the highest threat of heat-related illness was not found among the elderly — as had been expected — but instead, among the young people of this Arizona community.

Small agencies can benefit from analytics as much as larger ones.  The book’s authors make the case that smaller cities may be best positioned to take advantage of technology advances because there is “less infrastructure to retrofit.” Since only 300 U.S. cities have populations that exceed 100,000, they add, the opportunities for data-driven innovation are substantial.

State-level open-data success stories are also hailed, most especially the example of  North Carolina, which “opened its 2017 budget for citizen scrutiny” with a new visual analytics tool.

But more important than making data itself available, the authors argue, is recognizing the challenge of melding data into analytics. After all, they assert, “typical government IT projects are built in a siloed approach,” which means that while agencies have torrents of data, often not a drop is shared. Teachers are not given the opportunity to proactively provide remedial attention to students. Police don’t have background information to help them approach a suspect with either greater caution or more compassion.  The book also looks at applications in transportation, public health, child welfare, prescription drug abuse, fraud prevention, and it methodically lays out both the depth of missed opportunities and the possibility of a brighter future.

As government at every level updates its IT assets, the book warns CIOs that “[a]cquiring technology for technology’s sake … rarely achieves the expected outcome.” Instead, the book makes the case that the emphasis should be on “building an analytics-driven government” and leveraging data to “build stronger analytics capabilities.”

“A Practical Guide to Analytics for Government” lives up to its title and concludes with a specific suggested solution. Establishing an official center of analytics, the authors write, can help agencies create a keen awareness of the importance of “building common competency … [that] enhances government analytic success through shared experience.”

Some cities have begun to work in that direction, and the City of Boston’s Citywide Analytics Team and the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics are hailed for seeking “innovative ways to leverage data.”

Such efforts could even unite an otherwise polarized political community, the authors suggest, since “both Republicans and Democrats value opening the public’s business to citizens.” Indeed, they contend that during a time when the citizens increasingly distrust political leadership, “open data can . . . promote legitimacy.”

More importantly, though, the authors stress that governments at all levels should be “breaking down barriers to sharing and accessing information … to ensure frontline workers, management, and policymakers have the knowledge they need.”   After all, as Shawn P. McCarthy, research director of IDC Government Insights, is quoted as saying about this book, “in many ways, modern government is information.”

[“Source-gcn”]

Fingerprint Firms Unlocking New Markets Beyond Smartphones

Fingerprint Firms Unlocking New Markets Beyond Smartphones

A tap of a finger could soon suffice to identify credit card shoppers and rail commuters, offering areas of new business for specialist companies which have benefited from the use of such technology in smartphones.Sweden’s Fingerprint Cards (FPC) sees biometric smart cards those using fingerprint identification becoming its fastest growing market as early as 2018, having already become the market leader in a crowded sector for supplying such sensors for smartphones.

Others within the industry are not convinced the smart card business will take off so quickly, prompting questions about whether FPC can maintain its runaway rise in valuation.

FPC’s share price surged around 1,600 percent last year as demand for fingerprint sensors in phones soared after Apple, which uses its own in-house supplier, helped to popularise the technology. FPC now has a market value of around $4.1 billion (roughly Rs. 27,302 crores).

Advocates say the technology offers greater security and simplicity when compared to techniques such as using pin codes to confirm identification.

The fingerprint sensor business has a handful of companies supplying significant volumes today, with an equal number planning to enter the market. Three are based in the Nordic region where technology companies have thrived.Needing to maintain its momentum, FPC says it is in initial talks with potential big customers for smart cards. It declines to name names at this stage.

“Our ambition for smart cards, and all other segments, is that we shall continue to be number one,” FPC’s Chief Executive Jorgen Lantto told Reuters.

Silicon Valley firm Synaptics, the closest rival to FPC in sensors for smartphones, is more cautious on new markets.

“It’s hard for me to project market share in a segment of the market (when) we’re not sure when it’s going to happen,” said Anthony Gioeli, vice president of marketing in the biometrics division of Synaptics.

Sascha Behlendorf, a card systems product manager at Germany’s Giesecke & Devrient, one of the top three smart card makers, expects widespread adoption of biometrics in smart cards could take some five to 10 years.

Range of uses
Gothenburg-based FPC has been around for almost two decades, building a technology business based on an old Swedish fingerprinting patent. That left it well placed when the market expanded and it has also benefited by hiring staff from Nokia and Ericsson as their mobile phone businesses declined.

Analysts say expectations for new markets have helped to underpin the huge leap in valuation for FPC.

However, Carnegie analyst Havard Nilsson this week cut his recommendation for FPC to “sell” from “hold”, citing what he called unwarranted share price appreciation and repeated his target price of 450 crowns. The shares traded at 524 crowns on Thursday.

“Given that smartphones should constitute 60-70 percent of the global addressable market (in 2020), we do not believe new verticals, such as smart cards, will be able to compensate for competitive pressure in consumer electronics,” Nilsson wrote.

He sees earnings per share peaking at 37 crowns in 2018.

Beyond payments, biometric smart cards could be used to allow access to buildings and IT-systems, according to FPC. Keyless entry to cars is another potential major market, as are wearable products such as watches or wristbands serving as a substitute identity card. FPC includes such applications in its forecasts for “other segments” of business.

FPC sees a total addressable market for this part of its business of roughly 100 million sensors in 2017 and around 500 million in 2018. It is the only player so far to make specific forecasts for these new markets.

“We talk to a lot of players and companies come to us. There is substance behind our numbers,” Lantto said, adding that FPC has held talks with a handful of big potential smart card clients since last autumn.

Most suppliers of fingerprint sensors, including FPC, use 3D imaging technology for recognition of a fingerprint, while Next Biometrics in Norway uses heat sensing technology.

IDEX, another Norwegian competitor, roughly shares FPC’s forecasts for segments beyond smartphones for the coming few years, Chief Financial Officer Henrik Knudtzon said.

IDEX, which last summer entered a partnership with an unnamed global payments company for biometric applications, is integrating its sensors into smart cards with partners and expects shipments to start towards the end of this year, Knudtzon said.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Fingerprint Cards, Internet, Mobiles, Tablets, Biometrics, Fingerprint sensors
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Periscope Producer Extends the Live Streaming Service Beyond Phones

Periscope Producer Extends the Live Streaming Service Beyond PhonesTwitter is taking the smartphone shackles off its live-video service Periscope in its latest attempt to broaden its audience.

The Periscope Producer feature announced Thursday will let media companies and other users pipe live video feeds directly into Twitter, without using a smartphone to record the images. Since its debut early last year, Periscope had been confined to live video feeds taken on a smartphone.

During Producer’s testing phase last week, a Florida television station showing live video on its website used the new tool to redistribute the same feeds on Twitter. To start, Producer will be limited to a small group of media companies such as Disney’s ABC News and major brands such as Louis Vuitton. Others can apply for approval at http://t.co/periscopeproducer.

Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykour said Producer will be available to all comers soon, something that he acknowledged could lead to unauthorized redistribution of live video. Piracy has been an issue dogging Periscope since people began using the service to broadcast live video of movies and TV shows with their smartphones.

The Periscope extension ups the ante on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s bet that the increasing popularity of online video will help widen the messaging service’s appeal.Twitter already has been streaming more news, entertainment and sports events, including the National Football League’s Thursday Night games for 10 weeks during the season. Twitter hopes to build a following beyond people who rely on the service to tweet their thoughts and keep tabs on what’s happening around the world. Dorsey sees Twitter evolving into the go-to place for watching live video in a digital town square where people can share their opinions with each other.

Internet companies young (Snapchat) and old (Facebook) are scrambling to get on the live video train, though there are no easy ways to make advertising money off of them yet. That’s coming, though. Some companies are already experimenting with livestreaming for marketing purposes. Automaker General Motors, for example, launched out its electric Chevy Bolt EV using Facebook Live earlier this year. Media outlets, meanwhile, are livestreaming coverage of the presidential debates in ways not seen in any previous election.

With the latest move, Periscope joins other livestreaming services such as Twitch and YouTube that allow for broadcasts from sources beyond users’ smartphones. Facebook, meanwhile, has so far stuck to a mobile-only strategy. But even with Periscope’s expanded capability, Facebook has an advantage with a larger audience.

Since the end of 2014, Twitter has picked up just 15 million monthly users to expand its audience to 313 million people through June. During the same stretch, Facebook gained 319 million users to extend its reach beyond 1.7 billion people.

In an effort to distinguish Twitter from Facebook, Dorsey has been trying to position it as the “people news network” – though with little success since he replaced Dick Costolo as CEO 15 months ago.

Things have been looking so bleak that Twitter’s board last month hired investment bankers to woo suitors that might be interested in buying the San Francisco company, according to published reports that cited unnamed people familiar with the matter. The prospective bidders included Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., as well as Apple Inc., Salesforce.com and Walt Disney Co.

The possibility of a sale tantalized investors until other media reports made it seem unlikely that Twitter will strike a deal soon. With a sale apparently off the table, the company’s stock has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the past week. The shares fell 20 cents to $17.85 in early afternoon trading Thursday.

Tags: Periscope, Periscope Producer, Twitter, Jack Dorsey, Apps, Social
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Tinder Looks Beyond Dating With Launch of Tinder Social in India, 5 Other Countries

Tinder Looks Beyond Dating With Launch of Tinder Social in India, 5 Other Countries

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tinder Social is launching in India and five other countries
  • This feature allows groups to meet new friends and make plans
  • India is the biggest market for Tinder in Asia

Tinder is known to most people as the hookup app, but a new update that’s now rolling out in India, along with the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, adds a feature that’s all about hanging out with your friends. Confused? It’s quite simple really – a new feature, called Tinder Social, allows you to make groups with one to three other friends. These groups last until 12 noon the following day. Once the group has been made, you can go back to swiping, only now, you might see some other groups as well.

If you – or any of the other members of your group – swipes to match with another group, and then any member of that group swipes right on your group in turn, then you’re matched, and the two groups are merged. Then, you can all chat with each other, make plans, and hang out.

According to Tinder India head Taru Kapoor, who spoke to Gadgets 360 before the launch of Tinder Social, the new feature will help people to make friends and plan activities, and “offer users more ways to expand their social circle.”

According to the company, users in Australia, where the feature was first tested, have used Tinder Social to organise pub crawls and make plans to attend concerts.

“Tinder Social is designed to make it as easy as possible to plan your night, get out into the real world and meet new people,” says Sean Rad, CEO and co-founder of Tinder. “The new feature takes the Tinder experience to a new level, offering our users more ways to expand their social circles and interact with potential matches.”

Privacy, Hooking Up, and evolving with India
When Tinder Social first launched in Australia, it was switched on by default. This caused a privacy mess, because users would see a list of all their Facebook friends using Tinder when they chose to create a group using Tinder Social. Now, with the official launch, it is opt-in, solving one of the big issues it had. Users can create a group by selecting friends, who also have to opt-in; anyone can leave a group at any time. When you create a group, you can also assign a status from suggested activities. Users who don’t opt in to Tinder Social won’t be added to any groups.

tinder_social_opting_in.jpgKapoor doesn’t see Tinder as being an app about ‘hooking up’.

“Our vision is social discovery, whether it’s making friends or dating or forming relationships,” said Kapoor. “[Tinder] Social is a part of that vision. Sometimes we interact with people one on one, and at other times we make friends in groups. With social we bring another part of the experience to the app.”

Although Tinder won’t reveal the number of users it has in India, it’s clearly a big market to bring the new feature here before so many other countries. “India is the largest market in Asia, and in the top five markets in terms of growth globally,” said Kapoor. “It’s one of our most exciting markets right now, and so we believed that we should bring Social here soon.”

In fact, while Tinder only launched officially in India recently, it’s been in use here for around three years now, growing organically, Kapoor said. And in that time, it has made a mark on the app as well, she added.

“We do take feedback from our users and listen to them very carefully,” said Kapoor. “So for example we added the job and education details to the profile, which was something that a lot of users from India had requested.”

Tags: Dating apps, Taru Kapoor, Tinder, Tinder Social

 

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