BY TERI SEQUEIRA:
Space does not allow me to comment on all the exciting IT applications currently being explored on 2018 – including the Internet Of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data mining.
Suffice it to say 2018 continues to be a time of great innovation in the evolution of technology. I guess I cannot let this period pass without reference to one of the largest sporting events in human history – the Fifa World Cup.
So, take a quick break from mobile or laptop streaming of your favourite games, constant reminders on the latest results, and ongoing web analysis and predictions on every game played remember, all this brought to you by recent IT and telecommunications developments) to read this.
Did you know that SAP – the German-based software giant – has introduced Sap Sports One, that is being used by the German national team.
Sap Sports One is a solution that helps sports teams and organisations digitalise performance management by co-ordinating all administrative, training and team management, scouting and medical processes.
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to collect and analyse the vast amounts of data on the team and their opponents – they aim to identify potential weaknesses in their opponents and prepare coaches and teams – with tailor-made packages on upcoming matches.
This, they hope, will give them a speedy tactical advantage in the games they play. Alas, this did not work to their advantage in their opening world cup game which resulted in a shock defeat by Mexico and eventually a shock departure from the World Cup.
But ignore these tactics at your own peril. I recall writing in this column back in 2014 – about the use of big data and data mining, which they acknowledged helped them win the last World Cup. Of course, video technology is also used for the World Cup in the first ever use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) team.
This team is centrally based in Moscow and live video feeds (from at least 30 specialised cameras) are provided from all twelve stadiums via a fibre optic network. The referee on the field talks to the team via a fibre-linked radio system.
On a related note for reluctant adopters of this technology, please note that the VAR cannot make the final decision on any event in the matches played. Either the referee will request a video review, or the VAR can alert the on-field referee to an incident that he and his team may have not been aware of.
Some other positive news from the continent now. Zimbabwe has announced that it will be cutting its mobile tariffs from July this year to less than half the current charges – from 12.5 cent (approximately K94.00) to 5 cents (K38.00) per megabyte. They have also reduced e-payment charges, which will be passed on by the banks.
These reductions will result in a vast reduction of data services and related increase in internet activity by users. Rwanda continues to lead the continent in innovation (can you believe this country suffered a devastating civil war just over a decade ago?) and have launched a $30 million Research and Innovation Fund, which it pledges to increase, year-on-year in the future.
This fund – established by a loan from the Africa Development Bank – will be focused mainly on supporting research and research-based innovation and be used to bolster employment and business opportunities for tech entrepreneurs and support up to 150 companies.
Kenya had also jumped on the innovation development bandwagon and set aside $30 million to implement a Universal Service Fund for broadband and voice infrastructure.
Using open tendering, private public partnerships and non-governmental organisation sponsoring, some of the projects looked at include increasing voice coverage in remote areas and facilitating a 5Mbps broadband infrastructure to schools in the country.
Interestingly, this money was sourced from the revenue taxes collected by government from telecom and ISPs. I really do hope Malawi can take a leaf out of their book and look forward to writing with pride on similar initiatives in the future.