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  • India is the third most polluted nation much of it derived from vehicle exhaust gases. As such, there is an urgent need to address this problem through improved transport infrastructure and technology. One possible way of reducing the number of vehicles on the roads and so lower pollution somewhat is through car-sharing on the daily commute. However, a parallel concept of shared taxi rides might offer a similar reduction in pollution by reducing the need for personal car ownership.

    Writing in the International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets, Pooja Goel of the University of Delhi and Piali Haldar of Sharda University, discuss the potential and acceptance of shared ride-hailing in India. Projections suggest that shared hail-riding will account for more than a third of all car miles travelled. This estimate was made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which may well curtail the adoption of shared transport in the short term and push this date further into the future.

    The present study focuses on the perceived benefits of shared ride-hailing services and shows how educating the public in the benefits of such an approach to transport might nudge them to abandon car ownership or to aspiring to car ownership. Future studies may well highlight the effects of perceived risks and trust on intention to participate in sharing mobility.

    Goel, P. and Haldar, P. (2020) 'Shared ride-hailing service in India: an analysis of consumers' intention to adopt', Int. J. Business and Emerging Markets, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.336–353.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBEM.2020.109598

  • Lots of people can read quickly and then there are readers who have learned techniques known as speed reading. This allows a reader to get through printed text at a much higher than normal rate, sometimes as fast as several hundred words per minute. A collaboration between researchers in Italy and Spain has demonstrated that one particular speed-reading technique has a tradeoff in comprehension at that kind of reading rate when it is sustained at more than 250 words per minute for five minutes or more.

    Francesco Di Nocera of the Department of Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy and colleagues there and in Spain have looked at Spritz an app that allows one to speed read by offering rapid serial visual presentation. They tested readers' comprehension of a short piece of text when they used Spritz to read at rates of 250, 350, and 450 words per minute.

    Given that comprehension is the main goal of reading not simply the need to scan through a stream of words, the team suggests that users should be made aware that speed reading for five minutes or more even at just 250 words per minute for most users will lead to a deficit in their understanding of what they have "read". Such an insight might also be worth noting among those people using Spritz and similar software on their smartphone or other mobile device who have dyslexia, visual impairment, and other problems so that those people are fully aware of the limitations they might face in understanding a piece of text. Given that the app has been used to address several reading difficulty issues by educators, this work could provide a foundation for improving its use by lots of disparate readers.

    Ricciardi, O., Calvani, G., Palmero, F., Juola, J.F. and Di Nocera, F. (2020) 'Speed reading using Spritz has a cost: limits when reading a short text', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.161–173.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2020.109594

  • In the age of plastic waste, the environmentally conscious are hoping to replace many of the common materials, such as expanded polystyrene in everyday objects with sustainable and recyclable materials. Now, researchers in China report successful crash tests of a new bicycle safety helmet that uses honeycombed and corrugated cardboard instead of polymer foam to provide protection.

    The team describes details of the design, its environmental benefits and the positive results from crash-test simulations. Bei Li, Haiyan Li, Shihai Cui, Lijuan He, and Shijie Ruan of the Centre for Injury Biomechanics and Vehicle Safety, at Tianjin University of Science and Technology in Tianjin provide details in the International Journal of Vehicle Safety.

    For youngsters on cycles, accidents often end with a blow to the head, which can be fatal or even lead to life-changing injuries and disability. As such all cyclists, young and old are encouraged to wear a safety helmet that will offer some degree of protection should they fall from their bicycle in any kind of accident and risk an impact to the head. Indeed, children's head injury and loss of consciousness has been shown to be 63 and 86 percent less, respectively, when helmets are worn.

    The team has now demonstrated that the same safety profile might be possible with cardboard crash helmets that have the added benefit of being fabricated from sustainable resources and precluding the addition of yet more plastic waste to the environment.

    Li, B., Li, H., Cui, S., He, L. and Ruan, S. (2020) 'Biomechanical performance of a bicycle helmet design on a six-year-old head impact protection', Int. J. Vehicle Safety, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.197–213.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJVS.2020.109217

  • Inevitably, the rapid spread of an emergent and potentially lethal virus around the world has led to huge disruption of normal life. With talk of a new-normal in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we do not yet have any way of knowing what that might be. Work published in the International Journal of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation has looked at the effect of the pandemic on the phenomenon of research innovation and commercialization.

    Alberto Boretti of the College of Engineering at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, explains that the economic downturn we are experiencing as the pandemic circulates will have a detrimental effect on almost all research and development budgets. He suggests that the pharmaceutical industry may well receive special funds given its unique position in being an essential part of the fight against the current pandemic and the need for vigilance and preparedness for the next emergent pathogen. He also suggests that the health sector as well as surveillance and defense, communications, digital markets, and distance education may also see some relief from governments and funding bodies. Investment in almost every other area of R&D is expected to plummet.

    With no vaccine expected to be available until at least 2021 and no targeted antiviral drugs, it has been necessary to attempt to control the disease through political and legal controls, such as curfews, halting sports and entertainment, massively reduced air travel, social lockdowns, social distancing, and other measures. However, the so-called "second wave" is becoming apparent in the UK at the time of writing.

    Many other nations have not achieved real control of the virus where strict lockdowns were entirely unfeasible for geographical and sociological reasons such as population density, a lack of protective infrastructure, and poor water and food security. Natural disasters, such as forest fires and civil unrest following episodes of police brutality, and the ongoing climate crisis have also been part of the undercurrent of 2020. What impact these have had on the ease with which the virus spreads is for future retrospective studies to determine.

    The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has anticipated international commerce to fall by 13% to 32% in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disturbs normal economic activity and life around the globe, Boretti says. Regarding these predictions proposed only a few weeks ago, it is likely the impact will be even worse than the worst-case scenario considered, he adds. The sharp decline in gross domestic product (GDP) will have a negative impact on R&D expenditure, as it always does. The opportunity to innovate and commercialize new products will decline enormously. "The future for research in 2020 does not look bright at all," Boretti concludes.

    Boretti, A. (2020) 'COVID-19 effect on the research-innovation-commercialisation phenomena', Int. J. Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.73–82.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJRIC.2020.109386

  • Access to drinking water is a fundamental human right, argues research published in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies. Jaroslaw Kowalski of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, in Lublin, Poland, suggests that climate change, population growth, and burgeoning industrial and agricultural complexes with their growing demands for water mean increasingly that a lack of access to drinking water is an increasingly serious problem for millions of people.

    The protection of human rights has been an important problem in the modern world and it is addressed by governments, international organisations, non-governmental organizations, and ordinary people," explains Kowalski. "Changes in the world trigger changes in the way we think and perceive human rights. The challenges of the 1950s and 1960s are sometimes still relevant, but there are many new issues that we must face today.

    Kowalski suggests that we need to enshrine in international and local law the concept of access to drinking water as a fundamental human right. Once it is accepted as a human right, the rules and regulations that affect our response to climate change and how we regulate water usage in industry and agriculture with respect to water supply can be more effectively implemented to ensure that nobody dies of thirst.

    Kowalski, J. (2020) 'The right to water as a fundamental human right in Poland and worldwide', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.233-246.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2020.109251

  • Friends' movie recommendations are welcomed by a lot of film buffs, but sometimes you might want to catch a movie that fits your taste better, based on particular criteria so that you get something that you will almost certainly enjoy. Enter the movie recommendation engine.

    Writing in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining, researchers from Nigeria have turned to a statistical tool known as Pearson's correlation coefficient to help them build a new type of movie recommendation engine. Bolanle Adefowoke Ojokoh of the Department of Computer Science at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria, and colleagues explain that their approach brings artificial intelligence to personal recommendations. The coefficient allowing collaborative filtering of data based not only on numerical analysis of the data but also the determination of linear relationships among users.

    The team tested their approach on datasets assimilate from hundreds of local video shops and information extracted from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and ratings by those who have already seen the hundreds of movies analysed. They also added a parental control function to make it child friendly. When they had volunteers test the recommendations the system generated they found that almost 96 percent of users found the recommendations agreeable.

    "The system allows new users to be given more personalised recommendations. It also allows users with similar rating patterns to influence the prediction of items," the team writes. "Our approach offers a more efficient way of managing the cold-start problem in movie recommendation," they conclude.

    Ojokoh, B.A., Aboluje, O.O. and Igbe, T. (2020) 'A collaborative content-based movie recommender system', Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.298–320.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBIDM.2020.109293

  • Researchers in China have applied an array of sensors, an electronic nose, that can sniff bouquet of rice wine and offer an estimate of the vintage. Writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, the scientists explain how their artificial olfactory system takes data from sensors sampling a rice wine and uses a computer to carry out a statistical analysis of the signals to give an essentially 100 percent accurate age for the wine.

    Wei Ding, Peiyi Zhu, and Ya Gu of the Changshu Institute of Technology in Jiangsu explain how they can quickly record a profile of the volatile substances present in a rice wine sample using a Taguchi Gas Sensor. The data from samples of known vintage can then be used to train an algorithm that applies a range of analytical statistical methods to find a correlation between the chemical profile of those volatile compounds and the age of the rice wine. When the system is then presented with a sample of an unknown wine the training process works in reverse to extract a profile and suggest a vintage.

    The team reports that their early tests using Linear Discriminant Analysis as the statistical method could give them an accuracy a little short of 100 percent and at that level could not distinguish between wines that were made within a year or so of each other. They used a more sophisticated analysis based on a Back Propagation Neural Network and this improved the results so that they could give a vintage for any rice wine sample to the precise year it was produced, thus with 100 percent accuracy. Knowing the precise year in which a wine is produced is key to its value and to its consumption.

    Ding, W., Zhu, P. and Gu, Y. (2020) 'Age identification of Chinese rice wine using electronic nose', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 63, No. 3, pp.185–190.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2020.109345

  • The use of social media in higher education has the potential to improve student engagement in world affairs but educators must ensure that those they teach have freedom of choice regarding which platforms they utilise and to ensure that they are taught the pros and the cons, the benefits and the pitfalls.

    Critically, there is a need to strive to avoid the emergence of so-called slacktivism, wherein involvement in the political realm and beyond relies entirely on social media and does not necessarily invoke real effort or commitment on the part of the student as they emerge into the world beyond academia.

    Writing in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, Sarah Jernigan of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, USA, discusses the relationship between social media and social change in the classroom. "A challenge exists for educators to acknowledge social media in students' personal lives, while strategically using it in the classroom," Jernigan writes, "By approaching social media as a tool to connect both students' personal and professional lives, educators can maximise the use of social media."

    The study suggests that a course on social media and its role in activism can make a difference in the lives of students provided they are made aware of slacktivism. Discussion and repetition of the key points, as with any educational program, would help the students learn about how social, media and activism might change lives and perhaps even have a positive effect on social injustices. Perhaps the broadest of Jernigan's conclusions is that "College courses can influence how students view the world and impact how they may create social change."

    Jernigan, S. (2020) 'How to change the world: the relationship between social media and social change in the classroom', Int. J. Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp.169–180.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSMILE.2020.109215

  • Even in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, finding a good parking space can be a painful task. Now, work published in the International Journal of Sensor Networks, offers a new approach to parking space allocation based on a distributed computing algorithm.

    Yong Chen of the Business School at Zhejiang University City College, in Hangzhou, China, and colleagues explain that parking space allocation, while perhaps not common in some cities, is an essential part of ensuring drivers can all be accommodated in the busiest of metropolises. The team's approach utilises a driver's navigation system to pinpoint them in the city, to glean their intended destination and to plot a route for them to follow to an available and hopefully optimal parking space. Such a distributed algorithm benefits from knowing where all of the users are, their intended destinations, and the availability of parking spaces across the city.

    The team has demonstrated proof of principle under different levels of traffic and parking demand ratios. They point out that their distributed algorithm approach is most suitable for scenarios with high demand and high supply to demand ratio. It works better than other centralised algorithms that either work from the perspective of a single driver or a single car park. The distributed approach offers far greater adaptability, the team says, and provides more reliable results.

    Chen, G., Pang, H., Xu, H., Yang, W. and Chen, Y. (2020) 'A parking space allocation algorithm based on distributed computing', Int. J. Sensor Networks, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp.250–258.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSNET.2020.109196

  • Research published in the International Journal of Global Warming this month suggests that the models for understanding pandemic disease and predicting their likely course need to consider the idea that it is a dialogue with nature rather than a monologue. Global lockdowns of the kind that were put in place at the time Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation might then be avoided or carried out differently if such understanding is clearer.

    Alberto Boretti of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, suggests that as more data became available as the Covid-19 pandemic spread it quickly became obvious to epidemiologists that the mortality plugged into the models that led to specific decisions regarding lockdown was a lot higher than the actual evidence suggested. The daily death rate, he writes, was about twenty times lower than predicted. In addition, the number of people that encounter the virus and do not become infected was much higher than the earlier modelling assumed. The infection fatality rate is now estimated at between 0.12% and 0.2%; this is an exceptionally long way from the 0.9% presumed in the early models, Boretti writes.

    The evidence suggests that while the initial response may well have been sensible, once it became more apparent how the disease infected people, how it spread, and the levels of morbidity and mortality, the models should have been updated in a timelier manner. Boretti suggests that how we look at an emergent that becomes pandemic requires a very different approach to the one we have taken with Covid-19 so far. The model predictions must be constantly updated through validation as experimental evidence emerge and it is on the latest data that policy measures should be based not past results that have so obviously proven to be wrong as the pandemic progressed.

    We must learn this lesson to help us tackle the current pandemic and to be ready to face the next one more effectively.

    Boretti, A. (2020) 'Pandemic modelling is a dialogue with nature, not a monologue', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp.407–417.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2020.109273

News

New Editor for International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance

Dr. Matteo Rossi from the University of Sannio in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance.

New Editor for Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development

Prof. Zafar U. Ahmed from the Academy for Global Business Advancement in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development.

New Editor for International Journal of Creative Computing

Associate Prof. Andy Connor from the Aukland University of Technology in New Zealand has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Creative Computing.

New Editor for International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering

Associate Prof. Jianxin Li from Deakin University in Australia has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering.

New Editor for International Journal of Nuclear Law

Associate Prof. Jakub Handrlica from Charles University in the Czech Republic has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Nuclear Law.