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- Modular news gathering
The use of small processing modules can significantly reduce overheads on computing systems with limited resources available to them when large amounts of data must nevertheless be processed. Research by a team in Greece described in the International Journal of Web Engineering and Technology shows how that approach can be used for content aggregation, information extraction, sentiment tagging, and visualisation tasks.
Iraklis Varlamis and Dimitrios Michail of the Department of Informatics and Telematics at Harokopio University of Athens and Pavlos Polydoras and Panagiotis Tsantilas of Palo Ltd in Kokkoni, Greece, have demonstrated how this modular approach might function well on the social media and news analytics platform, PaloAnalytics. The team shows how their proposed architecture can easily withstand the pressures of increased content load when an issue goes viral on social media, such as when a major event takes place. The micro-modules that replace the monolithic architecture of conventional data-processing systems can quickly release unused resources when the content load reaches its normal flow.
The researchers point out that even from the early days of primitive web crawlers that became the foundation of search engines and other related tools, it was recognized that distributed processing is the only viable way to taming the vast quantities of textual data being generated even way back then. Today, the scale is almost unimaginable with many petabytes of data to be assimilated, aggregated, processed, indexed, and annotated with meaning. The vast realms of the web and social media systems offer us a rich seam to be tapped for information and knowledge if the tools can be built to cope with the bits and bytes.
The team's tests so far were based on analysis of 1500 websites, 10000 blogs, forums, hundreds of thousands of public Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube updates, across six European nations and in six different languages. Their work shows where improvement might be made to build a powerful analytical tool that would be scalable and allow us to soon mine those enormous knowledge seams efficiently and in an effective way.
Varlamis, I., Michail, D., Polydoras, P. and Tsantilas, P. (2020) 'A distributed architecture for large scale news and social media processing', Int. J. Web Engineering and Technology, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp.383–406.
- Mediterranean migrants
Glenda Garelli of the School of Geography, University of Leeds and Martina Tazzioli of the Department of Politics at Goldsmiths University, UK, have investigated migration "containment" in the Mediterranean. They provide details of their findings in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.
The lot of the asylum seeker, the political migrant, is not a happy one. There is an ongoing migrant crisis around the world. The current work focuses on the European perspective where hundreds of thousands of people have over many years fled the country of their birth in the wake of political upheaval and the activities of dictatorial regimes, following serious economic strife, and to escape natural disaster. Unfortunately, the nations within Europe to which the migrants flee in the hope of claiming asylum and a new life are not handling the crisis well.
Many asylum seekers find themselves trapped at sea on rescue boats that scoop them up from makeshift and unsafe vessels, others find themselves turned back to their homeland where they might face serious repercussions, such as imprisonment, torture, and worse. Garelli and Tazzioli explain that "borderwork" in this region has increasingly focused on smuggling activities to achieve migration containment goals.
They suggest that there has been a triple-stranded evolution of the politics surrounding containment of migrants in the central Mediterranean, specifically the sea corridor that connects Libya and Italy. The first strand, is the practice of blocking migrants at sea upon rescue, the team refers to this as the politics of migrant kidnapping. The second strand is the statecraft of civil society whereby those who rescue migrants whose boats are in distress become entwined in smuggling organisation by policy so that rescuers find their activities criminalised. The final strand is the way in which smuggling networks are made part of border enforcement practices.
Fundamentally, these three strands are woven together to the detriment of the migrant. Often rescued migrants criminialised by the smugglerisation of their rescuers are returned home by the Libyan Coast Guard with European support. This means that the nations that would otherwise provide a new home for the migrants need not accept these desperate people nor expel them in "push-back operations". Rescue and capture must be separated to allow those in need a chance of a new life.
Garelli, G. and Tazzioli, M. (2020) 'Rescuing, kidnapping, and criminalising. Migration containment in the Mediterranean', Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.280–297.
- Nuclear stakeholders in Korea
Could corruption in the nuclear industry lead to a radiological emergency in Korea should it face a major natural disaster, such as the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that rocked Japan in 2011? New research published in the International Journal Business Continuity and Risk Management looks at the worst-case scenarios in the context of apparent corporate corruption that has led to the use of defective components. The current nuclear power inventory is capable of surviving a magnitude 6.5 earthquake and only three plants built since 2013 could withstand damage from up to a magnitude 6.9. Given that it was a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in the region that led to the tsunami that devastated Japan, the research suggests that Korea is not free of danger when it comes to earthquakes affecting its nuclear plants.
Kyoo-Man Ha of the Department of Public Policy and Management at Pusan National University in Busan, South Korea, has looked at self-interest and all-interest management practices across the nuclear power industry. The local "stakeholders" might be seen as the nuclear power plant operating company, local government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and residents. But, there is, of course, an international perspective too as a major incident at a nuclear power station can affect the neighbouring countries and even the rest of the world if there is a sufficient large disaster that leads to the release of radioactive material into the environment, the oceans, and the atmosphere.
The research suggests that despite there having been an increased awareness of the potential for radiological emergencies in the context of natural and other disasters, emergency management in Korea sees each stakeholder close to a nuclear power plant insisting on addressing problems and dealing with such emergencies at the individual, local level. This completely ignores the fact that a nuclear incidence is a much bigger problem than an isolated issue to be addressed locally and must be seen as a societal and international issue.
Ha suggests a new, more encompassing model of emergency management. The new model provides a framework for a broader strategy that can be implemented in a time of crisis where all stakeholders play a part and the detrimental impact on the wider community and internationally might be minimized should the worst-case scenario arise. Greater stakeholder involvement might also mitigate some of the ongoing problems associated with corruption.
Ha, K-M. (2021) 'Management of nuclear power plant emergency: a case of Korea', Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.52–65.
- Crowdfunding your video game
Crowdfunding has become a useful way to obtain financial backing for small and medium-sized projects. Given sufficient attention, particularly via the internet, an entrepreneur or creative, might reach out to a virtual crowd and offer them some kind of future return on their early investment in a product. It has worked well for authors, musicians, filmmakers, and game writers among others. Commonly, a person backing the crowdfunding initiative will be rewarded with a copy of the finished product, such as a book, perhaps with additional incentives such as a mention in the book's acknowledgement or a copy signed by the author or unique in some other way.
UK research published in the International Journal of Technoentrepreneurship, has investigated what factors lead to a successful crowdfunding initiative and what limitations there might be for an independent, indie, video game developer.
Tahira Islam and Robert Phillips of the Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester, explain how they have looked at the key success factors, which they suggest can be segregated into campaign factors, product factors, and human factors. They have found that a good campaign requires a lot of careful preparation ahead of the actual launch of the call to crowdfunding. It also has to present the goals of the launch well, have an achievable funding model and a realistic target given the timescale over which the crowdfunding initiative will run. It must also have a solid marketing strategy backed by realistic activities to promote the launch and to sustain the campaign.
In the area of product factors, the most important for an indie games developer is to have a playable demo ready for the launch. It should be unique but also have features that will be familiar to the putative investor.
As to human factors, there is an urgent need to have something of a pre-established audience reach. That is not necessarily a readymade audience but the potential to recruit donors from the company's networks, fans, social media, and the ever-important "friends of friends" and "word of mouth" connections. It is perhaps also critical in terms of the people factors that the games developers have a relevant background and that the development team is neither too big nor too small, but just right.
Taking all of this into account, it seems that the primary constraining aspect of crowdfunding is the associated time cost and the stress of running the campaign with all of its marketing and social media updating and response. There is also the ubiquitous worry of achieving the fundraising target as this will determine fundamentally whether or not development continues to place a finished product on the video gaming market. The team adds that, perhaps surprisingly, they did not find intellectual property issues to be particularly relevant to the successful running of a crowdfunding campaign.
The model devised by the team in their examination of the realm crowdfunding for independent video games development works well for this niche but they suggest that it might also be extended to other industrial niches.
Islam, T. and Phillips, R.A. (2020) 'Strategies for reward based crowdfunding campaigns in video games: a context of indie game developers in the UK', Int. J. Technoentrepreneurship, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.105–121.
- Securing telemedicine
Telemedicine is slowly maturing allowing greater connectivity between patient and healthcare providers using information and communications technology (ICT). One issue that is yet to be addressed fully, however, is security and thence privacy. Researchers writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, have turned to cloud computing to help them develop a new and strong authentication protocol for electronic healthcare systems.
Prerna Mohit of the Indian Institute of Information Technology Senapati in Manipur, Ruhul Amin of the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee International Institute of Information Technology, in Naya Raipur, and G.P. Biswas of the Indian Institute of Technology (ISM) Dhanbad, in Jharkhand, India, point out how medical information is personal and sensitive and so it is important that it remains private and confidential.
The team's approach uses the flexibility of a mobile device to authenticate so that a user can securely retrieve pertinent information without a third party having the opportunity to access that information at any point. In a proof of principle, the team has carried out a security analysis and demonstrated that the system can resist attacks where a malicious third party attempts to breach the security protocol. They add that the costs in terms of additional computation and communication resources are lower than those offered by other security systems reported in the existing research literature.
Mohit, P., Amin, R. and Biswas, G.P. (2021) 'An e-healthcare authentication protocol employing cloud computing', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.155–168.
- Anticancer drugs from the monsoon
A small-branched shrub found in India known locally as Moddu Soppu (Justicia wynaadensis) is used to make a sweet dish during the monsoon season by the inhabitants of Kodagu district in Karanataka exclusively during the monsoons. Research published in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design has looked at phytochemicals present in extracts from the plant that may have putative anticancer agent properties.
C.D. Vandana and K.N. Shanti of PES University in Bangalore, Karnataka and Vivek Chandramohan of the Siddaganga Institute of Technology also in Tumkur, Karnataka, investigated several phytochemicals that had been reported in the scientific literature as having anticancer activity. They used a computer model to look at how well twelve different compounds "docked" with the relevant enzyme thymidylate synthase and compared this activity with a reference drug, capecitabine, which targets this enzyme.
Thymidylate synthase is involved in making DNA for cell replication. In cancer, uncontrolled cell replication is the underlying problem. If this enzyme can be blocked it will lead to DNA damage in the cancer cells and potentially halt the cancer growth.
Two compounds had comparable activity and greater binding to the enzyme than capecitabine. The first, campesterol, is a well-known plant chemical with a structure similar to cholesterol, the second stigmasterol is another well-known phytochemical involved in the structural integrity of plant cells. The former proved itself to be more stable than the latter and represents a possible lead for further investigation and testing as an anticancer drug, the team reports.
Vandana, C.D., Shanti, K.N., Karunakar, P. and Chandramohan, V. (2020) 'In silico studies of bioactive phytocompounds with anticancer activity from in vivo and in vitro extracts of Justicia wynaadensis (Nees) T. Anderson', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, Nos. 5/6, pp.582–601.
- Native reforestation benefits biodiversity
Timber harvest and agriculture have had an enormous impact on biodiversity in many parts of the world over the last two hundred years of the industrial era. One such region is 20 to 50 kilometre belt of tropical dry evergreen forest that lies inland from the southeastern coast of India. Efforts to regenerate the biodiversity has been more successful when native tropical dry evergreen forest has been reinstated rather than where non-native Acacia planting has been carried out in regeneration efforts, according to research published in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Review.
Christopher Frignoca and John McCarthy of the Department of Atmospheric Science and Chemistry at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, USA, Aviram Rozin of Sadhana Forest in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India, and Leonard Reitsma of the Department of Biological Sciences at Plymouth explain how reforestation can be used to rebuild the ecosystem and increases population sizes and diversity of flora and fauna. The team has looked at efforts to rebuild the ecosystem of Sadhana Forest. An area of 28 hectares had its water table replenished through intensive soil moisture conservation. The team has observed rapid growth of planted native species and germination of two species of dormant Acacia seeds.
The team's standard biological inventory of this area revealed 75 bird, 8 mammal, 12 reptile, 5 amphibian, 55 invertebrate species, and 22 invertebrate orders present in the area. When they looked closely at the data obtained from bird abundance at point count stations, invertebrate sweep net captures and leaf count detections, as well as Odonate and Lepidopteran visual observations along fixed-paced transects they saw far greater diversity in those areas where native plants thrived rather than the non-native Acacia.
"Sadhana Forest's reforestation demonstrates the potential to restore ecosystems and replenish water tables, vital components to reversing ecosystem degradation, and corroborates reforestation efforts in other regions of the world," the team writes. "Sadhana Forest serves as a model for effective reforestation and ecosystem restoration," the researchers conclude.
Frignoca, C., McCarthy, J., Rozin, A. and Reitsma, L. (2021) 'Greater biodiversity in regenerated native tropical dry evergreen forest compared to non-native Acacia regeneration in Southeastern India', Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp.1–18.
- Protection from coronavirus and zero-day pathogens
Researchers in India are developing a disinfection chamber that integrates a system that can deactivate coronavirus particles. The team reports details in the International Journal of Design Engineering.
As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are signs that the causative virus SARS-CoV-2 and its variants may be with us for many years to come despite the unprecedented speed with vaccines against the disease have been developed, tested, and for some parts of the world rolled out. Sangam Sahu, Shivam Krishna Pandey, and Atul Mishra of the BML Munjal University suggest that we could adapt screening technology commonly used in security for checking whether a person is entering an area, such as airports, hospitals, or government buildings, for instance, carrying a weapon, explosives, or contraband goods.
Such a system might be augmented with a body temperature check for spotting a person with a fever that might be a symptom of COVID-19 or another contagious viral infection. They add that the screening system might also incorporate technology that can kill viruses on surfaces with a quick flash of ultraviolet light or a spray of chemical disinfectant.
Airborne microbial diseases represent a significant ongoing challenge to public health around the world. While COVID-19 is top of the agenda at the moment, seasonal and pandemic influenza are of perennial concern as is the emergence of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis. Moreover, we are likely to see other emergent pathogens as we have many times in the past any one of which could lead to an even greater pandemic catastrophe than COVID-19.
Screening and disinfecting systems as described by Sahu could become commonplace and perhaps act as an obligatory frontline defense against the spread of such emergent pathogens even before they are identified. Such an approach to unknown viruses is well known in the computer industry where novel malware emerges, so-called 0-day viruses, before the antivirus software is updated to recognize it and so blanket screening and disinfection software is often used.
Sahu, S., Pandey, S.K. and Mishra, A. (2021) 'Disinfectant chamber for killing body germs with integrated FAR-UVC chamber (for COVID-19)', Int. J. Design Engineering, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.1–9.
- Wetware data retrieval
A computer hard drive can be a rich source of evidence in a forensic investigation... but only if the device is intact and undamaged otherwise many additional steps to retrieve incriminating data from within are needed and not always successful even in the most expert hands. Research published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics considers the data retrieval problems for investigators faced with a hard drive that has been submerged in water.
Alicia Francois and Alastair Nisbet of the Cybersecurity Research Laboratory at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, point out that under pressure suspects in an investigation may attempt to destroy digital evidence prior to a seizure by the authorities. A common approach is simply to put a hard drive in water in the hope that damage to the circuitry and the storage media within will render the data inaccessible.
The team has looked at the impact of water ingress on solid-state and conventional spinning magnetic disc hard drives and the timescale over which irreparable damage occurs and how this relates to the likelihood of significant data loss from the device. Circuitry and other components begin to corrode rather quickly following water ingress. However, if a device can be retrieved and dried within seven days, there is a reasonable chance of it still working and the data being accessible.
"Ultimately, water submersion can damage a drive quickly but with the necessary haste and skills, data may still be recoverable from a water-damaged hard drive," the team writes.
However, if the device has been submerged in saltwater, then irreparable damage can occur within 30 minutes. The situation is worse for a solid-state drive which will essentially be destroyed within a minute of saltwater ingress. The research provides a useful guide for forensic investigators retrieving hard drives that have been submerged in water.
Francois, A. and Nisbet, A. (2021) 'Forensic analysis and data recovery from water-submerged hard drives', Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.219–231.
- Of alcohol and bootlaces
There is no consensus across medical science as to whether or not there is a safe lower limit on alcohol consumption nor whether a small amount of alcohol is beneficial. The picture is complicated by the various congeners, such as polyphenols and other substances that are present in different concentrations in different types of alcoholic beverage, such as red and white wine, beers and ales, ciders, and spirits. Moreover, while, there has been a decisive classification of alcohol consumption as a cause of cancer, there is strong evidence that small quantities have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system.
Now, writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, a team from China, Japan, Taiwan, and the USA, has looked at how a feature of our genetic material, DNA, relates to ageing and cancer and investigated a possible connection with alcohol consumption. The ends of our linear chromosomes are capped by repeated sequences of DNA base units that act as protective ends almost analogous to the stiff aglets on each end of a bootlace.
These protective sections are known as telomeres. Which each cell replication the length of the telomeres on the ends of our chromosomes get shorter. This limits the number of times a cell can replicate before there is insufficient protection for the DNA between the ends that encodes the proteins that make up the cell. Once the telomeres are damaged beyond repair or gone the cell will die. This degradative process has been linked to the limited lifespan of the cells in our bodies and the aging process itself.
Yan Pei of The University of Aizu in Aizuwakamatsu, Japan, and colleagues Jianqiang Li, Yu Guan, and Xi Xu of Beijing University of Technology, China, Jason Hung of the National Taichung University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan, and Weiliang Qiu of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, USA, have carried out a meta-analysis of the scientific literature. Their analysis suggests that telomere length is associated with alcohol consumption. Given that shorter telomeres, before they reach the critical length, can nevertheless lead to genomic instability, this alcohol-associated shortening could offer insight into how cancerous tumour growth might be triggered.
Telomere shortening is a natural part of the ageing process. However, it is influenced by various factors that are beyond our control such as paternal age at birth, ethnicity, gender, age, telomere maintenance genes, genetic mutations of the telomeres. However, telomere length is also affected by inflammation and oxidative stress, environmental, psychosocial, behavioural exposures, and for some of those factors we may have limited control. For others, such as chronic exposure to large quantities of alcohol we have greater control.
Li, J., Guan, Y., Xu, X., Pei, Y., Hung, J.C. and Qiu, W. (2021) 'Association between alcohol consumption and telomere length', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.36–59.
Modular news gathering
The use of small processing modules can significantly reduce overheads on computing systems with limited resources available to them when large amounts of data must nevertheless be processed. Research by a team in Greece described in the International Journal of Web Engineering and Technology shows how that approach can be used for content aggregation, information extraction, sentiment tagging, and visualisation tasks [...]
New Editor for International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science
Prof. Wen-Feng Wang from the Interscience Institute of Management and Technology in India and Shanghai Institute of Technology in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science.
New Editor for Journal of Design Research
Prof. Jouke Verlinden from the University of Antwerp in Belgium has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal of Design Research. The journal's former Editor in Chief, Prof. Renee Wever of Linköping University in Sweden, will remain on the board as Editor.
Inderscience Editor in Chief receives Humboldt Research Award
Inderscience is pleased to announce that Prof. Nilmini Wickramasinghe, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology and the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, has won a Humboldt Research Award.
This award is conferred in recognition of the award winner's academic record. Prof. Wickramasinghe will be invited to carry out research projects in collaboration with specialists in Germany.
Inderscience's Editorial Office extends its warmest congratulations to Prof. Wickramasinghe for her achievement, and thanks her for her continuing stellar work on her journals.
Best Reviewer Award announced by International Journal of Environment and Pollution
We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Environment and Pollution has launched a new Best Reviewer Award. The 2020 Award goes to Prof. Steven Hanna of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the USA. The senior editorial team thanks Prof. Hanna sincerely for his exemplary efforts.