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- Cleaning up money laundering
Money laundering is big business but wholly illegal big business. It has an enormously negative impact on local, national, and international economies as well as providing the financial means to fund other criminal activities such as people trafficking and drugs. By definition, money laundering is activity carried out to obscure the source of money that has been obtained illegally.
Writing in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining, researchers from the Sultanate of Oman and Saudi Arabia describe a new dynamic approach to identifying suspicious financial transactions that might be part of the chain in a money-laundering scheme.
Abdul Khalique Shaikh of the Department of Information Systems at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman and Amril Nazir of the Department of Computer Science at Taif University, in Al-Hawiya, Saudi Arabia, explain that among the many millions, if not billions, of financial transactions carried out every day, a worrying proportion will be associated with money laundering. Identifying such illegal transactions is difficult especially as the criminals carrying out such transactions are well aware of the tools used by banks and financiers to spot suspicious money movements and as such can usually obfuscate the activity very efficiently.
The team has devised a way to profile individual users and to flag up activity that is genuinely suspicious without the false positives that might otherwise interfere with genuine banking and other financial transactions members of the public might carry out entirely legitimately.
"The approach works based on the dynamic behaviour of customer transactions that measures the customer's own transaction history, profile features and identifies suspicious transactions," the team writes. They have tested the approach against realistic data and validated the result with confirmed suspicious customers. The dynamic approach has an accuracy of well over 90 percent, which exceeds that seen with statistical models based on pre-defined rules, the team concludes.
Shaikh, A.K. and Nazir, A. (2020) 'A novel dynamic approach to identifying suspicious customers in money transactions', Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.143–158.
- Guerrilla marketing
How do marketing professionals evaluate the success or otherwise of their guerilla marketing campaigns? That is the question addressed in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising.
Thérèse Roux of the Department of Marketing, Logistics and Sport Management at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa and Marcel Saucet of the University of San Diego in California, USA, explain how consumers are exposed to a wide range of advertising and media every day with countless brands vying for attention. Many advertisers have, for several years, incorporated out-of-home media channels such as guerrilla street marketing to try and grab customer attention through surprising, bewildering, and otherwise novel campaigns.
There have been numerous high-profile examples of guerilla marketing in recent years: Japanese vehicle manufacturer Toyota launched its new RAV4 Hybrid car by creating a gigantic outdoor climbing wall in the in the middle of Times Square in New York City and allowed novice climbers to have a go. Swedish home furniture and fittings retailer Ikea opened a pop-up DIY restaurant in London where locals could prepare family dinners under the supervision of celebrity chefs. Commuters in Colombia were encouraged by sportswear and equipment company Reebok to join an exercise session in pop-up-gymnasiums within bus shelters.
The team has reviewed the research literature as well as interviewing marketing communications professionals from large internationally recognised agencies as well as smaller independent guerrilla marketing companies. "Professionals carefully and purposefully select appropriate environments and combine distinctive instruments to track cognitive, affective and behavioural responses," the team writes. In that context, they have found that the effects of guerrilla street marketing are moving from performance at the street level to acquiring and quantifying online diffusion. They add that their work, which is among the first such investigation, will help improve our understanding of the practices of experienced professionals and identify practical techniques that can be used to evaluate contemporary street guerrilla marketing.
Savvy marketing agencies have already recognized that a guerilla marketing campaign on the street has the potential to "go viral" on social media and extend the reach way beyond those who see it live to the millions who might view videos and photos of such an event captured by the public or even those involved in the campaign. The team suggests that we are now seeing an evolution from asking a limited number of customers to be involved, figuratively speaking, in "dancing in the street" to providing a point of interest and engagement for global, online "socializing" that will hopefully boost brand reach and engagement, and on the bottom line, sales of the product or service being marketed.
Roux, T. and Saucet, M. (2020) 'From dancing on the street to dating online: evaluating guerrilla street marketing performance', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.336–359.
- Hybrid measures to beat phish
A hybrid algorithm that used machine learning to feed off statistical induction ratios can spot malicious web pages known as phishing sites and so alert unwary users to the possibility that their data, privacy or security may be compromised before they access such sites Details are published in the International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management.
Hiba Zuhair of Al-Nahrain University, in Baghdad, Iraq, and Ali Selamat of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor, Malaysia, explain how there are some very powerful machine learning systems that can detect phishing sites. However, the criminal creators of such websites are rather wily and there are always novel page structures and coding that might be missed by such protection systems on the day when the new malware site is first launched and the early unwitting users get hooked. To preclude users falling for such zero-hour phishing sites there is an urgent need for an adaptive approach that can spot the problem even with novel sites.
As such, "Phishing induction must be boosted up with the extraction of new features, the selection of robust subsets of decisive features, the active learning of classifiers on a big webpage stream," the team writes. Their two-pronged algorithmic defence provides a more holistic way to detect phishing sites. They have demonstrated efficacy against existing machines learning-based anti-phishing techniques. The team hopes that their analysis of earlier approaches and the method they suggest could provide a new "taxonomy" for the development of more effective still protection against this ubiquitous security problem in the digital realm.
Zuhair, H. and Selamat, A. (2020) 'Phish webpage classification using hybrid algorithm of machine learning and statistical induction ratios', Int. J. Data Mining, Modelling and Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.255–276.
- Breaking brand
Back in the day, if you liked a brand, you bought and used its products, perhaps mentioning or even recommending to friends and family. Today, the ubiquity of social media means that consumers have so many additional, albeit online, ways in which to "interact" and "engage" with a brand beyond simply using the product. One might post photos of the brand in action on a personal blog, photo or video site, such as Instagram or Youtube, one might offer updates and critique on platforms like Twitter, and, of course, there is the possibility of endless opportunities for liking, following, and commenting with and about a brand on Facebook.
Now, researchers from Korea and the USA writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, discuss why some consumers ultimately disengage with some brands they once showed allegiance to on Facebook. They discuss the notion of advertising avoidance and one's shift in the consumer-brand relationship not only in the context of hiding content that is no longer wanted but also as a means of direct self-expression.
A former brand fan that friends and family knew "liked" a brand summarily "unliking" it may be seen as a change in attitude or personal identity. Of course, the rationale may be perceived information overload, attitude towards social media marketing in general, but there is a certain element that pushes the brand detachment as social-identity expression, the team suggests.
Kwon, E.S., Kim, E. and Chung, Y.J. (2020) 'Social break up: why consumers hide and unlike brands on Facebook', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.299–317.
- Less work, more play
In the current global situation many people have been forced to rethink what we previously referred to as a work-life balance. There was much pressure from good mental health advocates for us to opt for more leisure time if that were a possibility. Now, in the time of the global coronavirus pandemic, we can see new ways to look at leisure time with a perspective on life satisfaction. However, in research carried out before Covid-19, Yen-Lien Kuo and Tzu-Hsiu Huang of the Department of Economics at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan, investigated the relationships between working hours and changes in time spent on leisure and sports activities, as well as perceived health status, and individual life satisfaction.
Fundamentally, they analysed data from the Taiwan Social Change Survey and were able to show that longer working hours almost inevitably led to significantly lower life satisfaction whereas more leisure time improved subjective health measures and enhanced life satisfaction markedly. There was a caveat in terms of health. In that those in full-time work tended to be healthier than those were not. However, there was still the potential to improve mental health by boosting life satisfaction when employees were able to have more leisure time at the expense of working hours.
For Taiwan in particular, it is as a nation third in the league tables for longest working hours among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. It had been suggested in much earlier work that people with long working hours and inadequate recovery time see various problems accumulate over time and become chronic reactions. Work and leisure time may have been upturned in recent months because of pandemic lockdown and other factors. However, part of the new-normal may well see an increased need to balance work and leisure without trying to cram more hours into the day by reducing working hours. We already know that many more people can work from home and avoid the daily commute. This research suggests that government-led initiatives, particularly in Taiwan could drive this forward to the benefit of employees and perhaps even for employers.
Kuo, Y-L. and Huang, T-H. (2020) 'The impacts of increasing leisure time on subjective health and life satisfaction', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.26-40.
- Self-healing concrete
The almost ubiquitous construction material we know as concrete has high compressive strength but low tensile strength. In order to overcome this problem, reinforced concrete was developed. Unfortunately, reinforced concrete more readily succumbs to corrosion particularly from water ingress so there is a need to develop ways to improve the formulation of reinforced concrete and perhaps to develop additives that allow the self-healing of cracks and fissures that grow so that a structure might be saved from complete deterioration.
Writing in the International Journal of Structural Engineering, a team from the National Institute of Technology, in Raipur, India, explain that there are two major causes of deterioration: carbonation-induced corrosion and chloride-induced corrosion. "Through the random distribution of pore spaces in concrete, aggressive substances, such as carbon dioxide, chloride, moisture, and oxygen may penetrate the structure," the team explains. This, in turn, can break down the protective layer around reinforcing steel bars within the structure leading to their corrosion and ultimate failure.
In terms of the chemistry of the initial corrosion process involving carbonation. The initial alkalinity arising from the hydration process of cement protects the concrete formed from corrosion. However, carbon dioxide ingress leads to reactions with calcium compounds in the concrete which generates calcium carbonate and lowers the alkalinity making the material more acidic, unstable, and thus susceptible to degradation.
Other researchers have already shown that adding Bacillus subtilis bacteria to the cement formulation can have a protective effect. The team has now shown that calcium lactate can boost the benefits of the microbes by reducing the carbonation rate. It also improves the compressive strength of the concrete. Moreover, the living bacteria can refill and repair microscopic cracks within the structure to a degree allowing concrete to self-heal. This was observed in the laboratory by the team using scanning electron microscopy.
Vijay, K. and Murmu, M. (2020) 'Effect of calcium lactate and Bacillus subtilis bacteria on properties of concrete and self-healing of cracks', Int. J. Structural Engineering, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.217–231.
- Stay-at-home workers
Working from home has become part of the so-called "new normal" for many people during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there has been a move underway towards increased telecommuting for many years. Writing in the Global Business and Economics Review a research team from Portugal has set out to explore the potential of telecommuting in terms of productivity and quality of life gains, cost savings for workers and employers, and perhaps even environmental improvements through reduced transport pollution.
Commuting generates enormous economic, social, and environmental costs, although it has been the conventional approach to "going out to work" since the industrial revolution if not before. There are some benefits, of course, but largely these are often outweighed by infrastructure and transport requirements and ultimately increased use of energy and resources and an increase in pollution and carbon emissions. However, with a big shift to online services and the increased use of information technology in this so-called digital age many traditional jobs can readily be performed from the home at least some of the time if not the whole of the working week. Obviously, some jobs, such as construction and manual factory work, farming, and healthcare can rarely be reduced to the working from home paradigm.
Deveani Babu, Nelson Ramalho, and Pedro Falcao of the University Institute of Lisbon suggest that increasing the level of telecommuting across various sectors is entirely feasible. Moreover, given the global pandemic that emerged since the time of their review, it is likely that we will garner more evidence for the personal and societal benefits of this form of working. Our unwitting experiment caused by the pandemic might also offer insights into previously unknown problems with telecommuting too.
Babu, D., Ramalho, N. and Falcao, P.F. (2020) 'Telecommuting potential analysis', Global Business and Economics Review, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp.100–124.
- Lyre, lyre – there's an app for that!
Forget Captain Corelli's stringed instrument and Zorba the Greek's theme tune, a team writing in the International Journal of Arts and Technology is investigating whether it might be possible to digitize the Greek music tradition by simulating the Cretan lyre for a mobile device application.
Dimitrios Margounakis, Georgios Tsotakos, and Andreas Floros of the School of Science and Technology, at the Hellenic Open University, Greece and the Ionian University, Corfu, point out that playing the Cretan lyre involves an intriguing technique using a bow and the development of a simulation has not been undertaken previously.
"Contemporary multi-touch-based mobile smart phones have a range of sensory input capabilities, making realistic simulation of musical instruments feasible," the team writes.
They suggest that their app has a recreational and educational aspect as well as a conservation perspective in terms of musical culture. Users employ the same gestures as a real-life player would make to produce the notes and tones of the instrument in a mobile device.
The team adds that their app has embedded within it instructional information allowing even a novice to reconstruct well-known traditional melodies quickly. Moreover, the timbre of the lyre can be overlaid with the sound of the lute to create an even more interesting overall sound. Additionally, many players in Crete use a bow that has bells on, sounds that might also be incorporated into the app, the team reports. So, while the music may not have all of the accoutrements of some simulated instruments apps it will soon have the bells if not the whistles.
Margounakis, D., Tsotakos, G. and Floros, A. (2020) 'On digitising the Greek music tradition: simulation of the Cretan lyre for mobile devices', Int. J. Arts and Technology, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.103–117.
- The thermodynamics of Covid-19
When you catch a virus it will hijack your metabolic processes for its own replication. The virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which is at the heart of the current global pandemic of the associated disease Covid-19 is no exception. It hooks into the body's cellular processes leaching energy and exergy (energy that does work) so that it can duplicate its genetic code and build the proteins it needs to create copies of itself. Obviously, such an energy drain gives rise to some of the symptoms while others are caused by the body's immune response that attempts to stop the virus in its tracks.
Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, a research team from Turkey explains how this novel coronavirus first reported in late 2019, causes a cluster of symptoms not commonly seen in other viral infections: severe pneumonia, pulmonary inflammation, and fibrosis. These symptoms reduce gas exchange between the air sacs, the alveoli, within the lungs, and the blood capillaries that carry oxygen away from the lungs and around the body. As such, patients experience diminished oxygenation of their blood haemoglobin. This then has an effect on metabolic rate.
If metabolic rate falls by one third, then in thermodynamic terms the fall in exergetic and energetic magnitude associated with the damage can be 0.46 and 0.45 Watt per kilogram of body weight, respectively. If the decline is a two-thirds decrease, the exergetic and energetic magnitude of the damage can be 0.92 and 0.90 W/kg, the team reports. Those are the figures for an 18-year old patient. For a putatively more vulnerable 70-year old, they would need to generate almost a fifth as much energy or exergy to compensate for the damage caused by the metabolic decline. This, partly explains why it is harder for older patients to cope with this virus and why they suffer worse symptoms. Additionally, if they have other underlying health conditions such as diabetes or lung disease, then the burden is even greater.
Having such information in hand will not only assists in our understanding of the progression and prognosis of this novel disease but may well point to improving how we treat it to save patients from severe morbidity or even mortality.
Yilmaz, B., Ercan, S., Akduman, S. and Özilgen, M. (2020) 'Energetic and exergetic costs of COVID-19 infection on the body of a patient', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp.314–327.
- Coronavirus and carbon emissions
The emergence of a novel coronavirus towards the end of 2019 that has led to the major ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has already taken its toll on people's lives, healthcare systems, and the commercial world.
Anecdotal evidence early in the "lockdowns" imposed by many governments seemed to suggest that pollution levels fell as road and air traffic density fell considerably and people began working from home across the world's major cities. Consumption of certain products also fell off although initial demand for essentials was high as people panicked and stocked up on food and other supplies. However, as lockdowns are eased, there is now an increased use of plastics for disposable personal protection and in shops, homes, and the workplace, and for packaging to help reduce the spread of the virus.
In the face of such a pandemic, it is as if climate change and pollution have been figuratively put on the back burner as serious concerns for humanity. However, Alberto Boretti of the College of Engineering at the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, has looked at carbon dioxide levels during the shutdown. Indeed, emissions have fallen considerably as airlines have been grounded, factories shut down, businesses closed, and citizens confined in their homes.
He suggests our current reduced activity over the last few months at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic could give us novel data to demonstrate exactly how anthropogenic are carbon emissions. In 2014, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expressed how it is 95% certain that humans are the main cause of current global warming. But, there are denialists and detractors. The data shows there has not been a fall in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere since lockdown, natural drivers as the temperature rises and seasonal variation seem to obscure any effect on such a short timescale. The process of global warming itself is known to increase carbon dioxide emissions from natural sources.
"While we cannot legislate for natural changes, it seems appropriate to better identify every environmental and societal threats to availability of water, food, energy, plus health and ecosystems conservation; then optimise mitigation and adaptation strategies according to the relative risks of the various threats," the team writes.
Boretti, A. (2020) 'Covid 19 impact on atmospheric CO 2 concentration', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp.317–323.
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.
New Editor for International Journal of Technology Marketing
Dr. Peter Bican from Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Technology Marketing. The previous Editor in Chief, Prof. Philipp A. Rauschnabel of Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany, will remain with the journal on its Editorial Board.
New Editor for International Journal of Reliability and Safety
Prof. Om Prakash Yadav from North Dakota University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Reliability and Safety. The journal's founding editor, Prof. Zissimos Mourelatos of Oakland University, USA, will remain on the board as Executive Editor.
New Editor for International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation
Prof. M. Ángeles López-Cabarcos from Santiago de Compostela University in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation.