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  • Writing in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, a digital technology leader at telecommunications conglomerate Verizon discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital transformation and digital fraud in the US economy.

    Shashidhar Hiremath reiterates just how much of an impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the US economy, broadly speaking. Of course, a similar picture is seen across the globe. Tourism, air travel, the housing market, information technology, hospitality, and food industries have perhaps been detrimentally affected the most. However, there have also been some upturns in the fortunes of those companies facilitating working and learning from home and people sharing activities remotely.

    An unwanted area of growth during the pandemic was, of course, cybercrime, says Hiremath. The incidence of internet theft, phishing scams, and financial fraud all increased during the pandemic. This was presumably partly due to it being a time when many people were at their most vulnerable and susceptible. Moreover, infrastructure and IT support that would provide checks and assurances were not necessarily in place in the home, or remote-working, environment for countless computer users in the workforce.

    Criminals will always find a way to exploit vulnerabilities and even create new ones. The nature of social change that was wrought by the emergence of a lethal coronavirus at the end of 2019 has given us what is euphemistically known as the "new normal". Unfortunately, the new normal has given criminals new opportunities. It is time for a detailed study of how the world has changed in this realm, suggests Hiremath. In the new normal, we may well need new laws and policies to help protect people from the ever-changing landscape of cybercrime and digital fraud, internet theft, and more.

    Shashidhar (2022) 'Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the digital transformation and digital frauds in the US economy', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.429–448.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIPM.2022.124648

  • The number of people using mobile wallets, financial management software, apps, on their smart phone that allow them to make payments, is increasing. Work in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management looks at the adoption of mobile wallets across India. Uptake there and in other developing nations is significant but there are many challenges that face putative users and those offering the services that are not so apparent in the developed world.

    Ravi Kumar Gupta of the Department of Humanities and Management Science at the Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, has collected data from 500 respondents in the Gorakhpur District of Uttar Pradesh to learn more about user and potential user perception of mobile wallets. He used regression, factor analysis and structural equation modelling to process the data.

    There are an estimated 500 million smart phone users in India and that number is rising every day. A fraction of those are using a mobile wallet, but that fraction will likely only increase over time. The growth of the middle-income demographic across India is the underlying driver for this increase in technology adoption.

    Gupta points out that while people of all ages are using smart phones, much of the growth in mobile wallet use among the younger demographic. That said, he has found from the survey of 500 people that risks associated with security and privacy are serious concerns that dissuade some people from using a mobile wallet. Conversely, ease of use and social influence both correlate positively with adoption of this technology.

    Gupta, R.K. (2022) 'Adoption of mobile wallet services: an empirical analysis', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.341–353.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIPM.2022.124634

  • Anyone familiar with the landscape of the Mediterranean coast would recognise the terraces and stone walls that are an inherent part of farming there and help people intercalate crops between the garigues. The terraces and stone walls are themselves vital to the conservation of biodiversity in these landscapes as well as in farming, cultural heritage and tourism, and have been a key part of the landscape, particularly of the area for centuries if not millennia.

    A new study aimed at improving our understanding of the microclimates, the micrometeorology created by this kind of landscape is discussed in the International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology.

    Alexandra Solomou, Nikolaos Proutsos, George Karetsos, Konstantinia Tsagari, and Nikolaos Chatzipavlis of the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems part of the Hellenic Agricultural Organisation 'Demeter' (ELGO DIMITRA) in Athens, Greece, have reviewed the research literature on this aspect of the Greek countryside in detail and conclude that it is critical that these micro-landscapes be preserved.

    The team points out that Greece is a world biodiversity "hotspot", and its abundance of fauna and flora and the high number of diverse species of fungi as well as its disparate ecosystems and landscapes make it rightly so. It also harbours many species endemic to the region and found nowhere else on the planet. The researchers also explain that the country has a complex terrain, ranging from sea level to quite high mountainous altitudes. It has many islands and a long coastline relative to the total area of the mainland. It thus has a variety of microclimates, which have sustained the rich biodiversity reported for the region. Of course, during recent decades Greece has become more arid as farming practices, water, use, and climate change have their impact.

    Based on their review, the team lists the most important benefits of terraces and stone walls as follows:

    First, they are an important defence against soil erosion caused by wind and rain and offer protection from extreme events, such as floods and freak winds. Secondly, they provide green infrastructure for island ecosystems, which could help those islands and their inhabitants adapt better to the effects of climate change. Indeed, the microhabitats wrought by this type of traditional manipulation of the landscape will support conservation and protection and even enhance biodiversity.

    From the economic perspective, terraces and stone walls can help in the generation of high-value and high-quality agricultural products and other materials of use to industry. Finally, they offer an aesthetic enhancement to the landscape with great cultural value that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

    Solomou, A., Proutsos, N., Karetsos, G., Tsagari, K. and Chatzipavlis, N. (2022) 'Micrometeorology of the agricultural terraces and stone walls and impacts on biodiversity in the Mediterranean landscape of Greece', Int. J. Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Vol. 18, Nos. 1/2, pp.3–21.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJARGE.2022.124638

  • Artificial intelligence and text mining techniques can be used to detect paranoia among social media users. Specifically, work published in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, has examined the behaviour of Twitter users in their updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in order to detect personality disorders associated with paranoia.

    Mourad Ellouze, Seifeddine Mechti, Moez Krichen, and Lamia Hadrich Belguith of the University of Sfax in Tunisia and Vinayakumar Ravi of the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, suggest that the behaviour of people towards the pandemic driven by mistrust of authority and fuelled by disinformation has somewhat hindered the way in which we have dealt with this global crisis.

    The team suggests that in parallel with this general behaviour among some people there is a more worrying reaction among those with serious mental health problems associated with paranoia. Such conditions, when faced with the existential angst presented by a lethal pandemic, can lead to serious anxiety, grief, and suicidal thoughts.

    Ultimately, the team's analysis of Twitter users discussing COVID-19 could allow them to find people who may be suffering unduly and may be entering a personal crisis. In other words, the tools they discuss could be used as a proxy diagnostic that could allow qualified professionals to offer an appropriate intervention for patients with paranoia. Perhaps it might also be used to guide decisions made by Twitter itself and its algorithms that lower risk for its vulnerable users.

    Ellouze, M., Mechti, S., Krichen, M., Ravi, V. and Belguith, L.H. (2022) 'A deep learning approach for detecting the behaviour of people having personality disorders towards COVID-19 from Twitter', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp.353–366.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2022.124553

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought tragedy, social and economic decline. However, humanity is finding ways to adapt to the so-called "new normal" in terms of healthcare, society, business, and finance. Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Finance, a team from India discusses how the pressure to move various aspects of our lives into the online world because of the pandemic has led to the mainstreaming of online financial transactions to an unprecedented degree.

    Kamakhya Narain Singh of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs within the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in the Indian government in Haryana and Shruti Malik of the Department of Management Studies at the JCBOSE University of Science and Technology also in Haryana, point out the obvious efficiency and efficacy of online financial transactions when compared to cash transactions. The team has looked at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various restrictions and lockdowns that were put in place in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease, particularly on financial transactions. They have also considered how financial literacy affected the adoption of online finances, especially among low-income groups.

    The team used a logistic regression model to analyse 2019 data from the National Centre for Financial Education 2019 survey of around 36600 households in the low-income bracket. Low income is defined as below 50000 Indian Rupees (just over US$600) annually for a given household.

    The fundamental result from the analysis was that financial literacy was instrumental in the adoption of online banking by those in this group. Thus improved education and guidance in this area could improve the outlook for those people who might benefit from online finances in ways that were previously not possible. The researchers suggest that policymakers should look to improve financial literacy. They add that there needs to be better investor protection and a system for addressing customer complaints. They even have the radical idea of there being incentives put in place to encourage financial literacy among low-income households, a financial reward given at random on a regular basis to a household that uses online financial services.

    The ultimate aim would be to nudge people in such a way that online financial services become the norm rather than cash transactions, such a nudge would improve processes in the financial sector but also protect people in a future crisis when we come to rely on the online world for the next new normal.

    Singh, K.N. and Malik, S. (2022) 'COVID-19 crisis – an opportunity for mainstreaming digital financial transactions', Int. J. Electronic Finance, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.269–290.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEF.2022.124479

  • When it comes to the donation of sperm or egg, gamete donation, there is an inherent ethical conflict – the right to privacy of the donor and the child's right to know their biological parent. Hanna Krushelnytska of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv discusses the legal nature of gamete donation in the International Journal of Public Law and Policy.

    Technology and medicine have brought us to a point in human history unlike any other, where we can carry out biological processes in vitro that once could only be done in vivo. As such, there are now many people in the world who were born through an unconventional meeting of sperm and egg. Technically, we might talk of "assisted reproduction" or "artificial reproduction", but there is, of course, nothing artificial about the person's humanity. The law, however, is often slow to keep up with technological advances and the moral dilemmas they often bring with them.

    Krushelnytska has looked at legislation around the world surrounding donor anonymity and the rights of the children born through assisted reproduction. The conflicts are essentially enshrined in different laws wherein they are regarded as medical laws in some contexts but also commercial law where the legislation encompasses the transactions and payments that might be made. Of course, the laws are asymmetrical when considering sperm and egg and how those are obtained and used.

    There is an urgent need for tangled legal structures to be unknotted and the rights of donors and children to be clarified. How this might be done successfully given the inherent conflicting status of the various parties remains to be seen.

    Krushelnytska, H. (2022) 'On the legal nature of gamete donation', Int. J. Public Law and Policy, Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4, pp.256–270.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJPLAP.2022.124428

  • Working from home became, if not obligatory, then certainly de facto for many employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this stage in the pandemic as the new normal becomes entrenched the advantages of working from home have been recognised by employee and employer alike and for many the pandemic practice has become de rigueur.

    Researchers from Oman writing in the International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation have looked at the stresses and strains that the practice of homeworking has put on employees and the people they live with. Anna C. Bocar of the Faculty of Business Management Studies at Gulf College in Maabelah, Muscat and Shad Ahmad Khan and Ferdinand J. Epoc of the College of Business at the University of Buraimi in Al Buraimi found that fundamentally issues arise because the home does not necessarily have the infrastructure or facilities for many types of job.

    Jobs that were pushed out of the workplace and into domesticity by social distancing, lockdown, and isolation rules meant employees had to find ways to carry on their normal work in the domestic setting in a way that many had not done before and also to accommodate family life. Employees in all kinds of sector – legal, financial, media, any where communication and work could be digitalised were affected.

    The team found that it is the employee's personal perspective that mattered the most in terms of the stresses and strains they faced during enforced working from home. Moreover, only when employees begin to take action themselves to remove the stressors that their employers recognise the problems and take action themselves, the employers are not proactive in helping their employees, in other words. The research points to how things must change if employees are to carry on working from home and for those who return to the workplace how things must change before the next major crisis.

    Bocar, A.C., Khan, S.A. and Epoc, F.J. (2022) 'COVID-19 work from home stressors and the degree of its impact: employers and employees actions', Int. J. Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.270–291.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTTC.2022.124349

  • Researchers in China discuss the concept of "digital twins" as might be used to improve efficiency and yields, cut costs, and improve safety in agriculture. Details are published in the International Journal of Adaptive and Innovative Systems.

    A "digital twin" is commonly thought of as being a dynamic, computerized representation of a physical or object or system that models that object or process in real-time. It can be manipulated to see how "virtual" changes made to the object or system might affect their real-world counterparts. The original concept of this kind of simulation emerged from work on "information mirroring models" at the University of Michigan by Michael Grieves, although the term "digital twin" was first used by the US Air Force Laboratory in 2009 and then by NASA in its efforts to model the behaviour and response of its spacecraft. Of course, as with many advanced systems and simulations there is no single definition.

    Researchers at the China University of Petroleum (East China) in Qingdao and Qingdao University point out that digital twins have been used in a variety of contexts and suggest that the time is ripe for digital twins to be used in agriculture. The team explains that digital twins can act as "a bridge between the physical world and the digital world". As such, they need to be built on various underlying technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality but might also incorporate aspects of model-based systems engineering and digital threading. There is, of course, the scope for artificial intelligence and machine learning to play a role. The internet of things is the foundation on which a digital twin is constructed acting to connect the real world to the virtual.

    Digital twins have been used in manufacturing, in city planning, and even on the battlefield. Given that agriculture in many parts of the world is based on often centuries-old approaches, the digital twin concept is set to revolutionise farming life. It will allow simulations of agricultural activities to be carried out as well as assist with remote monitoring, control, and coordination of those activities on the farm.

    Zhao, Y., Jiang, Z., Qiao, L., Guo, J., Pang, S. and Lv, Z. (2022) 'Agricultural digital twins', Int. J. Adaptive and Innovative Systems, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.144–156.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAIS.2022.124364

  • Fuzzy logic processing has been used to carry out an analysis of performance in social media networking. Details can be found in the International Journal of Fuzzy Computation and Modelling.

    Ridhima Mehta of the School of Computer and Systems Sciences at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, explains how fuzzy logic, with its roots in 1960s computer science, can be used to help us solve a very modern problem: handling the huge streams of data from social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and finding ways to analyse and interpret connectivity and sentiment in those streams.

    Social media has become almost ubiquitous in many parts of the world, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people rely on it for entertainment, news, business, communication with friends, family, and colleagues, and more. The huge quantities of information shuttled around the various networks is almost impossible to process given how disparate messages and updates, content, and context can be. Fuzzy logic, an extension of the far more conventional Boolean logic, offers a tool to process datasets in a more useful manner than attempting to analyse word-by-word or sentence-by-sentence.

    The team demonstrated proof of principle with a multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) fuzzy inference system. The inputs, Mehta explains, are processed based on the concepts and operations associated with the fuzzy set theory coupled with the stored knowledge in the form of a rule base. Outputs are based on these inputs. Error rates were at least 90 percent improved on existing methods, Mehta found.

    Mehta explains that the proposed fuzzy-based design can be integrated with other multiple-objective optimisation techniques such as genetic algorithms, Markov decision process, particle swarm optimisation to obtain several optimal social networking performance objectives.

    Mehta, R. (2022) 'Applying fuzzy logic for multicriteria performance analysis of social media networking', Int. J. Fuzzy Computation and Modelling, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.51–72.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJFCM.2022.124375

  • The "glass ceiling" is a metaphor for the barriers facing women and various minorities in the workplace when they strive for promotion or other improvements in their career. Research published in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management, compares the phenomenon in the European Union and the USA.

    Saška Gavrilovska and Balasundram Maniam of the Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, USA, have found that the glass ceiling has been raised somewhat in recent times with many women and members of minority groups achieving higher mid-level positions at many companies and institutions. However, the barrier is still very much in evidence in terms of limited opportunities to break through the glass ceiling to top-level management positions. The team suggests that personality differences, discrimination, and the challenges of motherhood and childcare often reinforce the glass ceiling.

    Earlier work and common experience suggest that there remain significant inequities between men and women and between majority and minority groups. Pay and grade disparities remain strong. To reduce workplace discrimination and promote gender and equality in general, there is a need for improved rights and policies, which should be adopted by companies and enacted in law. The EU and USA do have in place policies to improve rights, but there are many gaps, oversights, and loopholes that mean the glass ceiling, while slightly higher than in the past, remains a major barrier for women and minority groups.

    Gavrilovska, S. and Maniam, B. (2022) 'The glass ceiling phenomenon in the US and EU labour market: a comparative study', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp.422–438.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSOM.2022.124282

News

New Editor for International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology

Prof. Yaodong Gu from Ningbo University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology.

New Editor for International Journal of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics

Prof. Kean C. Aw from the University of Auckland in New Zealand has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics.

International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies is now an open access-only journal

We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies is now an Open Access-only journal. All accepted articles submitted from 14 July 2022 onwards will be Open Access, and will require an article processing charge of US $1500.

Improved impact factors for Inderscience journals

Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to report that the following journals have improved the impact factor allocated to them by Clarivate' Science Citation Index Expanded:

International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing
International Journal of Environment and Pollution
International Journal of Exergy
International Journal of Materials and Product Technology
International Journal of Vehicle Design

New Editor for International Journal of the Digital Human

Prof. Marina L. Gavrilova from the University of Calgary in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of the Digital Human.