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- You can tell me by the way I walk
The walking style, or gait, of women in the third trimester of pregnancy changes significantly from that seen in the earlier steps of the pregnancy and is markedly different from that observed in women who are not pregnant. The adaptations are assumed to be in response to the changing weight, posture and balance of the women at that stage. Understanding the changes could be used to help design footwear or physiotherapy to reduce pain caused by the attendant joint redistribution.
Research published in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology discusses the study of gait in pregnancy and offers insights into the problems that arise and how they might best be avoided.
Yang Song, Minjun Liang, and Wenlan Lian of the Human Movement Research Center in the Faculty of Sports Science at Ningbo University in Zhejiang, China, examined the walking gait of pregnant and non-pregnant women using foot kinematics and the Oxford foot model. Three-dimensional motion of the forefoot, hindfoot and tibia during walking were recorded using a Vicon motion analysis system and two force platforms were used to record the ground reaction force.
Pregnant women "demonstrated greater plantar flexion and internal rotation of hindfoot and internal tibial rotation during initial contact, greater forefoot eversion and hindfoot external rotation during push off," the team writes. "Moreover, pregnant women showed greater external tibial rotation than non-pregnant women during toe off and the centre of pressure trajectory moved to the second to third metatarsal at this stage."
Such detailed findings might help guide physiotherapy if the changes are causing pain or perhaps guide the design of specific footwear or supportive equipment in extreme cases to ameliorate pain and discomfort and reduce the risk of injury or persistent damage to joints.
Song, Y., Liang, M. and Lian, W. (2020) 'A comparison of foot kinematics between pregnant and non-pregnant women using the Oxford foot model during walking', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp.20–30.
- The lockdown learning curve
How rapidly does a learning curve decline during a period of prolonged interruption? That's the question asked by US researchers in the International Journal of Quality Engineering and Technology. Adedeji Badiru of the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, USA, has specifically looked at how the "lockdown" response to the global Covid-19 pandemic has affected business, industry, academia, and government.
There is perhaps insufficient "live data" to draw solid conclusions. Badiru has nevertheless found that workers, as a result of being barred from practising their normal functions and learning on the job, have experienced a decline in performance. The restrictive nature of lockdown implemented to reduce the spread of the virus has led to performance degradation.
He has postulated an analytical framework that researchers can use as new data emerges to allow empirical modelling of the adverse impacts of the lockdown on learning curves. The inherent concern with such adversity in the face of the global pandemic is that a decline in learning can translate to a decline in quality of work and quality of products. He suggests retrospective research might now follow in the wake of his IJQET column.
Badiru, A. (2020) 'Quality insight: exponential decay of quality learning curves during COVID-19 lockdown', Int. J. Quality Engineering and Technology, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp.106–117.
- Improving European smart cities
The rush to urbanisation is inevitably characterised by more and more city dwellers. As population densities increase old infrastructure becomes less effective, less efficient. Air and water quality are compromised, public waste management is over-burdened, and the cities become decreasingly dependent on non-renewable energies and unsustainable systems. There is little time, capacity or resources available to ensure the growth takes into account environmental factors and addresses the issue of quality of life for those city dwellers.
The notion of a smart city might sound quite futuristic but there is an urgency now to face the problems of urbanisation with smart tools and systems rather than clinging to archaic ways. Smart cities could ultimately help us reduce road traffic congestion through improved public transport systems while the digitalisation of many public services would improve management of resources and waste in ways that have not been possible before.
Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Policy and Decision Making has assessed the state-of-art definitions of the so-called smart city and offers a critical reflection of this paradigm for urban growth. Gabriella Arcese and colleagues at the Università degli Studi Niccolò Cusano in Rome, Italy, have analysed smart city best practices in pioneering cities in Italy (Bologna, Florence, Milan) and Germany (Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Leipzig) that have core dimensions of technology, community, and policy.
The team has identified the advances various smart city efforts have made as well as their shortcomings so far.
"Sustainable and safe neighbourhoods, building safety, co-working, waste management; health and welfare, through the optimisation of processes and business intelligence, e-care, e-health; education and technical education, through the development of smart city projects should be included in the development model," they suggest.
Arcese, G., Schabel, L., Elmo, G.C. and Risso, M. (2019) 'Smart city in Europe: comparative analysis between Italy and Germany development', Int. J. Environmental Policy and Decision Making, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp.330–359.
- Stock in the time of Covid
Researchers in India have analysed financial data from the quarter immediately before the first public reports of the emergence of a new potentially lethal coronavirus, now identified as SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19. They have compared this final quarter of the year 2019 with the first quarter of 2020 as the virus spread around the world and was declared an international pandemic.
Amalendu Bhunia of the Department of Commerce at the University of Kalyani, and Soumya Ganguly of the Department of Commerce at Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College both in West Bengal, India, have looked at the daily time-series data obtained from the "yahoo.finance" database looking at eight stock markets. They used various statistical tools, descriptive statistics, the GARCH model, the EGARCH model, and the TGARCH model to examine financial volatility immediately before and immediately after the recognition of the virus as a major threat to human health. The team provides details of their study in the International Journal of Financial Services Management.
The team found from their descriptive statistics results that Germany and Indian stock prices were the most volatile and those in the UK the least prior to Covid-19. During the initial three months of the Covid-19 period, stock markets in Italy and Spain were more volatile than those of the USA and Russia. The data also reveals a leveraging effect alongside volatility that leads to spillover from one stockmarket into another. The work points to how investors might ensure greater resilience in the wake of bad news on a global scale.
Bhunia, A. and Ganguly, S. (2020) 'An assessment of volatility and leverage effect before and during the period of Covid-19: a study of selected international stock markets', Int. J. Financial Services Management, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.113–127.
- What do you want from your smart watch?
New research published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications has surveyed customers regarding their use of branded apps on their smartwatches. The analysis of the survey results reveals the external factors that influence the intention to use and tracks the relationship between factors using a technology acceptance model.
Meuel Jeong, Kyeongjin Park, and Kyungdoh Kim of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea, also analysed to survey data to reveal what kinds of smartwatch brand apps users would use and found music, weather information, basic telephone function, social networking, navigation, basic text messaging, productivity, and health were most commonly used. Apps for reading e-books, playing games, associated with sports, entertainment, QR code/barcode recognition, finance, photography, and video were not so popular on smartwatches.
Such insights feed into how brands can best engage with putative customers knowing that they favour certain types of apps on their smartwatches and not others.
They suggest that companies hoping to engage customers through brand apps need to ensure that the app is as easy to use as possible and offering low complexity and no financial risk. They point out that there is a market for those kinds of apps already being used but suggests that certain other kinds of apps that are perhaps more suited to smartphones and tablets not be pursued as avenues for marketing and increasing brand awareness on smartwatches, such as QR code/barcode recognition apps, financial apps and photo and video apps.
Jeong, M., Park, K. and Kim, K. (2020) 'A survey of what customers want in smartwatch brand applications', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp.540–558.
- Lessons from the Thai cave rescue
Twelve boys and their expedition leader were trapped deep inside the "Tham Luang Nang Non" cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand on a birthday celebration trip that went terribly wrong. Ultimately, they were all rescued, but the rescue took two weeks.
Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, researchers discuss the lessons that have been learned from this rescue operation. Pichaphob Panphae of the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Ravee Phoewhawm working at Chongqing Technology and Business University in China have examined the details of the daily events that ended with a successful rescue and their interpretation may well guide future rescues in similar circumstances.
Their main conclusion is that success may well have hinged on coordination among the teams involved in the rescue. Without coordination there may well have been a tragic outcome.
The team details the lessons in terms of the benefits of rescue teams being creative, innovating to face challenges, dealing with constraints, reducing timewasting, managing accidents and mistakes, and coping with deaths should they occur. Importantly, the wellbeing of rescuers must be taken into consideration at such stressful and often desperate times.
Panphae, P. and Phoewhawm, R. (2020) 'Search and rescue mission teaming lessons from the 13 trapped inside a Thai cave', Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.78–110.
- Instagram esteem
Instagram, the well-known social media and social networking platform that allows users to share photographs, videos, and other images from their smart phones or other devices is ten years old in October 2020. Its first incarnation was as an application or "app" on Apple devices which run the iOS system.
It was eventually made available for all kinds of operating systems. It was bought by the more general social networking platform Facebook in April 2012. The system can be by turns whimsical, amusing, frustrating, trivial, and even worrying, depending on perspective, personal ethics, and politics. But, at heart, it is essentially a way for hundreds of millions of people to share images with each other, publicly or to some extent privately.
Researchers in South Korea have looked closely at how Instagram use is related to affluence estimates, materialism, and self-esteem. Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, they allude to a "glamourous world" and have used cultivation theory to examine in what ways Instagram use related to various personal characteristics, positively or negatively.
Yoori Hwang of the Department of Digital Media at Myongji University and Se-Hoon Jeong of the School of Media and Communication at Korea University both in Seoul, carried out an online survey of 530 adult users in their country. The team found that Instagram use is positively related to affluence estimates and materialistic values. Additionally, it was indirectly related to lower self-esteem mediated by greater materialistic beliefs.
The team alludes to the study putting Instagram into a cultural context. They also say it points out that there is perhaps a need for greater literacy education regarding social networking sites. Such education might help address the potentially damaging, negative effects on self-esteem of using certain digital tools and apps.
Hwang, Y. and Jeong, S-H. (2020) 'The glamorous world: how Instagram use is related to affluence estimates, materialism, and self-esteem', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp.559–570.
- Data mining windpower
Boris Johnson infamously once wrote that wind power can barely "pull the skin off a rice pudding". At the time of writing, he perspective has changed, and speaking as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom he is suggesting that every home might be powered by wind turbines by the year 2030. There remains much work to be done to make such visions, which are widespread among other leaders looking for renewable, sustainable, and zero-carbon energy sources in the face of climate change and uncertain fossil fuel security in coming years.
Writing in the International Journal of Information and Communication Technology, Jianfeng Che, Bo Wang, and Shitao Chen of the China Electric Power Research Institute in Beijing and Guangzhou Maxkwh Information Technology Co., Ltd. in China, point out flaws in the data handling and modelling of wind power that must be addressed to allow the technology to mature more effectively. They explain that data noise and poor fitting between wind measurement values and real values are hampering the modelling process for wind power development.
As such, the researchers are now proposing an approach to data mining of short-term wind measurements through wind farms based on multi-technology fusion. Their approach can identify and correct for anomalous data points. "The short-term wind data are de-noised by wavelet decomposition and normalised," the team explains. The whole process is more effective and faster than other procedures, they suggest.
Che, J., Wang, B. and Chen, S. (2020) 'Analysis of data mining method for short-term wind measurement of wind farm based on multi-technology fusion', Int. J. Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.211–225.
- Tightening water security through rainwater harvesting
Water security is likely to be one of the most critical challenges facing humanity in the coming years. As such rainwater harvesting where it is possible is one possible solution in some contexts. Research published in the International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology, has reviewed the state of the art for rainwater harvesting in urban areas of developed nations as the technology has changed and evolved from 1980 onwards.
Alvaro-Francisco Morote of the University of Valencia, María Hernández of the University of Alicante, both in Spain, and Saeid Eslamian of Isfahan University of Technology, in Isfahan, Iran, explain that rainwater is paradoxically seen as a risk factor rather than a valuable resource in many developed places. A change in paradigm might involve 'integrated water resources management' and 'demand management' approaches and as such could ultimately address the problem of water security even in such places.
There is growing recognition, that rainwater harvesting could help in terms of water security but could also be useful in reducing the problems of flooding and polluted water problems if the management and technology are put in place in a timely manner. The team reiterates predictions from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that points to areas such as the countries of The Mediterranean where future climate change scenarios, forecast increasing periods of drought interspersed with intense and concentrated rainfall.
Rainwater harvesting can have a doubled-edged benefit in taking pressure of a scarce resource and at the same time putatively handling the problem of flooding at its source in many parts of the region.
Morote, A-F., Hernández, M. and Eslamian, S. (2020) 'Rainwater harvesting in urban areas of developed countries. The state of the art (1980–2017)', Int. J. Hydrology Science and Technology, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp.448–470.
- Integrated hydrogen storage for fuel cell cars
There is a drive to displace fossil fuels in power generation and transport with sustainable alternatives. One approach that has been discussed over the last few decades is a future zero-carbon, hydrogen economy wherein hydrogen is generated from renewables and used to feed fuel cells in cars. Fuel cells are essentially electrical batteries that can be fed chemical energy continuously to generate electricity. Unfortunately, hydrogen gas is a hazardous substance and so safe storage in a fuel tank in such a vehicle has been a roadblock to advances in this area.
Now, Saumen Dutta and Sri Harshith Dosapati of Vellore Institute of Technology at VIT University, in Tamil Nadu, India, have discussed how hydrogen storage might be integrated into the vehicular fuel cell itself. Writing in "Progress in Industrial Ecology – An International Journal", the team explains how switching to renewable is now of paramount importance given carbon emissions and their impact on climate as well as the likelihood that fossil fuel sources will become increasingly scarce or inaccessible for geological and political reasons.
The team's work focuses on carbon nanotubes as a storage option for hydrogen as opposed to simply pressuring the gas which comes with the risk of explosion. Carbon nanotubes would provide a vast surface area within a small volume on to which hydrogen molecules would be adsorbed into a much more stable form than pressurized gas. They write that they have achieved uptake at a level of just over 1.14 weight percent at 50 megapascals of pressure at the relatively mild temperature of 283 Kelvin, nominally about 10 degrees above room temperature. The team used germanium-doped carbon nanotubes to achieve this.
They then coupled this storage system to a fuel cell and could demonstrate a constant flow rate of hydrogen into the fuel cell. The cell could consume this chemical energy source and steadily develop more than 10 kilowatts of power.
In a working vehicle, the team explains that lightweight composite materials could be used to contain the doped carbon nanotube powder and to ensure the pressure is maintained to facilitate storage. Some of the power generated would be required to maintain the contents of the integrated fuel tank at the requisite storage temperature of 283 Kelvin. Obviously, in hotter climates this would require a far smaller proportion of the fuel cell output than would be needed when driving in the cold. Optimisation of the synthetic and fabrication procedures for such a storage method would bring it closer to economic viability.
Dutta, S. and Dosapati, S.H. (2020) 'Hydrogen storage system integrated with fuel cell', Progress in Industrial Ecology – An International Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.140–161.
New Editor for International Journal of Mining and Mineral Engineering
Prof. S.J. Jung from the University of Idaho in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Mining and Mineral Engineering.
New Editor for International Journal of Migration and Border Studies
Associate Prof. Sasha Baglay from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.
New Editor for International Journal of Nuclear Knowledge Management
Dr. John W. Roberts from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Nuclear Knowledge Management.
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.