2019 Journal news
Aaker's brand personality scale (BPS), rooted in the big five personality traits theory has previously been used in studying how commercial brands are perceived with a view to helping the people marketing those brands engage more putative customers and clients. Now, M. Mutsikiwa and T. Maree of the Department of Marketing Management at the University of Pretoria in South Africa have applied BPS to the well-known online brands of Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Brand personality applies human-like characteristics to brands and attempts to offer business owners and marketers a way to conceptualise and perhaps even anthropomorphise the products and services they are hoping to sell. Now, writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, the team suggests from their analysis that these online, or digital, brands, do not stick to the BPS rules as set out for more conventional brands and products.
Other researchers in this sphere are quoted by the team: "One of the motivations for creating brand personalities is that attractive brand personalities could potentially lead to long-term relationships between the brand and its consumers", "Commonly, human personality traits are transferred to brands via advertising", and "direct contact with a brand may also be instrumental in creating brand personality, as it forms in the mind of the consumer due to how the consumer perceives the brand." This sets the tone for the new insights into BPS of digital brands.
Based on their study, the team concludes that all three social media tools are to some extent seen as featuring excitement as a "personality" trait. Facebook and YouTube also share the characteristic of sincerity. In the light of recent revelations about social media's role in politics and other walks of life, it would be interesting to know whether the association with that trait has changed in recent months since this research was undertaken. The team adds that LinkedIn appears unique among the social media in this research in that it prominently features the "competence" personality trait.
The association of human personality traits with social media that is not seen to such a degree in other brands, suggests that the social media platforms themselves are somehow perceived as being more "human" in nature than conventional brands and product categories. This is perhaps an inevitable consequence of social media being so obviously social and the "product" being the people who use the platforms.More details...
There are countless computer algorithms that simulate biological behaviour from leaping frogs, to bat foraging, from cuckoo search to ant colony optimisation. They all have something in common, the algorithm behaves like a collective intelligence, taking on the call and response of a shoal of fish or a murmuration of starlings, and all those other patterns in nature. Writing in the International Journal of Swarm Intelligence, a team from India discusses the state of the art in a unique algorithm based on a biological system – the spider monkey.
Spider monkeys have a "fusion-fission" social structure where a large social group will split into smaller hordes or vice versa depending on the accessibility and availability of food. Janmenjoy Nayak of Aditya Institute of Technology and Management in Andhra Pradesh, India, and colleagues have looked at the spider monkey optimisation algorithm, which embeds this behaviour to allow it to solve otherwise intractable problems. SMO algorithms are, the team reports, particularly useful in solving electrical and electronic engineering, wireless sensor network, pattern recognition, power system and networks, and data mining problems.
Their survey of the state of the art in SMO and its variants and how it can successfully deal with difficult authentic world optimization problems should serve to inspire practitioners and researchers to innovate in this area even more. Moreover, the success of the SMO hints at the potential of different behaviour in other species such as squirrel monkey, vervet monkey, and proboscis monkey, that might also be simulated to good effect.More details...
Can a smart new façade improve air quality in older buildings, cut energy demands on heating and cooling systems, and perhaps mitigate carbon emissions to some extent? A detailed answer might lie in research published in the World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development.
Katerina Tsikaloudaki, Theodoros Theodosiou, Dimitra Tsirigoti, Stella Tsoka, and Dimitrios Bikas of the Department of Civil Engineering at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in Thessaloniki, Greece, and Asier Martinez-Urrutia and Julen Hernández González of Tecnalia Research and Innovation in Gipuzkoa, Spain hoped to identify the energy benefits that arise when existing buildings are retrofitted with an advanced ventilated façade system. The system in question is E2VENT system, which comprises an advanced ventilated façade, a heat exchanger, a heat-storage and a smart management system. The team explains that the system can address problems of heat loss during cold periods as well as reduce poor air quality problems that often prevail in older buildings.
The team's case study looked at buildings that house several families and found in all cases that the system reduced heating loads significantly. Cooling loads were reduced by a moderate amount. Overall, there were considerable energy savings for such buildings and concomitant lower emissions of carbon dioxide than with the same type of building left unmodified. The team adds that the E2EVENT system represents a holistic approach, addressing both the opaque and the transparent building elements (walls and windows, in other words) and constitutes an interesting area for further research studies, they conclude.More details...
When we grow crops a huge amount of energy goes into their production and harvesting. In general, there is also a lot of waste when the wheat is separated from the chaff, so to speak, and stubble trouble is a common problem for wheat and rice and other cereal crops. Now, work on the energy content and potential to do work, exergy, of rice straw suggests that we might have an alternative to simply digging stubble in or burning it.
Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, Edelvy Bravo Amarante of the University of Sancti Spíritus 'José Martí Pérez', Cuba, and colleagues there and at the University of Cienfuegos, the Technological University of Havana 'Jose Antonio Echevarria', and the University of Kassel, Germany, explain the potential of rice straw.
The team's calculations suggest that the greatest benefit is the conversion of rice straw to biomethane for further conversion into biodiesel products and production of electricity using generated biogas. This "valorization" can be carried out through anaerobic digestion. The greatest gains in exergy flow are seen in these processes. Moreover, the conversion overall has benefits in terms of lower carbon emissions compared to fossil fuel production and electricity generation, when the full life cycle is taken into account.
Given the vast amounts of rice that are grown in Cuba and more broadly Latin America, there is a need and an application for the rice straw that is otherwise simply a waste product.More details...
Is it possible to extract "journalistic" as opposed to "general" commentary from social media? Writing in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing, a team from Portugal describes an approach to human and automatic extraction of updates and reports one might describe as coming from citizen journalists. Their algorithm is trained on automatically annotated and human-annotated data sets and shows that the wholly automated approach homes in on "ground truth" data much more efficiently and effectively than when the data has had the human touch.
Nuno Guimarães, Filipe Miranda, and Álvaro Figueira of the University of Porto explain how social networks and social media have provided the means for constant connectivity and fast information dissemination. Eyewitnesses to events and happenings the world over can share information and insight in real-time from a sports event or other entertainment, from the scene of a disaster, crime, or other happening, in a way that is impossible for members of the conventional media unless they happen to be at the scene themselves. Moreover, citizen journalists can add a personal perspective that is precluded from independent journalist inquiry.
The automated algorithm builds up an internal trust that is not possible when human, subjective, classification is carried out. After a sufficient number of training data points, the system can unambiguously discern which updates are based on personal beliefs and which are ground truth.More details...
The concept of the smart home has been around for many decades, but it is only in recent years with the advent of the so-called "internet of things", IoT, that meters and monitoring, cameras, locking systems, heating systems, and entertainment and information devices, have led to many homes having some degree of genuine smartness. Of course, with connectivity and utility come security problems. For instance, a malicious third party might find access to the home's wireless network, reprogram the smart TV, turn up the heating, disable the air conditioning, or even open the front door and allow them to remove all your smart devices and redeploy them elsewhere.
Now, Utkarsh Saxena, J.S. Sodhi, and Rajneesh Tanwar of Amity University, in Noida, India, have discussed the options surrounding smart home security in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics. Their survey suggests that security and privacy of the smart home network might best be augmented using the blockchain concept, borrowed from the realm of cryptocurrencies.
A blockchain is a list of records held in digital form, these records or blocks, are linked sequentially and encrypted so that each block is linked to the cryptographic hash of the previous block in the chain. The blockchain carries a timestamp and transaction data for each block and because of the way they are connected the blockchain as a whole cannot be altered in any way without destroying it completely, hence its validity in cryptocurrency and now potentially for other kinds of security, specifically that of the smart home network. The team suggests that adding IoT devices, which are often utilizing distributed resources and services, using a blockchain means that malicious third parties cannot access or interfere with any part of the system without disrupting the system as a whole and thence triggering a security lockdown.More details...
Every day, tens of millions of electronic devices are connected to the internet – mobile phones, tablets, PCs, web cams, smart TVs, smart refrigerators, home thermostats, industrial and environmental sensors, medical equipment. The list goes on.
Now, writing in the International Journal of Cloud Computing a research team from India and Vietnam has surveyed the state of the art in terms of the so-called internet-of-things (IoT) and its counterpart the cloud-of-things (CoT). R. Mohanasundaram of the School of Computer Science and Engineering, at VIT, in Vellore, India, and colleagues Navin Kumar and Rishikesh Mule, working with Kathirvel Brindhadevi at Ton Duc Thang University, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam discuss the growth an interconnectivity and explain how the disparate devices hooked up to the internet, the IoT has a relatively new counterpart the CoT where those devices utilize the remote and distributed computing and data storage resources we loosely refer to as the cloud.
Their main conclusion is that the integration of IoT devices with the benefits of CoT could improve efficiency and efficacy for the whole. The team also points out a few limitations of this evolving paradigm and explains how a novel "fog computing" framework might circumvent the problems particularly in the realm of smart monitoring.More details...
Twitter has become the main micro-blogging hub around the world where opinions are shared at an incredible rate. How to extract useful information in different languages from the vast repositories of data? That is the question answered by research published in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining.
Bidhan Sarkar, Manob Roy, Pijush Kanti Dutta Pramanik, and Prasenjit Choudhury of the National Institute of Technology of West Bengal, in Durgapur, India and colleague Nilanjan Sinhababu of the Sanaka Educational Trust's Group of Institutions, also in Durgapur, suggest that interpreting, comprehending, and analyzing this emotion-rich information can unearth many valuable insights. They add that the job is trivial if the tweets are in English given the ubiquity of that language on the internet and the nature of tools and software available for data mining.
Recently, however, there has been an increase in the use of languages other than English and researchers would like to be able to access and analyze the output to Twitter and other platforms in those other languages too. The team's solution seems unsubtle but will probably be the most effective way forward. They have developed a system that automatically identifies and classifies tweets in a language other than English irrespective of the linguistic script or "alphabet" used and converts the tweets into English!
The team calls their system Script Identification, Language Analysis, and Clustered Mining, which makes for a faux acronym of SILC, although strictly speaking it should be abbreviated as SILACM to be sensible albeit unpronounceable. When the framework is used with the top two languages of India other than English it performs with greater precision than current technology.More details...
Philippe Jougleux of the School of Law at the European University Cyprus investigates the notion of freedom of speech in the context of European Union law in the International Journal of Electronic Governance.
He analyses the general legal regulation of online freedom of expression with reference to the three-part test and the specific case of hate speech. He also then shows how copyright law, as a case study, is related to the balancing of rights as applied by the courts with respect to the mechanism of blocking orders. Online freedom of expression is also considered in some detail.
Free speech is considered a critical part of democracy. Everyone is seen as being entitled to their opinion and their right to express it provided it does not break specific laws surrounding bigotry and incitement to violence and riot, for instance. Moreover, while everyone has the right to freedom of speech, their fellow citizens have the counterpart right to ignore those opinions. Jougleux considers the relatively novel and fragile concept of "neutrality" in this context.
In terms of what we might refer to as the online world, or digital realm, of social media, podcasts, and websites, the online intermediaries – the service and application (app) providers – are essentially protected by the freedom of expression only as a mean to an end. This means that their systems allow users within a democratic jurisdiction to be able to express their opinions and to receive information only insofar as that is not in breach of the law.More details...
Social media applications, such as Twitter, are becoming increasingly important modes of information dissemination especially in times of crises, where individuals can provide insight and information to those involved and those outside in a much more timely manner than traditional media. Writing in the International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies, researchers from Greece explain how they have analysed the rumour mill that is social media, with specific reference to Twitter.
"Twitter users collectively cover the main aspects of disasters from many angles," the team found. They suggest that official agencies should recognise just how important social media can be during a crisis and see it as a potential tool not only for informal social reporting but also for providing collective intelligence at "ground zero". By bearing this in mind it could be possible to use it as a tool to help those attempting to manage a crisis, whether a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or large-scale industrial accident, to adapt to the situation to endless uncertainties and to ensure conservation of life and the environment.
The team shows how personal anxiety, user reputation, and many other factors feed into the credibility and perceive importance of any given information disseminated on Twitter and whether or not it is considered nothing but rumour or actual fact. Such factors must also be taken into account by so-called stakeholders attempting crisis management as well as those affected by the crisis directly.More details...
Emissions from Asian slums could be a contributory factor in changing weather patterns, according to work published in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution, perhaps leading to worsening windspeeds, but less rainfall.
Sat Ghosh and Aditi Palsapure of VIT University, in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India, Alan Gadian and Steve Dobbie of the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, in the School of Earth and Environment, at the University of Leeds, UK, Arkayan Samaddar of the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, at Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, in Pennsylvania, USA, Anuj Sharma of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Cranfield University, Bedford, UK, and Pranav Chandramouli of Fluminance at the Universitaire de Beaulieu, in Rennes, France, provide the details.
The team explains that climate models have already hinted that local emissions could be affecting the formation and progress of cyclonic storms. They point out that the eastern coast of India, home to several mega cities, is routinely battered by such storms from October to December. These cities, the team explains, house millions of slum dwellers who cook their meals over unseasoned wood fires, which generates vast quantities of airborne biomass particles, which chemically age within the polluted air mass above the cities making them active as cloud condensation nuclei.
The team has taken as a case study Hurricane Thane, which seems to have been modulated by such transient emissions, leading to devastation of the coast of Tamil Nadu on the 30th December 2011. The team's calculations show that the conversion rate of cloud water to rain was altered by up to 12% with an increase of 20.5% in the amount of water held in clouds rather than falling as rain when pollution effects were present. This could be an ongoing problem for water-scarce region of Southern India.More details...
Research published in the International Journal of Electronic Governance has investigated whether any of five "anonymous" social media applications are secure in that they do not allow a third party to see personal data or track the users.
Vasileios Chatzistefanou and Konstantinos Limniotis of the Open University of Cyprus, explain how anonymization of personal data should protect user privacy from data mining and data publishing systems. However, this may well not always be the case. Indeed, removing personal identifiers does not ensure privacy as there are techniques that can easily be employed to build a unique fingerprint based on the characteristics of the data itself, which then be used to home in on the identity of a user with or without additional information.
It has been known for a long time that three pieces of information – birth date, sex and zip code – can be used to identify 87 percent of the US population. Moreover, if such information is not available to another party wishing to de-anonymize activity on a given device or in an application, then data points such as identity mobile subscriber identity (IMSI), media access control (MAC) address, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), Android ID, Google Advertising ID (GAID), and so on, can be used to focus on what is essentially a unique fingerprint for a given device and thence perhaps the user. Anonymity cannot be guaranteed, it seems within any system or application regardless of promises and regardless of regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for citizens of the European Union (EU).
Fundamentally, "Our analysis concludes that there is personal data processing in place even in so-called anonymous applications which in turn implies that a user's anonymity cannot be ensured, whilst the corresponding privacy policies may leave room for further improvement," the team writes.More details...
A cold-blood marine animal, such as the giant squid, Architeuthis, might be one of the few beneficiaries of global warming. Given that its axonic activity is limited by the environmental temperature at which it finds itself, even small increases can lead to a reduction in entropy making living fundamentally easier for the squid, according to research published in the International Journal of Global Warming.
Bahar Hazal Yalçinkaya of the Department of Genetics and Bioengineering at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering there, and Bayram Yilmaz of the Department of Physiology at Yeditepe University Hospital, also in Istanbul, point out that there are several types of creature that have been shown to thrive in the face of global warming. For instance, there is evidence that many pest species, weeds, and parasites fare better in the face of climate change. And, in the marine environment, it seems so do squid.
The team has looked at why this might be the case for the latter. Their thermodynamic analysis of information transmission in the squid giant axon, or nerve cell, shows a definitely lower increase in entropy when the environmental temperature rose. The team suggests this is reflected in an easier life for the squid at a higher temperature, offering an explanation as to why they might thrive under global warming conditions.More details...
A statistical approach could be used to allow a communication system to carry out self-optimisation, according to research published in the International Journal of Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems.
Jose Aguilar, Kristell Aguilar, and José Torres of the Universidad de Los Andes, in Mérida, Venezuela, have proposed an autonomic communication system based on a Bayesian network and an ontology, which allows the system itself to make reconfiguration decisions. The ontology provides the necessary knowledge about performance factors and the relationships within the network. The statistical system then adjusts factors within the system to optimise performance based on that knowledge, acting as a stochastic reasoning mechanism.
The team has demonstrated in simulations how their approach improves performance significantly particularly for scenarios where there are high reconfiguration requirements. The adaptive self-optimising approach improves flow rate, reduces loss rate, and minimises delay within the system.More details...
Researchers from Australia and Germany have compared the national eHealth strategies in their respective countries and the compared and contrasted findings are combined in their report in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations.
Isabella Eigner, Andreas Hamper, and Freimut Bodendorf of FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, and Nilmini Wickramasinghe of Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, explain how the healthcare systems of the two countries share many traits in insurance and management and how both nations have initiated strategies to utilise information and communications technology (ICT) in healthcare, so-called eHealth. The aim being to improve healthcare by using digital services and raising service efficiency, reducing costs, and most importantly improving and patient outcomes as a result.
The team points out that while Australia has focused on a platform-based approach, which was originally known as the "personally controlled electronic health record", Germany has introduced a mandatory "electronic health card" for people with public health insurance. Their comparison of the effects of such steps in each country reveals the pros and cons of each approach in the context of two different nations, which might be used to improve the implementation of eHealth strategies elsewhere or offer the necessary detail to allow those already in place in Australia, Germany, and other countries to be improved.More details...
A review of the state-of-the-art in urban planning for sustainable cities has been undertaken by Rosario Adapon Turvey of Lakehead Universit in Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Details are reported in the International Journal of the Sustainable Society and suggest that challenges and current perspectives discerned from the research literature might point the way towards a sustainable future based on a thorough understanding of the trends and developments taking place around the world.
"Recent intellectual inquiry has centred on the conceptualisation and knowledge production in creating sustainable cities," Turvey explains, while pointing out that although the current review may not be exhaustive it does reveal the current progress. The ultimate goal, she writes, is to provide local authorities, practitioners and/or city governments with some perspective and guidance in working towards urban sustainability in the future.
Research into sustainability has grown considerably in the last few decades. Indeed, great rigour has emerged since the 1980s and the discipline is maturing quickly. "Sustainability has been taken as a planning concept that had its beginnings in ecological thinking and economics and now widely applied to studies in urban development," she adds. Of course, by turns, it has been considered an oxymoron, overworked jargon, and hyperbole. Nevertheless, there is a pressing need to focus on sustainability if we are to surmount many of the problems of fuel and water supply, food security, and to address the problems we face as climate change becomes an increasingly pressing reality.
"As environmental concerns become part of development discourses, there is a need for optimism in the eventual refinement of the process to create 'sustainable cities' in the future," Turvey concludes.More details...
Uncovering trolls and malicious or spammy accounts on social media is increasingly difficult as the miscreants find more and more ways to camouflage themselves as seemingly legitimate. Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, researchers in India have developed an algorithm based on ant-colony optimisation that can effectively detect accounts that represent a threat to normal users.
Asha Kumari and Balkishan Department of Computer Science and Applications at Maharshi Dayanand University, in Rohtak, India, explain that the connections between twitter users are analogous to the pheromone chemical communication between ants and this can be modeled in an algorithm based on how ant colonies behave to reveal the strongest connections in the twitter network and so uncover the accounts that one might deem as threatening to legitimate users.
The team's tests on their system were successful in terms of precision, recall, f-measure, true-positive rate, and false-positive rate based on 26 features examined by the system played against almost 41500 user accounts attracted to honeypots. Moreover, they report that the approach is superior to existing techniques. The team adds that they hope to be able to improve the system still further by adding so-called machine learning into the algorithm so that it can be trained to better identify threatening accounts based on data from known threats and legitimate accounts.More details...
Are customers willing to pay more for mass customised products? That is the question a research team in Australia hoped to answer in the latest issue of the International Journal of Mass Customisation.
Hassan Kalantari of the Department of Science, Engineering and Technology and Lester Johnson of the Department of Management and Marketing at Swinburne University of Technology in Hawthorn, Victoria worked together on the conundrum. The team carried out a conjoint analysis, a market research technique, to see whether there is a trade-off between price, delivery waiting time, type of customisation in the niche market of walking stick sales in Australia. The market may well be niche, but it is large, and moreover, the team suggests that their approach could easily be used to study other mass markets that offer customization of products.
The work hinges on the gradual change that manufacturers have seen in many areas of sales where customers are no longer happy to accept the off-the-shelf products being offered but hope to have bespoke products tailored to their exacting requirements. It is inevitable that without the economies of scale that mass production provides, companies will be forced to charge more for their products, but will customers be willing to pay more?
The team found that customers are indeed willing to pay more for a customised product but are often also willing to wait longer for delivery provided they receive a discount on the price.More details...
Using the Internet of Things for water security – A cluster of internet-enabled devices, including a water-flow sensor, pH sensor, ultrasonic sensor and "PIC" microcontroller, can be used together as a watchdog system for water quality, thanks to work by a team in India who describe details of the system in International Journal of Environment and Waste Management.
R. Jothikumar of Shadan College of Engineering and Technology, in Hyderabad, G. SivaShanmugam of VIT in Tamil Nadu, and S. Susi Department of Shadan Women's College of Engineering and Technology, also in Hyderabad, explain the growing pressures on water with rising global population, climate change, and increasing pollution. They point out that an Internet of Things (IoT) approach to water quality control could be the answer to many of the problems we face concerning drinking-water supply and ensuring people have security of this vital resource.
The simple and low-cost system being developed by the team makes water quality assessment and water security widely available without the need for sophisticated technical knowledge. It can facilitate planned water management as well as allowing sources to be assigned to particular outlets depending on demand without compromising the quality of supply for any users. The team also points out that implemented across the globe such an approach would allow monitoring of ponds, lakes, and rivers, as well as water utility facilities and so, might allow us to manage waterways and water sources better for wildlife and ecosystems.More details...
Educational institutions such as universities have for years battled against the rise of "Shadow" Information Technology, software and hardware that their users, whether student or educator, might bring to the establishment and us in conjunction with or instead of on-site equipment controlled by the IT department at the institution.
This shadowy world is a double-edged sword for the institution. On one hand, it means that staff and students can use the equipment and software with which they are familiar to fulfill their respective roles, but on the other, the institution's IT department has no control on such hardware and software which might represent a security and/or safety risk to other users and the services the IT department provides.
Owen Hall of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, USA, writing in the International Journal of Information Systems and Management, explains the quandary facing educational establishments and offers a hybrid view that allows user and establishment to utilize Shadow IT, such as personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones and associated software and applications without compromising safety and security. Indeed, such an ameliorating approach might ultimately benefit the institution by reducing the overall burden on IT resources provided the risks are acknowledged and taken into consideration in allowing users to work in the shadows, as it were.
He concludes that constant vigilance and awareness are key to success with such a hybrid approach to IT use but conversely represent the greatest challenge. Moreover, it is critical to educate end-users to the putative problems of their using shadow IT and to demonstrate how resources provided by the university information systems organization might be just as useful to them in their endeavours within the academic world.More details...
Research published in the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling shows how integrated simulations can be used to optimize a pharmaceutical production line in a way that conventional mathematical modeling cannot.
Ahmad Taher Azar of Prince Sultan University, in Riyadh, KSA, and colleagues built their simulation using data and information from a working production line and then utilized the simulation to generate putative inputs and outputs for a range of production scenarios to show how they might be optimized for different resources and products. "This is the first study in which an integrated simulation DEA is used for the performance optimisation of a pharmaceutical unit," the team writes.
The simulations showed six bottlenecks that reduce efficiency and slow production. These were brought into the simulated, verified and validated simulations so that they might be expunged from particular production scenarios. The simulations could then be combined in such a way to generate the optimal setup for any of more than 40 scenarios that the engineering team on a production line might face. Critically, any one of the many factors can affect overall efficiency and so a holistic approach has to be taken to reduce overheads and ensure the most efficient and effective approach.More details...
As tastes and trade change, so the proactive marketing department must reinvent its brands and what they might refer to as their "offering". Writing in the International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business, a research team from Australia discusses how the once entirely desirable wines of the Hunter Valley region have now become part of a bigger gastronomic landscape to keep pace with trends and continue to sell their wines and other produce.
Sidsel Grimstad and Jennifer Waterhouse of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales and John Burgess of RMIT University in Melbourne, Victoria explain how resilience and transformation have been applied to create "a little bit of La Dolce Vita" in the region.
Hunter Valley is a small national producer but is, the researchers suggest, a strong custodian of the region's wine identity. "The importance of having regional identity 'custodians' such as the old wine families that ensure that the landscape maintains the rural aesthetic, creates embedded institutions that benefit both old and new entrants," the team writes. They add that "new entrants may be considered a risk, they also provide a continuous stream of creative solutions and investments, leading to continuous improvement of quality and luxury provision of wine and gastronomy sensory experiences."
The team's case study shows that wine-tourism in the Hunter Valley region is strong and more resilient because it has regenerated itself into a gastronomic landscape where lifestyle, food, wine, and tourism complement each other, the team says. "Through this, the Hunter Valley manages to maintain its lead among the top Australian destinations for both national and international wine and food tourists," they conclude.More details...
Ulla Hakala and Birgitta of the Sandberg Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland, and Marta Zurawik of Wigan, UK, have investigated electronic word-of-mouth, so-called e-WOM in the context of a relatively new recreational sport, Nordic walking. They hoped to reveal how positive and negative emotions affect e-WOM. Their hypothesis underpinning the study suggests that there is limited knowledge of emotional sharing concerning novel recreational activities.
At the moment, the team explains, there is limited knowledge on emotional sharing concerning novel recreational activities, ones that some – whether participant or observer – might perceive as embarrassing in some way. They have analysed the online discussion surrounding Nordic walking in different countries and found that there are positive and negative views about the activity as one might expect.
"Our understanding of the contagion of emotions in social encounters is limited and the effect of discrete emotions on changes in physical activity behaviour remains largely unexplored," the team writes. Their work sets out to explore the emotional response to novel recreational activities and to set a context for the study of eWOM with respect to such activities. They suggest that their work is "the beginning of a journey to explore the social sharing of emotions and the role of social media in sharing opinions and experiences on engagement in novel physical activities."More details...
The concept of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking came to the fore as part of the movement that led to the freeing up of digital information although it gained considerable notoriety when it was hijacked for the purposes of illicit and illegal file sharing. However, it remains an important concept in distributing upload and download bandwidth among users with large files to distribute and P2p networking is used by many different tools with perfectly legitimate applications.
Writing in the International Journal of Reasoning-based Intelligent Systems, a team from India points out that for efficient use of a P2P network it is best if users that are a short hop from each other in terms of internet connectivity are clustered together. This can reduce the total burden on system resources and bandwidth by precluding the sending of packets of data across non-optimal transfer distances. The team of S. Vimal at the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, in Chennai, and S.K. Srivatsa of MIT at Anna University also in Chennai, India, have shown how a clustered P2P network that utilizes a file-replication algorithm can boost efficiency still further.
The team describes their approach as a "nearness and interested cluster (NIC) super peer network. The interests and categorized "sub-interests" of peers are used to cluster them according to the most likely of digital commodities that they might be anticipated to share.More details...
Siwar Khemakhem, Mouna Rekik, and Lotfi Krichen of the Control and Energy Management Laboratory at the National Engineering School of Sfax, in Tunisia, are investigating the potential of home energy management based on plug-in electric vehicle power control in a residential smart grid.
Writing in the International Journal of Digital Signals and Smart Systems, the team explains how the advent of electric vehicles has shifted the pressure to some extent from power supply based filling a tank with a liquid or gas fuel at a station to generally charging one's vehicle from home. As more and more drivers switch to electric vehicles there is a need to make the supply of power smarter. The team has now proposed an optimal charge/discharge power management algorithm that can be used in residential areas and takes into account smart grid technology.
"The purpose of this control strategy is to ensure the energy flow exchanging between plugin electric vehicles and smart home to improve the energy efficiency and to achieve a flattened power load curve," the team writes. Their algorithm finds the optimal approach to charging for off-peak and home-to-vehicle power supply. It also looks at how to cope when charging is needed during peak electricity demand periods. Simulation of the algorithm shows that it is capable of smoothing the power load curve and making the smart grid stable and secure by switching between four operating modes where discharging electricity from the vehicle's batteries occurs when demand is high but charging is boosted during off-peak times.More details...
Bauhaus artist, Paul Klee (1879-1940) had a unique abstract style nodding, by turns to Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Now, computer scientists from China and the USA are working together to create an algorithm that can mimic the style of the Swiss-born artist. Their research adds to the oeuvre that is known as generative art.
Writing in the International Journal of Arts and Technology, Hanqing Zhao of Tianjin University, and Kang Zhang of The University of Texas at Dallas discuss how they have used their personal assessment and computer analysis to study Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook created in his later years. Having analysed the colour and composition of Klee's paintings, the team has used a computer to generate with randomly adjusted parameters of compositions and palette, two generative artworks in the style of Klee.
The team explains that the scalable framework they have developed offers a novel paradigm for the generation of abstract images. The team suggests that generative art of this type can have its place as an art form in its own right. Moreover, by providing a non-invasive way to analyse and then describe original artistic works it might be a useful tool for those studying traditional, albeit modern or abstract, paintings.
"Other researchers could extend this framework on other abstract paintings' styles," the team writes. "We hope that our work inspires both artists and computer scientists for further research on new media art and design."More details...
What is the key to happiness? More to the point, is there a universal skeleton key that city dwellers could use to unlock happiness? Writing in the aptly named International Journal of Happiness and Development, a Canadian team finds the answers.
When it comes to happiness, it is difficult to predict what might make a person feel that way, regardless of the received wisdom with regards to wealth, health, and other factors. Indeed, Kenneth Cramer of the Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor in Windsor Ontario and Rebecca Pschibul of Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, suggest that higher creativity, optimism, longevity, and lower hostility and self-centredness, are good markers of happiness. But, they wonder whether such factors are universal. As such, they have carried out a study of several large urban centres around the world to find out.
The team looked at various elements of city life including economics, culture and education, income, safety, living conditions, city administration, health, city pride, and the self-reported level of happiness. It seemed that each urban centre had a different overall makeup in terms of these antecedents to happiness. Apparently, there is no universal key. In general, health was the greatest common predictor of happiness (especially among men) with pride in one's city second on the list, and, perhaps surprisingly, household income.
Ultimately, the team did not find a skeleton key to unlock happiness, there is, they explain "little support for the invariance (generalisability) hypothesis". They point out that rather than attempting to find a one size fits all solution across the globe, much within reach is a greater understanding of the relevant elements that could be used to promote greater quality of urban life in specific regions.More details...
Writing in the International Journal of Learning and Change, researchers explain how more than a million unauthorised immigrants and refugees entered Europe in 2015. Unfortunately, there are many delays facing those with a legitimate claim to seeking asylum. Many people are also rejected for a wide variety of reasons and various factors have encouraged many migrants to bypass the legal routes. They enter Europe and travel through it illicitly in land vehicles being smuggled across borders and into and through their chosen European country often without being noticed. This often ends tragically for many of those seeking a new life in another country as we have seen very recently in the news.
Aidas Vasilis Vasiliauskas and Ieva Meidutė-Kavaliauskienė of the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, Virgilija Vasilienė-Vasiliauskienė and Margarita Marija Lietuvnikė of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University have looked at the economic costs of illegal immigration on European road freight transport companies operating in the corridor between France and the United Kingdom.
"Taking into consideration that road freight transport is the main mode of transport ensuring the functioning of logistics system in Europe, the consequences may surely be serious: disruption in the processes of supply, production and distribution, cargo delays or failures to arrive, interrupted factory operations, losing cooperation with clients," the team writes. There is an ever-pressing need for the private and public sectors to work together to find a way to address the problem of illegal migrants. Solutions could save lives as well as reduce the detrimental effects on companies and their employees involved in freight between France and the UK.More details...
Evaluating a patient's ability to perform daily activities is critical to successful nursing and healthcare, particularly in the elderly. Such an assessment is a powerful predictor of so-called morbidity, or how much the patient is affected detrimentally by their symptoms. New research in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing is looking to develop a machine learning approach that can address the task of recognising a patient's different activities in a smart home.
Salima Sabri and Abdelouhab Aloui of the Université de Bejaia in Algeria have evaluated their approach by comparing it to a Markov statistical approach and using several performance measures over three datasets. "We show how our model achieves significantly better recognition performance on certain data sets and with different representations and discretisation methods with an accuracy measurement that exceeds 92% and accuracy of 68%," they report.
The team explains how context-aware systems are coming to the fore in healthcare research for monitoring the negative symptoms of an aging population without the need for undue invasiveness on the part of healthcare workers. Classification based on well-known and well-established indicators might now be incorporated into an automated system to show how well a patient can care for themselves or whether intervention is needed to assist them in coping with their symptoms.More details...
A positive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) can only be made definitively post mortem. However, there are many symptoms that become apparent as the disease progresses and specialists can usually be quite certain of a diagnosis. However, as with many diseases, the later the diagnosis, the less successful medical interventions will generally be. New research published in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, offers an approach to earlier diagnosis of AD.
Gang Lyu of the Changshu Institute of Technology, in Suzhou, Jiangsu, and Aimei Dong of Qilu University of Technology, in Jinan, Shandong, China, explain that neuropsychological testing of patients suspected of having AD has many advantages, primarily in that it is a non-invasive and low-cost approach. However, there is a need for the manual selection of features and this makes the approach unpopular. An automated approach to extracting and selecting features from text would be more conducive to an acceptable way to provide evidence of the condition to the expert clinician.
The team has now developed an algorithm that utilizes the "bag-of-words model" of natural language processing technology. This can extract all the vocabulary features from text and then a genetic algorithm selects the lexical features automatically. They have now tested their approach on the DementiaBank database and obtained almost 80 percent diagnostic accuracy, which compares favourably to manual feature-based methods.
"The new approach also has the ability to process data quickly and automatically, which can greatly help clinicians improve their work," the team concludes.More details...
CCTV – closed-circuit television – is widely used to carry out surveillance in a wide range of environments from military installations to shopping centres. Modern video surveillance, with recording and playback facilities, multiple cameras, and other infrastructure are quite unwieldy and rely on expensive computer servers that can process and store video.
Research carried out in India, where video surveillance is becoming increasingly important as the incidence of anti-social behaviour in cities rises, seeks to reduce the demands on computing infrastructure by employing, not cloud computing, but fog computing. P. Prakash and Dhinesh Kumar of the Amrita School of Engineering, in Coimbatore, Raghavi Suresh of Jain University in Bangalore, explain how they have modelled and simulated just such a system using an application known as iFogSim. Fog computing, their model suggests, is more efficient and more secure than a cloud computing approach to computing infrastructure for urban video surveillance.
The team explains that smart video surveillance systems must store video sequences and metadata associated with a place and the events that occur in that place. While cloud computing offers the remote and putatively distributed tools for such a task, fog computing, which is an extension of cloud computing, makes this still more efficient. The cloud computing paradigm offers agility, resource pooling and sharing. The fog paradigm utilizes resources on the edge of the system rather than reverting to a centralized cloud cluster. This means that delay, or latency, issues often associated with the cloud environment, are avoided by having some of the processing and storage handled at the edges of the architecture closer to the end-users, in other words.More details...
It seems obvious in retrospect, but researchers in the USA have pinned down the finances to show that families in debt that cook for themselves at home rather than regularly buying fast-food or dining in restaurants could, if they wished to, pay back their short-term, "payday" loans much quicker and perhaps pull themselves out of a cycle of borrowing that often spirals out of control for many people.
Writing in the International Journal of Services, Economics and Management, the team points out that the pricing of fast food and the social implications of the payday loan industry have been investigated individually, but the new study looks at the implications of regular fast food consumption and the cycle of debt. Franziska Willenbuecher of the Center for Public Partnerships and Research, Achievement and Assessment Institute, at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, together with Marc Anthony Fusaro of the School of Business at Emporia State University, also in Kansas, found no direct statistical correlation between food spending and loan amounts, perhaps suggesting that people do not borrow to buy fast food. However, they did find that households could have saved on average more than 36% of the average debt had they not bought fast food nor eaten restaurant meals for about a month.
The team also showed from their data that almost one in four households could have saved close to a third or more while almost 1 in ten could have saved 70% or more of their loan amount if they had cooked at home.
"The findings of this research demonstrate that fast food, and food spending in general, are part of a larger spending pattern that could best be addressed through financial literacy curricula and public policy in the area of payday loans," the team writes. The ultimate goal of the research is to determine what leads people to borrow and how the amounts can be reduced if not eliminated. The study represents the first step in revealing the reasons that lower-income households turn to payday loans.More details...
The idea of ubiquitous computing has been with us for decades, but with the advent of endless mobile devices, the internet of things, and other such technology, we are on the verge of living in a world of smart environments that can enhance and make more efficient many aspects of our working lives as well as our social and family lives.
Researchers from Italy, writing in the aptly titled International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, explain that for ubiquitous computing to work well for everyone its design and implementation have to take into account the needs and wants of different types of user. "Connecting objects to the internet and making them accessible from remote is not sufficient to make an environment 'smart' since such ecosystems should also be able to enable context-sensitive actions along with management of the interaction between objects and users," they explain.
As such, the team is now proposing GOOSE – goal-oriented orchestration for smart environments. This platform, the team from the University of Catania and Tim Jol Wave explains, aims to interpret the goals of users, whether technologically expert or novices, as expressed in natural language in order to generate, select, and safely enforce a set of plans to be executed to fulfill those goals as well as focusing taking into account the bigger picture in the smart environment. In other words, "The architecture defined in this paper enables cooperative interactions between objects in a smart space in order to achieve goals expressed by users," the team writes. Critically, the platform is as far as is possible independent in its structure of any particular technology, hardware, or software.More details...
Recent research suggests that heart attacks, cerebral stroke, and asthma attacks all rise with increasing air pollution in our cities, and of course the wider problems for the environment and human, animal, and plant life are becoming better understood with each study. Now, science published in the International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies suggests that big data from Internet of Things devices might be useful in predicting air pollution incidents. Knowing in advance when problems might arise could offer some hope of ameliorating the detrimental effects or at the very least providing vulnerable people with advance warning of potential threats to their health.
The study, written by Safae Sossi Alaoui, Brahim Aksasse, and Yousef Farhaoui of the Department of Computer Science at Moulay Ismail University in Errachidia, Morocco, offers hope of predicting rising levels of some of the most serious polluting compounds that are ubiquitous in the environment but fluctuate wildly depending on human activity, namely nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone.
There are millions, if not billions of connected devices that we might put under the umbrella term of the Internet of Things, IoT, these include the ever-present smart phone, roadside pollution monitors, embedded sensors, actuators, and even wearable devices that can all collect and exchange different types of data.
The team has worked with a US pollution dataset and used Spark technology on the Databricks platform to build an accurate model that can make good predictions about air quality. This could be used to help improve our understanding of the negative effects of air pollution on our lives and perhaps help focus efforts to prevent, control, and reduce pollution in a more timely manner than ever before.More details...
The emergence of new technology always brings with it concerns about the effects it might have on users in terms of physical and mental health. The Internet, and specifically social media, is no different. One worry is that the endless novelty and pressure to engage with social media whether photo, video, or textual updates, is leading to some people using these tools throughout the day and even the night to the detriment of what one might refer to as normal "offline" life.
New research published in the International Journal of Business Information Systems, has focused on how internet addiction might be measured. Habib Ullah Khan of Qatar University in Doha, Qatar, has worked with Helmi Hammami of the Rennes School of Business, in France, to look at the behaviour of internet users in France. The study shows that what might be referred to as internet addiction has some correlation with the users' age but the picture is rather vague.
It is difficult, after all, to determine whether frequent and/or prolonged use represents addiction as a healthcare worker might perceive it in the context of addiction to drugs of abuse, for instance. Moreover, the present study seems to conflict with the standard perspectives and concepts in several ways and the team suggests that there might now be a need to re-evaluate theories of addiction in the context of so-called internet addiction in order to better understand how and why such a problem might arise and to see how to differentiate more clearly between regular and frequent use of these tools and what might be perceived as problematic dependency.More details...
If social media technology is to evolve and improve its utility still further, then we need theory building and a better understanding of user engagement behaviour. These are fundamental to developing future approaches and effective organisational deployment, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management.
Rupak Rauniar of the Department of Operations and Supply Chain Management at the University of Houston-Downtown, Texas, and colleagues Ronald Salazar of the University of Houston-Victoria, also in Texas, Greg Rawski and Donald Hudson of the University of Evansville, Indiana, USA, have undertaken a study of almost 400 users of one of the most familiar online social media systems, Facebook. They used the theory of reasoned action to study empirically predictors of intention to engage on the site.
"Our results suggest that perceived value, social presence, interactivity, and trustworthiness are positively related to the user's attitude towards social media," the team writes. "The research model shows promise for use by managers and organisations to predict and understand the usage of social media in a target population."
The team points out that earlier studies looking at engagement involved conventional data processing of end-user computing environments and general e-commerce sites. The present study goes beyond such approaches and points the way forward for those hoping to extend engagement among users of social media sites and mobile applications, apps. The next step will be to carry out a similar study with other systems such as Twitter and Youtube to determine in what ways the conclusions from the present research might be generalized.
"As scientific research in the area of social media is still rare, we encourage practitioners and researchers to seek out new research questions in developing future theories in the area of social media," the team concludes.More details...
Can statistical and probability mathematics invented in the eighteenth century help fans choose their next favourite movie? A new study published in the International Journal Operational Research suggests that it might be so.
Palash Ranjan Das of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Calcutta, in West Bengal, and Gopal Govindasamy of the Madras School of Economics, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, explain how they have coupled movie choice with Bayesian credibility theory. Credibility theory is a branch of actuarial science devoted to quantify how unique a particular outcome will be when compared to an outcome deemed as typical. Thomas Bayes for whom the Bayes Theorem is named was an English statistician and philosopher who formulated a new approach to understanding chance and probability in the middle of the eighteenth century long before the arrival moving pictures and many decades before the notion of computer software that might assess the chances of a given movie suggestion being one a viewer might enjoy.
Bayesian credibility theory was initially developed to assess risk. However, the team in this current work has used it to rate and rank movies available from an online movie database based on user votes.More details...
Digital technology and in particular the advent of online social media and the smartphone have facilitated the widespread use of consumer-to-consumer commerce and services. Online platforms such as eBay and Taobao allow individuals to access buying and selling marketplaces that simply did not exist for previous generations. Surprisingly, the sharing and servicing of accommodation and transport through the likes of Airbnb and Uber has also opened up a whole new world to the individual that was the commercial preserve of companies and corporations.
Writing in the International Journal of Revenue Management, Jagan Jacob of the Simon Business School, at the University of Rochester, in Rochester New York, USA suggests that this consumer-to-consumer provision and uptake of goods and services is just as asymmetrical as it ever was in terms of people on one side of the equation being the consumers and the other side the providers. This is perhaps intrinsic to any buying and selling scenario or any provision of services, whether a bed for the night or transport from A to B. As such, there are "challenges".
The online systems do, of course, allow transactions to take place between users who are usually complete strangers in the wider context. There is, therefore, a pressing need for users and providers to somehow validate themselves but without the unwarranted sharing of personal and private information. Jacob's paper suggests that a matching mechanism can maximise platform profit when users are heterogeneous with some more likely to be "more good" than others. However, there is a scenario whereby platform profit rises when it allows users with a higher probability of being "bad" to join too. This presumably cannot be to the benefit of the average good user or provider.More details...
There is a lot of malware on the internet, unwitting computer users might be enticed to visit web pages serving such malicious content and as such there is a pressing need to develop security systems that can quickly detect such malicious websites and protect users from having their personal and private data scraped, their logins and bank details assimilated, or their computer or mobile device hijacked for the nefarious purposes of third party criminals.
A new paper from Dharmaraj Patil and Jayantrao Patil the Department of Computer Engineering, at the R.C. Patel Institute of Technology, in Shirpur, Maharashtra, India, outlines a new approach to malicious web site detection based on feature selection methods and machine learning. The pair discusses details in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking.
Their approach uses three modules: feature selection, training, and classification. To test the approach, the team used six feature selection methods and eight supervised machine learning classifiers and carried out experiments on the balanced binary dataset. With feature selection methods, they were able to detect malicious web content with an accuracy of between 94 and 99 percent and even above. The error rate was just 0.19 to 5.55%. They compared their results with eighteen well-known antivirus programs that also detect malicious web pages and found that the approach performed better than all of them.More details...
It should be possible to generate electricity and refrigerate simultaneously using low-grade waste heat from industry, according to research published in Progress in Industrial Ecology - An International Journal. The key is a system based on an ammonia-water mixture.
Mechanical engineer Kolar Deepak of Vardhaman College of Engineering, in Hyderabad, India, has proposed a system that exploits thermodynamic phenomena encapsulated in the Kalina cycle to generate power and cool a system at the same time using evaporation and condensation of an ammonia-water working fluid. The system does mechanical work, which can drive a dynamo type device to generate electricity, while the refrigeration effect is produced by the working fluid from the turbine exit.
Deepak's computations suggest a thermal efficiency of almost 20 percent at an operating temperature of 135 degrees Celsius, which is the sort of temperature for "waste" heat streams from industrial plants and gas turbine exhaust, as well as municipal incinerators, or renewable energy sources, including geothermal brine.More details...
In a world of growing educational and professional mobility, there is an urgent need, from an individual nation's perspective to reduce the potentially harmful effects of what is commonly referred to as the "brain drain". The brain drain refers to the loss of one's intellectuals and talented students and workers to another nation where they may benefit their adopted state, often never to return home to their place of birth.
Writing in the International Journal of Education Economics and Development, Akira Shimada of the Faculty of Economics at Nagasaki University, Japan, discusses the policy challenges facing education in attempting to plug the brain drain. His findings suggest that among the developed nations, subsidizing salary can often reduce the loss of talent to foreign shores. But, this is generally not an option for cash-strapped establishments in a developing nation where the disparity between available home salary and the remuneration potential of working in a developed nation is enormous.
One possible way to reduce the brain drain from developing nations and so retain the very talent that might allow the country to thrive is not to attempt to offer better working salaries but to improve education and the subsidizing thereof. Rewarding students for staying in their home nation to work could be implemented effectively whereas attempting to tax those who flow with the brain drain is largely untenable.
"I found that education subsidies are an effective way for a developed country to reduce brain drain for any degree of human capital transferability although they are not effective for a developing country for a certain degree of human capital transferability," Shimada concludes.More details...
Nilay Khare and Hema Dubey of the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, in Bhopal, India, discuss how Google's "PageRank" system can be used to detect spam web pages. That is pages created for nefarious purposes that attempt to gain a higher position in the search engine results pages (SERPs) through the false representation of their value and relevance to the person carrying out a search.
PageRank was developed by Google's founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin back in 1996 at Stanford University, building on the foundations of other ranking algorithms that had been developed through the 1970s and onwards. PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.
Of course, the notion of "quality", good or bad, is rather ephemeral and so over the years since the rise of Google, there is an ongoing struggle between webmasters who would wish their sites to be high up in the SERPs and so more visible and Google which endeavours to preclude spammy tactics that might game its system and allow webmasters of lower quality sites to achieve unwarranted high status in the ranks.
Khare and Dubey have developed an efficient and faster parallel PageRank algorithm that can harness the power of a computer's graphics processing units (GPUs). Their results show a speed enhancement in calculating PageRank and so finding spam pages of up to 1.7 times that of the conventional parallel PageRank algorithm. The team even suggests in its conclusion that their approach is "immune" to spammy websites.More details...
Social media and student retention – Researchers in Egypt have investigated whether or not online social media can enhance student retention and reduce the dropout rate. Writing in the International Journal of Management in Education, Rania Mostafa of the Faculty of Commerce at Damanhour University, explains how she has used a Stimulus–Organism–Response framework to investigate.
Mostafa quotes earlier research that suggests that there is fierce competition among universities worldwide to differentiate themselves and to boost their standing in the educational "marketplace". As such, there is pressure to retain students and reduce the number that drops out of a particular course. It is, she points out much more expensive to recruit a student than to retain one. Universities now use all "touch points" including social media to engage students and to enhance information sharing and self-expression which in turn can improve what the higher education establishment can offer students and so boost morale and reduce apathy and thus keep students on track.
Her results indicate that information quality, privacy and security, and virtual interactivity influence perceived value in the context of the establishment's social media. However, student self-efficacy does not seem to moderate this perceive value. In other words, higher education establishments must ensure that their social media sites offer timely, accurate, relevant, and engaging information for their students and to evolve with student intentions.More details...
Family firms are as old as "Mom and Pop". But, there can be problems within such organisations and, according to research published in the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management, specific personal motives, organisational opportunities and deviant behaviour can lead to white-collar crime. Indeed, there are plenty of opportunities, the research suggests, for family members to defraud their own firm, and thus their fellow family members.
Petter Gottschalk and Cecilie Asting of the Department of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, at the BI Norwegian Business School, in Oslo, Norway, do not argue that white-collar crime is any more or less frequent in family firms than it is in "normal" companies. However, their evidence suggests that it can be easier for a family member within the organization to carry out subterfuge.
The pair offers several possible solutions to the problem of white-collar crime in the family firm. For instance, family members should not have voting rights and privileges that allow them to carry out actions without the usual checks and balances that would be in place in other types of company.
Moreover, there is also the obvious possibility of non-family members of the firm to defraud the business too, especially if remuneration and reward equity is lacking. The team suggests that non-family members of a family firm should expect fair pay and conditions and that they should be stimulated to identify with the business just as an employee of any other type of business might.More details...
Worldwide the number of drivers over the age of 65 is increasing rapidly. As such, there is an urgency in the need to design vehicles that are ergonomically suited to this demographic to accommodate physical ailments and limitations that are usually not seen in younger people.
Research published in the International Journal of Vehicle Design, discusses the major ergonomic concerns of older drivers that might improve driving posture, improve attention, and decrease fatigue during driving. Ashish Dutta, A.K. Bhardwaj, and A.P.S. Rathore of the Malaviya National Institute of Technology, in Jaipur, India, have grouped ergonomic needs of older drivers into ten categories and then surveyed a number of such drivers. Three important factors emerged showing that concerns can be grouped into three areas: musculoskeletal factors, safety factors, and driver-vehicle interface factors.
Various vehicle features emerge as becoming increasingly useful, or even essential, to older drivers who want to continue to use their vehicles for as long as possible: automatic transmission that precludes the need for a clutch and gearstick, braking assistance, parking sensors and camera, voice-assistant navigation, antiglare mirrors and windows, intuitive and easy to read controls and gauges, easy ingress and egress, adjustable, heated, and massaging seats, remote-controlled doors and boot (trunk), augmented reality (heads-up) display technology. Many such features are already present as options in high-end vehicles and it is anticipated that such options will become ubiquitous as the market for older drivers matures. Of course, ever-present, is a future of self-driving vehicles that will preclude the need for many such features, but never the need for a comfortable seat.More details...
A case study of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the world of Scandinavian opera is discussed in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Staffan Albinsson of the Department of Economy and Society at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden contributes new knowledge on the entrepreneurial facets of opera production based on an in-depth study of a dozen SMEs.
The research was based on structured questioning of initiators, artistic directors and general managers, the entrepreneurs involved in the operatic SMEs. Albinsson's analysis of the survey results shows that opera entrepreneurs follow the normal entrepreneurial processes in their endeavours. However, the work also shows that along the way there is huge variation in the choices made which influence the outcome in terms of mainly regarding the choice of repertoire and its subsequent staging. Albinsson reports.
Intriguingly, while some of those involved in operatic SMEs had had some formal tuition in entrepreneurship or project management, for the most part, the skills necessary to run such an SME were simply acquired on the job, through trial-and-error experience. He offers seven main conclusions from the study.
- Most of the entrepreneurs described both business- and self-centred 'windows of opportunity' for the initiation of their enterprises
- All of them were mission- or purpose-driven
- Objectives were commonly described as bringing opera to the people or in unusual and/or intimate settings
- The entrepreneurs had divergent approaches to achieving their goals
- When aspiration and result differed, the entrepreneurs saw "artistic innovation" as being important through the process regardless
- The enterprises were all not-for-profit ventures, but economic success and growth allowed them all to put on even more ambitious and attractive performances
- The opera entrepreneurs regardless of setting generally followed the patterns of conventional entrepreneurial business.
Blockchain is the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Fundamentally, the blockchain is simply a ledger, a digital record of transactions associated with a digital currency, a Bitcoin, for instance. It is an open system that does not require a trusted third party as all transactions are logged in an immutable distributed public ledger that requires no central repository of data, it is entirely decentralized.
Veeramani Karthika and Suresh Jaganathan of the SSN College of Engineering, in Tamilnadu, India, discuss blockchain technology in the International Journal of Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies as well as its application in peer-to-peer (P2P) currencies, such as Bitcoin. A blockchain is list of records, known as blocks, that are linked and encrypted, once added a block cannot be changed or removed without destroying the blockchain. Each block carries a cryptographic "hash" of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data.
The researchers point out that the blockchain concept has now gone way beyond the cryptocurrency paradigm and is used in electronic health records, government, utilities trading, and even in the world of arts, culture, and education. This is perhaps to be expected given its invention a decade ago by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto.More details...
Lots of people like to listen to music at bedtime. With the advent of the portable music player and in-ear headphones, this phenomenon has become widespread. Of course, music can help improve our state of mind and perhaps even help those who suffer from insomnia to get to sleep. The downside is that once you have fallen asleep the music will keep playing and this might have detrimental effects on how deeply you sleep afterwards and perhaps even cause issues in terms of damage to hearing.
Research published in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics offers a novel solution to defeating insomnia with music but without the risk to one's hearing. Shriram Vasudevan, Ikram Shah, Sriharsha Patallapalli, S. Karthikeyan, S. Subhash Chandran, and U. Adithya Bharadwaj of Amrita University, Coimbatore, India are the team behind the new approach. Their wearable, Fitbit, based system allows one to nod off while listening to music but once one has actually fallen asleep the music is muted. This team says means there should be no disturbance of normal sleep patterns caused by the music continuing to play and no risk to hearing.
Fundamentally, their software monitors the data from the Fitbit and calculates when the person has most likely fallen to sleep so that the music can be muted without disturbing them. Of course, many sleepers set a timer on their music to switch it off within a few minutes or an hour or so, but that only has benefits if one has actually fallen asleep. The monitored approach means the music only stops once the user is fast asleep.More details...
Materials scientists are always on the look out for new composites, materials comprising two or more different substances that combine to bring together the useful properties of each component and to overcome the limitations of any. Moreover, some composites might also work synergistically so that the useful properties of one component enhance those of the other and vice versa. Often, computation and modelling can be used to work out the likely outcomes of combining certain components.
New research published in the International Journal of Computational Materials Science and Surface Engineering, reveals a mathematical model that can be used to optimize a novel composite for tensile strength. The composite is made from the synthetic polymer, polyester, and human hair as a reinforcing component.
Divakara Rao and Udaya Kiran of the J.B. Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Hyderabad, and Eshwara Prasad of the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University also in Hyderabad, prepared polymer-based composites using chopped fibres of human hair at between 5 and 25 per cent by weight and with fibre lengths of 10 to 50 millimetres. Data from tensile strength testing of these experimental composites were used to build a model that might then be used to optimize the formulation of new composites.
Given the need for novel composites with new properties and a need to reduce our reliance on petrochemicals and invoke the use of renewable materials, brushing up on hair science in this context makes complete sense. There are, of course, many other natural fibres that might also be incorporated into semi-synthetic composites for a wide range of materials science and engineering applications.More details...
Disease, disasters, drought, famine, climate change, the terrorist threat, oppressive regimes…the list of problems facing people the world over continues to grow and the number of people displaced from their homes for any of a variety of such reasons means populations are constantly on the move. Migrant make risky crossings through deserts, across water, seeking asylum, seeking a new life in the hope that there is grass, greener or otherwise. However, the pressures on people forced to abandon their homes means there are problems within the migrant communities on the move too that may arise while they are in transit or latent problems that were always there emerge anew.
Writing in the International Journal of Gender Studies in Developing Societies, Nour Daoud of the University of Padova, in Italy, discusses an insidious problem, that of intimate partner violence in migrant communities. The main goal of the work was to understand the exposure to and impact of such violence against migrant women, what causes it, and what barriers the women face to disclosing that the violence is happening and how they might seek help. She has carried out a systematic review of the empirical evidence surrounding this problem.
Ultimately, the study reveals that fundamentally the problem is violent men, but that the causes at the individual level are common to migrant and non-migrant communities: alcohol and substance abuse, the reversal of gender roles, and the apparent social "acceptability" of such violence in a given environment or community.
The barriers to the women seeking help seem familiar in the context of non-migrant communities, but are perhaps more acute when women are in this even more vulnerable situation. These barriers include social isolation, lack of awareness about where to seek help, dependence on the men, distress regarding the stigma associated with seeking help, and fear of losing or leaving their children or the breakdown of their family.More details...
Is there a way to automate the extraction of value from the references in a scientific research paper? Yi Zhao, Keqing He, and Junfei Guo of Wuhan University and Zhao Li and Bitao Li of China Three Gorges University are working on this problem and discuss details of their findings so far in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering.
One of the secondary, but important features of a scientific paper, are the references. They are the underpinnings of the research being discussed on which the new discovery is built. They also have another function within the scientific community, they can act as recommendations, suggested reading, that might lead others to novel work they may otherwise not have encountered.
Unfortunately, as scientific projects expand and develop and the literature around the Sciencebase accumulates, the reference sections of many research papers themselves grow more and more unwieldy. Finding the hidden gems, the essential reading, the deepest foundations, becomes increasingly difficult, especially in the digital age where access to such large numbers of papers and all of their references is available with a few touches of a screen or a mouseclick or two.
The team has now developed a new type of recommendation research approach – a collective intelligence network approach – using classification, clustering, and recommendation models integrated into the system. When they compare the output from their algorithm against other approaches they see a 10% higher accuracy and 8% higher F-score for the recommendations compared with keyword matching approaches.More details...
Social bots are malicious computer programs that can penetrate the inner workings of online social networks and social media sites. They are automated software tools built with malicious intent and can execute activity on systems to automatically post and share, send fake "friend" requests to members of those networks, and harvest private and personal information. It might be assumed that such social bots are the work of hackers and crackers, so-called cyber criminals, and others, but they might also be the digital agents of advocacy organizations with a particular agenda, political entities, and others looking to game and manipulate the networks for a wide range of criminal, economic, and political ends.
Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Torky Mohamed, Meligy Ali, and Ibrahim Hani of the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science at Menoufia University, in Egypt, explain how malicious software tools, such as these social bots, represent a big security challenge against social network service providers.
There are tools to safeguard online systems against malware but too often the creators and propagators of these tools find simple ways to circumvent even the most sophisticated of protection systems. The Menoufia team has now devised a new type of "CAPTCHA" – Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – that can, they say, automate protection of online networks against social bots.
Their new CAPTCHA, which they call a Necklace CAPTCHA, is an image-based test that requires user input to gain entry to the networks' signup and subsequent services. It is based on Necklace Graph, which allows the "challenge-response" to be carried out in a novel manner that will hopefully be opaque to social bots attempting to get into the system. In their initial tests of the system, brute-force attacks achieved a very low success rate of just 1.65%. It is, the team says, more effective than the commonly used reCAPTCHA systems with which most users of web and social network signups and logins will be familiar.More details...
Writing in the International Journal of Technology Marketing, Georgios Tsekouropoulos of the Hellenic Open University, in Patra, Greece, discusses the notion of viral advertising. Specifically, he addresses the relationship between message quality, trust, and consumer intention to share content on social media.
His survey of consumers with a penchant for social media showed that perceived sender trust, perceived advertiser trust, message quality and attitude toward sharing electronic content are not significantly related to a viewer's intention to share viral advertising messages. Conversely, the frequency with which viral advertising messages are shared is affected by those very same factors. Marketers are keen to know how to make their advertising messages "go viral", it being the fastest "word-of-mouth" marketing we know.
The key message from the research for those hoping to spread the word quickly, effectively, and widely is that "a company can transform his communication strategy and take advantage from the benefits of viral marketing by producing high-quality messages which in combination with actions that can increase the trust of the consumer on the company itself, can transform those consumers into the best representatives of the company and make them part of the marketing communication process."More details...
Rozita Jamili Oskouei of the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, at the Islamic Azad University, in Mahdishahr, Iran, is working on the concept of creating a web "signature" of student activity online. Writing in the International Journal of Web Science, she explains how her findings suggest that contrary to popular opinion from certain media pundits and even some academics, access to and use of the internet does not generally have an adverse effect on academic performance, quite the opposite, she suggests.
Her development of a unique web signature for each student could be used by educators to better predict the demand on computing resources in an academic institution. It might also be used to group together users with common interests based on their online behaviour and be used to establish a social network between those users or open up such a social network to those who appear to be excluded or confined to cliques.
This social networking benefit could be most useful during a student's early days in the academic environment, when they are still "freshers" as it could allow mentoring and guidance to be given by older fellow students or connect the new students to the requisite professional and expert advice to help them discuss problems and overcome any difficulties.More details...
Odours, scents, smells…whatever you call them, they are inextricably linked to our mood and memory. The delightful scent of a rose in bloom can evoke delicious emotions whereas a stench in the office can offend everyone and even disrupt work.
Olga Trhlíková of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in Prague, Czech Republic, is using a powerful analytical technique that can home in on the source of a bad smell in the complex environment of a working office. She reports details of the technique, solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography, in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management.
"Permanent or recurring malodours invading office rooms have not only detrimental effects on the staff productivity but also on their health directly or through the stress mechanisms," Trhlíková writes. Identifying the source of an offensive odour and removing or at least neutralizing it can be critical to office wellbeing. Solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography and mass spectrometric (SPME/GC-MS) can identify previously unknown, but smelly volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in an office whether the source is microbial spoilage and contamination, a chemical spill, or even fire.
The data from tests in four rooms of an office building were able to identify the malodours by matching the spectra and chromatograms to a database of known chemical fingerprints. In the proof of principle work, malodours from the most likely source, the lavatory, were ruled out quickly and the actual source of the bad smells turned out to be the rotting carcasses of dead animals within the building, such as small rodents.More details...
Some things fade and deteriorate as they age, but not fine wine and cheese, many types of these products get better with maturity and their value goes up. In the world of logistics coping with products whose value changes with age is a conundrum for storage and transport.
A team from Italy, writing in the International Journal of Logistics Systems and Management, has looked in detail at this problem and come to some important conclusions for those handling and marketing maturing products.
Simone Zanoni, Lucio Enrico Zavanella, and Ivan Ferretti of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the Università degli Studi di Brescia, in Brescia, point out that particular cheeses, red wines, but also spirits, balsamic vinegar, and other consumable goods have a particular set of peculiarities associated with aging and maturing and their growing value on the market.
Their work points to a new way to model product lifecycles, inventory and logistics in a way that was not considered in the original business models from the early part of the twentieth century where products were either seen as having an essentially "infinite" storage time or were perishable goods that had a limited shelf life.
The overuse of packaging is a growing environmental problem in terms of resource use and waste production. Unfortunately, interesting and intriguing packaging is a crucial part of the modern approach to marketing and is perceived by many consumers, particularly those buying high-end goods, such as smartphones and other electronic gadgets as an essential part of the purchase experience.
The notion of a "rich unboxing experience" as infantile as that might sound is discussed in detail in the Journal of Design Research. Jieun Bae Busan of the National Science Museum in Busan, and James Self and Chajoong Kim of the Department of Industrial Design, at UNIST, in Ulsan, also in South Korea explore the influence of complexity in packaging design, defined as complexity of action and transformation, upon product appraisal at an unboxing phase of product life cycle.
Their surveillance of the market's response to packaging reveals as one might expect that the complexity of product packaging significantly influences how the consumer appraises the product they have purchased and what might be described as the product's "personality". The findings contribute to a greater understanding of the role of packaging in increased expectations and delight as opposed to dissatisfaction, buyer's remorse, one might say. The findings thus have implications for the use of complexity of action and transformation in product packaging design.
Unfortunately, it seems that the rich unboxing experience is probably here to stay at least for certain types of product unless companies and consumers can negotiate a position where satisfaction with a product is based solely on the product itself rather than the layers of wrappers in which it comes to the possession of the buyer.More details...
New work published in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments suggests how professional discourse might usefully be analysed on the micro-blogging platform known as Twitter.
Fredrick Baker of the Department of Instructional Design and Technology at the University of West Florida Patrick Lowenthal of Boise State University in Idaho explain how both professionals and academics now commonly use social networking sites such as Twitter for scholarly discourse around resources and networking. They point out that the use of so-called hashtags – keywords that are assigned a special searchable place within the Twitter system by virtue of adding a "hash, #" character (often known as the pound sign in the US) can be very useful for finding connections between users and related content.
In their work, they have looked at how education is discussed on Twitter by tracking and following the #openeducation hashtag. They used as a scalable mixed methods content analysis model to follow the discourse associated with this hashtag . They were able to analyse almost one thousand Twitter updates, or "tweets" and then group them according to themes. Thirty-two themes emerged from the analysis across eight main categories. They were than able to develop a questionnaire to survey users in a more informed manner and to reveal ties between users and connections within the information discussed that could might then be useful to those involved in open education in the broadest sense.
"The study shows that the hashtag is an active platform for connecting with others and sharing ideas, that open education designs and open educational content are the primary theme areas discussed on the #openeducation hashtag, and that the most active hashtag contributors are active voices in open education in a variety of ways," the team concludes.More details...
Breast cancer is a common illness around the world. It is the most common invasive of cancers in women and affects around one in eight and represents about a quarter of all invasive cancers.
A research team in India well aware of the issues, costs and discomfort surrounding screening and assessment of breast tumours with conventional mammography have developed a novel system for monitoring changes in such a tumour that uses a compact microstrip antenna. Such devices are relatively easy to fabricate and have a wide range of more conventional applications in the world of telecommunications as satellite television receivers and such.
The team describes details in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology and explains how the devices comprise a radiating patch with a rectangular slot, three stubs, a feed-line and a partial ground plane. The devices operate at a frequency of between 2.4 and 4.76 gigahertz (microwave, or UH, ultrahigh frequencies) and measure the resonance of the tumour, as opposed to healthy breast, tissue, which have different dielectric properties.
The team reports how resonant frequency in the antenna falls as the tumour grows and rises if it shrinks due to treatment. This offers a relatively simple, non-surgical, and less risky way for the oncologist to monitor a tumour of the breast that is also more comfortable for the patient than standard measurement techniques.More details...
Might popular culture, such as the Star Wars science fiction franchise be used to boost skills among those involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)? Writing in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, Stephan Längle of the Danube University Krems in Austria discusses the possibility.
His study is based on the period 2000-2018 and focuses on Star Wars as one of the more enduring and well known of the science fiction franchises, It began in the late 1970s and still persists with a huge fan-base across all kinds of media, not just the original cinematic format. He points out that an increasing number of scientists use pop-cultural elements to communicate scientific theories and methods to the public and Star Wars is one of those. Längle suggests that learning through social media is on the increase among STEM students and the pop culture of Star Wars is successfully engaging many students in those areas.
The research suggests that there are two ways in which pop culture might be used in class: science principles might be communicated directly with reference to a fictional world, for instance, or the world might serve as a template for preparing teaching materials. Of course, some learners may not want to learn about the real science behind Star Wars and it may not be suitable for every class, some may be fans of Star Trek or another fictional world. Educators should, regardless, take into account the interests of their students and do so in a serious way so that those interests might be integrates into everyday school life in a positive way that improves learning.More details...
While the world's media may well have moved on to new stories, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which was one of the most devastating in history continues to have a significant impact on the lives of those affected by it. Writing in the International Journal of Healthcare Policy, Mohamed Jalloh of the Economic Policy Analysis Unit (EPAU), Macroeconomic Policy Department, ECOWAS Commission, in Abuja, Nigeria, discusses the long-lasting economic impact.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) causes a viral haemorrhagic fever that is lethal in up to 90 percent of those infected. The virus is highly contagious, spreading quickly through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Control of outbreaks requires coordinated medical services and community engagement. Where infrastructure and response are limited an outbreak can lead to many deaths within a short period of time.
The worst Ebola outbreak we have seen in modern times started in Guinea when an infant died at the end of 2013. The disease quickly spread to neighbouring countries, specifically Liberia and Sierra Leone. This specific outbreak led to almost 30000 suspected cases and some 11,323 registered deaths.
Jalloh's study shows that in addition to the adverse impact of the disease on the people, the consequent isolation of the countries affected simply worsened their economic conditions. This will ultimately reduce still further the ability of those nations to cope well with future health problems of this kind. He suggests that there is an urgent need to strengthen healthcare systems, enhance the training and skills of health workers, to put in place methods to allow people and goods to move more effectively and to improve the coordination of efforts to combat a future epidemic of this or any other emerging pathogen.
One important and specific call to action from Jalloh if taken up would see the World Health Organization (WHO) strengthening its collaborations with international financial institutions including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as the likes of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in coordinating responses for the combating of epidemic outbreaksMore details...
Machine recognition of sign languages is on the cards thanks to work by a team in India who are using a Microsoft Kinect movement-identifying controller. Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, the team explains how their system uses just 11 of the 20 joints tracked by a Kinect and can extract novel features per frame, based on distances, angles, and velocity involving upper body joints. The team reports how the algorithm recognizes 35 gestures from Indian sign in real time with almost 90 percent accuracy.
Jayesh Gangrade and Jyoti Bharti of the Maunala Azad National Institute of Technology, in Bhopal, India, explain how many people with a significant hearing deficit utilize gesture-based communication, hand movements, and orientation together with facial expression are used dynamically to convey meaning in as nuanced and expressive a way as any other language dialect. The development of technology that could also be competent in sign languages would give those who rely on this form of communication a new approach to interacting with machines and computers. Camera, digital gloves, and other gadgets have been investigated previously in this context. However, the potential of an inexpensive video game controller, such as the Kinect, that can track body movements could facilitate this rapidly.
The team points out that their approach requires no markers nor special clothing with tracking objects as was necessary with some of the earlier efforts in this area. "We have experimented with a minimal set of features to distinguish between the given signs with practical accuracies," the team writes. They are now experimenting with the Kinect v2 sensor which is more accurate and could push the research closer to its ultimate goal.More details...
Research published in the International Journal of Social and Humanistic Computing discusses the potential for a smartphone application that can be used in conjunction with a microscope attachment that might allow a physician to assess a man's fertility much more quickly than is usually possible. The system might even be used by the man himself given sufficient information and guidance. The counting technique segregates live sperm from background noise on the basis of the constant movement, motility of active sperm in a sample.
Hyun-Mo Yang, Dong-Woo Lim, Yong-Sik Choi, Jin-Gu Kang, In-Hwan Kim, Ailing Lin, and Jin-Woo Jung of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Dongguk University, in Seoul, South Korea, explain that experimental results have already demonstrated the effectiveness of their procedure.
"Experimental results with grade A, B and C sperm images based on WHO [World Health Organization] criteria show that each grade sperm image could be effectively categorized by using the proposed sperm counting algorithm. This result could be directly used for the development of consumer device which can classify the health condition of user sperms based on WHO criteria," the team writes. They add that while the approach utilizes sperm motility further research will allow them to develop the algorithm to look at the degree of sperm motility, which will give the man additional information about his fertility as both sperm count and degree of sperm motility are both important factors.More details...
What we often think of as the real world and the online, or digital, realm, are increasingly intertwined in the daily lives of so many people now. Social networking sites boast, for instance, of populations of active users far greater than even some of the most populous nations. New research published in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research undertook an analysis of users of one of the most well-known parts of the digital world – the video system known as Youtube.
Niyati Aggrawal and Anuja Arora of the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, in Uttar Pradesh, India, hope to uncover what it is about the millions of hours of videos streamed daily from the site that makes a particular audio-visual snippet go "viral", whether it is personal, professional, political, or even educational. Youtube has about 1.3 billion users, 30 million a day watching any of 5 billion videos. That is a large fraction of the world's population and represents, to some, a significant marketing and business opportunity. Understanding user behaviour could allow the commercial world to more keenly tap its potential.
The team's analysis reveals, perhaps not surprisingly, that music videos are among the most popular content available on Youtube. It is, after all, a free service, and this represents a way to listen to one's favourites tunes as well as see the artists or an artistic interpretation of those tunes. The team has, however, developed a model of putative virality based on the length of a given video, its age, and various other factors. They hope that their work points the way to a method for mapping in advance how well a video might do in terms of virality. Of course, the internet continues to confound and a video that is superficially the most esoteric and obscure might go viral spontaneously while the best devised and targeted campaign will only rarely achieve such hallowed status in the digital world.More details...
Almost everywhere one turns, one sees someone using a smartphone or other mobile, internet-connected device. Commonly, usage of such devices is not to make and receive phone calls as one might expect but the use of countless services that allow one to manipulate, share, download, view, listen to digital entities, such as emails, photos, videos, audio files, and so much more. Indeed, many users keep much of their personal, private, and business lives locked and synchronized in these powerful portable computers. But, there is a problem – data leakage. How can we be sure that our smartphones aren't betraying our inner secrets to third parties with perhaps malicious intent or at best with their, not our, interest in mind?
Work published in the International Journal of Security and Networks discusses and assesses the techniques that can be employed to test whether a smartphone or device is leaking data. The team has surveyed the problem for the two main operating systems – Android and iOS. The team explains data leakage is defined as the unintentional or accidental distribution of sensitive information to a third-party entity. This might be leakage to the creators of a particular app or leakage via malware or hacking.
Ultimately, the team found, none of the current defenses against data leakage is perfect nor even entirely adequate. They point out that future developments in machine learning, so-called artificial intelligence, will most likely be the way forward for smart software to protect our purportedly smart devices.More details...
Social media is affecting all our lives in ways we are only just beginning to recognise, whether it is the simple, but constant preoccupation many people have with sharing their digital lives or connecting with friends and family to the outpourings of politicians that are the vanguard of modern propaganda that seems to win elections. In what we might refer to as repressive societies, social media is also having an effect on society. Indeed, it is providing a medium for empowerment that has not existed before.
Research published in the International Journal of Electronic Healthcare, focuses on one particular aspect – the issues facing transgender entrepeneurs in India, a country considered to present particular restrictions to certain minority groups that may well not be of such concern in freer societies. Guruprasad Gadgil of the Francis Marion University, near Florence, South Carolina, and Gayle Prybutok and Victor Prybutok of the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA, explain that research in this area is lacking. They have now carried out a case study, which they say is a first step towards addressing the research gap.
"A key finding points out the important role that social networking plays in entrepreneurial success when the transgender entrepreneur's skill set is an integral part of a small scale or family business endeavour," the team says. "This study suggests future research directed at understanding the unique aspects of transgender entrepreneurism in India and informs on entrepreneurism and public policy in India about this population of entrepreneurs." They conclude that "This research has filled an identified research gap and highlighted the challenges of this unique group of entrepreneurs."More details...
Once you have your craft in space, what's the best way to explore an asteroid? Research published in the International Journal of Space Science and Engineering sets out to answer that question. There have already been several successful missions to examine asteroids, the irregular and fast-moving chunks of rock that orbit our Sun that we consider too small to be called planets. Among them NASA's NEAR, JAXA's Hayabusa, and ESAs Rosetta. JAXA's Hayabusa 2 and NASA's OSIRIS-REx are currently exploring the asteroids 162173 Ryugu and 101955 Bennu, respectively.
The irregular shapes and mass distribution of an asteroid make their gravity fields remarkably complicated in terms of locating a spacecraft to close proximity with the object and navigating a global route around it with focus on particular points of interest. Now, Yu Shi, Yue Wang, and Shijie Xu of the School of Astronautics at Beihang University in Beijing, China, and Hao Peng of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA, point out that the trajectory must be optimised for scientific relevance as well as fuel efficiency.
They have found a way to optimise the trajectory for a future spacecraft based on an initial estimate of movements required based on assuming the asteroid is a simple point mass with a uniform gravitational field. They then expand on this using the well-known travelling salesman problem of planning a route that minimises distance covered but allowing the salesman, the spacecraft, to visit each place of interest in its journey around the asteroid. As proof of principle, they have designed an exploratory trajectory around asteroid 433 Eros. Of course, of major importance is that the trajectory avoids any collision between spacecraft and asteroid which would lead to summary termination of the mission.More details...
Waste is a big problem. It affects our environment, society, and the economy, as well as human health. Saurabh Srivastava and Divya Singh of the Jamwal School of Business at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, in Katra, India, have carried out an exploratory survey of more than 800 households to see what level of awareness exists and how the inhabitants of those homes deal with the disposal of their solid waste. They analysed the results with the appropriate statistical tools and techniques.
The team explains that their paper derives from the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and confirms the factors that would support the planning of effective management of solid waste. On the basis of their analysis, they suggest that there is a "need for a well-defined comprehensive and participative plan of action for resolving the issue of municipal solid waste management that can be implemented with defined objectives and timeline by the concerned municipal bodies." The team found that where there was a general lack of awareness concerning the legal aspects of waste disposal, the potential for pollution, and the impact on human and environmental health, participation in an appropriate waste disposal regime was low.
The United Nations recommends that the impact of solid household waste must be incorporated into municipal plans from the social, environmental, and economic perspectives. All of these perspectives are complicated with many so-called stakeholders involved from the members of those households to the local governing bodies, landowners, and companies involved in collecting, recycling, and disposing of solid waste, and many others.More details...
Which species of trees should we be planting in the urban environment to best soak up pollutants containing toxic heavy metals? Stefanos Tsiaras of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Theano Samara of the Forest Research Institute of Thessaloniki, in Greece, hope to answer this question. The team discusses the requirements of the urban environment in terms of arboreal planting in the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics.
The team has assessed five of the most common tree species found in green spaces in urban Greece – Cupressus arizonica (Arizona cypress), Albizia julibrissin (Persian silk tree), Platanus orientalis (Old world sycamore), Celtis australis (European nettle tree), and Ligustrum japonicum (wax-leaf privet). They used the PROMETHEE (Preference ranking organization method for enrichment evaluation) method to take into consideration various criteria and especially the sequestration of seven heavy metals: cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc.
"The best choice among the alternatives is Cupressus arizonica," the team reports. "Only one other tree species has a positive net flow [of heavy metals from its environment], Albizia julibrissin." They add that for the three tree species there is negative net flow of heavy metals. "The results are reasonable," the team suggests, "as the cypress is an evergreen species and it absorbs heavy metals during the whole year, in contrast to the deciduous tree species."
The selection of the beneficial species could have important implications for the "greening" of Thessaloniki, a densely populated city that lacks much urban greenery at the moment. "Forest policy planning for urban green is essential," the team suggests. In this particular case and elsewhere in the world with large traffic volumes, light and heavy industry, and few green spaces, the right trees can provide ecosystem services and improve the environment and the health of the citizens who live and work there.More details...
The automated labelling and severity prediction of bug reports for computer software is the target of researchers at The Hashemite University in Zarqa, Jordan. Details of their efforts are mapped out in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering. Ultimately, they are developing an intelligent classifier that can predict whether a newly submitted bug report is of sufficient concern in the bug-tracking system to warrant urgent investigation and remediation.
To develop their system, the team build two datasets using 350 bug reports from the open-source community – Eclipse, Mozilla, and Gnome – reported in the monstrous, well-known, and aptly named database, Bugzilla. The datasets with have characteristic textual features, based on 51 important terms, the team explains and so based on this information, they could train various discriminative models to carry out automated labelling and severity prediction of any subsequent bug report submitted. They used a boosting algorithm to improve performance.
"For automated labelling, the accuracy reaches around 91% with the AdaBoost algorithm and cross-validation test," the team reports. However, they only saw a severity prediction classification of some 67% with the AdaBoost algorithm and the cross-validation test. Nevertheless, the team says their results are encouraging and offers hope of removing the bottleneck that is the manual assessment of bug reports used until now.
"The proposed feature sets have proved a good classification performance on two 'hard' problems," the team reports. "The results are encouraging and, in the future, we plan to work more on enhancing the classification algorithms component for better performance," the researchers conclude.More details...
Business incubators can provide the requisite infrastructure, mentoring, and nurturing environment to allow startup companies to grow and thrive. At least that is the theory. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a team from India has investigated whether this is indeed the case.
Monika Dhochak of the Goa Institute of Management and Satya Ranjan Acharya and S.B. Sareen of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India in Ahmedabad, have looked at 29 such business incubators created under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) model.
"In today's competitive business world, business reinvention model based on disruptive innovation and technology has become the new source of sustainable competitive advantage," the team writes. "India being a developing and competitive economy aspires to realise the sustainable development through innovative startups," they add.
The team points out that business incubators offer four clear benefits to startups: First, they provide access to debt and equity capital to launch and sustain growth. Secondly, they allow links to be formed with investors through contacts. Thirdly, they create in-house equity and debt funds to seed a deal and to fill financing gaps. Finally, an incubator can create relationships with other entities and service providers that might otherwise be inaccessible.
In the context of the Indian incubators, there are limitations, such as inadequate computing facilities and a lack of mentoring in some areas. These issues could be overcome now that they are known, the team suggests. Virtual incubation and soft services might also be worth investigating further. "Offering such support could contribute significantly to the sustenance and growth graduated companies on one hand and offer a new revenue stream to the incubator on the other hand," the team concludes.More details...
Windpower has been with us for millennia. Our ancestors used it to power vessels to sail the River Nile around 3400 BCE and the seven seas ever since. Now. A modern tack sees US scientists developing a "wingsail" to assist with the propulsion of an otherwise diesel-powered vessel that might be used as a ferry. They outline their plans in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management.
Timothy Lipman and Jeffrey Lidicker of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, explain how a carbon-fibre, computer-controlled wingsail could be mounted on a 14-metre trimaran test vessel, which was then sailed through San Francisco Bay over a three-month test period.
The project demonstrated that for the test vessel sailing at seven knots on a given ferry route, wind of between 10 and 20 knots was sufficient to save between 25 and 40% of the fuel that would otherwise be burned running the vessel's engines; also assuming no seriously adverse effects of currents. This the team says not only makes sense economically but also could be useful in reducing carbon emissions and pollution from such vessels. The real-world benefits might be somewhat different given that the Bay ferryboat services operate at 17 or more knots, but the proof of concept is encouraging and could provide the basis for further investigations and optimisation of the system for ferries.More details...
Sepsis is a major risk factor for patient death among those in intensive care not suffering from heart problems. In fact, it is the eleventh cause of death overall in the USA. It arises when infection causes a breakdown in the immune system leading to a major inflammatory response. Research published in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics suggests that infrared thermography could be used for the early detection of sepsis. Early detection is key to treating this condition and reducing the sepsis mortality rate.
Hasanain Al-Sadr, Mihail Popescu, and James Keller of the University of Missouri Columbia, USA, explain that abnormal patterns of body temperature can reveal the earliest stages of sepsis. "We suggest using thermography as a non-invasive tool capable of continuously measuring body temperature patterns and detecting abnormalities," the team writes. The add that of the odd patterns is temperature difference between body extremities and the patient's core temperature.
The team has now developed an automatic system that can calculate core versus extremity temperature differences based on a frontal and lateral infrared thermogram of the face. The measurements are determined for the inner and outer ear and tracking the tip of the nose by monitoring the position of the inner corner of a patient's eyes in the images. The statistical methods the researchers used can work successfully to detect sepsis almost irrespective of the angle of the head relative to the imager and if there are different backgrounds. The system works well in real-time, the team reports.More details...
A high degree of uncertainty surrounds the issue of the prion disease risk associated with fertility drugs derived from urine, gonadotropins. Writing in the International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, a team from Canada hopes to address this issue. At the time of writing, the transmission of prion disease via this route is entirely theoretical as there have been no reported cases of incidence.
Neil Cashman of the Department of Neurology at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues at the University of Ottawa, Health Canada, the University of British Columbia, and at Bristol University in the UK, write that the international panel of experts ultimately concludes that the risk is very low although the use of bovine serum instead of urine lowers this small risk by 1200 times.
The team points out that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a human neurodegenerative disorder that is currently incurable and invariably fatal. CJD is a prion disease transmitted by errant proteins and is closely related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease), scrapie in sheep, and a range of other diseases that affect the mammalian brain and all of which have a specific prion associated with their development. Fundamentally, prion diseases are thought to be caused by the misfolding of an otherwise benign and ubiquitous protein in cells into a distinct pathological form that essentially self-replicates by inducing the benign form to transform into the pathological conformation.
The team concludes that "While a formal assessment of the likelihood of prion disease transmission through the use of urine-derived fertility drugs is impossible due to a current lack of relevant scientific data." Nevertheless, now that the theoretical possibility of prion transmission has been raised in this context, scientists and healthcare workers in the area of fertility treatment must be vigilant for any cases that might arise.More details...
Spyros Papathanasiou and Dimitrios Balios of the Department of Economics at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, working with Nikolaos Papamatthaiou of EPAS OAED in Lamia, anticipate that Bitcoin will ultimately be used in everyday life. At present, there are subtleties that may be obvious to experts but entirely overlooked by the public. Their survey of experts and laypeople suggest that the public sees Bitcoin as mainly a means to carry out secure transactions and payments. This is in marked contrast to expert opinion where Bitcoin is seen primarily as an investment vehicle.
Digital currencies began to have a serious impact on world economies as the US financial crisis of 2007 deepened and spread to the rest of the world resulting in serious recession, bankruptcies, and bailouts the following year and through the following decade. Indeed, a public increasingly disgruntled with political measures to remedy the recession, such as austere budgets, and the multi-billion bailouts of financial institutions might also be to blame for the rise of populism in politics. Regardless, the reliance on anonymous, decentralized monetary systems coincides with this need to increasingly protect oneself and one's assets and resources even at the expense of others makes a cryptic currency an obvious, to the experts, way forward for investing. It is essentially off-limits to prying governmental or commercial eyes and also beyond the reach of conventional tax authorities.
Cryptocurrencies represented a negligible fraction of global wealth for a period after their invention, their net value is now perhaps several hundred billion dollars, if not more. The researchers describe the most well-known of these cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, as offering "the promise of a better financial system with anonymous transactions that are free from banks and government intervention." They add that "Bitcoin may be the greatest change to the current economic environment in relation to our perception about money, investments, means of transactions and payments."More details...
Malware, malicious software, is on the rise, whether in the form of Trojans, worms, and viruses, bot-net systems, denial of service tools, and hacking programs. Antivirus, firewall, and intrusion detection systems are all essential components of the protections a systems operator might put in place on their users' computers and the network they operate. Unfortunately, these are passive rather than active protections and so there are limitations to how well they can protect digital resources especially given the dynamic and evolving nature of attacks on seemingly robust systems.
Writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking, researchers in China offer a somewhat novel paradigm – an evolving protection system that mimics the dynamics between predator and prey in the natural world.
Leyi Shi, Yuwen Cui, Xu Han, Honglong Chen, and Deli Liu of the China University of Petroleum (East China) in Qingdao, present a novel concept of a mimicry honeypot. This, they suggest, can bewilder adversaries (hackers and malware exploits) by evolving protective systems as network circumstances change when under attack. The team says that in tests their mimicry honeypot performs better than a conventional decoy system that might be in place on a network to attract and so distract malware and hackers away from the actual target. Fundamentally, the evolving honeypot adapts and so is never revealed as a honeypot, or honey-trap, to the attackers.More details...
Machine learning techniques can be used to search for new drugs for one of the most insidious causes of stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems, the bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori.
Ulcers are like open sores in the wall lining the stomach into which stomach acid can eat. These so-called peptic ulcers can be very painful and are a major risk factor for stomach cancer. In the late 1980s, Australian scientists demonstrated that the corkscrew-shaped H. pylori. This was the subject of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine as it overturned decades of received wisdom regarding the nature of ulcers. It suggested that a multi-billion dollar drug industry based on acid inhibitors and other such agents was no longer needed as a course of antibiotics might suffice. This later proved to be the case in treating ulcers caused by H. pylori.
Unfortunately, bacteria quickly evolve resistance to antibiotics, so there is always a need to find new ones that can keep us one step ahead of the infectious pathogens. Now, work published in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications, points the way to a new approach to finding antibiotics to treat conditions associated with H. pylori infection.
The approach taken by Surekha Patil and Shivakumar Madagi of the Department of Bioinformatics at Karnataka State Women's University, Jnanashakti Campus in Karnataka, India, could truncate the drug discovery pipeline significantly in this area of medicinal chemistry. The researchers discuss which algorithms work best to screen a database of small molecules against the target proteins associated with the bacterium. Specifically, the enzyme peptide deformylase is the focus of the work. As candidates emerge from the computer, those that have the most promise can be screened in the laboratory against the target, before further testing against H. pylori in laboratory animals and then humans.More details...
Researchers in India have taken a computational approach to investigate a protein that could become a novel target for new drugs to prostate cancer therapy. Uzma Khanam, Puniti Mathur, and Bhawna Rathi of Amity University and Balwant Kishan Malik of Sharda University, explain how the target, a protein known as caveolin-1, acts as a scaffold within certain types of cell membranes. The protein interacts with proteins involved in cell signalling and can regulate their activity.
Importantly, it was already known that caveolin-1 levels are elevated in the blood serum of men with prostate cancer. Indeed, this protein is secreted to promote blood vessel growth, angiogenesis, as well as cell proliferation. It also blocks the natural programmed cell death, apoptosis, which allows tumours to grow unfettered.
The team has used a computerized model of the protein to allow them to see how small molecules, putative pharmaceuticals, might fit into pockets in the protein, how they might "dock" with the protein, in other words. This kind of computer simulation of docking behaviour has wrought many novel drugs for a wide range of diseases in the past.
The team explains how they used molecular docking, structural base molecular modelling and molecular dynamics simulations to search for compounds that would inhibit the protein. They used a predictive model to screen against a large database of compounds. Their study has gleaned several potential lead compounds that dock with the active site of the protein. Blocking the protein might block its activity and prevent blood vessel growth and cell proliferation in a tumour within the prostate gland. The team suggests that the biochemical characteristics of these compounds with the protein should now be the focus of laboratory work in the search for new drugs to treat prostate cancer.More details...
The concept of "cool" is an ephemeral one. Coolness might be defined as an aesthetic of attitude, behaviour, comportment, appearance, and style, but to define it as such might not in itself be seen as cool. Instead, it is conceived as a cultural term, largely of the youth vernacular to suggest something or someone is worthy of admiration. One esoteric popular culture icon, app, meme, or celebrity, might be perceived as cool while to those in the know, another is seen as uncool.
Nowhere is the concept more simultaneously important and insignificant than in youth culture where fashions, trends, fame, and even fortune can wax and wane in the wake of cool.
Research published in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, discusses the concept of cool and compares and contrasts what is seen as cool among Indian youth and their counterparts in the notional "West". Ekta Duggal and Harsh Verma of the University of Delhi, point out that sociological research has focused on Western cool but there is scant data on Indian cool. They hope to redress this balance to some extent.
Their analysis produces a quite overwhelming conclusion: That while Western cool seems among young people seems to be about counter-culture and rebellious characteristics as well as unbridled hedonism, and commercial consumption, Indian youth do not perceive such characteristics as cool. Quite the opposite, it is usually seen as cool among Indian youth to be seen to be sensitive to the environment and people. Although these too are increasingly considered cool among some sectors of youth even in the West.
The team suggests that marketers and businesses in India are at risk of failure if they conflate western and Indian cool by assuming that the values are the same.More details...
Diesel engines are widely used in transport the world over. Regulatory and legal efforts are afoot to reduce their use in some countries because of concerns about pollution. However, they are likely to remain a mainstay of heavy goods transport for many years to come because their efficiency and power general outstrip petrol engines and electric vehicles in some contexts.
Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, researchers from Turkey are investigating how the efficiency of diesel engines might be boosted by simple changes to the way the engines operate. Kubilay Bayramoglu, Semih Yilmaz, and Kerim Deniz Kaya of Dokuz Eylul University, Tinaztepe Campus, in Izmir, have carried out a numerical investigation of valve lifts effects on performance and emissions in diesel engines. Their work is carried out in the context of transport being the source of approximately one-third of the carbon emissions the world over and as such plays an important part in global warming and thus climate change.
The team has specifically examined the effect of changing intake valve lift distances on combustion characteristics and so efficiency and emissions, in a four-stroke single-cylinder diesel engine. The team's analysis of the data with the commercially available ANSYS-Forte software, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for combustion system analysis and ANSYS-Chemkin for reaction kinetics of combustion, showed the changes in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions as well as so-called NOx emissions (nitrogen monoxide and dioxide) and how crank angle changes these.
The analyses showed that gross indicated power, indicated main effective pressure, and combustion efficiency all increase when valve lift is extended, the team reports.More details...
Much of the public is "on-side" when it comes to sort and recycling their rubbish, but what about the more fundamental concept of "waste prevention". Despite thirty years of efforts, the message has got through about sorting and recycling but not concerning reducing the amount of waste the public generates. Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Development, Mickaël Dupré of IAE de Brest at the University of Occidental Brittany in France discusses how this situation might be remedied.
In his paper, he explores the social representation of waste prevention in order to identify how people think about this idea. If we can work out what people think of waste prevention it might be possible to find ways for citizens to deal with it. His findings suggest that waste prevention is largely understood as waste sorting. As such, he goes on to formulate some guidelines for the public that steps back from waste sorting and addresses the issue of how they can reduce waste generation in the first place.
"Creating a shared societal vision of waste prevention, therefore, appears as a sensible path to reduce waste. This could come under culture management, confirming the role of culture as a pillar of sustainable development, Dupré concludes.More details...
It is known that much terrorist activity utilizes the power and immediacy of online social media and social networking tools to coordinate its attacks, rally support and spread the various agendas of the different groups and networks. Writing in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing, a team from China explains how we might turn the tables on the terrorists and use those tools to analyse terrorist activity and so make predictions about future scenarios and so have the weapons to thwart them in their malevolent endeavours.
Xuan Guo, Fei Xu, Zhiting Xiao, and Hongguo Yuan of the National University of Defense Technology, Wuhan and colleague Xiaoyuan Yang of the Engineering University of PAP, in Xi'an, have demonstrated how they can look at two kinds of different intelligence sources in China and apply social network analysis and mathematical statistics to understand the information. First, they used the social network analysis tool to construct an activity meta-network for the text information. This allowed them to extract four categories of information: person, places, organisations and time. They could then decompose the intelligence into person-organisation and person-location, organisation-location, organization-time. They then applied statistical methods to this extracted data for the years 1989 to 2015.
The team says that the use of big data can help in combating terrorism whether that emerges from networks and cells within a terrorist organization or even the so-called "lone wolf" attack. We will never eradicate terrorism, but if more attacks can be thwarted through such analysis and the development of predictive tools, then its toll on lives and society as a whole might be reduced.More details...
Individuals, corporations, organizations, and even governments now utilize cloud storage for their data. It provides a readily accessible, often distributed, remote, and robust way to stockpile digital resources without having to invest directly in the requisite and often vulnerable hardware nor to find the facilities to house that hardware. Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, a team from China is developing an improved public auditing protocol for cloud storage integrity checking. This would allow data integrity to be checked on cloud servers in order to ensure no data is lost.
Jindan Zhang and Baocang Wang of the State Key Laboratory of Integrated Service Networks at Xidian University, have shown that it is possible to carry out a software attack on the earlier auditing protocols that makes those approaches wholly vulnerable to malicious third parties. Having thus demonstrated the pitfalls of earlier technology, the team has now developed a much stronger and far less vulnerable protocol.
Given how cloud data storage now underpins much of government and business as well as providing ease of backup and accessibility for millions of individuals as well as websites and other systems, it is critical that public auditing become transparent and viable as well as mostly invulnerable to hackers and other malicious third parties.More details...
In the era of so-called "Fake News" can good old-fashioned journalistic fact-checking be automated in order to reduce its detrimental impact on society, politics, and civilization in general? Writing in the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence, a team from Senegal, hope to answer that question. It is worth pointing out that propaganda and misinformation have always existed and have been exploited to pursue a political or other agenda since humanity first communicated.
However, the advent of the internet and social media, in particular, meant that misinformation can spread very rapidly and reach far more people across the globe in a matter of seconds. This is very different to the rate of misinformation spread that occurred up to the digital age. Even the invention of the radio, cinema, and television did not have quite the far-reaching impact of the incredibly familiar and ubiquitous information sources hundreds of millions of people rely on every day now – Google, Facebook, and Twitter, for example.
In recent years, politicians, companies, activists, and terrorist groups have exploited this facile means of spreading propaganda, misinformation, and fake news. Now, the pressure must be exerted that we might reduce the deleterious effects it has on society. Edouard Ngor Sarr of the University of Thies and colleagues there and in the Department of Computer Sciences, Supdeco Dakar have reviewed the state-of-the-art in approaches that might help automate fact-checking in data journalism. They conclude that automated methods can be very powerful but there will always remain a need for human intervention to assess the bottom line and decide whether something is fake or fact in the context of the data journalistic web.More details...
A laboratory study published in the International Journal of Environment and Health looks at the effects of flavoured mineral water drinks and sugar substitutes on the exogenic erosion of tooth enamel. Given that many more people drink flavoured sugar solutions today than ever before, there is the likelihood of an emerging dental crisis. However, the switch to sugar substitutes might not be the answer to this problem, the researchers suggest.
Anna Lewandowska and Marzena Joanna Kuras of the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland investigated several drinks available in Poland. They considered pH, titratable acidity and the concentration of phosphorus in the various flavoured mineral waters on the market. They also used solutions of xylitol, erythritol, stevia, and glucose-fructose to see what effect such sweeteners have on exogenous erosion of tooth enamel in the laboratory, with a view to understanding how that might affect dental health in the outside world.
Both flavoured mineral water and sweeteners tested in this study cause exogenous erosion of enamel according to the results of phosphorus released from hydroxyapatite," the team explains. It is worrying that they discovered that "The erosive potential of the tested sugar substitutes concerned as beneficial for our health was similar to the glucose-fructose syrup."
The team adds that "replacing glucose-fructose syrup with another sweetener has no beneficial effect on the exogenous erosion," Indeed, "Any type of sweetener enhances the exogenous erosion potential of the solution [because of the drink's] low pH.More details...
Online social media analytics is a powerful tool to boost e-commerce, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics. Ogunmola Gabriel Ayodeji and Vikas Kumar of the School of Business Studies, at Sharda University, in Greater Noida, India, explain how social media apps and websites are almost ubiquitous in the lives of many people around the world now. There are more active members of some of these services than there are people in even the most populace of nations.
Businesses can instantaneously share information with their customers and clients. But, the greatest benefits to the commercial world can only come if those businesses are fully aware of how their social media presence sits within the wider context and how their customers and future customers are affected and interact with the online presence of that business.
The team explains how there are different phases of the social media analytics process and that this has to become integrated with the companies' online retail strategy. The paper discusses the challenges and the opportunities.
"SMA metrics for customer life-cycle (acquisition to enhancement) are discussed, the team writes. They then make a comparative analysis of different analytical tools to identify which can be used to the best advantage in the online retail environment. The team points out that the tools are still in their infancy, whether free or paid and proprietary. They must be developed further to allow the approach to online retail to mature.More details...
Chemists and materials scientists have been worried about the elements for many years. Some precious metals are, by virtue of their very nature, hard to come by. They are found in remote reserves and often in places with interesting politics that might preclude access to those resources for some companies. Other non-metal elements, such as helium are also dwindling. Ultimately, we may run out of some elements on which we rely for modern electronics and computing systems and the cooling for the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging MRI) machines, in the case of helium. Another element around which the alarm bells are ringing is the critically important phosphorus which is essential for agriculture.
Writing in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, a team from Germany asks the important question: Is phosphorus really a scarce resource?
They explain that this is a QTWAIN – a question to which the answer is no – phosphorus abundant. However, the extraction of more than 90 percent of the supply is not feasible with current technology and economic and political limitations. In 2007/2008 there was a price spike in this commodity that triggered a debate around the notion of "peak P" just as we have had with "peak oil". The team argues that the peak P crisis was one of economics and politics rather than an actual scarcity of the element, or more specifically, the mineral from which it might be extracted to be used in agricultural fertilizer manufacture.
The team adds that better recycling and management practices are already in hand to sustain phosphorus so that for the foreseeable future there is no need to consider peak P or any other claims as a crisis. Indeed, recycling phosphorus could actually become more economically viable than acquiring and processing virgin resources.More details...
Geothermal energy can be used to sustainably keep a house cool in notoriously hot parts of the world, thanks to the design of a new cooling system by researchers in Italy and Turkey. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, the team explains how their vapour absorption chiller (VAC) was designed to meet the cooling demands of a 140 square metre, detached family home in Izmir, Turkey.
Hot geothermal fluid from deep beneath the house is transported to the VAC in which water and ammonia are used as an absorbent and a refrigerant, respectively. The system runs at temperatures of 30, 90, and 2 degrees Celsius at the condenser, boiler, and evaporator. The system runs at an equivalent of about 4.5 kilowatts based on cooling load calculations.
Under optimal conditions, the team estimates that costs would be offset by electricity saved running a conventional air-conditioning unit within six and a half years. This takes into account an up-front estimated cost of US$3500. Moreover, the use of sustainable energy to drive the system means a greatly reduced carbon footprint.
It is critical as we face rising global average temperatures and sharply rising local temperatures because of anthropogenic climate change, that we find alternative, sustainable ways to keep people cool in their homes without simply burning more fossil fuels to generate electricity to do so.More details...
Remote or computer-controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as "drones" could revolutionize the way in which emergency medical supplies, such as bags of blood plasma, are delivered to areas hit by disaster, accidents or other life-threatening situations. Of course, drones are costly and require skilled operators. Writing in the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management, a team from the USA has undertaken a cost analysis of using drones for this purpose.
The team hoped to show that the delivery of emergency supplies using drones is economically viable in the context of road-traffic accidents. By looking at a range of scenarios where drones might be used the team's cost analysis supports their hopes, especially as the timely use of drones rather than ground vehicles could ultimately be a matter of life and death. Their particular focus could readily be generalized to other emergency situations given adequate additional data and the construction of appropriate scenarios for other types of emergency.
The team's analysis focused on two locations in Florida, one near Tampa, the other near Orlando. Both areas have at least one fatality every week due to a road traffic accident and so an improvement in the medical response in those areas could have a significant impact on total lives lost each year in the state. Of course, a road traffic accident will inevitably increase the level of congestion on already congested road networks and make it more difficult for paramedics and ambulances to reach the accident quickly. The use of drones could allow equipment and supplies to get to a site where paramedics may well have arrived on a motorbike, for instance.More details...
Untreated glaucoma is a major cause of sight loss. There are several forms and they are all essentially caused by damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure within the eye. A collaboration between scientists in Algeria and Belgium has led to a new "intelligent system" for glaucoma detection that promises to help diagnose the condition sooner rather than later and allow patients to be treated in a timely manner and their sight saved.
Mohammed El Amine Lazouni and Amel Feroui of the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, at Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen University in Tlemcen, Algeria and Saïd Mahmoudi of the Computer Science Department at the University of Mons, in Belgium discuss their approach in detail in the International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology.
Technically, glaucoma originates from an increase in the intraocular pressure (IOP). In the healthy eye, the aqueous humour behind the cornea is maintained in equilibrium with and equal quantity of liquid being discharged by the eye and this region refilled with fluid continuously. However, in glaucoma the rate of flow of liquid out of this cavity is slower than the flow into the space and the pressure within rise, putting damaging pressure on the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form but another condition called normal tension glaucoma can be just as debilitating. Closed-angle glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. The most common form causes no pain, but gradually leads to damage of one's peripheral vision and ultimately the whole field of vision, causing complete blindness.
The team's approach involves one of the standard tests for the early stages of glaucoma measuring the ratio of cup to disc measurements of the retina. Machine learning built on a database of these ratios allows an early diagnosis for a new patient to be made very quickly and accurately, almost 9%%. Such accuracy would allow the ophthalmologist to make a much more precise estimate of glaucoma risk for their patient.More details...
Text messaging remains an important means of electronic communication for many people requiring only the simplest connection to the cell phone network. Nevertheless, other more sophisticated tools such as Whatsapp are increasingly prevalent given their multimedia capabilities and the near ubiquity of smartphones and almost universal wireless broadband connectivity in major towns and cities and beyond. Julian Bühler and Markus Bick Chair of Business Information Systems at the ESCP Europe Business School Berlin, Germany, ask what influences how quickly such technologies are adopted in different parts of the world and how the novel displaces the old.
Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, the team has looked at the use of text messaging and Whatsapp and how these have a cultural impact on mobile commerce in two countries: the United Kingdom and Russia. Fundamentally, the team found, the expectations of users in the UK are higher than those in Russia when interacting with mobile commerce sites. This is particularly true of user expectations for hedonic services. It seems, however, that social surroundings actually play a minor role in the user decision-making process. UK users are often early adopters especially in the hedonic sphere seeking out new technology whereas Russian users maintain inertia with the initial services and systems and stay with them in the long term. When Russian users do change they are eager and keen to try out all the new functionality of a service.
The team suggests that their findings have implications for how companies hoping to introduce new technology and services might assess the putative market. They should introduce the service in the UK first as a testing ground for early adoption and move to the Russian market if the UK proves enthusiastic.More details...
There is a significant negative correlation between environmental uncertainty and corporate social responsibility, according to a study published in the International Journal of Business and Systems Research. The conclusion drawn from 23 years of data associated with more than 3000 companies in the USA suggests that an ethics view should be taken when it comes to corporate social responsibility rather than allowing a changing environment to determine whether or not a company makes a positive ethical decision or not.
Brian Chabowski and Li Sun of the Collins College of Business at the University of Tulsa, in Oklahoma and Sharon Xuerong of the Huang Miller College of Business at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, explain that their insights could offer policymakers solid guidance on taking an ethical stance rather than allowing the business environment to steer policy. A new ethical stance could provide clearer and more positive approaches to employee lay-offs, union relations, health & safety, retirement benefits, as well as recycling, pollution limitation and clean energy, and even in some instances human rights, whether those of indigenous people in the company's own country.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that performs a direct empirical test on the relationship between environmental uncertainty and corporate social responsibility (CSR)," the team writes. "Overall, our study shows that managers engage in less CSR activities when in an uncertain environment," they add. This is perhaps to be expected after all CSR might be costly and when markets are not in favour of a particular company then cuts have to be made. However, the team suggests that there are practical implications that would preclude the need for a company to abandon its ethical stance and instead simply temper its CSR to some degree when the firm is faced with a volatile environment.More details...
Throughout civilisation, coastal defences have been an issue for those people who live by the sea. Now, climate change and its implications for rising sea levels make the issue increasingly pressing for more and more people. Research published in the International Journal of Lifecycle Performance Engineering, discusses the issue of over-topping of sea defences in the face of a changing environment.
Mehrdad Bahari Mehrabani of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Greenwich, in Chatham, Kent, UK and Hua-Peng Chen of East China Jiaotong University, Jiangxi, China, have looked at how our changing climate makes it all the more urgent to find ways of assessing coastal defences and ensuring that they are maintained not only on a critical schedule but can be re-engineered on an ad hoc basis when time and tide require it.
Earth sea dykes of the kind that edge lowland coasts and protect towns and cities and the people that live and work on land reclaimed from the sea or vulnerable former marshland, are widespread. Higher than normal tides, storm conditions, and rising sea levels all conspire to breach such sea dykes. The team has demonstrated that it might be possible to predict the demise of a given sea dyke given particular conditions and so offer the possibility of shoring up and improving such coastal defences before problems arise.More details...
Medical information and healthcare advice abound on the internet, both genuine, science-based information as well as spurious and fake. Research published in the International Journal of Web Engineering and Technology, looks to using a crowd-sourcing approach to the validation of medication information on one particular niche of the internet – the well-known microblogging platform known as Twitter.
Scott Duberstein, Daniel Adomako Asamoah, Derek Doran, and Shu Schiller of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, point out that social media, of which Twitter can be said to be one of the popular, can be a very useful place to gather information. However, it remains challenging for the lay person to know whether the information they glean from such a system is valid or whether, in the parlance of the modern political vernacular, it is "fake news". This might not matter so much when the information pertains to celebrity gossip, but it is important in the political realm, and very often a matter of life and death when the subject is medicine.
The team has attempted to develop a system that might automate the validation of information on the internet and specifically Twitter. It utilises the Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) crowdsourcing platform and focused, as a proof of principle, on information about major depressive disorder, an important medical condition that is frequently discussed on social media. "The core of our approach entailed the design of a custom survey and the use of a crowdsourcing mechanism to generate a collective understanding and validation of the information collected," the team writes.
The team has demonstrated that it is possible to use crowdsourcing to successfully extract and validate information about a specific medical topic from a platform like Twitter. They suggest that the same approach might be extended to other medical topics, and perhaps beyond and to other platforms that carry a large body of unvalidated information that might be tested and validated or otherwise. Automation of some aspects of the processing would remove the risk of human error at various stages. It might even be possible for the algorithms employed to differentiate between valid statements and ironic ones that might, with earlier approaches, be confused.More details...
A statistical analysis of volatility in cryptocurrencies has been carried out using a news impact curve. The analysis provides empirical evidence that could help economists decide whether these modern digital currencies are trust-based but intrinsically worthless like the "fiat" paper money system of familiar currencies we use or the new "gold standard". The research team offers details of their analysis and their conclusions in the International Journal of Monetary Economics and Finance.
Anwar Hasan Abdullah Othman, Syed Musa Alhabshi, and Razali Haron of the IIUM Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance at the International Islamic University Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, explain that trading in Bitcoin, perhaps the most well known of the cryptocurrencies is more on a par with trading in precious metals, specifically gold, as opposed to trading in hard currency. The analysis shows that the volatility and response to economic shockwaves are similar for Bitcoin and gold but that hard currency, such as the US dollar, responds differently in terms of how value changes with the ups and downs of trading and the wider economic conditions.
The team adds that their analysis supports the notion that Bitcoin and gold represent safe-haven assets and could be exploited in hedging against market risk especially during ebullient economic times. "Evidence suggests that cryptocurrency is a potential alternative to the current fiat money system," the team writes, "offering benefits to policymakers and a good investment option for positional investors in terms of hedging, portfolio diversification strategy, and risk management."
The next step with this research will be to extend a similar analytical processing to other cryptocurrencies to determine whether or not these conclusions might be generalized beyond Bitcoin.More details...
Cybersquatting was rife in the early days of the World Web of the 1990s. An individual would register a domain name that was perhaps associated with an organisation or company and even a trademarked term. The cybersquatter might then use the domain for their own purposes whatever they might be or endeavour to sell the domain to the organisation. At first, it was unclear whether cybersquatting was illegal. Laws were tightened, domain registrars would take a dim view of such activity and commonly the domain would be handed over to what would appear to be the more legitimate owner. However, there are blurred lines when it comes to generic terms rather than company names or trademarks.
Some pundits perceive cybersquatting as unethical. It still goes on. Others suggest that it is beyond unethical it is criminal. Writing in the International Journal of Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, a team from India suggests that cybersquatting, rather than being an artefact of an immature Web of a quarter of a century ago, is still rife and exploitative. The team offers many examples of cybersquatting and highlights how the activity is detrimental to the growth of the internet and society as a whole.
There may well be instances where cybersquatting was intentional. This author can point to a US government website that has essentially hijacked the name of a well-known personal and commercial website for its own use by using the domain with the .gov suffix where the .com already existed!
The team points out that there are no useful methods to prevent cybersquatting and in India and elsewhere it is increasing on a daily basis as new companies emerge only to find that the most pertinent domain for the website has been taken by a third party. There is a need to increase awareness of the problem before algorithms could be implemented at the registrar level to help preclude this unethical and often criminal activity on the internet.More details...
Gaming technology can assist with physical therapy and rehabilitation, according to a team from Brazil. Writing in the International Journal of Auditing Technology, the team discusses the potential for the Microsoft Xbox games console and its motion sensor system, Kinect. The team has reviewed the use of this technology in the rehabilitation arena and concludes from their analysis, that the system has a positive role to play.
Ivo Pedro Gonzalez Junior, Fábio Madureira Garcia, Karla Souza Caggy Costa da Silva, Fernanda Xavier Ferreira, Jaqueline Ribeiro da Silva and Wylena Monteiro das Chagas of the Faculdade Adventista da Bahia, Brazil, point out that there have been many advances in the techniques, methods, resources, and instruments used to enable improvements in patient treatment and to reduce the time taken for an individual to return to "normal" life following injury, accident, surgery, or acute medical condition, such as non-lethal cerebral or spinal stroke.
The team points out that the games available promote movement, particular of the upper limbs and upper body, but perhaps more importantly than that "games tend to make patients momentarily forget their limitations and move motivated by the fun and immersive factor." This is a crucial insight into the development and further implementation of gaming technology for physiotherapy in a wide range of conditions. Moreover, where conventional physiotherapy may be perceived as a boring necessity and see many patients skip sessions through lack of motivation, the gaming approach could, for many, avoid the sinking into apathy and provide its own motivation for engaging with the therapy and improving patient outcomes.More details...
Is it plausible to develop targeted online marketing that does not impinge on the consumer's privacy? Of course, the dilemma is that in order to show putative customers advertisements that are likely to hit the mark rather than random enticements, the advertiser needs to know something about the putative customer's interests, tastes, personality, and other factors. Many see the acquisition of such information as worrying and there are now many places where gathering personal and private data would be in breach of local laws.
Writing in the International Journal of Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, a team from India discusses the very possibility of privacy-preserving, but nevertheless, targeted advertising. Ainish Dave, Hardik Gajera, and Manik Lal Das of DA-IICT, in Gandhinagar, India, explain that targeted advertising is very attractive to sellers, because its success is likely to be greater than non-targeted, almost advertising. They too worry about a consumer's private data getting into the hands of third parties. As such, they are developing a new model for targeting that does not compromise one's privacy.
In the new approach, only keywords are extracted from the user's browser history and these are encrypted homomorphically before being stored within the system to allow a targeted advertisement to be selected for that user without their personal data being acquired and stored on the advertising company's servers and without anyone actually knowing what keywords were used to pull in the advertisement. Tests so far show that it is efficient and practical even when compared to other available advertising technology. "The security analysis of the proposed scheme shows that the scheme is secure with the hardness assumption of approximate-GCD problem, which is an intractable problem," the team reports.More details...
Science feeds into patents and thence to economic growth. However, our understanding of the details of this transformation is limited. An analysis of twelve scientific discoveries carried out using an inductive grounded theory approach aims to fill the gaps. Karin Beukel of the Unit for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management, in the Department for Food and Resource Economics, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, explains all in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management.
Beukel recasts the relationship between scientific discovery and patent showing that there are particular processes that affect "patent breadth". Patenting experts can exploit the surplus patent breadth depending on the abstraction and cognitive variety within the patent. Her findings confirm that science acts as an input for technological advances, as one might expect. However, it has to be underpinned by foundations that allow the discovery to be explored and exploited.
Fundamentally, says Beukel, "the direction of how to exploit a scientific invention must be determined early in the process, immediately after scientific discovery, in order to guide the inventor and IP owner through the patent examination process." Many years of anecdote suggests that this is indeed the case.
The research also shows that academia is not always best suited to the processing of scientific discovery to patent and that academic scientists, often through lack of awareness and knowledge of the patent process, will take a fragmented approach to sealing their intellectual property in a patent. This can mean less than great success for the invention or even failure, but also in a more esoteric sense a simple lack of patent breadth that means the potential of the discovery is not exploited to the full.More details...
Researchers from Brazil and Portugal are developing the tools to detect malicious networks, botnets, on mobile phones based on machine learning. They provide details in the International Journal of Security and Networks.
A botnet is defined as an ad hoc network of Internet-connected devices control of which is usually taken for malicious purposes. Often a botnet controller will use the network to carry out a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) on another system, which might allow them to then gain access to the upper echelons or a corporate network, government computers, or other important data stores. They can use a botnet to steal data from organizations or individuals send spam and carry out phishing attacks to compromise many users' email accounts, bank websites, and more.
Mobile internet devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, are now almost ubiquitous, and so have become common targets for those who wish to exploit the vulnerabilities of such devices for criminal or malicious intent through the surreptitious recruitment of those devices into a botnet. Staying ahead of the malware so that devices are protected from attack and being taken over requires sophisticated defence technology.
The Brazilian team has found that it can achieve a high performance of some 84% in detecting botnet activity based on the similarity of "system calls" from different pieces of malware that would otherwise exploit a mobile device. The machine learning requires it to examine only 19 features of putative botnet characteristics, which makes it much faster than the prototype algorithm which needed 133 parameters. This means that the presence of a botnet can be detected within a second and so be blocked very quickly by associated protective software on the device before any real damage is done.More details...
Crowdfunding in the wine business could represent a useful opportunity for small wineries, allowing them to garner the necessary funds to make their speciality product for a discerning and engaged clientele.
Giuseppe Festa, Gerardino Metallo, and Maria Teresa Cuomo of the Department of Economic and Statistical Sciences at the University of Salerno, in Salerno, Italy and Mario Situm of the Institute for Corporate Restructuring, at FH Kufstein Tirol University of Applied Sciences, in Kufstein, Austria, address the notion in the International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business.
Crowdfunding is the practice of financing a venture through raising small amounts of money from a lot of people, usually via social media and the Internet. It has been used by authors, musicians, artists, scientists, charities, and organizations very successfully. The incentives for the funders can vary enormously and are often correlated with the size of their donation. For example, an author might crowdfund the publication of their book and offer smaller donors a free copy of the published first edition, a slightly bigger donation might get the donor a signed copy, bigger still and additional materials and merchandise might be offered or perhaps access to "secret" details, such as videos or short stories or background essays from the author. Sometimes, there might be an opportunity to receive a credit in the publication for a large donation or perhaps the opportunity to meet the author.
The extension of such a concept to winemaking has obvious benefits. The small winery gets the necessary funding to grow their grapes and make their wine. The donors get to drink the wine they helped make and perhaps get a tour of the vineyard, they might also have the opportunity of a share of the profits instead of the wine. There are a limited number of crowdfunding sites aimed at wineries and their consumers. However, the concept is expanding in offering donors involvement, engagement, and commitment at different levels.
The researchers caution that in this relatively new world of wine crowdfunding, those involved at the winery side, the wine entrepreneurs and managers, need to constantly provide and communicating effectively with their donors to ensure positive sentiment and ongoing commitment, especially given that wine-making is not a one-off event as publishing a book might be, but an annual task.More details...
Scientists at a research university often play a formative role in the commercialization of intellectual property and inventions emerging from their laboratories. Often, the "spinning off" of a startup company will be to the benefit of society as a whole particularly in the biomedical research areas where innovation might have a significant impact on human health.
Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, V.J. Thomas of the School of Business at The University of the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Elicia Maine of the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, Canada, discuss the impact of regional startups on innovation when those scientists are star players in their field. They point out that regional effects can promote or restrain those star scientists to the benefit or detriment of the spinoff company and that such effects must be managed if entrepreneurship is to be fostered.
The research points to four recommendations for fostering spinoffs. First, there needs to be a focus on developing technology transfer and intellectual property policies that support inventors and align the long-term interests of the scientist-entrepreneur, the university and the regional system of innovation. Secondly, there has to be targeted funding for faculty and student research with commercial potential. Thirdly, research partnerships with local anchor companies must be built to generate positive feedback loops. Finally, encourage an entrepreneurial mindset should be encouraged among science, technology, engineering, and medical (STEM) students through entrepreneurship training and business plan competitions.
"Developing an entrepreneurial culture within universities can contribute not just to university spin-off formation but can fuel growth in the regional, national and global economy," the team writes.More details...
Might an enormous orbiting "shield" be one way to combat the rising temperatures around the world caused by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels? Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, a team in China has done the calculations and they suggest it might be possible to lower average global temperatures by a third of a degree Celsius with such a shield. This could have a significant, low-cost impact on climate change when we consider that fractions of a degree rises in temperature are already causing serious problems at the Earth's extreme environments.
Jie He of the School of Mechanical Engineering, at Xi'an Aeronautical University, in Shaanxi and Fei Zheng of the School of Electromechanical Engineering, at Xidian University also in Shaanxi, outline the details in their paper. There have been numerous suggestions for how we might combat the effects of rising atmospheric carbon concentrations due to the ever-increasing industrialization of the world and our seemingly insatiable appetite for burning fossil fuels whether coal, oil, or natural gas.
Many of the schemes involving taxing emissions to make it prohibitively expensive to burn fossil fuels. Other approaches involve finding ways to sequester carbon dioxide from exhaust gases or the atmosphere as a whole. There are schemes where developed nations can offset their carbon emissions by financing more sustainable options - wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric - in the developing world. Large-scale engineering - geo-engineering - also has its schemes for reversing the effects by seeding the oceans with iron to help cultivate algae that can absorb carbon dioxide.
Then, there is the off-planet approach being addressed by He and Zheng. At first, such a scheme - essentially putting in place a giant parasol to shield our planet to some degree from the sun - seems farfetched, the stuff of futuristic science fiction and yet it has many merits, the team argues. The team has tested successfully a much-reduced scale model of such a shield, just 2 metres in diameter. The concept of the shield being a controllable spacecraft that shifts in its orbit depending on what region of the planet needs shielding at a given time over the course of the day will be considered in future work.More details...
In a country with limited resources, might social media be useful in the post-surgical care of patients in their own homes? That is the question researchers from India hope to answer with their research just published in the International Journal of Telemedicine and Clinical Practices.
Naval Bansal of Fortis, in Mohali, India, and colleagues Sanjay Kumar Yadav, Saroj Kanta Mishra, Gyan Chand, Anjali Mishra, Gaurav Agarwal, Amit Agarwal, and Ashok Kumar Verma of the Department of Endocrine Surgery, at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, in Lucknow, India, discuss their feasibility study in this context. The team followed more than one hundred thyroidectomy patients who were offered some of their follow-up care via Microsoft's well-known voice over internet (VoIP) application, Skype. In detail, 76 of the patients had Internet access and of those 51 opted for conventional follow up and 25 patients consented to have tele-follow up using the software.
The team found that distance from the treating hospital was the most significant factor in choosing Skype follow up. Moreover, those who opted for Skype tended to be better educated, with a degree or postgraduate degree. Everyone who opted for Skype follow-up saved money and work days by avoiding the need to take time to re-visit the hospital. "Even in resource constrained countries, social media can provide an alternative mode of healthcare delivery," the team suggests. There remains a need to instill confidence in such an approach for the less well-educated and for those who see face-to-face care as a better choice.
Of course, there will be times when a Skype follow-up would be inadequate at which times patients would have to visit their healthcare worker or receive physical as opposed to virtual care in their home.More details...
The internet is ubiquitous and for many people it is part of every aspect of their everyday lives from news and information to finding their way around a new city and from emailing close friends to finding a partner. But, how do we know which websites on the internet are trustworthy in so many different contexts?
Writing in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Himani Bansal of the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India and Shruti Kohli of DWP Digital, in London, UK, suggest that a template is needed to assess the validity of information, this could be a matter of life or death with respect to medication information, they add.
The team has assimilated data from a range of websites that are classified by an external website as being "similar". They have then aggregated all of the behaviour around those websites and analysed that data to see how the different sites are perceived by the users. They compared their scores for a website's trustworthiness with assessments of the same websites made by others independently using different tools.
Trust is an essential factor in any relationship if it is to be a positive one and if it is to thrive. There is at the moment no common tool for assessing the trustworthiness of a website. The new approach taken in the present papers offers an alternative that may well allow us to validate websites objectively. Such a system might be interlaced with a search engine or be incorporated into a browser plugin or extension that would offer the user information about the trustworthiness of a site they intend to use.More details...
In the late 1980s, Chaos Theory came to the fore in the realm of science popularisation. Strange attractors and the so-called butterfly effect became a part of modern culture. The science was often lost in the wake of beautiful artful representations of the mathematics in the form of colourful fractals that were generated on the computer and revealed the spiralling infinities within. Terms such as the Julia set and the Mandelbrot were scattered around as butterfly wings on the breeze.
Of course, the public fascination may have dwindled as the next trendy discovery came along, but scientists keep working on such things, following the threads that might lead to a new discovery within the coils of those fractals. Now, writing in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, a team reports how they have used Julia sets and a logistic map to devise a new way to compress and encrypt digital information based on fractals.
Bhagwati Prasad and Kunti Mishra of the Department of Mathematics, at Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, in Noida, India, suggest that their success with their proposal could open up a new efficient and secure way to send confidential images, such as those from medical imaging, military, and other multimedia applications.
The team has demonstrated proof of principle with their approach using various medical images, including a conventional chest X-ray, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, and a CT (computerised tomography) scan. For these images they were able to compress and encrypt the files by almost ten times.More details...
Is there a valuable role that social media can play in education? Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a research team from Malaysia and Thailand discuss the advent of e-learning and its growth in the early part of this century.
"E-learning combines modern interactive learning methods with knowledge management methods that provide better evaluation of knowledge," they explain. They add that "Social media has brought revolutionary new ways of interacting, participating, cooperating and collaborating which involve users generating content and connecting with people through a 'many-to-many', rather than the traditional 'one-to-many', communication approach."
The question then arises as to what the interplay between e-learning and social media acceptance and use look like. Khalid Abdul Wahid of the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Kelantan, Malaysia, working with colleague Wan Saiful 'Azzam Wan Ismail there and Haruthai Numprasertchai of Kasetsart University, in Bangkok, Thailand, hoped to lay bare the connections. Fundamentally, their survey of 359 students in Malaysia shows that:
"All antecedents of technology acceptance which included performance expectancy, effort expectancy and facilitating condition have positive significant effect on collective learning except social influence."
The team points out that universities must provide sufficient infrastructure and those people working around students need to recognise just how much time students spend online. Importantly, students are accessing the internet on campus, but many spend more time online than in face-to-face classes. This has become a normalized scenario and thus it is important that the information and communications technology is in place to support this shift in attitude and activity.More details...
The phrase "sewage farm" may have fallen from favour and been replaced with terms such as waste water treatment works and the like. But, the origin of that archaic phrase refers very directly to the fact that partly processed human waste was at one time commonly used as agriculture fertiliser on farmland close to such a treatment works.
Majeed Ali, Talaat Ahmed and Mohammad A. Al-Ghouti of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar, discuss the modern potential for using sewage sludge on soil and plants in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management. The team emphasizes that in their review of approaches to the use of sewage they have found great variation in how the material is used and how much pre-treatment is carried out.
"The fertiliser potential and pollutant risk for applied sewage sludge in agricultural activities must be specifically evaluated for each sludge due to the fact that there is variation in the characteristics of sludges in which they undergo different treatment levels, in addition to the differences in the pollutant nature that is found in the wastewater," the team writes.
Whereas the old-fashioned sewage farm may have been able to use simply treated raw sewage in an essentially small and closed community. In the modern world of much greater personal mobility and exposure to a wide range of pathogens and pollution from around the world, it is essential that sewage sludge be adequately treated before it can be used as fertilizer. This must be done to eliminate and remove any harmful materials that can negatively affect the environment, human health, soil, and the crops grown with the help of that sludge. The team suggests that there are several viable ways to adequately treat sewage sludge, namely aerobic, anaerobic digestion, and thermal treatment.More details...
The microblogging platform, Twitter, is almost ubiquitous. Members of the public, citizen journalists use it, so too do business leaders, charities, scientists, authors, writers, politicians, even presidents. But, are companies making the most of it? Writing in the Journal of Global Business Advancement, a team from India has analysed 25 startups and the twitter use of their Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) there to answer that question.
Nakul Parameswar of the Indian Institute of Management Jammu, in Jammu and Kashmir, and colleagues explain that "The active involvement of Chief Executive Officers in social media influences the business effectiveness, performance and market legitimacy of the business." The team used two data mining tools – Anaconda Navigator and TIBCO Spotfire – to analyse well over 160 000 tweets from the 25 CEOs to come to this conclusion. They point out that the CEOs were tweeting about a wide range of topics: various aspects of emotions ranging from the business sector to personal feelings, political views, and societal concerns.
As the shine has worn off the traditional media newspapers, television, and radio in the wake of Web 2.0 and the advent of the so-called social media and online social networks there is greater equity between the information providers and the information consumers. Indeed, citizens feel that social media gives them a voice that was once the preserve of editors, journalists, news anchors, and presenters. In terms of commerce, social media gives consumers a voice that allows them to share experiences with products and services as well as reach out to the very people who offer them in a way that was never possible in the days of one-way media and a handwritten letter to the company headquarters.
In return companies and providers need to recognize and be responsive to the activity of the clients and customers online. There is a vast spectrum of responsiveness among the 25 CEO twitter accounts analysed. Some need to do more, some maybe do too much. Balance is needed.More details...
It was once the stuff of science fiction security, open your eye wide and look into the camera to gain entry to the spaceship flight deck or press a finger tip or palm of your against the pad to access the secret database that lets you take control of the baddies' weapons. Today, of course, iris recognition, fingerprint readers, and other biometric systems are becoming increasingly commonplace. Most modern smart phones have a fingerprint reader that lets you unlock your phone without having to remember a password or number.
Of course, from a security perspective, what's to stop a third party "lifting" your fingerprint, and creating a facsimile of its loops, whorls and arches with a piece of a skin-like rubbery material and then presenting this to the biometric device to gain access? The simple answer is nothing! Moreover, for a simple fingerprint ID system, there would be no way for it to know that the presented fingerprint was not part of a living person's finger rather than a rubber dab.
However, writing in the International Journal of Biometrics, a team from India describes their approach to developing a system that not only reads fingerprints but can detect the "liveness" of the fingerprint based on an algorithmic analysis of micro and macro features. Rohit Agrawal and Anand Singh Jalal of GLA University, in Mathura, and K.V. Arya of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Lucknow, explain that their approach sidesteps the problem associated with earlier statistical methods that work well with micro, but not the macro, features of a fingerprint.
The team explains that they have combined local Haralick micro texture features with macro features derived from neighbourhood grey-tone difference matrix. This allows them to generate an effective feature vector. They then train the algorithm with known fingerprints and test it against genuine and fake fingerprints. They achieve an almost 95 per cent accuracy with a low error rate. Earlier systems can boast only 90 per cent accuracy.More details...
In the age of Web 2.0 and social media and online social networking, user-generated content has become the main source of information for many people. Nowhere is this truer than on popular photo-sharing websites. While the likes of Instagram have moved to the fore, there are still millions of people using the much older and more sophisticated service Flickr. This site was established in 2004 by Ludicorp, it was then bought by Yahoo, which itself was acquired by Verizon, and the Flickr component sold on to another photo site, SmugMug in April 2018.
Research published in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management describes an empirical study on how tags might be mined from the comments Flickr users make on each other's photographs, videos, and other images. Haijun Zhang, Jingxuan Li, and Bin Luo of the Department of Computer Science at Harbin Institute of Technology Shenzhen Graduate School and Yan Li of the School of Computer Engineering at Shenzhen Polytechnic in Shenzhen, both in Guangdong Province, China, hope to develop a technique that might be useful in the curation of the huge database of images stored by Flickr.
They have developed a two-phase approach wherein tags are generated from comments on a given photo and then these are ranked.
"In the phase of candidate tags generation, two methods are introduced relying on natural language processing (NLP) techniques, namely word-based and phrase-based," the team explains. "In ranking and recommending tags, we proposed an algorithm by jointly modelling the location information of candidate tags, statistical information of candidate tags and semantic similarity between candidate tags. Extensive experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our method."
The team claims this to be the first paper addressing the problem of tagging photos in the Flickr database in this way, it could assist in curating the collection, especially where photos have not been tagged initially by the person that uploads them.More details...
Researchers in India have developed an application (app) for Android smart phones that allows two users to make voice calls to each other even if they have neither data nor internet connectivity provided that they can both access a local Wi-Fi network. The app is thus limited to the range of the wireless network, but effectively allows the phones to be used like "walkie-talkies" or an "intercom" system without having to connect to a cell-mast or even have be connected to the wider internet.
The app could be useful in remote areas in the developing world or in a military zone where internet access may be limited or entirely off-limits, but a local wireless network can be sustained from a single server at a central location or military base, for instance.
Writing the in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, computer scientist Shalini Goel of Mahavir Swami Institute of Technology, in Delhi-NCR, India, and colleagues Vipul Garg, Deepak Garg, and Manshiv Kathait of the Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, also in Delhi, describe details of WiFi_Intercom. The app uses communications classes that allow a user to connect with other users through the Wi-Fi wireless standard protocol using a point to point system on the wireless local area network (WLAN). Voice communication can then be made between any Android-based wireless devices that have a microphone and speaker and can connect to the WLAN. The system offers full duplex conversation just as anyone has with a conventional phone call, as opposed to the walkie-talkie where only one person can speak at a time.
The next step will be to extend the app to encompass encryption and so take security up to the requisite level for most users, but particularly for those with sensitive conversations to make in such an environment, particularly for military use. The team will also develop ways to lower energy consumption and improve call clarity.More details...
Certain ranges of frequency across the electromagnetic spectrum are reserved by regulators for particular applications: TV, digital radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. Unregulated devices are precluded from broadcasting on these spread frequencies. However, much of the bandwidth is unused across vast swathes of the planet and could be used by other devices, but for those legal constraints.
Writing in the International Journal of Internet Protocol Technology, Naziha Ali Saoucha and Badr Benmammar of the LTT Laboratory of Telecommunication Tlemcen, in Algeria explain how they have taken a bio-inspired approach to an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) radio system. The approach offers the user a high-quality service without interfering with other user systems. It exploits three algorithms inspired by nature: the firefly, bat, and cuckoo search. The team has simulated their approach and compared it to the real-life alternatives - the classical genetic algorithm and particle swarm optimisation - for link adaptation.
"Our proposed algorithms exhibit better performance in terms of convergence speed and solution quality with saving rates reaching over 98.93% and 46.60%, respectively," the team reports. It allows secondary, users to operate in the holes between the spread of frequencies reserved by law for the primary users. The system could cope with 1024 sub-carriers. The approach could be useful in wireless healthcare applications, multimedia, and elsewhere.More details...
Engineers in China have used a chaos-based system to pipe data securely through a fibre-optic at a rate of 1.25. gigabits per second across a distance of 143 kilometres.
Hongxi Yin, Qingchun Zhao, Xiaolei Chen, Hehe Yue, and Nan Zhao of the Lab of Optical Communications and Photonic Technology, School of Information and Communication Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, and their colleagues Dongjiao Xu and Ying Chang of HAEPC Information and Telecommunication Company, in Zhengzhou describe details of the achievement in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking. The team points out that their greatest success in this physical form of encryption was in the use of off-the-shelf components. They add that this keeps costs down significantly. Moreover, there is no need to use dispersion compensating fibre (DCF) or forward-error correction (FEC).
The researchers offer a rationale for the need to develop such high-speed, long-distance secure optical communications technology. High-speed secure message transmission and exchange is they suggest, an essential part of modern life at the individual, business, organisational, and governmental levels. "Modern information networks provide convenience for personal message transmission, national economic and technological development, national defence construction, battlefield communications and so on," they explain. However, it also brings new problems, such as personal information, governments, enterprises, defence and other secure message leaks and attack. "These have been a serious threat to economic, technological development and social stability, and even national defence security," the team writes.
The record-breaking physically encrypted transmission of 1.25 gigabits per second over 143 kilometres is a major advance. The team, however, points out that they can achieve double that data rate over a shorter range, 25 kilometres. It is only a matter of time and development before the longer distance can sustain the higher data rate.More details...
Ginger is a widely used spice, particularly in the cuisine of East and South Asia. It is known to have some physiological effects and is commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Writing in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design, Guang Zheng, Fei Hou, Jinghu Wang, and Nannan Wang of Lanzhou University, China, focus on one of the spice's most well-known properties: its warming effect on the body.
The spice we know as ginger is derived from the root of the flowering plant Zingiber officinale. It feels hot to the mouth when you eat something containing this spice, but it also has an apparent warming effect on the stomach and the small intestine. However, a mechanism for this purported activity noted in TCM, specifically at the leve of protein regulating networks remains obscure, the team writes.
The researchers have now used literature and protein database searching of the two main active natural products in ginger, 6-gingerol and 6-shaogaol, and identified proteins targeted/regulated by these compounds. They were then able to piece together likely compound-protein and functional protein-protein interactions to build up a picture of the underlying regulating networks within the stomach and the small intestine that might respond to these ginger compounds.
The team has found through enrichment analysis of functional protein-protein interactions that in participating proteins there are five key metabolic processes that seem to be linked to the warming effect of ginger. The two main bio-active compounds present in ginger having a regulator effect on adenosine triphosphate (ATP), glycogen, glycerolipid, fatty acid, and coenzyme. The team suggests that such insights might add to the evidence base that supports the modernisation of TCM.More details...
Can drinking tea made from leaves of the "rooibos" plant, Aspalathus linearis, improve physical performance during exercise? That was the question a team from South Africa set out to answer. They report their findings in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics.
Simeon Davies of the Department of Sport Management, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in Cape Town, and colleagues there and in the university's Oxidative Stress Research Centre explain how rooibos herbal tea, often referred to as bush tea in Southern Africa o redbush tea in the United Kingdom, has become a popular product, although well known in South Africa for generations. It has a taste not dissimilar to hibiscus tea but sometimes with what is often referred to as an earthy flavour. However, taste aside, there is always interest in the putative physiological activity of any traditional drink given the wide range of natural products, such as alkaloids and antioxidants, that might be present in such a drink.
Such a drink might counteract the formation of free radicals and other oxidizing species that form naturally in the body through metabolism and especially during exercise. Free radicals have their uses in the body's defences but are largely problematic causing damage at the cellular and molecular level. During exercise, this might lead to pain and inflammation as well as premature muscle fatigue. So, might a drink containing relatively high levels of antioxidants be useful in the sport and exercise context?
Tests with 32 male volunteers and a fatiguing arm exercise test to exhaustion showed that the group drinking rooibos prior to the tests performed the exercise for longer without premature fatigue. This was compared to the group of volunteers who drank a "placebo tea", a similar-tasting infusion with none of the antioxidants present in rooibos.
"It is tentatively suggested that a worker/person engaged in tasks of a repetitive nature requiring forceful actions may benefit from supplementing his/her diet with rooibos, a recognised antioxidant, because it may reduce the precursors to cellular oxidative damage, namely reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species," the team says. They add that there was prior evidence that acute "dosing" with rooibos might be more beneficial than long-term use of this herbal tea.More details...
The symbolism inherent in product design can have an impact not only on how the product is used but how it makes the user feel. For instance, a proud parent might cherish their offspring's school medals, an erstwhile traveller might have warm nostalgia for their battered old rucksack, an heirloom might encapsulate one's family history and so on. Symbolism can represent memories, shared experience, aspirations, attachment, love, grief and much more.
Indeed, writing in the Journal of Design Research, a team from The Netherlands suggests that there are sixteen design directions that might build on this and inspire deliberate design for personal wellbeing. Their concept is supported by earlier research from others that talks of six enhancing characteristics of products; positive relations with others, personal growth, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.
The team explains their motivation: "While previous research has shown that symbolic meaning can contribute to a person's well-being and elicit attachment to products, it is not yet known if (and if so, how) products can be designed with the deliberate intention to support consumers in attributing such symbolic meanings, particularly with the aim of having a well-being effect," they write.
Of course, symbolic meaning is entirely subjective. One person's cherish heirloom is another's dusty old junk while a single red paperclip underpinned an impressive chain of bartering by one young man that achieved so level of fame and fortune. Of course, at the heart of any symbolism is authenticity. If one is to endow a product with particular design characteristics with a view to boosting well-being in the user of that product though those characteristics, then it has to be genuine. Kitsch inspirational aphorisms against a scenic sunset or another clichéd backdrop will look obviously fake to everyone but the least cynical and naïve.
The present work, however, investigates symbolism in durable consumer goods, such as household items. The team explains that they focused on consumer durables because people often interact with these products, often on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the same findings regarding symbolism can be applied to other products, even intangible goods or services.More details...
A grassroots movement is one that emerges and evolves naturally, growing new support as it does so. "Astroturfing" is the opposite of that. It is a movement support for which is bought and paid for. It has the look of a grassroots movement, but a closer inspection reveals it to be fake. Now, writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, Australian computer scientists have surveyed the techniques available to detect astroturfing on the internet. The term derives from the synthetic green grass - AstroTurf - often used in sports arenas and public areas as an alternative to living turf.
Syed Mahbub and colleagues at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, explain that astroturfing represents a significant threat in the business world, in politics, public health, and many other realms. Fake support for a controversial system, product, or service can persuade unwitting observers and stakeholders of merit, where no merit is due. This can have dire consequences for genuine political candidates in an election, for instance, or for sales of better rival products, and adoption of systems and services that are in reality better than the astroturfed ones. Political blogs, news portals, and review websites are carpeted with Astroturf to the detriment of everyone but the astroturfers and their associates.
At its most mundane, astroturfing might lead to someone buying a, perhaps inferior, green widget from company A in preference to the better blue widget from Company B. At the other extreme, one might see a politician achieve election success where support has been entirely faked and the electorate duped into disregarding the genuine candidate.
Researchers in social media, e-commerce, and politics, are looking to find detection methods for spotting astroturfing. Mahbub and colleagues point out that there are content analysis techniques, individual and group identification techniques, linguistic feature analysis, authorship attribution techniques, and machine learning all being used with varying degrees of success to detect astroturfing.
"Astroturfing, in the present world, is a global phenomenon," the team writes. "The magnitude of its effect is significantly threatening the integrity and consistency of information we receive from the internet. Thus, the prevention and detection of astroturfing demand more attention from the research community." Their research paper offers researchers a taxonomy of those detection techniques that might help in the development of better approaches to the detection of this insidious problem.More details...
Could the health benefits and reduced costs to healthcare systems be enough to justify subsidizing charging infrastructure to allow society to switch from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles faster than current trends predict?
Writing in the International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, Mitchell House and David Wright of the University of Ottawa, Canada, suggest that the migration from polluting vehicles that burn fossil fuels to electric vehicles, ideally using electricity generated sustainably could significantly reduce the incidence of cardiopulmonary illness due to air pollution. This would lead not only to less employee absence from work through illness but also lead to broad improvements in quality and length of life.
The team's paper compares the financial costs of building electric vehicle charging infrastructure using empirical data with health costs to see if there is a net benefit. They have found that in the majority of plausible scenarios of balanced growth, when the number of vehicles rises and so does the number of charging stations, there is a positive net benefit to society.
"Since health benefits accrue to governments, businesses, and individuals, these results justify the use of government incentives for charging station deployment and this paper quantifies the impact of different levels of incentive," the team concludes.
The team explains that the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) (an organization supported by 16 governments) has a target of 20 million electric vehicles by the year 2020. This was based on a notional growth rate of 75% per year defined in 2016. At that time, EV sales amounted to more than half a million (550000) worldwide in 2015, which represented growth of 70% on 2014. Electric vehicle sales have continued to grow, with 2017 and 2018 experiencing 61% and 64% year-over-year growth respectively.
Their results suggest that a 75% growth rate for electric vehicle uptake is not unrealistic. Moreover, in the face of anthropogenic climate change and the detrimental effects of health on pollution, some observers see the transition to electric vehicles as being a matter of serious urgency. This has to take into consideration the electricity generating mix from which the vehicles derive their power. If electricity is mostly supplied from power stations generating electricity by burning fossil fuels, including coal, gas, and oil, then many of the benefits are lost. This is particularly true in terms of climate impact at the global level but also in terms of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate pollution. This has been witnessed in China, India, and Russia, as electricity demand has risen rapidly.
This latest study points out that governments have not been keen to support charging infrastructure due to a variety of industry players being involved and their responsibility to carry some of the cost. This would include electric utility companies who would profit directly from charging vehicles, out-of-town shopping centers that could attract more customers with charging points in their car parks, the manufacturers of vehicles and a new generation of "gas station" operators.
"The savings that can be achieved by 2021 are higher than the cost of installing charging station infrastructure over a wide range of scenarios," the team writes. "These net benefits apply both to balanced growth in charging stations (in which the number of charging stations is proportional to the number of EVs) and also to rapid build out (in which charging stations are built over 2-4 years in order to achieve government EV targets for 2020 and 2025)." Ultimately, it is the reduced financial burden of a healthier populace that offsets the costs.More details...
Visual surveillance of crowds is an important part of event management as well as policing. Now, a team from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have looked at the various tools that have become available in recent years for automatically assessing the number of people in a crowd and determining the dynamics and movement of that crowd. Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, the team finds several gaps in the current state-of-the-art technology and points developers to how those gaps might be filled.
Huma Chaudhry and Mohd Shafry Mohd Rahim of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Tanzila Saba of Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, and Amjad Rehman of Al Yamamah University, also in Riyadh, point out that computer vision research has moved towards crowd control and management in recent years with a view to addressing issues of security and safety when large numbers of people are gathered in one place. The fundamental problem that has to be addressed is how to manage multiple data streams from closed-circuit television (CCTV) and other sources that monitor crowd dynamics at events, in busy towns and cities and elsewhere. There a limit to how visual assessment of CCTV and so automated, computerised solutions are needed.
The team highlights some major events where there have been numerous casualties. Sometimes casualties at some events might be fewer than 100 people, but larger events might see thousands of casualties over a prolonged period. Automated crowd assessment could open up new ways t understand crowd dynamics and reduce those numbers. Some of the same insights from aerial crowd surveillance and other methods might also help in disaster relief activities where large numbers of people might be present in a given location.More details...
The team report that "agreeable individuals use Facebook to express their orientation to other people rather than to themselves," whereas "extroverts use Facebook as a relationship building mechanism". They add that neurotic people strive to bring out the best of themselves. Oddly, the personality traits of openness and conscientiousness do not seem to affect significantly Facebook use.
The bottom line is that extraversion is the main driver for Facebook use. Extroverts are heavy users and have more friends and interact with them and others at a higher rate. But, neurotic people also use it heavily to create a comprehensive and detailed profile of themselves to present to the public. There are limitations to the research in that those surveyed were students and some of them may well be aware of research into personality types and their use of social media, whereas the lay public would perhaps be less aware of such research. The obvious next step is to survey a wider group of people to reduce any inherent bias in the results.More details...
Climate variability, which might arise through global warming or other factors has been shown to have an impact on mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, according to research published in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Baishali Bakshi of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, Raphael Nawrotzki of Deutsche Evaluierungsinstitut der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (DEval) in Bonn, Germany, Joshua Donato of Houston Engineering, Inc. In Maple Grove, Minnesota, and Luisa Silva Lelis of Universidade de Sao Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil, explain how the persistence of high mortality rates in this region are stifling development and sustainable development in particular.
They have look at climate variables over the last half a century and more to see if climate patterns correlated with mortality rates. Any insights in this regard might then be returned to policymakers, healthcare, and education to find ways to ameliorate the effects and perhaps lower mortality rates and thence allow sustainable development to proceed without this intrinsic hindrance.
The team looked at elevated mortality in rural Kenya, Mali, and Malawi during the period 2008 to 2009 and then analysed this against climate variability at this time against a long-term climate normal period, 1961-1990. The results were quite enlightening: Cold snaps led to increased mortality in Kenya but reduced mortality in Mali and Malawi, the team reports. Too much rain, as well as droughts, was also associated with increased mortality in Kenya and Malawi. Moreover, adverse climatic conditions increased mortality where HIV/AIDS was prevalence but led to lower mortality in malaria-stricken areas.
"Programs for reducing climate-related mortality through early warning systems, agricultural extension services, and improved access to health infrastructure will help more fully realise sustainable development goals of mortality reduction for sub-Saharan Africa," the team concludes.More details...
Haggling will be familiar to anyone who has visited a market during the last few thousand years! If a deal is to be done between hawker and customer, then the price has to be right. A modern twist on this is that the seller has no input and the customer simply pays what they want for the goods; although there has always been free access to some things where a donation is welcomed. It is rare that this approach becomes the predominant pricing model although there have been numerous experiments, such as pay-what-you-want for digital goods online, including music from famous artists.
Now, Vinaysingh Chawan of the Indian Institute of Management Indore, writing in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management explains that the pay-what-you-want pricing model whether for digital goods, services, or entrance to a museum or exhibition is perhaps counterintuitive. This is especially so given that the buyer may opt to pay nothing and so the seller makes no financial gain from the transaction. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the PWYW model does have its supporters and many companies give their customers the option.
It turns out that the vast majority of people will take the view that this "honesty box" type approach deserves to be rewarded and will pay what they perceive as a fair price. Few pay nothing at all. Some people might even pay more than the price the seller hoped for and this can offset the loss due to those who pay nothing. The seller has to assume a majority of fair-minded customers and few freeloaders.
Chawan has investigated with PWYW works for the restaurant industry. If the menu gives a fair suggested price rather than an obligatory price, then it seems customers will pay a fair price. There is always the option of setting an absolute minimum which precludes freeloading and allows the restaurateur to at least cover costs, perhaps with a small profit margin. Indeed, when a minimum is set and a guide price is given, profits commonly end up being higher than when the restaurateur sets absolute pricing. There is much research to be done before this paradigm becomes widespread if not universal.
Many online shoppers will take a look at the reviews for the product or service they're about to purchase. The majority will presumably trust that the e-commerce site will only be posting genuine reviews of any given product, posted by other customers. However, as several recent high-profile cases have shown this is not always the case. Unfortunately, e-commerce sites are littered with fake reviews. These can persuade innocent shoppers to make a purchase and anticipate a certain level of quality to which the product or service they receive ultimately does not reach.
Even the most respected of sites can succumb to fake reviews because it is very difficult to automate detection despite the many protections that some operators of such sites have implemented to do so. Now, writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking, a team from China has demonstrated how a dynamic multimode network might be employed to efficiently detect fake reviews.
There are four fundamental concepts that might be examined to detect fake reviews, explain Jun Zhao and Hong Wang of the School of Information Science and Engineering, at Shandong Normal University, China. These are the quality of the merchandise, the honesty of the review, the trustworthiness of the reviewer, and the reliability of the e-commerce site. However, even taken together these cannot discern whether an unscrupulous merchant has employed third parties to post favourable but fake reviews of their products and services. In order to more subtly detect fake reviews, the team's dynamic approach utilizes three algorithms to uncover the nuances common to fake reviews.More details...
In the context of information technology, IT, a "honeypot" is an attractive online destination usually established to attract malicious third parties who then, assuming they have reached a valuable resource unwittingly reveal details about themselves in order to access what they perceive is within the honeypot. A honeypot might also be referred to as a honeytrap.
However, writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, US researchers caution that the use of a honeypot to gather personal or private data albeit of a malicious third party, or hacker, may well be in breach of local and perhaps even federal laws in some situations. Use of a honeypot may also leave the operator open to issues of legal liability because of the deception that is the honeypot by definition.
Also, by opening a honeypot on a system it might attract hackers who then find a way to access the genuine parts of the network or other system and so compromise that legitimate content in some way, exposing the honeypot operator to liability for damages caused.
Having recognized the putative legal implications of operating a honeypot, the team offers recommendations for how to detect and deceive malicious third parties who may be attempting to fraudulently access the actual online resource without compromising the operator. Moreover, by taking a properly legally compliant approach to a honeypot, the evidence accrued from third parties might then ultimately become useful and admissible in the prosecution of that third party.More details...
"The modern contract cheating industry allows students and ghostwriters to connect to each other over the internet, often using through an essay mill, agency website or other third-party service," explains Thomas Lancaster Department of Computing, Imperial College London, UK, in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management.
He adds that such contract cheating sees students recruiting a third party to create original work on their behalf and then submitting that work, an essay or another assignment, in order to gain the requisite academic credit. This is an ethically questionable practice that compromises the validity of any course from the lower to the upper echelons of education and makes a mockery of the value of work carried out honestly by other students.
Little research has been done so far to learn more about the ghostwriters, where they are, and how they operate. Lancaster has now investigated the ghostwriters working in this cheating industry and specifically those working in India. His study is based on openly available data from freelancing websites that operate as so-called "essay mills". The information that can be gleaned from these sites reveals details of the projects ghostwriters have completed and the marketing techniques the ghostwriters themselves use to garner new customers for their services. Lancaster found that there are many prolific writers on one major freelancing website. These writers turn around one or more essays each day. Much of this work is entirely original and of reasonably high quality. By contrast, some of the ghostwriters provide low-quality essays with much of the content plagiarized from other sources.
"It is hoped that understanding the ghostwriters will aid instructors in taking preventative measures against contract cheating," Lancaster explains. Indeed, he suggests that preventative approaches to avoid validating students that have used ghostwriters would be to monitor ongoing engagement with the course and other assignments and assessments. It would be relatively trivial to examine different pieces of work side by side to see whether writing style differed significantly to show that a third party may have completed an assignment. Moreover, for the lower-quality essays, there are many tools to detect plagiarized text.More details...
Every year computer security companies share their findings regarding passwords and data breaches. Again and again, they warn computer users to use complex passwords and not to use the same passwords for different accounts. And, yet, data breaches and other sources show that too many people use the same simple passwords repeatedly and that some of those passwords are ludicrously simple, the word "password" or the number "123456" really isn't a password at all given even the least-sophisticated hacking and cracking software available to malicious third parties these days.
Inertia is one important problem: it is difficult to get users, set in their ways, to change their old, easily remembered passwords to complex, difficult to remember codes. It is even harder to get such users to use password managers or multifactor authentication, which would add another layer of security to their logins.
Now, writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, Jaryn Shen and Qingkai Zeng of the State Key Laboratory for Novel Software Technology, and Department of Computer Science and Technology, at Nanjing University, China, have proposed a new paradigm for password protection. Their approach addresses online and offline attacks to passwords without increasing the effort required of a user to choose and memorise their passwords.
"Passwords are the first security barrier for online web services. As long as attackers steal and crack users' passwords, they gain and control users' personal information. It is not just an invasion of privacy. It can also lead to more serious consequences such as data damages, economic loss and criminal activities," the team writes.
Their approach involves having a login system based on two servers instead of one. The user has a short, memorable password to access their longer, computer-generated "hashed” passwords on another server, the key to "de-hashing” those longer passwords are stored on the second server, but the actual password is stored on the user's device too and so the memorable password acts as a token for two-factor authentication. The approach means that attackers with even the most sophisticated hacking tools cannot apply an offline dictionary and brute-force attacks effectively.More details...
Researchers in India are developing an "intelligent" system that can monitor energy usage of Internet of Things devices in the home and connect or disconnect them appropriately as needed. The system uses a Hall effect sensor to monitor the current flowing to a device.
In work described in the International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, the team presents a new approach to IoT control with software and hardware. An IoT device can monitor energy levels while the intelligent system is connected via Wi-Fi to allow control from a remote site, specifically using an internet-connected smartphone. Such a system would be a boon to those with various forms of disability who might thus take back control of their home and its appliances, such as lights, fans, heaters, and other enabled devices, where before many gadgets were wholly inaccessible or required another person to be present to help.
Experiments with the prototype circuit board offer a proof of principle where two connected devices, a standalone PC fan as a surrogate for a domestic fan and an LED as a substitute for a houselight were used in the tests.More details...
In the world of cybersecurity, just as in nature, there are predators and there is prey. The predators are the hunters, the ones that seek out the weak and the vulnerable on which to prey, that applies whether we are talking cat and mouse or hacker and computer system. Writing in the International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, a team from the USA suggests that the waxing and waning, the ebb and flow of cyber attack on the Internet of Things and other systems reflects the natural rise and fall of predator and prey numbers. When predators attack more frequently and with more sophisticated weaponry, the prey ultimately adapts to cope and so the predator must also evolve to have sharper teeth and longer claws to persist in the next round of attack and so on [...]More details...
An assessment of local and regional air-quality forecasts for London, UK is reported in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution. In their evaluation, Amy Stidworthy, Mark Jackson, Kate Johnson, David Carruthers, and Jenny Stocker, of Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants Ltd., explain how levels of nitrogen oxides, ozone, and sooty particulates (PM2.5 and PM10), can be predicted quite accurately but the origin and how the various pollutants are dispersed must be taken into account in forecasts to ensure accuracy.
Atmospheric dispersions models are critical to accurate, long-range predictions of air quality. Such forecasts inform the public and others of how pollution levels are shifting over the coming days and can be used to advise people with reduced lung function and other medical conditions sensitive to high pollution levels on whether or not to avoid certain areas at certain times or even to stay indoors entirely.
The researchers add that "Forecasting systems must account for long-range transport of pollutants in addition to local emissions, chemical processes and urban morphology; thus it is common practice to couple local air dispersion models with regional models to account for pollutant emissions, transport and chemistry at a range of scales." As such, their evaluation of the commonly used system of London's airTEXT, which uses CAMS regional ensemble air quality forecast data, and the ADMS-Urban dispersal model to make accurate predictions is important both for ensuring that guidance is appropriate.
The team showed that this system performs better than the regional-scale CAMS forecasts for all pollutants considered, with the exception of PM2.5. However, there were no major air-quality incidents during the study period so the absolute predictive power could not be determined. Prediction of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels was much better in urban areas with this system as one might expect given that the main source is road traffic. Ozone levels are a secondary pollutant and so levels depend heavily on dispersal.
The team adds that "conservative" and "cautious" alerts should be considered and data points on the threshold might be removed to avoid bias and so improve accuracy still further, although this would only be sensible with very long data sets covering a significant time period.More details...
Almost ten years ago computer and software giant Microsoft introduced a movement-detecting controller for its gaming platforms known as Kinect. Aside from being able to play games, there was much excitement among musicians, scientists, and even healthcare professionals who saw its potential as a virtualised control for their particular areas.
A user could play a computer-based musical instrument through gestures and movements picked up by the 3D sensing device. However, the system required large movements, of arms and legs for instance, which perhaps limited the nuances of the music one might play with such an "instrument". Now, writing in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, a team from Taiwan describes their algorithm for real-time finger movement tracking using a Kinect device that would allow a performer to simulate playing the guitar and the software to generate appropriate sound.
One might envisage the wannabe rock guitarist playing "air guitar" and generating guitar or other sounds synchronised to their finger movements with the melody, chords, and sounds pre-programmed. But, more seriously, the system could be used to genuinely play music through finger movements alone without the need for an actual guitar.
The team's experiments with the system show that the proposed method can be used to play music of different genres with acceptable quality. They add that the application might a novice who has no or little experience of playing real musical instruments as well as experimental musicians seeking an alternative paradigm to the conventional instruments available to them.More details...
Blogs, or as they were originally known, weblogs, first hit the World Wide Web back in 1997. The term "weblog" was coined in December that year and almost immediately abbreviated to "blog". The subsequent two decades saw the rise and rise of millions of blogs, they rode the wave of Web 2.0, became multi-author publication tools, and many matured into fully-fledged information and news services.
Now, writing in the in International Journal of Electronic Business, Parag Uma Kosalge, Suzanne Crampton, and Ashok Kumar of the Department of Management, at Seidman College of Business, at Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, ask whether blogs have had their day given the rise of social media and social networking sites and systems, such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, which are outpacing blogs in so many ways today.
Their study of over four hundred internet users found statistically significant evidence for reduced user awareness and consideration of blogging in recent years. However, their study also identified four business areas that users still find important for blogs, such as employee networking and online sales. As with many aspects of technology and in particular information and communications technology, the services on which users rely and use the most are constantly shifting. The services must, in the parlance of natural selection, adapt or die. Blogs may not have had their day, but it is critical that bloggers recognize the opposition they face from other non-blogging services online and in order to be sustainable must find ways to ride whichever wave comes along.More details...
There is much debate about whether or not violent video games give rise to violent tendencies in those who play them. Some research shows this to be the case while other studies demonstrate the opposite. However, a third factor may be critical to understanding what role, if any, such games play in society and that is "family resilience." Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, Mirjana Radetic-Paic of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, at Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, in Croatia, has investigated the influence of violent video games on player aggression and violent tendencies in the context of this third factor.
She has found that in general, emotional maturity, responsibility, and an ability to keep promises within the family is linked to playing video games with non-violent content. "The results are especially important for future teachers, since they need to be able to develop appropriate strategies which prevent adverse impacts on learning abilities such as social and communication skills," Radetic-Paic explains.
"Although special attention has to be paid to reaching conclusions and looking for a direct correlation among violence, video games with violent contents and family resilience factors, it can be deduced that this occurrence has many causes, which means that a larger number of variables has been used in the interpretation," she adds.More details...
Music is big business. It has been since the advent of the sheet music industry in the 19th Century and the ensuing piracy scandals, right through the invention of radio, recorded music, and the usurping of the family piano for devices that could replicate the songs we loved without anyone having to be able to sight-read, play or sing. Into the 21st Century, the industry is still playing catchup with the pirates who found technological ways in which to replicate and share the music they love without spending a penny of their own money.
Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Business, Teresa Fernandes and João Guerra of the Faculty of Economics, at the University of Porto, in Porto, Portugal discuss the advent of music streaming services. Streaming services emerged as an alternative business model to the failing CD-buying model in the wake of file sharing and the mp3. It was obvious to the technology, as opposed to the record companies, that are a new model was needed if money was to be made and an industry soaked in the copyright and intellectual property laws founded in the 19th Century if not before was to survive in some form into the 21st Century.
The problem remains, however, whereas video streaming services are adding millions of users each month as on-demand alternatives to cable and satellite TV, music lovers are not adopting music streaming at quite the rate its purveyors would like to reach a solid bottom line in their business model. Whereas ten dollars a month for almost unlimited TV show and movie streaming on-demand seems like a bargain, the same fee for music does not compute when it is so easy for listeners to quickly download the latest hits and even the golden oldies without it costing them anything even at the risk of legal action being taken against them under copyright laws.
The team's analysis suggests that there is no simple solution, no magic button that the music (streaming) industry might press to persuade people to sign up for its offerings. They must instead now consider how to generate revenue through balancing free and premium components as well as adjusting their strategies for different market segments based on age, gender, for instance. There may well always be consumers willing to pay as long as they are targeted correctly, but one might suggest that the billion-dollar music industry of the 20th Century is probably long gone and a new paradigm is needed. Perhaps we could all go back to making our own music...More details...
There are many ways in which hackers and crackers can break into a Wi-Fi network. It is trivial if the network uses out of date security protocols or weak passwords. But even if the system is setup with the latest security measures, strong passwords, and firewall and malware protection, there are still ways and means that a malicious third party might access such a network. Writing in the International Journal of Wireless and Mobile Computing, researchers from China review the various hacking techniques that might be used and show what defensive measures might best be taken to preclude system compromise.
Rui Guo of the Department of Internet Crime Investigation, at the National Police University of China, in Liaoning Province, China, explains that there is a fundamental security flaw in all Wi-Fi systems. Because of the way Wi-Fi works, the access-point, must listen passively for a signal, a beacon, from devices that may wish to connect whether legitimately or illicitly. This beacon is wholly unencrypted, it has to be because until a connection is made no data can be exchanged to encrypt subsequent communication between the access-point and device.
"This makes Wi-Fi easy to use because you can see networks and their names around you without exchanging some key or password first, but it also makes Wi-Fi networks prone to many kinds of attacks," explains Guo. He has now looked at the top three exploit kits used to break into Wi-Fi: Rogue AP, ARP spoofing, and Wi-Fi MITM. The first point of concern is that none of these kits need physical access to the network, by virtue of its wireless nature, Wi-Fi is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, whereas a wired network would require the hacker to have a plug-and-socket connection to the network to be able to breach its security.
These "automated cyber weapons" can cause havoc by penetrating and bypassing protections, they can also forge disassociations and deauthorise packets, compromising legitimate communications. Guo describes the protection tools that are available but none of them is perfect and there almost always ways in which a hacker can breach a Wi-Fi network.More details...
Music is an essential element of both the tourism offering and promotion in branding a holiday destination, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Tourism Policy. Indeed, music can make a tourist destination unique and distinctive. Christian Stipanović, and Diana Grgurić of the University of Rijeka, working with Nataša Jurina of the City of Krk Tourist Board, Krk, Croatia, discuss the details.
Krk is the most populous islands of the Adriatic Sea, lying towards the north near Rijeka on the Dalmatian Coast in the Bay of Kvarner. It covers more than 400 square kilometres as does the neighbouring island of Cres, although Cres has a population of three thousand or so compared with Krk's approximately 20000 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination being connected to the mainland by a concrete bridge and in relatively close proximity to Slovenia, Hungary, Southern Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy.
The team reports that the traditional music of Krk, whether performed live or recorded music at various venues and locations across the island is an important part of the authenticity, culture, and heritage of the island. “Recently the destination has sought to innovate its music offering to reflect the island's sustainable development strategy and, by implementing its own development concept model,” the team writes.
The team's study shows that audio management represents a crucial dimension of an integrated tourism product based on sustainable development and indigenous values. They add that it can improve the destination's tourist offering and the overall experience for visitors but only if there is planning for music, noise control, and acoustic design, in venues for instance.More details...
Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy shows how a neural network can be trained with a genetic algorithm to forecasting short-term demands on electricity load. Chawalit Jeenanunta and Darshana Abeyrathna of Thammasat University, in Thani, Thailand, explain that it is critical for electricity producers to be able to estimate how much demand there will be on their systems in the next 48 hours. Without such predictions, there will inevitably be shortfalls in power generation when demand is higher than estimated or energy and resources wasted if demand is lower than expected.
The team has used data from the electricity generating authority of Thailand (EGAT) to train a neural network via a genetic algorithm. The results are compared with the more conventional back-propagation approach to prediction and show that the system is much better and predict the rise and falls in electricity demand. The genetic algorithm neural network (GANN) approach takes about 30 minutes to train for prediction compared with 1 minute for back-propagation training of a neural network. However, the added value of much more accurate predictions far outweighs this additional time and effort.More details...
An ego network is one perspective on social network analysis, it looks at the individual and their circle of friends and the connections that fan out from that person. Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Tinghuai Ma of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China, and colleagues describe a way to look at an ego network and to automatically and accurately glean information about the community surrounding the person at its centre. Obviously, by applying such an analysis to different individuals it should be possible to build up a picture of the wider community. The approach developed by the team could be useful users themselves, allowing them to take control of their contacts in an automated manner.
The team can build up circles of friends from their analysis. In a three-step process that looks for the similarities between user attributes, features of network structure, and the contact frequency between the central user, the ego, and their friends. "We compare the similarity among attributes of users first, the team reports, they can then "divide all friends by the similarity of properties between any friend and the central user.”More details...
A soundscape workshop offered young people an opportunity to participate in the conversation surrounding the urban sonic environment, changes in it, and its future. The outcomes are discussed in the International Journal of Electronic Governance in the context of a large, creative Europe project known as "The People's Smart Sculpture".
Aura Neuvonen of the Department of Film and Television at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, in Helsinki, Finland, examined the issues of creating and experiencing soundscapes in the mobile soundscape workshop. "The soundscape platform and the workshop method was created to experiment with mobile and participatory methods with sound and sonic experiences," she explains. The sub-project entitled "Neighbourhood as a living room" was focused on finding new ways to make exhibitions at the Helsinki Museum of Technology more interesting especially to young people. The findings could have wider implications for other museums, galleries outdoor installations, and events.
During the workshops, participants generated soundscapes using a mobile tool known as "Soundspace" and an Audio Digital Asset Management System developed at Metropolia. Having created their soundscapes, they listened to each other's and discussed their experiences and opinions. "The participants' focus on hearing, listening and observing their surrounding sonic environment increased when emotional engagement and personal experiences were acknowledged during the workshop," Neuvonen explains, an important point in the wider context of taking part in the discussion about our aural environment.More details...
How might we ensure that our young people are safe and secure while being sociable online? That is the question addressed by a team in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research.
In the age of online social networks and social media, countless millions of us are connected to internet services other individuals and corporations almost constantly. We rely heavily on social media to obtain and share information, news, and multimedia content. Moreover, we share much of this information with relatives, friends, and other online users. What is not always obvious to many users is just how much of our personal and private information is being shared across these networks and with the corporations that offer the services, often at no obvious financial cost to us, but ultimately at some cost to our privacy and perhaps our security.
Ajith Sundaram of Anna University, in Chennai and P. Radha of the SNT Global Academy of Management Studies and Technology, in Coimbatore, India, have investigated the impact of phishing, profile squatting, image tagging, spamming, cross profiling, and other activities on youth security and safety online. Their modelling of social media activity does show that security and privacy concerns have a moderating effect of perceived privacy on trust. The pair offers practical and theoretical implications that could be applied irrespective of whether an individual or an organization is being discussed. The researchers highlight best practice that might be employed to protect online privacy.More details...
Vaccination is the most effective and safe preventive strategy against many childhood infectious diseases. We can vaccinate effectively and safely against potentially lethal and debilitating diseases including measles, mumps, influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, Rubella, poliomyelitis, and various other diseases. However, there are still outbreaks where vaccination is not available and increasingly in the era of contrarian thinking where vaccines are not taken as an option by some parents for their children, we are seeing the re-emergence of epidemics of these horrendous diseases.
Now, mathematician Kazeem Oare Okosun of Vaal University of Technology, in Gauteng, and Oluwole Daniel Makinde of Stellenbosch University, South Africa, have derived and analysed a deterministic model for the transmission of childhood disease perform optimal control analysis of the model. Writing in the International Journal of Computing Science and Mathematics, they report on how a disease might be controlled optimally to reduce the devastating impact of an epidemic. Their approach also looks at how financial costs might be minimized in efforts to control a childhood disease.
Vaccination has proven to be the most effective prevention strategy against childhood diseases, the team writes, the need to achieve an optimal level of vaccine coverage is essential to controlling the spread of childhood disease in the twenty-first century, they add. Prevention is ultimately better than cure the research suggests especially given that many of the most debilitating and lethal diseases have no effective pharmaceutical, or indeed, any other form of, treatment.More details...
Lead is a poisonous metal and a significant environmental pollutant. An important source of waste is the lead used in car batteries. Research published in Progress in Industrial Ecology - An International Journal shows how lead, scrap plastic, and sulfuric acid from used car batteries might be retrieved based on a mathematical reverse logistics network model.
Najme Roghani Langarudi of the Department of Industrial Engineering, at Amirkabir University of Technology-Tehran Polytechnic, in Tehran, Abdolhossein Sadrnia of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Quchan University of Technology, both in Iran, and Amirreza Payandeh Sani of the Department of Industrial Engineering, at the Islamic Azad University of Semnan Branch, United Arab Emirates, explain a five-layer framework that involves reverse logistics based on collection, remanufacturing, repair, recycling, and disposal. The approach has two objective functions - to minimise costs and avoid carbon dioxide emissions. "In order to show the practicability of the presented model, a numerical example using general algebraic modelling system (GAMS) software was applied," the team explains.
The team points out that traditional manufacturing is usually undertaken in a forward logistics management sense. With increasing environmental awareness, however, life cycle and cradle-to-grave assessment of a product and its end of life disposal or recycling are increasingly important. In this context the notion and benefits of reverse logistics become critical. A closed-loop supply chain offers a viable approach to automobile batteries, the team suggests.More details...
Enterprise social media (ESM) is an open and public platform that facilitates employee discussions about work-related matters. However, there are known disadvantages. Now, writing in the International Journal of Agile Systems and Management, researchers reveal their findings with regards to the impact of ESM and employee psychological wellbeing and the modulating role played by communication quality in this context.
Abdul Hameed Pitafi of the School of Management, at the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, Shamsa Kanwal of the School of Public Affair there, and Adnan Pitafi of the Mehran University Institute of Science, Technology and Development (MUISTD), in Sindh, Pakistan, explain how researchers and even practitioners are rather vague about the advantages of ESM. The teams carried out a study based on information processing theory to investigate whether or not an employee's "psychological safety" is positively correlated with their "agility"; agility being their ability to react to and to adopt environmental changes rapidly and in an appropriate manner.
A study of 167 employees who adopted ESM in the workplace, lends new understanding to the team's hypotheses. "The existing investment in ESM is insufficient to achieving better employee agility," the team says. "Managers should take appropriate steps in implementing ESM and improving the psychological safety and, consequently, the employee's agility. The findings in this study are an important attempt to provide guidance and knowledge to managers regarding the positive side of ESM."More details...
Why have so many people become dependent on their smartphones. This almost ubiquitous communication and information tool seems to be perpetually in so many and taking our undivided attention even when the "real world" has much to offer. Research published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications discusses the various factors that have led to this state of dependence.
Repeated studies show that large numbers of smartphone owners never disconnect, many check their device repeatedly throughout the day, every day, many keep their phones at their bedside, and for a large number of people, the smartphone has usurped more traditional information sources, such as radio, television, print publications, and even human conversation and face-to-face social interaction. To some extent where observers of the early adopters of smartphones perhaps saw them as the object of conspicuous consumption, today, with more mobile phones than people in the world, they have become something of a mundane artifact, despite their information, communication, and computational power.
Sylvia Chan-Olmsted of the Department of Telecommunication at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, USA and Min Xiao of the Department of Advertising there have explored the role of dependency on and usage of other media platforms, multiplatform media use, mobile ownership and perceptions, smartphone functions, and various consumer characteristics. Their analysis suggests that while the television and the personal computer remain important information media, it is, perhaps obviously, the simple portability of the smartphone, which essentially combines television, computer, and telephone, that has enthralled so many in recent years.More details...
Computing with words is a computational method where the objects of computation are words and propositions drawn from a natural language rather than the ones and zeroes of binary. Computing with words is perhaps what makes humanity a unique animals species in many regards allowing us to communicate detailed abstract concepts, to reason, to make predictions based on experience and observation. Moreover, we can do those things even with a lack of empirical data, with imprecise, or fuzzy, information, and other deficits.
Now, Arindam Dey of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at Saroj Mohan Institute of Technology, Hooghly, working alongside Anita Pal of the Department of Mathematics, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, India, have proposed a generalized algorithm, a generalized Diskrtra’s algorithm, specifically, that might allow a computer to do some of what the human brain can do in the context of solving decision-making problems using information extracted from natural language.
They have devised a computer model that can determine the rank of the shortest path which is a collection of words. In everyday language we would colloquially describe the shortest path between points in a space, the nodes, using fuzzy terms - adjectives - rather than numbers. The new model could allow a computer to describe paths in such fuzzy terms too without the need for raw numerical data.
Such a computer tool could utilise words to make decisions based on information that lacks numerical data and be of real-world applications in designing and running transport systems, in logistics management, and many areas where nodes within a network and the connections between them need to be formulated and considered in an abstract rather than conventionally computational sense.More details...
There is much ongoing research into autonomous road vehicles and experimental cars and heavy-goods vehicles have already hit the roads. A paper published in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management examines some of the myths associated with driverless vehicles and analyses the route that we might navigate to a new transport destination - the autonomous mobility paradigm.
Alexandros Nikitas, Eric Tchouamou Njoya, and Samir Dani suggest that "Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could become the most powerful mobility intervention." Unfortunately, despite the paradigm-shifting impact on traffic safety, economics, the environment, social inclusion, and network performance, there are still many complications associated with acceptance by the industry, policymakers, drivers, and passengers to be addressed before this new transport becomes the norm.
The team recognizes that there is a pressing need to frame an unproven, disruptive, and life-changing intervention, against the conventional automobile technologies without generating new misconceptions, overreaching expectations, and with sufficient room to accommodate predictive errors and avoiding hyperbole. If the benefits of this paradigm shift are to be wrought. They discuss eleven myths surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles
- Enhanced traffic safety and accident prevention.
- Better security - more monitoring and control of the vehicles of the new travel eco-system.
- Reduced traffic congestion due to more efficient mobility and parking management.
- Significant time savings - people can use in-vehicle time to be more productive.
- Smoother rides, more cabin space and more relaxed travelling.
- Environmental benefits including less CO2 emissions due to CAVs eco-driving capacity.
- Decreased noise nuisance - CAVs will have more noiseless engines and drive unobtrusively.
- Reduced energy consumption and fossil fuel dependence due to CAVs eco-driving capacity.
- Huge car-sharing and demand-responsive public transport potential.
- Fewer layers of social exclusion - less age, disability and skill barriers in 'driving’ a vehicle.
- Smaller enforcing, policing, insurance premiums and road signage requirements.
Their paper tests these eleven myths that perhaps refer to an overly optimistic CAV development and adoption timeline. By taking this approach they have highlighted unresolved issues that need to be addressed before an inescapable transition can happen. They thus provide relevant policy recommendations on how it might ultimately become achievable.More details...
The refugee crisis in Europe has become a global humanitarian problem argues Edita Calakovic of the Karl Franzens Universität, in Graz, Austria. Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy explains how in the summer of 2015, the problem came to a head and finally gained international recognition as the biggest refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II. Many of the refugees and asylum seekers came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and number at least one million attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and begin a new, safer life in 2015 in Europe.
While many people were seeking asylum there was the wider issue of migration to address and this has led to a rising sentiment of alienation. Hundreds of people have died attempting to escape, war, extremists, and tyrants. The image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down and dead on a Turkish beach was perhaps a turning point in awareness. His death in attempting to reach the safety of Greece has become a symbol for the suffering of Syrian refugees.
In the bigger political picture, the issue of migration, growing population, and other issues are constantly high on the agenda. Fed by misinformation, disinformation and the often distorted perspectives of those with their own political agendas, the public can either see the crisis as being one with which they must help or persuade their leaders to help or they can turn their backs on those seeking our help, closing borders and reducing immigration allowances irrespective of need.
In this mixed and often polarized debate Calakovic says that migrants and asylum seekers can help themselves by ensuring they quickly become part of the community in the country where they seek refuge, they must attempt to successfully integrate or risk the inevitable rejection by the more right-wing factions within European society. Learning the local language and, if not adopting, then at least learning about and accepting local culture and traditions could play an important part in this integration process. Of course, there should be no pressure to abandon or forget their own cultural traditions and language.
"Even if the anti-immigration and anti-refugee political parties have been doing very well in recent years, this should not stop the refugees to secure multiculturalism," concludes Calakovic.More details...
Venezuela is one of the world's biggest oil producers. Is it any wonder that it is a political hotbed? Oil means money, money means power. Unfortunately, none of that seems to have led the country to a settled state. Initially, the discovery of oil led to development and industrialization. But, the wealth ended up in few hands and the poverty was widespread.
Venezuela has proven oil reserves amounting to 300 billion barrels, this is the largest reserve in the world. It also has extensive natural gas reserves and mineral deposits. And, yet this somehow led to extremely high inflation, economic recession and an energy crisis accompanied major politic upheaval which is ongoing at the time of writing but had changed considerably since the research paper discussed here was itself written.
Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, Nikolina Jankovic, Mariana Olvera Colin, Melissa Ari, and Agnes Haidacher of the University of Graz, Austria, explain how, as popular unrest rose, Hugo Chávez came to power. He declared war on capitalism and left a divided society and a country currently afflicted by a deep economic crisis. The researchers discuss this rise to power and roles of the various "actors" in the conflict.
The team concludes that the societal imbalances are largely the fault of political corruption. If corruption could be fought, then that would make an essential contribution to poverty alleviation efforts. Such a statement applies in whatever political situation a nation finds itself where there are unethical power struggles.More details...
If people who work together don't have good interpersonal relationships, and more to the point, there is actual incivility between them, this can seriously impede the flow of knowledge within a company. A survey conducted among workers in the information technology and communications industry is analysed and discussed in the International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management. Incivility is generally characterized, not as physical violence, but as rude behaviour displaying disrespect and a lack of regard for others.
Muhammad Farrukh of Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, He Ting of SEGi University, and Imran Ahmad Shahzad and Zhou Hua of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Malaysia, found a statistically significant correlation between incivility and knowledge sharing behaviour in ICT companies. There was also a demonstrable mediating effect of perceived organisational support. The team also points out that their analytical approach contributes to theory in this area of management by bonding two opposing poles of social exchange theory in one framework.
"Social exchange theory underpins the basis for studying workplace incivility that is based on a 'tit for tat' pattern and is reciprocal in nature," the team writes. They add that "In a work context, these norms of reciprocity would respond favourable actions of management in a positive way, whereby negative and unfavourable treatment would produce negative reciprocity." In contrast, knowledge sharing is a positive phenomenon and the team points out that it is to the detriment of this that factors that do not lubricate knowledge sharing are ignored by management. It is vital to understand the barriers of knowledge sharing and to overcome them in order to nurture and enhance active knowledge sharing in the workplace, the team suggests.
"This study confirmed the importance and value of a supportive organisational climate for sharing knowledge," the team concludes.More details...
Research into the changing position and posture of gender in the context of female-dominated occupations first published in Inderscience's International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business (IJESB) has been cited in an important World Health Organization (WHO) report this month.
The WHO report was produced by the WHO Global Health Workforce Network's Gender Equity Hub, (this is co-chaired by the WHO and Women in Global Health). It represents the latest gender and equity analysis of the health workforce. Collectively, the report has taken the first-ever look at the issues of leadership, decent work free from discrimination, harassment, the gender pay gap, and occupational segregation across the entire workforce.
The report is a clarion call for gender-transformative policies and measures to be instigated by policymakers and leaders. It suggests that if global targets such as universal health coverage are to be achieved then these policies and measures must be implemented urgently. "This report serves as an essential resource to all policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, educators and activists that must make it part of their core business to understand and effect change," the WHO authors write.
The IJESB paper cited in the WHO report was authored by Nnamdi Madichie, currently Director of the Centre for Research & Enterprise at the Bloomsbury Institute in London. He offers a gender entrepreneurship slant on the evolving landscape of the "culinary underbelly". The well-known occupations stereotypically associated with women more than men social work, nursing, and elementary education.
The research cited brings to the boil the notion of "chef life" and gender segregation in the world of the commercial kitchen. Traditionally it seems cooking has been the preserve of women, in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. The modern culture of celebrity chefs and the prestige associated with glamorous restaurants has, however, enticed men to don the white apron more than ever before. It is as if men have adopted and adapted to this one last bastion of female career choice.
Author of the IJESB paper had this to say following the publication of the WHO report:
My research article speaks to the conversation on misplaced gender stereotypes and the changing dynamics in the social workforce. It also highlights subtle elements of occupational segregation, safety in the workplace and the empathy of the collective in occupations. These issues, in addition to several others, have prompted both scholarly and policy intervention across unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral levels.More details...
The human body is well equipped to maintain an adequate level of hydration through the various biological feedback control mechanisms of homeostasis. However, this regulation relies on an adequate supply of water. While there is much mythology surrounding how many glasses of water we each must drink daily to stay healthy. Many people sip at a water bottle throughout the day in the belief that this will keep them well hydrated without considering the possibility that it might nudge their systems to expect such levels of water consistently and so when they have no access to their bottle they feel far more thirsty and suffer a feeling of dryness more than another individual who drinks water only when they feel thirsty and is perfectly well hydrated nevertheless.
Of course, the problem with recommendations for how much we each need and when we should drink it varies from person to person, changes with body weight, environment and specifically temperatures and humidity, personal fitness level, physical activity, age, and illness.
Monitoring water intake, which comes from drinks and food, of course, is the top of a paper published by a team in China in the International Journal of Embedded Systems. Bin Dai, Rung-Ching Chen, and Yuan-Yu Ding of Xiamen University of Technology. They have used "fuzzy" reasoning taking into account the various personal factors such as age, weight, temperature, activity level etc, to develop an application on the Arduino platform that uses Bluetooth electronic scales to connect to a smart phone and can monitor a person's water intake and give them a recommendation on whether they need to drink more or less water.More details...
Storing one's personal or company data on remote storage systems "in the cloud" is an increasingly popular way to reduce internal computing costs and to provide all the securities of off-site backup without having to deal with encryption and data limits in-house. A team from Tunisia has now looked at an identity-based cryptographic scheme that cloud computing providers might employer to make that data even more secure.
Manel Medhioub of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management of Sfax, ESPRIT School of Engineering, Sfax and Mohamed Hamdi of the School of Communication Engineering (Sup'Com), Ariana provide details in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing. They point out that while cloud computing and remote storage systems have many advantages there is always the issue of outsourcing one's data to a third party in terms of critical security, confidentiality, integrity, authentication, anonymity, and resiliency.
The team's approach to addressing that issue lies in an ID-based authentication approach in which the cloud tenant is assigned a private key generator function, technically the IBC-Private Key Generator (PKG) function, which is certificate free and so removes one of the possible entry points for a malicious third party. The tenant can then use this to issue public elements to each of its users but keep confidential and private from the provider the resulting IBC secrets. The team suggests that their approach might be used by a popular cloud storage service, such as Dropbox.More details...
What role might science and technology parks have in the context of corporate social responsibility? That is the question researchers from Spain address in a paper in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management.
José Moyano-Fuentes, Antonia Rodríguez-Martínez, and Juan José Jiménez-Delgado of the University of Jaén, explain their work as flowing in the stream of research that investigates the factors that explain corporate social responsibility. They use reasoning derived from institutional theory to examine the effects of the sense of belonging to such a park, the involvement of institutions with links to the park, and the know-how that exists within the park. The research literature has paid much attention to geographical concentrations of companies and been used in some areas to justify the benefits to companies of setting up in such environments.
The study of some 239 companies based on science and technology parks reveals that all three aspects have a significant positive influence on the corporate social responsibility of those companies. However, "know-how" was shown to be of only secondary importance when compared to the corporate sense of belonging and the role played by institutions associated with the parks.
"The literature has also paid significant attention to geographical concentrations of companies and justified the benefits to companies of setting up in such environments," the team writes. Fundamentally, "Companies could be observed to want to pay back society in return for the benefits that they obtained from being located in a science and technology park," the team adds.More details...
Mobile computing is pervaded society the world over across all walks of life. Smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets are always on, always connected, always in our hands. But, why? Why has grasping a device for the constant feed of novel information grabbed us so tightly? Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, a team from South Korea and the USA discusses the effects of personal motivation and computing characteristics on ubiquitous mobile device usage.
Changsu Kim of the School of Business, at Yeungnam University, Gyeongbuk-Do, South Korea, Jongheon Kim of the Department of Information Systems, at Auburn University Montgomery, Alabama, and Dan Kim of the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA, have focused on intrinsic and extrinsic values that the mobile user experiences when possessing, interacting with, and using ubiquitous computing via mobile devices. The study extends previous research on the use of ubiquitous computing by introducing a theory from consumer research and applying gratifications theory.
The team makes the broad assumption that ubiquitous computing characteristics and user motivation can be considered as the key features of the adoption of such devices. Their results clearly reveal that user attitudes towards the adoption of ubiquitous computing mobile devices are positively related to the individual's innovativeness, sociability, and ability to personalise their device. In addition, the team reports, users generally perceived the utility of mobile devices through UC dimensions, including mobility, context awareness, interoperability, and personalisation.More details...
Is there a link between levels of air pollution, a country's economic growth, and the happiness of its citizens? That is the question Zahra Fotourehchi and Habib Ebrahimpour of the Department of Management and Economics, at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, in Ardabil, Iran, hoped to answer in their paper just published in the aptly named International Journal of Happiness and Development.
Prior research into a putative link between economic growth and happiness has not offered researchers the chance to reach a consensus. The results have been mixed. In an attempt to reconcile this state of affairs, the team has looked at gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and its impact on happiness by taking into account the role of air pollution in each country using annual unbalanced panel data for 59 countries between the years 2005 and 2015.
It is curious that the team's analysis suggests that rising per capita GDP leads to a decrease in happiness if the air pollution level is sufficiently high but in contrast, if air pollution is low, rising GDP leads to an increased level of happiness. "We also found that leaving air pollution out of the analysis led to about 15-27% underestimation of the income effect, the team reports. "These results provide some important implications for policymakers seeking to increase economic growth without aggravating happiness."
Fundamentally, "Our research emphasises that improving air quality is an important policy measure to increase happiness in developing countries. Along with economic growth, the current focus on related costs of physical health ignores other hidden costs of pollution on mental health (happiness). If counting these additional costs, the benefits of reducing pollution would be higher," the team concludes.More details...
In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU in a national referendum vote. At the time of writing, the economic implications of the so-called British Exit from the EU, "Brexit" are yet to be fully clarified. Writing in "Global Business and Economics Review", Jeremy Head of the International Business and Economics Research Group (IBERG), Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, analyses the possible impacts of different Brexit scenarios on inward foreign direct investment (FDI) to the UK.
Head demonstrated that the "harder" forms of Brexit are likely to have worse outcomes in terms of inward FDI to the UK. He also suggested that the export platform FDI will be potentially significantly affected too. "The effects of Brexit could also be diverse in different industries, given the different motives for FDI, and also diverse in terms of the type of activity of the FDI," explains Head. He also points out that the effects will not be evenly spread across the UK given the patterns of FDI in the UK. There are clear policy implications...
Even though there was slow economic growth in the UK between 2010 and 2015 following the 2018 economic crash, FDI remained an important component of the UK economy. It was reported in 2016, that FDI amounted to the equivalent of almost US$40 billion for 2015. The flows led to a stock of inward FDI in the UK of $1.5 trillion by 2015. Most studies suggest that inward FDI boosts gross domestic product (GDP). Indeed, there is broad agreement that the UK’s membership of the European Union led to greater inward FDI than the country would otherwise have experienced and it is a matter of record that GDP increased. A 2015 report suggested that EU membership enhanced UK inward FDI by 25 to 30 percent.
However, there is some research that suggests that countries outside the EU benefit in terms of inward FDI and thence GDP significantly and that it may well be that the UK would have been better off outside the EU in some economic sense. Unfortunately, there is no way to carry out randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in the world of economics. Moreover, how things might have been is generally an irrelevant consideration in future prosperity or otherwise, especially given political machinations and the personal and partisan agendas of those playing out the script on behalf of the electorate.More details...
UPDATE: This post was scheduled just as news came in that the Fair Isle Bird Observatory had been destroyed by fire on Sunday, 10th March 2019). Thankfully, nobody was injured in the fire. Plans are already afoot to rebuild, but that will take time and money.
Richard Butler of Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, UK, is worried about the impact of niche tourism, specifically birdwatching, on the well-being of a remote island and its residents. Writing in the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, he explains how birdwatching has been the predominant form of tourism on Fair Isle, the most remote of the inhabited British islands since tourism began there in 1905.
The research analyses data collected in two surveys of the resident population that were carried out half a century apart. "The information obtained allows a longitudinal examination of the impact of tourism on the well-being of island residents and resident attitudes towards, and involvement with, tourism, and reveals that attitudes have remained positive throughout the half-century of study," Butler reports. Moreover, the numbers, location, and nature of tourists and tourism are identified as key factors in the positive relationship between residents and visitors. Tourism has benefited Fair Isle in terms of environmental, sociocultural, and economic well-being.
Fair Isle has a world-famous bird observatory and represents something of a pilgrimage site for keen birdwatchers. Aside from resident species, the position of the island halfway between Shetland and Orkney at about seven degrees south of The Arctic Circle makes it a likely place for migrants and vagrant bird species from other continents to pass through on their various travels. Even if many of the human residents departed the island there would likely still be enthusiastic ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers who would take to the see in order to reach the observatory.
"While it would be naïve to claim that the current nature of tourism is completely sustainable or perfect, it is closer to sustainability than in most tourist destinations, and overall achieves a measure of symbiosis with both the human and non-human environment with positive effects upon resident well-being," Butler concludes.More details...
Researchers in China have designed an improved energy-aware and self-adaptive deployment method for autonomous underwater vehicles. The team of Chunlai Peng and Tao Wang of the Guangdong University of Technology, in Guangzhou, provide details in the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control.
The researchers explain that autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are essential mobile robots that can travel underwater and perform tasks that are considered to hazardous for people to carry out for various reasons. There are, however, problems that face the operators of AUVs, specifically the fact that control algorithms are not necessarily optimized for distance nor energy consumption.
The team’s approach to enabling energy awareness, as well as self-adaptive deployment, has now been tested with ten AUVs. Their work demonstrates that they can reduce energy consumption with their algorithm in the test AUVs by almost a third. This could be a real boon for marine environment monitoring, military missions, search missions after the loss of a craft at sea, and perhaps even after a tsunami, earthquake or other geological catastrophes.
The team concludes their paper with a nod to the future direction of their research. "Future work will study an energy-supplying problem during the ocean rescue that generating trajectories for AUVs to rendezvous with energy-carrying robots, such as mobile charging stations, i.e., a rendezvous problem for AUVs and mobile charging stations," they explain.More details...
Maize is perhaps the single, most-important cereal crop in the world. It is consumed by millions of people and is a staple for a large proportion of the global population. It is also used for animal feed and its total production far outstrips rice and wheat. It is also converted into other edible products such as corn syrup and corn starch as well as useful, but inedible products, like bioethanol. Unfortunately, as with many vital crops, there are significant pests and diseases that can devastate the harvest or damage the product afterwards, during transportation and storage prior to consumption.
Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, Enquhone Alehegn of the Bahir Dar University, in Ethiopia, has used a support vector machine and image processing to develop a recognition and classification system for maize diseases. Alehegn points out that Ethiopian maize is afflicted by some 72 diseases that attack different parts of the plants. Visual observation and chemical analysis are commonly used to identify a particular infection in the plants' leaves. However, such approaches require experts, time, and often costly equipment and facilities. His new approach side-steps many of the problems of conventional disease detection and classification.
He explains that he used 640 images from a dataset of 800 to train the algorithm and the other 20% for testing. "Based on the experiment result using combined (texture, colour and morphology) features with support vector machine an average accuracy of 95.63% achieved." It should be possible to improve accuracy by optimization of the image segmentation part of the analysis.More details...
Many people enjoy luxury and those that don't have access to luxury goods and services often aspire to it. Writing in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, a team explain how in the "West" the notion of luxury, which has existed for millennia was perhaps considered sinful or wasteful but is now a way of life for many people and as mentioned an aspiration for others. With worldwide economic growth, globalization, and many other factors the notion of luxury and it accessibility to the nouveaux riches is now essentially independent of one's location, provided one is sufficiently "riche", nouveau or otherwise.
The team has used multi-dimensional scaling used to map the aspiration to possess and willingness to purchase luxury products in the near future among Indian women, looking at the type of luxury products women desire and their ability and wont to buy them. The team adds how the luxury market is growing rapidly in India and although still in its infancy, it is already in double figures of billions of dollars.
"With evolved tastes, awareness and worldliness, Indian consumers are willing to pay a premium for a well-designed, quality product," the team reports. Specifically, the team found that lifestyle products are the most appealing and include jewellery (as was always the case), designer clothes, luxury vehicles, exotic holidays, top-end mobile phones, laptops, and other gadgets.
The team suggests that their paper will be invaluable in marketing research and for marketers themselves looking to understand and exploit luxury brands.More details...
Finding ways to maximize influence on social networks is a significant endeavour for a wide range of people including those involved in marketing, election campaigns, and outbreak detection, for instance. Technically in a network scenario, "Influence maximisation deals with the problem of finding a subset of nodes called seeds in the social network such that these nodes will eventually spread maximum influence in the network."
Writing in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering researchers from India point out that this is one of a class of difficult-to-solve problems known as NP-hard problems. In their paper, they focus on providing an overview of the influence maximisation problem and cover three major aspects. First, they look at the different types of inputs required. Secondly, they investigate influence propagation models that map the spread of influence in a network. Finally, they look at approximation algorithms proposed for seed set selection.
The study provides new insights into how a marketing campaigner might trigger a viral response to a product launch through the very careful selection of key influencers whose word of mouth promotion would reach and affect the maximum number of people. Similarly, it could be used to spread a political message more rapidly than by traditional canvassing methods. But, from the scientific perspective, the very same tools and insights could help us to better understand how a few infected individuals might lead to the emergence of an epidemic.
"Scope for future work in the area of influence maximisation lies mainly in finding efficient solutions to the extensions of the basic influence maximisation problem", the team concludes and to finding ways to handle the vast and growing amounts of data that networks can generate in a short space of time.More details...
Brands have to vie with each other to grab our increasingly diminishing attention spans across a much wider range of media, from traditional print and broadcast to the rapidly changing social media that are so readily scrollable. Writing in the International Journal of the Business Environment, one research team explains how it has looked at the impact of social media on brand commitment and tested the mediation role of perceived value and brand image.
Homa Kavoosi Kalejahi and Mojtaba Ramezani of the Islamic Azad University, in Tabriz, Iran and Reza Rostamzadeh from the University's Urmia campus explain how firms always found it difficult to make their brands distinct through traditional means because branding is not only about a company's share of the market, but also the consumers' perception of that brand. In many ways, the advent of online social media has increased the customers' engagement with brands, but there are so many choices available that finding a way to stand out from the crowd in any given market remains a conundrum from marketing departments the world over.
The researchers undertook a case study of the consumer electronics company LG and looked at how brand commitment is influenced by perceived value and brand image. The team's analysis confirms the hypothesis but also poses new questions about marketing in the era of online social media and creating a unique brand that distinguishes itself from the competition.More details...
There is a complementary role between conventional marketing and advertising and electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) for motion pictures with high and low production costs, according to an analysis by researchers in Chile and Spain. They suggest that understanding the roles of advertising and e-WOM in the era of social media and social networking can have a big impact on low-budget movies compared to the blockbuster, perhaps even allowing low-budget movies to become surprise blockbusters and leading even the biggest budget movie to fail as a "rotten tomato".
Guillermo Armelini of the Universidad de Los Andes, in Santiago, Chile, and Jorge González and Julian Villanueva of the University of Navarra, in Madrid Spain, detail their findings in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising.
The team tested the two forms of promotion using a novel methodology in experience goods modelling, that endogenise the effect of e-WOM, advertising, revenues per screens and screens – the main constructs of our study. They applied the approach to a random sample of 202 movies.
The team found that "The advertising impact on revenues and e-WOM is more critical for high than for low-production budget movies. However, a higher positive effect of advertising on-screen allocation is found for movies with lower budgets."
They suggest that their findings have implications for managers: from the demand side, advertising affects the attention of moviegoers beyond a certain threshold and it has a ripple effect on e-WOM. In other words, e-WOM is unlikely to succeed as an exclusive approach to marketing. By contrast, they also showed that cinema owners consider advertising investment as a signal of quality for movies with a limited production budget.More details...
Growing rice is an intensive business. But, in China where it is the primary food crop, mechanisation has not reached maturity, although it is as high as 90 per cent in some provinces. Writing in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, researchers have looked at the fuel consumption index and the working efficiency index as the main basis for a rice transfer machine.
Xin Yang and Zhenxiang Zeng of the School of Economics and Management, Hebei University of Technology, Jinyu Wei of the School of Management, at Tianjin University of Technology, and Xinjiang Cai of Yanshan University, explain how they have determined the best model for an optimal working ratio and efficiency, which not only satisfies the requirements of a short payback period on investment but also gives the operator long service life of the equipment.
The team explains that in most areas of China, manual handling is still the main way in which harvested rice is taken from field to transportation. Of course, given that rice grows in wet land, those fields are still wet, muddy after the harvest and manual handling is slow, inefficient, and uncomfortable for the handlers. "This problem cannot be ignored, because the traditional way has become the bottleneck of the realisation of full mechanisation of the rice farming," the team explains. The insights gained from the team’s analysis of mechanical picking could ultimately boost the amount of mechanization in other provinces allowing rice farming to become more efficient as the population continues to grow.More details...
The rock group Pink Floyd famously proferred that "we don't need no education" while singer Alice Cooper celebrated the fact that "school's out!". But, we do need education, just not necessarily provided in the traditional style of lectures.
Can blended learning that avoids the conventional lecture structure be a useful tool in higher education? An experiment by Kevin Anthony Jones of the School of Computer Engineering, at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore and Ravi Sharma of the School of Business, at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, suggests might be so in the teaching of software engineering.
The pair has chronicled a ten-year blended learning program at a leading technological university where the concept of online courses and the technology are already very familiar to educators and students alike. However, over the course of ten years the outcomes were not quite what might have been expected from a technological starting point.
"Though there were few technical problems, it required behavioural changes from teachers and learners, thus unearthing a host of socio-technical issues, challenges, and conundrums," the team reports in the International Journal of Digital Enterprise Technology. They add that "Education is a changing journey, not a prescribed destination, where learners, teachers, and administrators must reinvent themselves to harness the positive in this disruptive innovation of blended learning – closely related to flipped classroom – which combines eLearning with face-to-face and peer, interactions in problem-based learning."
The bottom line is that while blended learning has many benefits it does not necessarily lead to better delivery outcomes cost savings. Nevertheless, it makes higher education a more customisable proposition that can be adapted for different learning styles and so make it more accessible to a wider range of students.More details...
Can consumerism ever by environmentally friendly, or "green" to use the common vernacular? And, how does going green tally with customer satisfaction? Researchers in Taiwan are developing a green customer satisfaction index (GCSI) model to explore green consumer behaviour. The model takes into account various factors including perceived quality, corporate social responsibility, expectation, brand image, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.
The research shows that perceived quality has a positive impact on green corporate social responsibility. That perceived quality positive effects perceived value, satisfaction, and loyalty. Also that corporate social responsibility improves brand image. Brand image has a positive impact on perceived value and perceived value positively correlates with satisfaction. Finally, satisfaction has a positive impact on loyalty and expectation positively effects perceived quality and brand image.
The bottom line then is that "When the customer's expectations are higher, the enterprise will pay more attention and strive to meet the customer's expectations which in turn improves the enterprise's perceived quality and brand image." However, the research found that customer expectation has no significant effect on green perceived value and satisfaction.
"Green consumption can drive changes in the mainstream consumption patterns and, prompt companies to introduce green products that, meet customer and environmental protection needs," explains Kuang-Heng Shih of the Department of International Business Administration, at the Chinese Culture University, Taipei City. "Green products not only enhance business but also benefit social and environmental sustainability," he adds, paraphrasing earlier work that the present research corroborates.
The work focused on interviewing customers of three eco-smart hotels in northern Taiwan and thus has limitations but the extension of the modelling to a wider geographical region and beyond the hospitality industry could also reveal implications for the greening of other areas of consumerism.More details...
From the ancient amphora to the Californian carafe, how does wine change through time and is this most traditional of skills as susceptible to innovation as other areas of human endeavour?
Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Julien Granata, Beysül Aytaç, and David Roubaud of Montpellier Business School in France discuss developments through history into the modern world of business clusters in the wine industry. They suggest that while wine suppliers focus on technical innovations, winegrowers develop organisational innovations to address the problems they face such as a lack of resources, climate change and other issues.
Historically, innovation has been perceived as giving rise to both creation and progress while at the same time bringing about substitutions. The net effect of this is that the sum of the technical advances, social progress, and new skills created through innovation always add up to more than the job losses that change entails and the obsolescence of some products. That said, disruptive innovators rarely usurp the old-school approaches and products entirely even if they might take up some of the slack in the market. Californian wine-growing clusters might offer innovation but they are at the bottom line still selling containers of wine just as the ancient Egyptians did in seventh millennium BCE.More details...
Manal El Rhazi, Arsalane Zarghili, Aicha Majda, and Anissa Bouzalmat of the Intelligent Systems and Applications Laboratory at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, together with Ayat Allah Oufkir of the University's Medical Center of Biomedical and Translational Research, are investigating facial beauty analysis by age and gender.
Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, the team explains that our faces are the first source of information we see and while beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder and perhaps more than skin deep, attractiveness is often tied very closely to the first sight of a person's face. As such, several studies have been conducted in aesthetic medicine and image processing that might allow attractiveness to be measured in the adult human face.
The team has now proposed an automatic procedure for the analysis of "facial beauty". In their approach, they first detect the face zone on an image and its feature areas, they then present a novel method to extract features and analyse aesthetic qualities.
"Experimental results show that our method can extract the features corners accurately for the majority of faces presented in the European Conference on Visual Perception in Utrecht (ECVP) and Faculdade de Engenharia Industrial (FEI) images databases," they report. They add "That there exists a difference in the facial beauty analysis by gender and age, due to anatomical differences in specific facial areas between the categories."
The main difference by gender is observed in the forehead and chin while the main differences by age take place in areas like the eyebrows, nose and the chin. The eyebrows descend from a high position to a lower one which makes the eyes look smaller, and thus suggestively less attractive. Similarly, the nasal tip descends gradually causing enlargement of the nose, and the chin descends in the same manner as the nose and eyebrows, aspects of facial characteristics that are often considered less appealing than their opposite.More details...
Snejina Michailova of The University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand and Nigel Holden of Leeds University Business School, UK, offer the intriguing question: How can research on culture in international business be made more interesting? Writing in the European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, they suggest that an oft-overlooked aspect of business research is its potential for "interestingness". They suggest that this is a curious omission from existing reviews and analyses.
The pair has now looked at two interconnected issues that sociologists and management scholars have wrestled with for quite some time: namely, what exactly is interesting research and why does it matter? They have made the suggestion that contextualization is important and have highlighted the need for more research into language. Moreover, they advance the case for research into intracultural variation.
"Conducting research on these three topics involves a break with national value systems, on the one hand, and the embrace of non-cultural variables, on the other," the team writes. "The current shifts and changes in the world open up new vistas of truly interesting research, at which international business scholars can and indeed should be at the forefront."
They suggest that when we consider the BRIC countries and so-called emerging markets, the context of the USA as the "default business nation" for benchmarking activity is not necessarily the best approach and moreover is somewhat restrictive.
"The shift in the world's economic centre of gravity opens up new vistas of truly interesting research, at which cross-cultural management scholars as a specialist sub-group of IB scholars can and indeed should be at the forefront," the team concludes.More details...
What does it mean for a worker to have a "voice"? The moral and sociological implications are more far complicated than a cursory listen to employee voice…or silence…might at first suggest. The employee voice might influence suggestion-box systems, grievance systems, dispute reporting and resolution, whistle-blowing, issue selling, upward influence with management, voice through collective representation, also known as unionisation, employee participation, and employee involvement in the management or company development.
Now, a US team has used advanced bibliometric mapping tools to plot the sciencebase of the voice and silence literature. "Our findings indicate that employee silence and employee voice are terms that are largely claimed by the organisational behaviour (OB) and human resource management (HRM) literature," the team reports in the International Journal of Bibliometrics in Business and Management.
Debra Casey of Temple University, Philadelphia and Steven McMillan of Penn State University, Abington, both in Pennsylvania, USA, explain how they examined 376 articles, notes, and book chapters from the Web of Science (WoS) system. Importantly, from the perspective of reviewing the literature in this area and understanding the sociological and political implications, they found that the terms are defined much more narrowly in this part of the literature than they are in the industrial relations or employment relations disciplines, where one might imagine a clearer definition of the terms might be even more important.
"One of the benefits of using bibliometric techniques is that they provide a quantitative analysis that many times confirms what the astute researcher already knows," the team reports. "We hope that by further exploring and clarifying this important area of scholarship, both seasoned scholars and those new to this area will have a better appreciation of their own 'invisible college' and how to make good use of it," they add.More details...
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been widely adopted by higher education institutions for teaching more widely on-campus courses. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a team from Hong Kong explain how they have carried out case studies and examined best practice for running a MOOC.
Kam Cheong Li and Billy Tak-Ming Wong of The Open University of Hong Kong, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, demonstrated three principles that can help with the development and ongoing maintenance of MOOCs. First, the division of labour in the implementation of a MOOC is important. Secondly, technology must be used effectively. Finally, a MOOC must be adaptable so that a course might be redesigned based on teacher and learner experience with the MOOC. They point out that there are many diverse ways in which MOOCs have been implemented on-campus, specifically.
MOOCs allow huge numbers of students to participate in a course at the same time in far greater numbers than is possible with a conventional on-campus lecture and tutorial approach to teaching. It has also been demonstrated in the past that MOOCs can be used to improve accessibility, equity and inclusiveness of education given that many people might be excludes from a conventional course for any number of reasons depending on personal circumstances and geopolitics of a particular campus.
"Following the trend of adopting online technology for teaching in higher educational institutions, this study illustrates how 'online technology can be used to deliver hybrid courses with reduced class time without compromising student outcomes'," the team concludes.More details...
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects communication, social skills and other behaviours. Characteristic of some cases in both children and adults is repetitive movements or unusual behaviour - stereotyped movements.
A research team from France and Morocco describe in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, an automated detection system for diagnosing stereotyped movements that uses the motion detector system of the "Kinect" video game. The Kinect system is based on a webcam type peripheral computer device that allows the player to control the computer through movements and gestures (as well as spoken commands via a microphone input). The Kinect was originally an add-on for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console.
The team of Maha Jazouli of Sidi Mohamed Benabdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, and colleagues have used a $P Point-Cloud Recogniser to identify multi-stroke gestures as point clouds as recorded by the webcam component of the Kinect and its processing system for gesture and movement determination. Their new methodology can automatically detect five stereotypical motor movements: body rocking, hand flapping, finger flapping, hand on the face, and hands behind back.
The researchers report that for many people with ASD tested using this system, satisfactory results were obtained in identifying stereotyped movements. They suggest that the system might be used in a clinical setting or in the home as a temporary smart surveillance system to augment early diagnosis of ASD by expert clinicians.More details...
Extracting relevant information from the scientific literature about side effects and adverse drug reactions to pharmaceutical products is an important part of data mining in this area. Writing in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, a team from China has developed a new search strategy that offers the optimal trade-off between retrieving pertinent abstracts and coping with the vast amounts of information available.
The team's "corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies" of side effect and ADRs could be, they suggest, an important tool in a thriving area of pharmaceutical research and development – drug repurposing.
Alex Chengyu Fang of the Department of Linguistics and Translation, at City University of Hong Kong, Yemao Liu, Yaping Lu, and Jingbo Xia of the College of Informatics at Huazhong Agricultural University, Jing Cao of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China, describe their approach as offering a useful compromise between the relevance of the content retrieved given a large body of work. The terms "side effects" and "adverse drug reactions" are commonly used interchangeably and the latter might in some sense be considered a euphemism of the former term used by members of the public.
Indeed, side effects and ADRs are synonyms. The two, of course, have many hyponyms, terms that are essentially related to examples of both side effects and ADRs, which by definition are the hypernyms to those hyponyms. These terms too must be retrievable by any data mining algorithm that analyses a body of work and is intent on seeking relevant abstracts discussing the "hypernyms. Phrases such as "adverse drug event", "drug toxicity", "undesirable effects", and others all fall into the same clade and so must be involved in the retrieval.More details...
Rice straw is the waste product of growing rice. Normally, it is simply burned adding sooty pollution to the local air and nudging up atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. What if there were a better alternative to simply burning this material? Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management a team from India offer an alternative. Pardeep Aggarwal and Anu Prashaant of Amity University in Gautam Budh Nagar, India, suggest that rice straw could instead be utilized for power generation or bioethanol production.
Unfortunately, the team explains, some farmers believe that rice straw open burning can remove weeds, control diseases and release nutrients for the next crop. There is little evidence that rice straw burning does anything but pollute. Rice straw length, low elevation land, and even the great distance from farmhouse to farmland are additional factors that influence the field burning of rice straw. Rice straw cannot be used as cattle feed either and there is very little time between successive crops to do much with the fields other than eradicating the stubble.
In order to make the alternative proposition viable both commercially and logistically, they explain that there is a need for a sustainable supply chain management of rice straw. At the moment, there is but a single 12-megawatt power plant that uses 100% rice straw as its fuel, one million tonnes annually, but that is a fraction of the tonnage of this agricultural waste product. The team points out that the numbers of rice straw power plants in China too is low and actually falling. However, the environmental and economic benefits of utilizing a ubiquitous waste product could make power production and bioethanol production tenable given the right geopolitical conditions.
The team concludes from the study that "only when such infrastructure with proactive planning is available, a secured supply of rice straw can be maintained for continuous year-long operations of a power plant."More details...
Spirituality is good for the bottom line, according to research from India. Writing in the International Journal of Business Excellence, researchers from Anna University, in Chennai explain how spiritual theories in India are based on the principle of unanimity, integrating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of people through dharma (righteousness). They point out that the Bhagavad Gita highlights the practice of spirituality and ethics in the workplace. In their paper, they review twenty years of research into the spiritual aspects of business practice in this context and define workplace spirituality from a new perspective. They also delineate its dimensions as a persistent positive state of work environment that promotes spiritual awakening and enhances business ethics.
The team suggests that there is a need for a new wave of spirituality in business suggesting that workers must carry out their tasks not only with their brain and limbs but also with heart and spirit. They add that "Western" thought has often been concerned with spirituality and finding links to "Eastern" philosophy. "Workplace spirituality is applicable to practically every organization," they suggest, in the West or the East.
The team has extended the theory of the positive relationship between workplace spirituality and business ethics. Indeed, they suggest that supporting and nurturing spiritual practices in an organisation can maximize the “triple bottom line": people, profit, and planet.
Electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming more and more prevalent. There is thus an increased risk of data leaks, breaches or other ways in which personal and private medical information might be compromised. As such, a team from India has now described an efficient two-stage encryption for securing personal health records stored "in the cloud".
KrishnaKeerthi Chennam and Lakshmi Muddana of Gitam University, in Hyderabad, explain how accessibility to remote servers for the storage of huge amounts of data – the storage aspect of cloud – computing is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to on-site data storage. Given the vast amounts of medical information stored in patient records, this is a useful alternative for any healthcare facility. The cloud approach also means that patient EHRs are more readily available to a healthcare worker regardless of their location, whether with the patient in their home, at the doctor's surgery, in hospital, in an ambulance en route to another site, or perhaps even at the scene of an accident.
Regardless there is a critical need for EHRs to be safe from the prying eyes of third parties whether simply other members of the public, unconnected health workers or those with malicious intent. The team explains how their approach uses a hierarchical clustering algorithm that determines the different user roles associated with the EHRs. Once clustering is done twofish-based encryption algorithm is used to lock down the data. The team's novel approach to encryption has lower encryption and decryption times than other approaches.More details...
Bullying is as old as humanity, but in today"s world of ubiquitous and always-connected devices, there is a whole realm of bullying that can take place out of sight but be just as devastating to its victims – cyberbullying. Detecting and so having the opportunity to prevent cyberbullying in open online forums and social networking sites, for instance, requires technology that can automatically detect trollish and thuggish behaviour. Once detected, the problems that victims face might be addressed but more importantly, the cyberbullies might be shut down or otherwise punished.
Writing in the International Journal of Autonomic Computing, a team from India reveals their algorithm which detects and weighs the words in forums and calculates whether or not particular clusters of words are associated with cyberbullying behaviour.
The team explains the problem and why it matters so much: "Cyberbullying has emerged as a major problem along with the recent development of online communication and social media. Cyberbullying has also been extensively recognised as a serious national health problem, in which victims demonstrate a significantly high risk of suicidal ideation," they write. They add that "This proposed framework shows better results while the action is to stop the online users becoming the victims of cyberbully."More details...
The presence of tiny deposits of calcified tissue in the breast remains an important indicator of early breast cancer. However, the standard diagnostic, the X-ray mammogram, cannot always distinguish between benign tissue artifacts and such microcalcifications because there is a great diversity in the shape, size, and distributions of these deposits. Moreover, there is only very the low contrast between malignant, cancerous areas and the surrounding bright structures in the mammogram.
Writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, a team from Algeria explain how they have devised an effective approach based on mathematical morphology for detection of microcalcifications in digitized mammograms. The approach first extracts the breast area from the image, removes unwanted artifacts and then boosts contrast and eliminates noise from the image.
The team has now tested their approach on 22 mammograms with a known outcome. They successfully compared the "diagnoses" they obtained with their technology with a radiological expert manual examination of the mammograms. The team says that their approach is quick and very effective, especially in terms of sensitivity. They suggest that a digital analysis of this sort could be used to complement conventional examination of mammograms by a radiologist and perhaps help to reduce the number of false positives and false negatives that occur with X-ray mammography.More details...
The question of how much energy a virus needs to replicate in its host translates into how likely a single infection is to become an epidemic. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, Sevgi Eylül Ferahcan, Ayse Selcen Semerciöz, and Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering, at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how poliovirus is an RNA virus which proliferates in the host's intestines ultimately leading to a crippling disease.
Despite its apparent eradication through extensive worldwide vaccination, there have been major polio epidemics in modern times. In 1988, 350,000 cases were reported. The team has calculated mass, energy, and exergy balances to show that the energy and exergy leeched from a host cell by a single virus are 4.65 × 10-19 and 3.35 × 10–17 kilojoules, respectively. During the 1988 epidemic, a total of 1.627 × 10–9 kJ of energy and 1.174 × 10–7 kJ of exergy was exploited by the multitude of viruses in infecting more than a third of a million people. The energy and exergy are used in the biochemical machinations of replicating the virus and its RNA by exploiting the molecular machinery of the host cells.
These are small numbers in terms of energy and exergy, as such the team argues that it is the almost vanishingly small figures that facilitate the spread of the virus to epidemic levels so readily. It almost makes the disease "going viral" inevitable, the team suggests. As such, it serves as a cautionary tale that we must be ever vigilant as old and new viral diseases emerge or pay the toll in the huge numbers of people that might be afflicted during an epidemic.More details...
Social media has become a useful tool for the rapid dissemination of information. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, a UK team describes their investigations into whether or not the likes of Twitter can be integrated effectively into emergency management.
Sophie Parsons and Mark Weal of the Web and Internet Science Group, at the University of Southampton, Nathaniel O'Grady of the Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, at the University of Manchester, and Peter Atkinson of the University of Lancaster explain that at the moment integration remains ambiguous. The team has used the winter floods of 2013-2014 as a case study to reveal the pros and cons of social media in this context.
The team found that emergency responders were wont to post cautions and advice during an emergency. However, it seems from their results that information about structures and utilities affected by any given incident would be most likely to engage and be of use to the public. Moreover, the team found that responders do perceive social media as a useful tool for them to effectively deliver information to the public. However, while that might be the case, responders did not appear to fully exploit it in the emergency studied.
The team concedes that before they can say whether or not social media is an effective tool for emergency management, there remain several questions about how it might fulfill a useful role for emergency responders and the public that rely on them during an incident. Uppermost among those questions are: Who are the responders' followers on social media? Are the responders actually reaching the public in emergency situations? Do the public find the responders' social media activity useful in an emergency? What do the emergency responders actually gain by having a social media presence? If future research can answer these questions then we might be in a position to make the most of social media in the event of an emergency.More details...
"The digital divide is the gap between those who are digitally literate and those who are not, between those who do and do not have access to digital environments." So begins a paper in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning from Gila Cohen Zilka of the Department for Teaching Social Science and Communication, at Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel. She has now investigated the implications of the digital divide for the "online" safety of children and adolescents.
Cohen Zilka studied three hundred forty-five Israeli children and adolescents who participated in her mixed-method study. Fundamentally, the research found that youngsters who have digital equipment at home displayed higher eSafety skills and computer literacy than did children who have no digital equipment or those who have only a few such devices, as one might perhaps expect. A lack of access to information and communications technology (ICT) results in a lack of or limited skills in this critical area of modern life. One result is that those youngsters on the wrong side of the digital divide are at greater risk of cyberbullying and other problems, online hazards and the problem of predatory adults, than the more computer literate with better access to ICT at home.
She concludes on the basis of her research, that it would be desirable for children and adolescents who are part of a disadvantaged population in terms of access to ICT to be encouraged and educated and given greater access to computer time and eSafety skills in school or in public digital environments. The work corroborates the earlier research of others that those youngsters that are especially vulnerable to internet risks are often those whose families have financial difficulties, are part of a minority or immigrant group, are in poverty, have disabilities, or have simply moved from one educational setting to another.More details...
After the Second World War of 1939-1945, Western democracies had attempted to reconcile their criminal law in democratic, "republican" terms aimed at the citizen. However, in the last two decades, new criminal law has been written that pertains not to the citizen, but to the foreigner. Writing in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, Alessandro Spena of the Department of Law, at the University of Palermo, Italy, discusses these new laws. The research focuses on how these new laws essentially treat foreigners as inferior to the citizen and proffer fewer human rights on those individuals when compared to the natives of a given nation.
Spena describes the ephemeral, and yet legally consequential notion of good and bad citizens, good and bad foreigners and 'ugly' mass-foreigners that invokes the neologism of "crimmigration". He further explains how in contemporary criminal law, citizens have renewed importance despite the notion of globalization. Indeed, while globalization is apparent in many developed countries and those we might refer to as "developing" nations, the natural geological, geographical, and political obstacles to human mobility are becoming more apparent.
Indeed, globalization and an urge to become more cosmopolitan both have their opponents and populism and nationalism are on the rise with worries among some pundits and political observers that these are beginning to lead towards fascism in some arenas. Reaction and collective anxieties about political borders, and an "us and them" attitude that has arisen in some quarters during the last two decades are growing stronger as concerns about unfettered immigration get nudged higher up the agenda by those with their own political power agenda.
Of course, the notion of us and them is entirely artificial as is the notion of borders and national identity. Human mobility has been extant since we took our first steps from the cradle of humanity. Moreover, we are all the same within, there are good, bad, and ugly among us and our legal system recognize this and the humanity of us all whether "citizen" or "foreigner".More details...
The seminal research on the concept of product globalization was published by Levitt in 1983. And yet, business, branding, and marketing researchers are yet to settle on a clear understanding of how an international product is perceived by people from different parts of the world. A product, such as the caffeinated soft drink, Red Bull, may well be considered an international brand but how is this originally Austrian product and its associated "cartoon character", really perceived by people in France and Great Britain, for example? Researchers from Germany writing in the International Journal of Comparative Management hoped to find out.
Kerstin Bremser and Véronique Goehlich of the Department of International Business, in the Faculty of Business and Law, at Pforzheim University, Nadine Walter of the University's Department of International Marketing carried out an exploratory study. They found through their analyses of viewers' perceptions of advertisements that cultural background affects a person's feelings towards the marketing character associated with this soft drink and in addition the articulation and style of the background music are perceived in different ways by the British and French respondents to the research.
The team points out that celebrity endorsement is often a strong factor in marketing products, but in the case of Red Bull, it uses more traditional advertising, especially on television, where cartoon-like advertisements that centre on the slogan that 'Red Bull gives you wings' is the focus rather than an association with a famous person who purportedly imbibes the drink. The advertisements are standardised between nations but for the language of any narration or written word display. That said, Red Bull used Napoleon as a famous character in their advertising campaign for 2012 and there would likely be a very different perception of that between the British and the French.
However, the team found that although the perception of Napoleon is very different, the branding and sloganising of the campaign transcended these cultural differences. The same famous person can still convey the same meaning to the consumer despite their feelings, positive, negative, indifferent, to that celebrity, in this case, a controversial historical figure.More details...
Researchers in the USA have found a way to extract information from the well-known internet search engine, Google, that can be used to assist with understanding trading on the stock market. The approach follows, what the team refers to as "a long short-term memory approach".
Writing in the International Journal of Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Joseph St. Pierre, Mateusz Klimkiewicz, Adonay Resom and Nikolaos Kalampalikis of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Massachusetts, explain how they have extracted Google search indices from a Google trends tracking website. This allows them to study the putative investor interest in stocks listed on the Dow Jones index (Dow 30). Essentially, they accomplish this task by using a long short-term memory network that finds correlations between changes in the search volume for a given asset with changes in the actual trade volume for that asset.
"By using these predictions, we formulate a concise trading strategy in the hopes of being able to outperform the market and analyse the results of this new strategy by backtesting across weekly closing price data for the last six months of 2016," the team reports. In that proof of principle based on historical data they demonstrated a success rate of 43% and suggest that their algorithm would be scalable beyond the narrow scope of their study and so might be applicable to numerous other assets on the market.
The study begins by citing the received wisdom that the "market" cannot be outperformed and that any attempt to predict stock market rises and falls is effectively doomed to failure. However, given that some investors do regularly "beat" the stock market and make a profit, this conventional theory perhaps does not hold universally and there might be algorithmic methods that look at live data that might allow some investments to predictably outperform the market. They say that their 43% success rate is significant and worth exploring further.More details...
Does the emergence of national democracy lead to economic wealth? Researchers in Hong Kong and the UK suggest that the face pace of change in a new democracy actually leads to detrimental effects initially to a country's macro-economy. However, if the state reaches the well-developed stage, then ultimately it will become democratised without external pressure.
Writing in the International Journal of Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Rita Yi Man Li and Edward Chi Ho Tang in the Department of Economics and Finance, at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, and Tat Ho Leung in the School of Environment, Education and Development, at the University of Manchester, UK, explain how they have carried out research on 167 countries. They used the democracy index, corruption perception index, inflation, population, number of internet users, the balance of trade, foreign direct investment, and other factors to determine democratic state and national wealth. They also included sub-indices such as the electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, culture, and civil liberties, to ensure they got a clear picture of each country's specific level of democracy.
The received wisdom always seemed to suggest that democratization leads to economic growth. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union are often cited in such discussions. But, the flip side of this is the examples of China and Singapore, which are not considered democratic nations in the "Western" sense where economic freedom and equality do not prevail. It seems apparent that an electoral system leads to the establishment and protection of personal rights and private property, which are often precluded in the non-democratic nation. However, the team has found that with the assistance of the political sector, the economic sector cannot perform at as high a level as it otherwise might and so it is demonstrable that the emergence of democracy can slow economic growth indirectly for a short period at least until it is well established and a nation "developed".More details...
Rauno Rusko of the Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Lapland, in Rovaniemi, Finland, has studied the roots of and the features of smart specialisation associated with brand slogan management. Writing in the International Journal of Public Policy, he explains how the European Union is using the smart specialisation concept in its documents, plans, and regional fieldwork to portray itself as a growth-efficient organisation.
However, it is obvious that smart specialization is not the sole preserve of the EU. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation And Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all utilize this concept, although perhaps to a lesser degree than the EU. Moreover, within the EU itself the concept has been used with greater success in regions within the EU than the EU as a whole. Rusko suggests that the temptation exists to simply see this concept as little more than a slogan, however, its benefits and utility are apparent. Indeed, it is a process in which the EU is the rule maker and gatekeeper for funding innovations and investments in the region as a whole.
Intellectual reform intellectual was launched to achieve as wide an influence as possible and to enhance competence and to boost regional learning and research and development. Rusko has shown that "The instruments of marketing research, such as brand, slogan, brand management, and brand slogan management, provide incremental value to public management discussions, such as the smart specialisation discourse. " However, although place branding does not necessarily need sloganisation, "It is easy to understand that, if the EU is a brand, then smart specialisation is supporting this brand in a way that is typical for slogans in the business sector," Rusko adds.More details...
A new research paper in the International Journal of Economics and Business Research uses log-linear models to study the correlation between happiness, employment and various demographic factors.
Sultan Kuzu of the Department of Quantitative Methods, in the School of Business, at Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey together with Sevgi Elmas-Atay and Merve Gerçek of the Department of Human Resources Management there, explain how unemployment is an important economic measurement. It is studied in the context of a nation's development as well as in a sociological context. Importantly, it is known to be closely associated with welfare, quality of life and psychological health of individuals.
The team has now looked at unemployment not as an abstract, statistical concept in the macroeconomic arena but from the personal perspective based on "micro" level data acquired from household surveys carried out by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK). Log-linear models were used to analyse the data and these showed clearly that employment is related to a person's happiness and gender and that there is a statistically significant difference between happiness and gender in a developing country such as Turkey.More details...
Taiwan is one of the most important suppliers of electrical and electronic products in the world; as such it is itself also an important consumer of those products. This means that the amount of electronic waste, e-waste, generated from information technology (IT) products, home electrical appliances and lighting, is increasing rapidly there.
Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, Wen-Tien Tsai of the Graduate Institute of Bioresources, at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, in Pingtung, Taiwan, explains how he has investigated the regulatory promotion of e-waste recycling in Taiwan. He found that although the annual quantity of e-waste recycling through the implementing agencies seemed to increase more than tenfold from 7,321 tons in 2001 to 74,421 tons in 2015, there is evidence that the recycling market in Taiwan has matured in recent years partly because of the country's ageing population and slow economic growth. Tsai also highlights the case of fluorescent lighting tubes and how mercury can be successfully recovered from these at end-of-life.
He points out how the waste composition is still shifting as new products emerge in the realm of personalised medicine, electric vehicles, IT products, novel consumer electronics products, and an increased diversity of food products and home electrical appliances.
We must address these novel waste streams and find ways to recycle such goods, especially those that contain toxic materials, including mercury. Tsai adds that the improper management and disposal of waste or discarded items could lead to significant environmental harm and harm to human health. In addition, there is a need to retrieve from such goods rare elements that are of limited supply such as precious metals and mineral elements.More details...
With every news story, the concepts of data mining healthcare information move higher still up the research and policy agenda in this area. Clinical information and genetic data contained within electronic health records (EHRs) represents a major source of useful information for biomedical research but accessing it in a useful way can be difficult.
Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Hassan Mahmoud and Enas Abbas of Benha University and Ibrahim Fathy Ain Shams University, in Egypt, discuss the need for innovative and effective methods for representing this huge amount of data. They point out that there are data mining techniques as well as ontology-based techniques that can play a major role in detecting syndromes in patients efficiently and accurately. A syndrome is defined as a set of concomitant medical symptoms and indicators associated with a given disease or disorder.
The team has reviewed the state of the art and also focused on reviewing the well-known data mining techniques such as decision trees (J48), Naïve Bayes, multi-layer perceptron (MLP), and random forest (RF) techniques and compared how well they each perform in the classification of a particular syndrome, heart disease.
The team concludes that in experiments with a public data set, the RF classifier provides the best performance in terms of accuracy. In the future, they suggest that data mining will benefit healthcare and medicine significant for building a system able to detect a specific syndrome.More details...
Face recognition is becoming an increasingly common feature of biometric verification systems. Now, a team from India has used a multi-class support vector machine to extend the way in which such systems work to take into account a person's age. Jayant Jagtap of Symbiosis International (Deemed) University in Pune, and Manesh Kokare of the Shri Guru Gobind Singhji Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Nanded, India, explain that human age classification has remained an important barrier to the next generation of face recognition technology but could be a useful additional parameter in security and other contexts.
The team's novel two stage age classification framework based on appearance and facial skin ageing features using a multi-class support vector machine (M-SVM) can classify, the team suggests, classify images of faces into one of seven age groups. Fundamentally, the system examines characteristics of the image coincident with facial skin textural and wrinkles and is accurate 94.45% of the time. It works well despite factors such as genetics, gender, health, life-time weather conditions, working and living environment tobacco and alcohol use. Indeed, accuracy is more than 98% in the first step wherein adult and non-adult faces are distinguished.
"The proposed framework of age classification gives better performance than existing age classification systems," the team reports. They add that future research will look to improve accuracy still further for use in real-time applications. This will be done through the development of an algorithm for extracting facial skin ageing features and through the design of an efficient age classifier, the team concludes.More details...
Sentiment analysis is an increasingly important part of data mining, especially in the age of social media and social networking where there is endless opinion and commentary that could be of use to a wide range of stakeholders in commerce, other businesses, and even politics.
Now, an innovative and efficient method of sentiment analysis of comments on the microblogging platform, Twitter, is reported in the International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management by a team from India. Hima Suresh of the School of Computer Sciences, at Mahatma Gandhi University, in Kottayam, Kerala and Gladston Raj. S of the Department of Computer Science, Government College, also in Kerala explain how sentiment analysis centres on analysing attitudes and opinions revealed in a data set and pertaining to a particular topic of interest. The analysis exploits machine learning approaches, lexicon-based approaches and hybrid approaches that splice both of the former.
"An efficient approach for predicting sentiments would allow us to bring out opinions from the web contents and to predict online public choices," the team suggests. They have now demonstrated a novel approach to sentiment analysis surrounding the discussion of a commercial brand on Twitter using data collected over a fourteen-month period. Their method has an unrivalled accuracy for gleaning the true opinion almost 87% of the time in their tests using a specific smart phone model as the target brand being studied. They suggest that accuracy could be improved still further by incorporating a wider lexicon that included Twitter slang, for instance.More details...
Online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting could be used to combat credit card fraud according to a team from Botswana International University of Science and Technology, in Palapye, Botswana. Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Motlhaleemang Moalosi, Hlomani Hlomani, and Othusitse Phefo explain how there are numerous existing credit card fraud detection techniques employed by card issuers and other stakeholders. Nevertheless, billions of dollars are lost each year to fraudsters.
The team has now combined behaviour and fingerprinting technology to boost the efficiency and efficacy of the fusion approach using Dempster-Shafer theory and Bayesian learning for fraud detection. The approach can spot odd behaviour that is not characteristic of the legitimate user of a given credit card and so detect fraudulent activity on the account. The approach discussed in the paper is at present a theoretical treatise, the next step will be to simulate actual behaviour using synthetic data sets and then apply to a real-world scenario for testing its efficacy. So far efficacy has been demonstrated with data from devices that have already been used in known fraudulent activity.
The team suggests that their approach goes well beyond simply tweaking existing fraud-detection algorithms and could offer what they say is a ground-breaking approach that performs far better than trial and error approaches and reduces the number of false positives.More details...