2023 Journal news

What we might loosely refer to as artificial intelligence (AI) has become a part of our daily lives, from mobile phone voice assistants to self-driving cars. That said, many of the tools and technologies we refer to as AI, while seemingly intelligent are actually computer algorithms trained on large amounts of data to perform in a certain way. The chat bots and image generators that are frequently in the news are models that simulate neural networks to create apparently novel content from a prompt or question. We are certainly a long way from the sci-fi notion of artificial intelligence as meaning sentience in machines.

Nevertheless, researchers writing in the International Journal of Smart Technology and Learning have looked at how the concepts of artificial intelligence sit alongside what we perceive as human intelligence. We commonly think of the brain as being the most complicated object in the known universe. It is the result of billions of years of evolution, is self aware and capable of incredible creative and destructive thoughts all seemingly emerging from the interactions of billions of nerve cells within our so-called grey matter.

We know that human intelligence encompasses a wide range of abilities, including problem-solving, learning, creating new ideas, and remembering details…and critically being aware of all of this. In contrast, what we consider to be AI at this point in technological history is defined as systems that can perform tasks that are typically done by experienced humans or can be used to assist less experienced individuals perform certain tasks more efficiently. There is not yet any allusion to sentience in AI.

However, as AI becomes more and more sophisticated could it perhaps advance towards the notion of the singularity put forward by author Vernor Steffen Vinge and later discussed in depth by futurologist Ray Kurzweil? The singularity being the point at which technology does indeed become sentient and then perceives humanity itself as redundant to its wants and needs. As such, there are pressing ethical and moral questions to be answered in terms of whether AI will always be our helpful guide in so many tasks or whether it could eventually lead us to darker place from which humanity might not return.

Even experts in the field are uncertain about how to answer the questions. Of course, if history teaches us anything it is that regardless of whether we answer the moral questions, there will always be people willing to take us down the path that divides us morally and ethically.

In his paper, Jonathan Michael Spector of the Department of Learning Technologies at the College of Information at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, USA, points out that while the human brain may well be the product of millions of years of evolution and is highly adaptable to the "modern" problems we face and capable of finding solutions, physically it has changed very little in many millennia. We are born with the same physiology as our prehistoric ancestors, after all. By contrast, we are almost at the point where AI tools are beginning to improve other AI tools…which some observers see as the next step towards the technological singularity.

Spector hopes his article will trigger conversations about the future of AI and human intelligence. As we continue to develop and integrate AI into our lives, it is, he suggests, very important for us to consider the implications and impact it will have on us as individuals and as a society.

Spector, J.M. (2023) 'Human and artificial intelligence in education', Int. J. Smart Technology and Learning, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.163–167.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSMARTTL.2023.10054697

Research in the International Journal of Vehicle Safety looks at the relationship between mobile phone addiction and road traffic accidents in two groups of drivers those who were involved in an accident and those who were not. The team surveyed 240 drivers about their mobile phone use, split between the two groups and found, perhaps obviously, that the drivers who revealed themselves to have an "addiction" to mobile phone use were more likely to have been injured in a road traffic accident than the ones who were not addicted.

Afarin Akhavan and Adel Ashrafi of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the Science and Arts University and Gholam Hossein Halvani, Moein Nemati, and Rohollah Fallah Madvari of the Department of Occupational Health Engineering at the Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Yazd, Iran, write that road traffic accidents are listed as the leading cause of death by the World Health Organisation with some 20 to 50 million people dying each year in such accidents.

The mortality rate in low-income countries is significantly higher than in richer nations. Iran suffers disproportionately from road traffic deaths, with an incidence of five times the global average. Increasing numbers of vehicles on our roads, changes in lifestyle and driving behaviour seem to be nudging those figures upwards each year. The team hoped to identify a relatively recent factor that may be contributing to the increasing number of deaths on the roads – mobile phone addiction – and focused on one of the regions in Iran, Khuzestan, where the accident rate is notably higher than elsewhere.

Given that earlier research suggests that 93 percent of accidents are caused by human behaviour rather than vehicle or road failure, with tiredness and distractions being responsible for many. Of course, the use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited in many places and limited to hands-free use, there is inevitably a large number of drivers who continue to use their devices despite the obvious risks. The demonstration of a direct link between mobile phone addiction and road traffic accidents points to the need for more research into this phenomenon and perhaps ways to combat mobile phone addiction, as well as the need to educate drivers who are users in an effort to reduce the deaths on Iranian roads and elsewhere.

Akhavan, A., Ashrafi, A., Halvani, G.H., Nemati, M. and Madvari, R.F. (2022) 'Relationship between mobile phone addiction and driving accidents in two groups of drivers with and without accidents', Int. J. Vehicle Safety, Vol. 12, Nos. 3/4, pp.344–352.
DOI: 10.1504/IJVS.2022.10054759

A new study in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, demonstrates how so-called artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can be used instead of conventional text analysis to disentangle information from a large body of work. Proof of principle was undertaken using a patents database and focusing on research and technologies utilising the field of quantum science. The specific case revealed interesting dynamics concerning global innovation and national organisational profiles pertaining to competition in this area between China and the USA.

Zeki Can Seskir of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Kelvin W. Willoughby of the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Germany, built an operating definition of quantum technology and then used AI to create a global patent database. The approach allowed them to extract pertinent information in this field that could be useful to policymakers and managers looking to understand international innovation in this field. The same approach might work just as well in other fields. The approach blended human analysis and AI processing of the body of work.

Billions of Euros and dollars are being ploughed into the burgeoning area of quantum technology with the aim of bringing discoveries and innovations "out of the lab and into the market".

Quantum technology (QT) refers to a broad range of emerging technologies that build on the principles of quantum mechanics to develop innovative and disruptive applications. Quantum mechanics is a field of physical science that emerged in the first half of the twentieth century as our understanding and experiments with atoms and their constituent parts as well as energy began to evolve. Many of the findings confound common sense and yet reveal themselves to represent a valid model of physical reality in many settings. Indeed, semiconductors, lasers, and transistors, and electronics in general rely on an understanding of quantum mechanics and as our understanding develops so too will the technology.

Quantum technology uses the often paradoxical properties of subatomic particles, such as superposition, entanglement, and wave-particle duality, to achieve things that cannot be done with classical systems based on earlier models of the subatomic realm. Examples of quantum technologies include quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum cryptography, quantum sensing, and quantum metrology, among others. Quantum technology could soon change the way in which finance, healthcare, energy, transportation, and security, are undertaken as well as leading to advances in science and engineering.

Seskir, Z.C. and Willoughby, K.W. (2023) 'Global innovation and competition in quantum technology, viewed through the lens of patents and artificial intelligence', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.40–61.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIPM.2021.10044326

Research in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management, has looked at the pharmaceutical industry in Jordan from the perspective of lean manufacturing practices and operations demonstrating that a lean approach can be beneficial to costs, speed, and reliability in the industry but does not apparently affect quality or innovation significantly.

The concept of lean operations is an approach to manufacturing that emphasizes the elimination of waste and the optimization of efficiency. It was first developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation in the 1950s and has since been adopted by many other manufacturers. The goal of lean operations is to create value for customers while minimizing waste, such as overproduction, defects, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, waiting, over-processing, and unused talent. A number of tools and techniques are used to facilitate lean operations, such as value stream mapping, continuous flow, pull systems, standard work, visual management, error-proofing, and continuous improvement.

Abdel-Aziz Ahmad Sharabati of the Business Faculty at the Middle East University in Amman, Jordan, surveyed 116 managers from 10 of 14 Jordanian pharmaceutical manufacturing organizations on how lean operations are used in their organisations. Alongside the above findings, the work also showed that lead-time, setup time, inspection time, and delivery time were significant factors in determining a company's competitive advantage, while inventory was not.

The work suggests that similar research might be usefully carried out in other industries across Jordan and in the pharmaceutical industry in other countries to see whether the findings are more widely applicable. In an increasingly globalised world, this research could help companies recognise what needs to be done to improve their competitive edge in the face of international competition. Of course, for the pharmaceutical industry itself, any such changes in practices and operations must also comply with regulations in the industry at the national and international level.

Sharabati, A-A.A. (2023) 'Lean operations and competitive advantage in the pharmaceutical industry', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp.293–316.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSOM.2023.129463

Crowdfunding is an approach to raising money to kickstart a project or business venture. It usually involves soliciting small contributions from a large number of people, often via the internet. The idea behind crowdfunding is that many people can pool their money together to support a project, which can make it possible for entrepreneurs, artists, and other creatives to get the funding they need to turn their ideas into reality. The supporters are often rewarded with early access to a product or service once it becomes available or exclusive rewards, such as special editions, signed versions, or attractive paraphernalia associated with the product or its creators.

The approach allows entrepreneurs and creatives to sidestep the traditional gatekeepers of funding, such as banks and venture capitalists. They can engage with potential investors who have an intrinsic interest in supporting innovative projects and ideas rather than simply looking for a return on a financial investment. Some supporters will even be keen to feel that they are part of a pioneering community around the venture. Another aspect of crowdfunding is that the supporters can give direct and invaluable feedback to the creatives and entrepreneurs about their offering.

Much of the research into crowdfunding that has been carried out over the years, focuses on how trust is established and maintained around the transactions and relationships. Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, an international team considers that "recognition" rather than trust per se should be a focus of theoretical frameworks aimed at improving our understanding of the dynamics of crowdfunding.

Jack Wroldsen of the Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, USA and Djamchid Assadi of the Burgundy School of Business, Campus Lyon, France, explain that recognition, or the sphere of solidarity, is what emphasises the mutual relationships and respect between entrepreneurs and supporters and how these translate into value for the former and meaning for the latter in the realm of crowdfunding. The team has undertaken several case studies to demonstrate where recognition is present or absent and how this impacts the outcomes of a given project. Overall, they suggest that the concept of recognition, rather than trust alone, provides a more accurate and holistic view of crowdfunding.

The team shows that recognition involves nurturing a reciprocal relationship of mutual respect, not simply maintaining trust. In the case study where the crowdfunding relationship was broken, they explain, it was not that erstwhile supporters lost trust in the venture it was that they were ultimately excluded from the community of collaborators, early-adopters, and developers that had built up around the product. They were no longer recognised.

Wroldsen, J. and Assadi, D. (2023) 'Trust is not recognition: an exploration of revolts in crowdfunding', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Vol. 27, Nos. 1/2, pp.1–18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2023.10054380

A review and meta-analysis of the appropriate research literature spanning 2010 to 2020, shows that social media has played a significant role in shaping government policies. The work is published in the publication Electronic Government, an International Journal.

Social media refers to websites and applications, mobile apps, that allow users to create, share, and exchange information and content with others in virtual communities and networks. The concept is often referred to as Web 2.0 to contrast it with Web 1.0, which largely involved the traditional model of users passively consuming the output from websites in much the same way as they had for generations of consumers of newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts. Social media gained traction in the early 2000s, with platforms such as Myspace and Friendster, which quickly gathered users and demonstrated some of the potential of this new online realm.

It was not until the launch of Facebook in 2004 that social media began to revolutionize the way people communicate and connect online. Of the services that emerged at the time and soon after, several are still active and represent a large proportion of online activity for many people. These various services are often at the centre of controversial activity. During the period of 2010-2020, social media became even more pervasive and diverse, with platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat becoming so popular that they displaced conventional news and entertainment sources for many people.

Social media is used in a wide range of sectors, including politics, business, education, news, and entertainment. Politicians have frequently exploited social media to help them fulfill their agenda and aspirations. Businesses find new ways to engage with putative customers but occasionally also see the negative impact of going viral when their activities are controversial. The same happens for celebrities and others. In education, social media has been used as a tool for online learning and communication between students and teachers and was a boon during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, some aspects of social media use still retain their utility. In entertainment, social media has become a world of so-called influencers, a new breed of celebrity whose talents may not lie in the traditional fields of art, music, or acting, but nevertheless allow them to gather an audience around them, build a personal brand to whatever end they can imagine.

Now, Achmad Nurmandi, Herpita Wahyuni, Salahudin, and Isnaini Muallidin of the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta in Indonesia, and Maria Dolores Guillamon of the University of Murcia in Spain used a method known as meta-modelling to process several hundred documents from the literature published in that decade-long period. They hoped to determine what researchers had found during the period regarding the influence of social media on public policymaking and governance through data acquisition, opinion tracking, fast data processing, and public opinion analysis and measurement. Critically, the work looked at the impact on scientific developments in social media and government policies.

The team writes that "The use of social media in various policymaking processes has had a significant effect." They add that "Open access can make public spaces understandable and help achieve common goals." They conclude that "Future research should examine approaches to making reliable policies and promoting transparency through social media."

Nurmandi, A., Wahyuni, H., Guillamon, M.D., Salahudin and Muallidin, I. (2023) 'Social media use for public policymaking cycle: a meta-analysis', Electronic Government, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.123–145.
DOI: 10.1504/EG.2023.10044828

A nation's armed forces rely on personnel to defend that nation through their strength, determination, and ability to adapt to modern warfare whether their role is on land, sea, or in the air. In most countries, young recruits join the military willingly as a career choice. There are, of course, some countries that have national service, or conscription. This might also change in times of conflict. Those who sign up are generally well aware that their careers will have a duration that is far shorter than that of someone working in civilian life in general, unless of course, they rise through the ranks to the upper echelons of service, when retirement might come later.

Commonly military personnel will complete their service between the ages of 35 and 50, perhaps having joined when they reached adulthood or shortly thereafter. Civilian employment generally sees individuals reaching "retirement" age in their mid to late 60s, although that age varies considerably and in some places people tend to retire before they reach 60, in others, there is a push to raise the retirement age to 70 to ensure an active workforce in the face of an aging population.

Given the much younger retirement age of military personnel, there is generally a pressing need for those retiring from the armed forces to seek out a second career. These individuals are often highly skilled and disciplined and should be seen as a valuable, national asset with talents that can be used to allow them to earn a good living as well as play their part in society after their military service is complete. However, many veterans struggle to find appropriate second careers. This problem is often exacerbated by physical and mental health problems that may have arisen during active service, for example, in peacekeeping activities or war zones.

The issue of age at retirement can also be a problem for those leaving service later in life and hoping to jump into a new career when they may be many years older than others seeking training and employment in a given sector, such as construction or commercial driving.

A study in the International Journal of Society Systems Science by a team from the Mittal School of Business at the Lovely Professional University in Phagwara, Punjab, India, has looked at how strategies and principles might be developed to help ex-military personnel, veterans, determine their need and desire for a second career after military service and to assess those aspirations realistically.

The team of Sarabjit Singh Walia and Rajesh Verma suggest that their findings are crucial for society as a whole but in particular for helping veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving their country. The team highlights many of the challenges veterans face when transitioning from the military and finding themselves back on what is colloquially known as "civvy street", in civilian life, in other words. They highlight the need for support and resources to assist with this transition.

The team points out that employers may need education so that they can learn to recognize the value of taking on military veterans and so open up new opportunities where unique skills and experience can be used. Conversely, training for ex-military personnel that focuses on self-employment and entrepreneurship could be a focus for those who see a second career outside the realm of conventional employment.

The work looks specifically at the armed forces of India and reveals the differences in transition needs for those leaving the army, the navy, and the airforce. Although points out that, ultimately, all such personnel, once they change out of their uniforms find themselves in a similar position on civvy street. There is a pressing need to address society's shortcomings in order to help retiring military personnel make a successful transition from service back into civilian life.

Walia, S.S. and Verma, R. (2022) 'Second career – availability and aspirations of ex-servicemen', Int. J. Society Systems Science, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.163–179.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSSS.2022.10054494

Research in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development shows that there is a gap between the environmental messages given to consumers in verbal or visual form and the perception of and trust in those messages and whether consumers recognise some of them as nothing more than greenwashing.

Greenwashing is a neologism that refers to the scurrilous actions of some companies or organisations using misleading marketing tactics to create a false impression that their products or services are environmentally friendly or sustainable when they are not. The term "greenwashing" is a play on the term "whitewashing," which refers to the practice of covering up or hiding negative information. Greenwashing is used to conceal unsustainable or environmentally harmful practices. If consumers recognise greenwashing, then the company's fake appeal to environmentally conscious consumers in order to gain a competitive advantage in the market will be stymied.

Kenny Basso, Jandir Pauli, Priscila Cerutti, Marcia Perin, Vitor Francisco Dalla Corte, and Leila Dal Moro in the Faculdade Meridional, IMED, Brazil carried out a single-factor experiment. In this experiment, participants were shown either text or image-based materials. The researchers found that those individuals exposed to the text format materials engaged with it far less than those exposed to an image. Indeed, those people presented with images were more likely to be suspicious of greenwashing than the text-only group because they were more likely to engage with the material.

The findings of this study highlight the need for consumers to be wary of greenwashing tactics used by companies. The use of images is more engaging and so makes it harder for greenwashing claims by unethical companies to be accepted by consumers.

As climate change and environmental problems continue to be pressing global issues, it is crucial that companies and consumers work together towards more sustainable practices. This study sheds light on the need for more transparent communication from companies, and the importance of consumers educating themselves and taking a proactive role in buying from companies that do not greenwash their products and services.

Basso, K., Pauli, J., Cerutti, P., Perin, M., Dalla Corte, V.F. and Moro, L.D. (2023) 'Greenwash, show your true colours: how verbal and visual messages influence consumers' perception?', Int. J. Environment and Sustainable Development, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.210–225.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESD.2022.10044789

Work published in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research offers a theoretical perspective on whether an innovative form of marketing is a double-edged sword for business owners who operate in the business-to-business, B2B, sphere.

In conventional marketing, businesses hope to profit from essentially one-time transactions and sales. There was a nod to customer loyalty, but on the whole, this was largely ignored as long as one-time sales kept rolling in. In today's world, there is an increasing push towards repeat transactions, brand awareness, and customer loyalty meaning ongoing sales and so profits. This so-called "relationship marketing" builds long-term relationships between one commercial concern and a business customer rather than focusing on those one-time transactions.

The obvious goal of relationship marketing is to establish a strong and lasting connection with customers through loyalty programs, personalized marketing campaigns, and customer service initiatives. The benefit to the company is almost guaranteed repeat business and an increase in word-of-mouth referrals to potential new customers thanks to the satisfaction of the loyal customer. The benefits to the loyal customer of the relationship are loyalty bonuses, better, more personal, service and communication regarding their purchases, as well as product offerings tailored to their needs and budget.

Deepika, Shashank Vikram Pratap Singh, and Mohinder Paul of the University of Delhi, India, suggest that this form of marketing for all its mutual benefits may have a dark side. It may be a win-win, but it could also be a double-edged sword. They offer a theoretical perspective on the downsides of this popular business strategy.

The researchers point out that relationship marketing can lead to negative outcomes between companies that adopt this strategy. Earlier research has perhaps ignored this aspect of the approach, but the team argues that it is an important area that deserves more attention. They suggest that there are two factors at play. The first is time – over time, a relationship can become routine and boring, losing the spark that made it special in the first place. The second factor is opportunism – when one partner has the chance to take advantage of the other, it can sour a positive relationship.

The researchers provide a framework for understanding the variables associated with relationship marketing. The positives of trust and commitment and the negatives of vulnerability, complacency, and suspicion. They argue that if a partner has the opportunity to engage in opportunism this can be detrimental to the relationship. Those positives soon become negatives and the relationship fails. The team suggests that, as with many other relationships, keeping the spark alive and avoiding complacency is key. They also suggest that while partners can, of course, be trusting of each other it is as well to be aware of the early signs of opportunism and cheating and to nip them in the bud for the sake of the relationship.

The team adds that future research might consider the other factors at play such as reduced vigilance, dependence, the quality of available alternatives, agent-specific knowledge, dissatisfaction, and lack of innovation. All of these factors can affect relationships between businesses buying and selling products and services from each other.

Deepika, Singh, S.V.P. and Paul, M. (2023) 'Does relationship marketing have a dark side? A theoretical perspective', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.389–406.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBIR.2021.10039539

Anxiety and depression are serious mental health problems that a growing number of people seem to be facing. These conditions can tragically lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. As such, new research in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology is being undertaken to help find modern solution to help prevent such tragic outcomes. The work focuses on how machine learning might be used to identify patients who may be at risk of suicide and allow interventions to be made in a timely manner.

According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 700,000 die by suicide each year. That represents more than one person every minute. Many more people attempt suicide and the WHO suggests that a prior attempt is ultimately the biggest risk factor for suicide. Suicide is a multidimensional disorder that arises from the interaction between biological, genetic, psychological, sociological, and environmental factors. In places where mental health services are not readily available, people at risk often see a physician rather than a psychiatrist. Research has shown that between one in five and three in five of people who commit suicide had seen a physician in the month prior to their death.

Anju Bhandari Gandhi and Devendra Prasad of the Panipat Institute of Engineering and Technology in Haryana, Umesh Kumar Lilhore and Sarita Simaiya of Chandigarh University in Gharuan Mohali, Punjab, and Deepak Kumar Verma of the Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University in Kanpur Uttar Pradesh, India, have investigated how computer algorithms can be used to analyze data from patients suffering from anxiety and stress. They compared several different types of algorithms to see which might be best suited to predicting suicidal behaviour based on the patient data.

The results are promising. The team explains that the random forest algorithm was able to predict with 95% accuracy which patients were at risk for suicide. This kind of analysis could be used to screen patients more efficiently, helping healthcare workers identify those who need help the most sooner rather than when it is too late. As healthcare workers continue to face increasing complexity and limited time, it is important to find innovative ways to identify problems. The WHO points out that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. The team's algorithmic approach to risk assessment based on monitoring anxiety levels works equally well for youngsters as it does for older people.

Obviously, software can never replace one-to-one care, but if it can reveal issues that might not be immediately apparent to a healthcare worker and flag problems early, then the healthcare worker might be in a better position to make a timely intervention and so save lives.

Gandhi, A.B., Prasad, D., Lilhore, U.K., Verma, D.K. and Simaiya, S. (2023) 'Suicidal behaviour screening using machine learning techniques', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp.111–125.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2023.10054322

Research in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology takes a new look at the problem of treating hypothermia in pre-term infants.

Babies born pre-term often have low birth weight and lose body heat very quickly because of inadequate deposits of insulating subcutaneous fat. As their core temperature falls it can drop below physiologically tolerable levels leading to cold stress and ultimately hypothermia.

Sarath S. Nair and D.S. Nagesh of the Biomedical Technology Wing at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), in Kerala, India describe a much-improved approach to providing pre-term infants with a thermally neutral environment that can help them maintain body temperature. The approach exploits the potent thermal insulating properties of polyethylene sheets filled with polyurethane foam in which infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs) can be embedded.

The team's bench-top tests show that the heating-insulating device they have developed takes just fifteen minutes, on average, to reach an optimal temperature and can keep a baby warm for more than 24 hours and help it maintain its core temperature in the normal range of between 36.5 to 37.7 degrees Celsius. The team has successfully tested their LED baby warmer for reliability over a three-month period, just over, in fact, 100 days. This timescale is long enough for an otherwise healthy baby to thrive and gain sufficient weight and fat beneath the skin to eventually no longer need the LED baby-warmer. The team says the device also meets international efficacy, safety, and performance standards.

Such a device will be a boon in those parts of the world where costly baby incubators are not so readily available and where heating costs may well be prohibitive for their ongoing use.

"The absence of direct heating by electric current, hot water and air provides enhanced safety when compared to conventional infant warmers," the team writes. They add that the device is inexpensive, portable and can run on a portable battery rather than being mains powered. The heating pad is watertight and easily cleaned. A cotton outer cover is also readily washable. The team foresees their LED baby-warmer as being useful in transporting pre-term babies in hospital from station to station of whatever assessments and treatments they need until they can be discharged to their home.

Nair, S.S. and Nagesh, D.S. (2023) 'Thermo regulated infant warming wrapper with infrared light emitting diodes for prevention of hypothermia in preterm low birth weight babies', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp.145–167.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2023.10054324

Writing in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, a team from the Dayalbagh Educational Institute in Agra, India, have taken the view that social media addiction is a growing problem worth examination in a serious medical context and have shown that mindfulness might be used to improve user self-esteem even if those users continue in their extensive use of such online tools.

Terms such as "addiction" and "dependency" have specific definitions in medicine but are often used more broadly in discussions of behaviour that may be problematic but do not necessarily meet the clinical criteria for addiction. However, there is evidence of problematic behaviour among many individuals who utilise social media on their computers and mobile devices.

Kajul Bharti and Akshay Kumar Satsangi suggest that this type of addiction is already leading to serious concerns about the well-being and mental health of many social media users. The team reports on a study involving 288 participants who were selected by snowball sampling. Snowball sampling, often referred to as chain sampling, chain-referral sampling, or referral sampling, involves initial recruits to a trial or study recruiting future subjects from among their acquaintances. While the approach can suffer from biases because of the way the sample builds up, it is commonly used in sociology research of hidden populations, such as drug users or sex workers, and in this case, social media addicts, because it is usually very difficult to recruit people from such groups randomly.

These findings have important implications for social media users and society as a whole and emphasize once more the need for further research in this area. The team points out that the concepts of mindfulness, being present in the moment, self-esteem, or recognising one's own worth, are both important factors that might influence how social media addiction could affect psychological outcomes for users.

The researchers used confirmatory factor analysis and path analysis to analyze the results from their snowball sample. They found that social media addiction does indeed have a direct impact on self-esteem, regardless of whether a person is aware of mindfulness or not. However, mindfulness can have a partially mediating effect and so is a recommended practice to reduce any negative impacts of social media addiction on self-esteem.

The team adds that future work should adopt a cross-sectional design to provide further evidence that mindfulness can overcome the problems of social media addiction. Mindfulness, the team suggests, can free up one's thoughts regarding such behaviour so that while one might continue to be a frequent user of social media there is less detrimental impact on one's mental well-being and self-esteem as one can become better equipped to shrug off the pressures of online peers and influencers. Ultimately, for users with a problem, mindfulness could be used to allow them to control their social media use rather than it control them.

Bharti, K. and Satsangi, A.K. (2023) 'Role of social media addiction on self-esteem and mediating effect of mindfulness', Int. J. Management Concepts and Philosophy, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.160–174.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2022.10053345

A research paper in the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education has taken a structured approach to comparing monetary theories. In it the team proposes a taxonomy, a classification, for comparing monetary theories based on their primary monetary function. The work is pertinent in the wake of the 2007/2008 financial crisis as monetary systems face increased scrutiny, and rightly so.

The work explores four lines of thought: 'store-of-value', 'medium-of-exchange', 'means-of-payment', and 'unit-of-account', and has applied them to historical examples in their paper. Store-of-value refers to the function of money as a means of preserving the value of purchasing power over time. Medium-of-exchange refers to the function of money as a widely accepted intermediary in the exchange of goods and services. Means-of-payment emphasizes the active role of money as allowing debts to be settled and obligations to be fulfilled. Unit-of-account refers to the function of money as a standard of measurement or unit of value in which prices, wages, and other economic values are expressed.

It is perhaps obvious that no single taxonomy can encompass all monetary theories, Jan Greitens of Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart, Germany, explains the classification based on those four lines of thought.

"According to the 'store-of-value' line of thought, the conservation of purchasing power is the most relevant function," he writes. "The 'medium-of-exchange' line of thought maintains a stable monetary value in the circulation of goods and services." Greitens then adds that "The 'means-of-payment' line of thought emphasises an active role of money and the possible influence of the society on money and the economy." Finally, he explains that "In contrast, the 'unit-of-account' line of thought reduces money to a passive role, adjusting elastically to the needs of the real economy."

Greitens points out that in order to better understand monetary systems, we cannot read such a taxonomy as being a chronological representation of change, an evolution. There is no progress, he asserts. Instead, all of the lines of thought outlined in his study continue into the present world of money.

Greitens, J. (2022) 'A structured approach for comparing monetary theories', Int. J. Pluralism and Economics Education, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.262–276.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPEE.2022.10051865

Researchers writing in the International Journal of Critical Infrastructures discuss the potential engineering solutions for building a submarine tunnel as part of a future transport infrastructure.

A submerged, but floating, tunnel could be the answer to linking infrastructure between places separated by bodies of water. The approach precludes the need for digging the tunnel beneath the floor of the body of water, whether river, lake, or sea. However, the engineering requirements are immense and any such structure must be stable to current and corrosion as well as freak incidents such as tsunami.

Sahil Rana and M. Abdul Akbar of the Department of Civil Engineering at the Dr. B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology in Jalandhar, Punjab, India, point out that there have been proposals for submerged, floating tunnels in the past. Current computer-aided design and software can simulate the stresses and strains a civil engineering structure might experience in the real world under different conditions. This means it should now be possible to determine whether a given design and siting is feasible.

The team has undertaken a comprehensive review of the various engineering analyses so far performed on putative submerged floating tunnels. The review covers work from this multidisciplinary domain of transportation engineers, geotechnical engineers, offshore engineers, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and others. The researchers have also reviewed the different policy-based conclusions regarding this novel transport technology. Their conclusion is that such tunnels will ultimately revolutionise connectivity and transportation. Such tunnels could have a major impact on joining island clusters, for instance, or connecting regions where a spanning bridge would be inappropriate or impossible.

They point out that there are not yet and standard ways to look at submerged floating tunnels and much work needs to be done in terms of anchorages and tethers as well as understanding the response of such tunnels in use in a body of water. The team adds that the impact of such potentially enormous structures on aquatic life, particularly large organisms must also be considered be these tunnels are launched.

Rana, S. and Akbar, M.A. (2023) 'A review of research developments on submerged floating tunnel', Int. J. Critical Infrastructures, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp.58–78.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCIS.2023.10038938

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in preparation for future crises, there is a need to improve the way in which medical appointments are scheduled and which ones can readily be carried out online rather than in the doctor's office. Work in the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering, suggests that virtual appointments can be a viable alternative to face-to-face consultations in many instances. This is particularly the case when a follow-up consultation is required that does not require a physical examination, samples, tests, or scans.

Xiao Yu and Armagan Bayram of the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Michigan at Dearborn in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, explain how virtual healthcare appointments can be a cost-effective alternative to the conventional visit and patients can receive essential care remotely. This offers benefits to both provider and patient in terms of time and effort consumed as well as reducing the risk of acquired infections.

The team points out that scheduling virtual appointments within a busy schedule of face-face appointments and ensuring that healthcare providers and patients are truly benefiting from the online experience is difficult. The team has developed an open migration network to simulate the flow of patients through a clinic. They have then used this to model mathematically the optimal follow-up rates, the revisit intervals, in other words, for both virtual and office appointments. With such a model in hand, the team suggests that managers in a healthcare provision setting should be able to make decisions in a more systematic manner in terms of how frequently patients in long-term, chronic, healthcare situations need to be seen in the flesh, as it were, or virtually.

Approximately half of the population of the USA lives with a chronic disease and similar figures are seen elsewhere in the developed world. As such, effective disease management can improve the quality of life for millions of people as well as allowing them to minimise symptoms or the very least cope better with their condition. Virtual appointments can be integrated into such management, reducing the number of trips to the doctor's office a patient needs to take, thus saving them inconvenience, anxiety, and costs. Virtual appointments might also reduce the risk of incident or accident or indeed the risk of a patient acquiring a troublesome infection from a third party en route to and from and at the doctor's office, a point that remains significant in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Yu, X. and Bayram, A. (2023) 'Optimising patient revisit intervals for virtual and office appointments in chronic care', Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp.363–383.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISE.2021.10040234

Acoustic communication through water is well known in many species of sea creature, whales, dolphins and other cetaceans, perhaps being the best known examples. But, crustaceans and fish too often communicate through water with sound. People have used sonar, sound navigation and ranging, since the time of Leonardo da Vinci who first described an acoustic listening technique in 1490. Modern, active sonar methods are, of course, far more sophisticated than his passive technique.

Now, research in the International Journal of Intelligent Internet of Things Computing discusses an acoustic communications system akin to sending an underwater email. Md. Aktarul Hasan and Shen Wei of the School of Informatics at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, Hangzhou, China, and colleague Yubo Peng of the Zhejiang Province E-commerce Promotion Centre demonstrate proof of concept for an acoustic communications device based on based on Arduino controllers.

In their system a piezo-electric transducer acts as a speaker to produce a low-frequency signal. At the receiver end of the "channel" the same type of piezo-electric transducer is used as a microphone to detect the incoming signal. The team has shown that within a 1 to 3 kilohertz (kHz) band, they can transmit and receive information at a rate of 200 bits per second acoustically through water and were able to send the requisite information from a web page, converted into Morse code, through the water that could then be decoded and the information used to display the page on a computer at the receiving end. The system is built on the TCP/IP internet protocal. The working distance between transmitter and receiver can be be up to 25 metres with the current setup. The team adds that improvements in the technology could increase the range of their system considerably making it much more useful.

The team suggests that their battery-powered system could be run from a small boat. They point out that the basic demonstration of transmitting a web page suggests that simple "wireless" telemetry and remote control of underwater devices should now be possible.

Hasan, M.A., Peng, Y. and Wei, S. (2022) 'Underwater wireless communication using TCP/IP', Int. J. Intelligent Internet of Things Computing, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.273–286.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIITC.2023.10048055

Writing in the International Journal of System of Systems Engineering, a team from India discusses the use of a smart utility tool called GreenNotes. This tool, the researchers explain, can be used to keep track of regular goals in the 21st century for smart cities and people.

Rohit Rastogi, Karan Budhwani, and Harsh Mittal of the Department of CSE at ABES Engineering College in Ghaziabad, point out that GreenNotes is a small piece of software that is run as a plugin, or extension, in one's web browser, and hooks into the cloud. Cloud accessibility can improve the portability of an application as well as open up the possibility of using it as a collaborative tool. GreenNotes, the team says, allows users to quickly take notes as well as carry out voice-to-text conversions, thus acting as a modern spin on a dictation machine. The extension also has a built-in reminder tool. The team points out that it uses the freemium model wherein the basic functionality is available at no cost, but premium features can be purchased within the Chrome browser.

The team has reviewed other related browser extensions to reveal their pros and cons and compare them with those of GreenNotes to good effect. One benefit is soft-deletion, so that I note can be sent reversibly to a recycling bin rather than being permanently deleted in the first instance. The extension also offers a WYSIWYG option which isn't used by all rival extensions. It has a markdown editing feature, which again, is not present in other available extensions. The voice-to-text option is unique among the extensions surveyed. A mobile version of the desktop browser extension is in development.

Rastogi, R., Budhwani, K. and Mittal, H. (2023) 'GreenNotes: a smart utility tool to keep track of regular goals in the 21st century for smart cities and people', Int. J. System of Systems Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.1–29.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSSE.2023.10053192

Research published in the International Journal of Green Economics has investigated the many factors that affect consumer attitudes and buying habits when it comes to organic food products. Mohd Farhan of the Mittal School of Business in Punjab, India, suggests that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led many consumers to become more aware of how the nutritional quality of the food they eat affects their health. This has led to an increased awareness of organic food products.

Farhan surveyed 600 people in India and Nepal to ascertain how food habits and consumption patterns have changed recently. He analysed the data using Smart Partial Least Squares and Mann-Whitney tests.

The analyses revealed that safety, awareness, and trust had a positive impact on a person's inclination to consume organic food as opposed to other food products. Farhan also showed that the perceived health benefits as well as hedonic and social values were found to influence consumer attitudes towards organic food in a positive manner. This inevitably led to those consumers being more likely to buy organic food products. The findings highlight the importance of awareness and education with regard to organic food. It is likely that demand will continue to rise in the next few years and producers and sellers need to be aware of this in order to benefit from improved awareness among their potential customers and to find ways to meet increasing demand.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought health issues to the fore the world over and many people are looking for healthier food options as part of their approach to coping with the risks surrounding the disease. Of course, it might be argued that the benefits of organic versus non-organic food products may not be as significant as is often claimed. Nevertheless, increased food and health awareness and education will always be beneficial and those people opting for organic foods may also make other changes to their eating habits and lifestyle in the name of improving their health that will have additional, more tangible benefits.

The producers and marketers of organic foods must demonstrate the benefits of their produce honestly and show that the generally higher price is offset by associated improved health and environmental factors.

Farhan, M. (2022) 'Organic food consumption in emerging markets after COVID-19: value-attitude-behaviour model', Int. J. Green Economics, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.294–311.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGE.2022.10053419

There is growing evidence that much of the material on the internet is entirely fake. This is perhaps well-known. Indeed, there is also equally compelling evidence that a huge number of the people on the internet are fake too. Much of the engagement and virality of content on social media and elsewhere being nothing but automated bot activity and click farms. Much of it is done as part of promoting misinformation for a political agenda and a lot of it is done to scam advertisers into imagining their paid ads are being seen by real people.

However, in the perhaps more mundane world of actual users, searching for information about products and services in which they are interested there is a need to be able detect fake reviews. A review in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, has taken a look at the approaches to detecting deceptive reviews. One recent analysis suggests that two-thirds of customer evalutions, or reviews, of products sold on a major e-commerce site are fake. These fake reviews not only distort the average opinion for a given product, often boosting a low number of "stars" for a shoddy product to make it a more saleable five-star item, but also boost the seller's overall profile illicitly too.

Rajdavinder Singh Boparai and Rekha Bhatia of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Punjabi University in Patiala, Punjab, India, discuss the state-of-the-art in research into this problem. They also survey the various AI, artificial intelligence, machine-learning tools aimed at flagging non-genuine reviews on commercial websites. The team reveals the gaps in the research literature as well as the limitations of the current tools and points to how those gaps might be plugged.

Deceptive reviews can have myriad sources and authors making it difficult to home in on a particular writing style as fake. A significant gap in current research and tools that might be filled by future research would see the development of a more representative model that would be generic, capable, and portable and be able to quickly and accurately flag as fake deceptive reviews based on real-world data. Given the recent public advent of so-called language models and tools, it is likely that we will see more and more fake reviews online. However, the very tools that generate such deceptive content might also be used to detect its presence. We will inevitably see a game of cat and mouse between the e-commerce sites and the fakers and caught in the middle will be the consumers looking for a decent product at a good price.

Boparai, R.S. and Bhatia, R. (2022) 'Deceptive web-review detection strategies: a survey', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp.411–433.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIEI.2022.10053698

Research published in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, investigates how information can be hidden in a type of sound file, known as a wav file, a technique known as audio steganography.

Steganography has been used for thousands of years to hide information. A message written in so-called "invisible ink" is a primitive example of steganography. In the computer age, information has been hidden in text, image, and audio files without leaving any visible or noticeable changes. Steganography involves concealing the information as well as the existence of that information so that only the intended recipient can find it.

Audio steganography is usually considered a cost-effective means to encrypt data over a network, as it has low noise distortion and can generally be embedded without being detectable. R. Ramyadevi and V. Poornima of the Department of Computer Science at the SRM Institute of Science and Technology in Tamil Nadu, India, have estimated the maximum number of characters, numbers, letters, and other symbols, that might be added to an audio file without altering its structure. But more importantly they have looked at the limit on audible distortion and disturbance of the bit rate when the file is played as a normal sound file on a media player. If there is obvious distortion, then the fact that the file was being used for audio steganography might be more apparent to a third party. The wav, known formally as the waveform audio file format, was developed in 1991 by IBM and Microsoft and is widely used on personal computers and other devices.

The team's study shows that accuracy can be improved at low embedding levels and deliver an optimal peak signal-to-noise ratio while obfuscating information if the first, second, and third least significant bits (LSBs) of the audio file are employed in the steganographic processing. The team compared 8-bit and 16-bit pulse-code modulation (PCM) audio and used mean square error (MSE), mean absolute error (MAE), signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and cross-correlation analysis to identify hidden text data within a given audio stream. The team writes that a 16-bit stereo wav file can carry just over 30000 characters with spaces without the presence of that added information being detectable to a third part unaware of its presence in the file. An 8-bit mono wav file can carry more than 8000 characters with spaces.

If the first three LSBs were used accuracy was 98 percent and a false alarm rate of less than 5 percent was seen. Of course, the robustness of the hidden message within the audio file is affected by the length of the text message that is hidden, the team reports. More added information would be more obvious to a third party checking files for this kind of message obfuscation in a collection of sound files.

Ramyadevi, R. and Poornima, V. (2022) 'Utilisation of audible steganography to organise and analyse the text within WAV files', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp.397–410.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIEI.2022.10053658

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected investment in climate change initiatives in the developing world? New research in the International Journal of Green Economics, focuses on the impact of the disease on such investment in India.

Peeyush Bangur of the Women's Institute for Studies in Development Oriented Management (WISDOM) in Rajasthan used the GARCH (1,1) model to examine India's CARBONEX index and found that there was, as one might have anticipated, increased volatility in this investment realm during the pandemic. Indeed, there was an increase in variance of almost 150% according to Bangur's analysis. The findings have important implications for investment returns as well as the response to climate change showing that confidence in climate investment fell during the height of the pandemic. The work may help guide the future investment response when we face another pandemic.

Anthropogenic carbon emissions are driving climate change. The effects in coming years will likely be devastating, particularly for those already living at the extremes. Unfortunately, the common societal model around the world involves economic growth and this comes at a price in terms of resources used and pollution generated. If we are to address the problems we face, we need to co-opt the paradigm of economic growth to help us reduce emissions, lower our reliance on unsustainable resources, and tackle climate change.

Carbon emissions trading, investment in sustainable technologies and renewables are at the forefront of this. The S&P BSE CARBONEX of India was the first carbon-based thematic index and was launched in November 2012 with phased support from the British High Commission in India. This index reflects investment in the green economy. Bangur suggests that "investors, company managers, regulators, academics, and government officials may benefit from the study's findings." He adds that green investment will return in the post-pandemic world "The implications of volatility may serve as a guide for launching the initial policy action in the event of subsequent instances of a similar nature," he says.

Bangur, P. (2022) 'Climate change investing and COVID-19: evidence from return volatility', Int. J. Green Economics, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.235–245.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGE.2022.10053454

Customer loyalty can be a key component of ongoing business success, especially in a market with lots of rivals and a limited number of potential customers. Business must be involved in ongoing research in order to know what works to retain customers in ever-changing markets. In particular, determining what incentives might work to improve customer loyalty can be key.

The loyalty card system is perhaps the most well-known incentive programs that rewards loyalty and purportedly improves repeat business. The basic concept is that customers sign up to the program and are reward when they make repeat purchases or engage with the business in other ways, such as by referring friends, leaving reviews, or following the business on social media. Commonly they earn points on their card for various activities and these can be exchanged for in-store discounts, free gifts, or even vouchers or coupons that can be redeemed at associated outlets, such as restaurants, cinemas, or even holiday companies and theme parks. The specific rewards and incentives a company offers to its loyal customers vary widely, depending on the type of business and the preferences of the target audience. Some businesses use physical cards that are scanned at the point of purchase, others encourage their customers to download a mobile phone app.

Of course, there is also the advantage to the business of not only retaining customers but learning more about their buying habits and other activities linked to use of the loyalty card. Tracking activity gives businesses invaluable information on customer behaviour so they can be tarhets more effectively through marketing campaigns.

A study in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research looked at the various factors that led customers to shop at two outlets in India Ondoor and Reliance Fresh, and to uncover whether loyalty cards had a role to play in customer retention. Nyagarama Omboga Thomas and Sapna Singh of the Department of Management at SRK University in Bhopal and Mohit Gangwar of Bhabha University also in Bhopal, used a descriptive survey research design to collect data via questionnaire.

The researchers' analysis of the data revealed that there were many factors that had on influence on the purchasing choices of customers, including product availability, brand variety, the atmosphere of the given outlet, return policy, price, service, promotions, and store location. But, the businesses' loyalty card programs had a strong impact on those customers who were signed up with the program.

Thomas, N.O., Singh, S. and Gangwar, M. (2023) 'Customer retention using loyalty cards program', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp.200–217.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBIR.2021.10038500

The role of higher education in driving economic growth and development is recognised the world over. The existence of a skilled workforce drives innovation and economic growth, while educated citizens can contribute to the development of society. In addition, higher education can help to produce the critical mass of skilled workers required for sustained economic growth.

However, recent economic challenges have widened funding gaps in higher education, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where higher education is largely funded by the government, with minimal contribution from the learners themselves or their parents. The recognition of this underscores the need for higher education establishments to diversify their income streams to support their work.

Emmanuel Botlhale of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Botswana in Gaborone suggests that addressing the chronic funding gaps in Botswana's higher education sector needs a deep exploration of alternative income-generation options. Writing in the International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability, he discusses the many approaches that might be implemented to boost income sources. This might include rebranding of courses to make them more appealing to prospective students, collaborations between town and gown (the non-academic locals and businesses and the academics), the sale of university bonds, public-private partnerships in education, and the development of entrepreneurial universities that nurture spin-off companies the intellectual property, products, and services of which, can generate revenue for the institution.

Income stream diversification could fill the chronic funding gaps in higher education in Botswana and other SSA countries that have grown since 2007 and in particular because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Diversification and the development of third-stream incomes beyond tuition fees should reduce an institution's dependence on public resources and provide a more sustainable future. The policy suggestions made by Botlhale are perhaps tailored to higher education in Botswana, but he suggests that the suggestions if adopted elsewhere will need fine-tuning to the particular national context in other SSA nations.

Botlhale, E. (2022) 'Diversifying income streams in public higher education institutions in Botswana', Int. J. Higher Education and Sustainability, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.97–114.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHES.2022.10050601

For many years wind power, solar power, tidal power and many other sustainable solutions to electricity generation have been in place. But, what about harvesting the energy of human traffic on city streets and other environments?

Research published in the International Journal of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics demonstrates how the energy of footfall from people simply going about their business on the streets, in shopping malls, the workplace, and elsewhere might be harvested to generate electricity without affecting how people walk on the surface nor being too costly to implement or maintain.

Dazzle Johnson, Mikhael Sayat, and Kean Aw of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand, describe a pavement energy harvester. The system can convert the pressure of footfall from human traffic on the pavement even though the vertical displacement is a mere 1.5 millimetres, which would be hardly noticeable to pedestrians walking on such as surface. That tiny movement of the ground beneath one's feet would not affect one's gait but with each footstep can generate 164 milliwatts of electricity across a 27-ohm load resistor. If someone jumps on to the power pavement area almost a Watt is generated (833 mW).

If we imagine a network of power pavement with millions of footsteps every hour in a busy shopping centre, for instance, then the power generated would quickly add up to usable amounts that could be buffered by charging up embedded batteries and used to power lighting or power outlets. The team is currently testing the prototype system and will work to develop connected harvesters. They need to determine how much vertical displacement each slab might be capable of to generate more power without affecting the way people walk on the surface.

Johnson, D., Sayat, M. and Aw, K. (2022) 'Harvesting energy from human traffic', Int. J. Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.13–16.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBBR.2022.10051712

Research in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning discusses the motivation for volunteering in the educational section to help with the inclusion of migrant children in European schools.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggests that migration brings with it many economic advantages to a nation, including expansion of the workforce across many sectors, increased revenues from tax, greater economic activity, a boost to the working-age population, and an increase in the national skillset. On the other hand, there are challenges for host countries on how best to integrate newcomers into society. The challenges represent general economic, social, and health-related issues, as well as education-specific issues.

Valerij Dermol and Aleš Trunk of the International School for Social and Business Studies in Celje, Špela Javornik and Plamen Vladkov Mirazchiyski of the Educational Research Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Susana de Juana-Espinosa of the University of Alicante in Alicante, Spain, discuss the role of volunteers in supporting the inclusion of migrant students in schools when institutions are unable to do so on their own. The team carried out a systematic literature review of almost 16000 sources. The analysis honed their material down to 15 main sources and put particular emphasis on the RoMigSc project and results associated with needs and rationale for volunteering.

Dermol and colleagues found that while volunteers do anticipate personal benefits from their work, including career advancement, many are simply motivated by their concern for disadvantaged students, and yet others are encouraged to volunteer because they know other people already volunteering in the sector.

The team suggests that future research and practice should emphasise the recruitment volunteers who are motivated to work with migrant students out of compassion given that such internal motivation is a strong driver for volunteers in general. As such, volunteers recruited on such grounds are likely to be strong candidates with stamina. Given the state of world affairs, there is a pressing need to recruit more volunteers across Europe to help vulnerable groups, nowhere more so than in education. Not only will the presence of compassionate volunteers assisting migrant children in schools, but there will likely be a recognition by the other students and teachers in general of the mutual benefits.

Dermol, V., Javornik, Š., de Juana-Espinosa, S., Mirazchiyski, P.V. and Trunk, A. (2023) 'European contexts of volunteering and inclusion of migrant children in schools', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp.230–251.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2023.10050122

Research in the International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development has looked at whether what we might refer to as brand addiction leads to compulsive buying of fast-moving consumer goods. By brand addiction in this context the researchers imply a blindness to other brands that might be available on the market.

D. Chitra, V. Mahalakshmi, B. Lakshmi, and Yabesh Abraham Durairaj Isravel of the Department of Management Studies at Panimalar Engineering College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India used a descriptive research design to carry out their investigation gathering data from almost 400 buyers through random sampling questionnaire. The team used Pearson Correlation and Regression analysis to analyse the data.

The team found that most customers in this grouping were female and aged 30–45, and working in the private sector. The team suggests that having a favourite, prestigious brand and previous experience with that brand nudges respondents towards brand addiction. In addition, they found that obsessive buying behaviour is driven by price, low maintenance costs, and product quality.

Shopping is usually a necessity when it comes to food and clothing, but it can also be a release from stress and we often talk of "retail therapy" as a euphemism for buying what we want rather than what we need. Shopping in the extreme can become a compulsion for many people in the same way that they become dependent on other behaviour, such as hobbies, exercise, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco. The team points out that shopping addiction can have as devastating effect on people's lives as any other kind of compulsive behaviour including general mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, damage to relationships, and even legal problems.

New insights into how brand addiction and compulsive shopping arise, such as the present, work could help guide counselling and even treatments for people who have a problem with this form of addiction. They discuss the problem cycle where by the emotional urge to shop arises, the excitement of anticipation, followed by preparation and then the purchase, and finally buyer's remorse or guilt where the shopper perceives a problem and ultimately feels the need to shop again after coming down from the shopping high and experiencing the negative emotions.

Chitra, D., Mahalakshmi, V., Lakshmi, B. and Isravel, Y.A.D. (2022) 'Innovation comorbidity of compulsive buying and brand addiction among the younger generation', Int. J. Knowledge-Based Development, Vol. 12, Nos. 3/4, pp.475–493.
DOI: 10.1504/IJKBD.2022.10052991

Research in the International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability looks at the efficiency of working and learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reeta Tomar and Schifra Daruwala of the CHRIST (Deemed to be University) in Ghaziabad, India, have taken an empirical approach to understanding the benefits of going online during this period while recognising the problems, stresses, and tragedies that arose.

The researchers found that the benefits of working from home for professionals including greater job satisfaction, working flexibility, less time commuting and overall improved efficiency. However, this was not the case for students attempting to learn online who experience lower efficacy than they would have during conventional classes. That said, many did enjoy the additional flexibility offered from learning online.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought us a "new normal" of lockdowns, quarantines, and border controls. For extended periods people had to work and learn from home to reduce the risk of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While at the time of writing the pandemic is very much still with us, the work also offers insights into how the new normal might evolve when we ultimately leave the pandemic.

New working and learning paradigms might offer efficiency improvements as well as helping us to reduce congestion and pollution in our cities. The team suggests that governments must improve policies in terms of educating workers and students and put in place infrastructure, such as inexpensive internet connectivity, to facilitate the work and learn-at-home paradigms. There is also a need to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to improve their prospects. It is hoped that research insights into the impact of changes implemented during this pandemic might help us cope better with the next.

Tomar, R. and Daruwala, S. (2022) 'Is going online efficient? A comparative study of offline and online mode of working and learning during COVID-19', Int. J. Higher Education and Sustainability, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.81–96.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHES.2022.10050602

A team from the University of Zagreb in Croatia has surveyed the various ways in which national governments attempted to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2. Writing in the International Journal of Student Project Reporting, Karla Baricevic and Marina Bagic Babac explain how different countries implemented a range of social and economic policies to this end. Their work tracks the epidemiology and shows how the pandemic was affected by the measures put in place. The findings could have implications for controlling the next emergent pathogen with the potential to cause a global pandemic.

The response of different nations to the COVID-19 pandemic was not uniform. Some countries implemented tight lockdowns, border controls, and quarantine arrangements very early in the evolution of the pandemic. Others took a different approach hoping for so-called "herd immunity" rather than social measures to control the virus. Unfortunately, the notion of herd immunity never arose and the emergence of many different variants of the disease represented an ongoing problem throughout the pandemic. Control was at least seen once vaccination became available. That has not been universally available and the World Health Organisation is not yet in a position to sign off on the end of the pandemic. The new normal means COVID-19 is perhaps here to stay.

The team has simulated and analysed different epidemiological factors, including the reproduction number, R, as well as epidemic growth and decay. The aim being to identify the combination and timing of countermeasures that best controlled the spread of COVID-19 reduced morbidity and mortality and also had the least detrimental impact on society and the economy.

Baricevic, K. and Bagic Babac, M. (2022) 'Exploratory analysis of the effectiveness of measures against the COVID-19 disease', Int. J. Student Project Reporting, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.188–202.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSPR.2022.10053180

The development and deployment of various internet of things (IoT) devices in homes has increased the risks to home networks with such devices inadvertently opening loopholes that could allow fraudsters and others to gain access to the devices themselves, but more worryingly to other devices such as tablet and desktop computers, smartphones, and smart media devices connected to the same home network.

The problem is discussed by a team from India in the International Journal of Sensor Networks. N.D. Patel and B.M. Mehtre of the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) and Rajeev Wankar of the University of Hyderabad, India, explain how cybercrime is on the rise and to some degree this is being driven by the advent of the IoT.

The team cites the Mirai-BotNet, which infected and took control of many IoT devices and routers, creating a network of robots that can be controlled remotely. Such a botnet of zombie computers and devices can be used to cause problems for other systems, such as distributed denial of service (dDoS) attacks. dDoS attacks in turn can be used to overwhelm a network and its security systems allowing a malicious third party to wheedle their way into the system and steal data or tamper with the systems that depend on the network.

To address the issue of the growing security threat to IoT devices, the researchers have proposed a new type of router called a Snort-based secure edge router for the smart home. The team has designed this router to resist and repel many different types of cyberattacks. The team explains how their system uses Snort software to automatically generate rules to protect against attacks. The rules are generated by combining information about the type of data being sent to the device, perhaps from a malicious third party, its location, the header information (the to and from details), and the patterns present in the data being sent to the device.

The researchers tested the SERfSH using a setup that included a Raspberry Pi 4 computer, an ESP32 microcontroller, six IoT devices, and a computer set up to simulate an attack, a so-called "malicious actor machine". They tested the system against 15 different types of attack. Deauthentication, fake-authentication, sybil attacks, broken-authentication, MAC spoofing, sink hole attacks, DoS, distributed-DoS, port-scanning, WiFi-cracking, ARP-poisoning, DNS-spoofing, malware-based DoS, RPL attacks (flooding), and firmware vulnerability.

The results showed that 14 of these attacks were readily detected although firmware vulnerability was not. 12 of the attacks were blocked and caused no harm with the exception of firmware vulnerability, obviously, as it was not detected and DNS spoofing. The team suggests that the system is scalable and is now planning to use unsupervised machine learning to improve attack detection and ultimately protect against them all.

Patel, N.D., Mehtre, B.M. and Wankar, R. (2023) 'A Snort-based secure edge router for smart home', Int. J. Sensor Networks, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp.42–59.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSNET.2022.10051521

A new study published in the International Journal of Work Innovation, has revealed some interesting insights into creativity among employees of Pakistan's private real estate sector. The research could have important implications for both theory and practice in work innovations in this sector and beyond. The team offers several recommendations for the next steps to be taken in this area of research and suggests similar studies might be fruitful in other regions and in sectors such as the information technology sector as well as in education.

Muhammad Bilal Kayani, Komal Shafique, and Maryam Ali of the National University of Modern Languages in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, have carried out a mediation and moderation analysis with a view to understanding the relationship between creativity and leadership in an import sector within the commercial and business worlds, real estate.

The team looked at the effects of two distinct styles of leadership – inclusive and transformational – and how these influence or employee creativity. They surveyed some 250 employees in the real estate sector and had a response rate of 74 percent. The results showed that while inclusive leadership may well see greater employee confidence in terms of an individual's perception of their own abilities, it ultimately had no impact on that individual's creativity. The effect of transformational leadership, which generally brings in new ideas to a workplace, however, was different, it very much had a positive effect on employee creativity.

The team also revealed two other characteristics of employees in this sector in that they could see that psychological empowerment had a significant role to play, but an organizational learning culture had negligible effect.

Kayani, M.B., Shafique, K. and Ali, M. (2023) 'How does leadership bring individual creativity? A mediation and moderation analysis', Int. J. Work Innovation, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp.382–402.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWI.2022.10052799

A deep learning-based intelligent regulation system for indoor lighting intensity is described in the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering. The novel system improves the accuracy and efficiency of conventional lighting-regulation systems by exploiting artificial intelligence, or deep learning, trained with on sensor output and historical data. The approach allows natural light levels to be taken into account and calculates the requisite power needed to maintain consistent brightness indoors with a high adjustment accuracy of between 95.0 and 98.5 percent.

Chen Qun Wu of the College of Art and Design at the Yellow River Conservancy Technical Institute in Kaifeng, China, explains that intelligent, or smart, lighting systems could, in the ongoing energy and climate crises, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and lower emissions. Standard lighting systems waste a lot of resources and there is an urgent need to usurp them with an approach to lighting that takes into account various factors rather than always-on lighting at full power to illuminate a space regardless of use or ambient light.

Indeed, lighting currently accounts for about one-third of the power used by a building, intelligent systems could lower that considerably. Wu adds that there is the potential not only for saving power but also for improving working conditions in offices and other buildings where conventional lighting systems can often be too bright for comfortable working.

Wu's approach takes into account lighting requirements, the movement of the sun, and other factors. It builds on a feedforward neural network structure that controls the lighting far more effectively than a simple on-off switch.

He adds that in subsequent research, he hopes to make improvements in the multi-sensor data fusion method, enhance still further the accuracy of the adjustment results, and integrate the wireless positioning functionality into the system to allow fixed-point adjustment of indoor illumination.

Wu, C.Q. (2023) 'Design of intelligent system for indoor illumination adjustment based on deep learning', Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 43, No. 2, pp.137–152.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISE.2021.10051759

Researchers who present radical new theories are often ridiculed and their work rejected despite the evidence they provide because the new theory upsets the received wisdom or is so outside what is considered to be the accepted paradigm. But there is a third way forward that could allow radical new thinking to emerge without it being lambasted unnecessarily so that it can be judged wholly on its merits.

Writing in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, a team from Australia and the UK discuss two well-known theories that too many years to be accepted into the mainstream. The first was the medical discovery that peptic ulcers and stomach cancer are not generally caused by stress but by infection with a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori. The second was the social theory in management research that looked at how toxicity in the workplace can arise because of the presence of corporate psychopaths. Both "new" theories took many years to be accepted, both are now widely acknowledged.

Clive R. Boddy of Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK, Sharyn Curran of Curtin University in Bentley, Western Australia, and Fiona Girkin of the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, have viewed these two discoveries through the lens of Kuhn's ideas of scientific paradigms. American philosopher of science Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922-1996) used the word "paradigm" in his 1962 work "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" and described it as a perspective on reality For instance, Galileo's heliocentric view of the solar system, which was initially rejected when the paradigm shift in understanding broke through the common culture and of the day.

The team re-emphasises that paradigms are not merely abstractions, but are embodied in people, in their relationships and interactions, in institutions and in their culture. Kuhn's insight was that academic inquiry is never merely academic but is embedded within academic society and society as a whole. The critical point is that an established paradigm is just that, it is established, entrenched, embedded, and can thus preclude the development and acceptance of a new paradigm in a given field irrespective of how compelling that new paradigm might be should the old school deign to even consider it.

A new paradigm must traverse five stages. Almost as with psychological changes in the five stages of grief The new paradigm must transcend initial ridicule, methodological innovations, rejection of evidence, attempts to disprove it, and then to final acceptance, recognition, until we see the paradigm shift.

Boddy, C.R., Curran, S. and Girkin, F. (2023) 'Paradigm busters: researchers into stomach ulcers and corporate psychopaths', Int. J. Management Concepts and Philosophy, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.11–29.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2022.10053030

Research in the International Journal of Business Excellence has investigated how a company's human resource management practices can affect the way in which employees balance two different types of behaviour at work: exploitation, where they focus on the effective use of existing resources effectively and exploration where the employee tries out new ideas and takes risks in their job with a view to improvement. The researchers also considered the notion of psychological capital in this context.

Sirikul Cheewakoset, Patchara Popaitoon, and Pasu Decharin of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand surveyed 419 employees in large banking organisations in Thailand and looked at the relationships between exploitation and exploration and flexibility-oriented human resource management (FHRM) systems.

The researchers found that different aspects of FHRM had different effects on employee behaviour. Moreover, their findings suggest that appropriate human resource practices could have a strong impact on employees, particularly those with psychological capital – a positive attitude and confidence. Indeed, the right combination allowed employees to balance exploitation and exploration most effectively with a positive effect on their work and ultimately, by implication, with the company's targets.

The team points out that independent research has often suggested that successful companies must excel at both exploitation and exploration. However, historically these two seemingly contrary approaches have been kept separate within the corporate ethos. Both perhaps driving the company but without a direct connection to each other. The new findings suggest that bringing the two approaches together and ensuring a positive balance within the company could have a synergistic effect overall. Allowing employees to strengthen the core activities but also to generate new business, improve the service offered to customers, devise new products, and seek out and target new market segments.

The team concedes that the current study relates directly only to the banking sector in terms of the data they have obtained. Future studies might be extended into other sectors to develop a sense of whether or not the same human resource tools can be used elsewhere in order to improve the balance between exploitation and exploration.

Cheewakoset, S., Popaitoon, P. and Decharin, P. (2023) 'Flexibility-oriented human resource management system and employee ambidexterity: a moderating role of psychological capital', Int. J. Business Excellence, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp.288–308.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBEX.2022.10050300

An automatic detection system that can scan people entering a public or private space and determine whether they are wearing a protective face covering or not and whether that face covering is being worn correctly is discussed in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing. Such a detection system could hook into an alert system on the smartphones of visitors to a space or allow stewards to offer guidance to those entering the space who need to be advised on the wearing of a face covering.

Despite the fact COVID-19 remains an ongoing health threat to people, many public and private spaces have, at the time of writing, forsaken the need for visitors and employees to wear a face covering in order to reduce the spread of infection. However, given that the virus undergoes constant evolutionary change, there may well be an urgent need once again to "mask up". Notwithstanding the emergence of another airborne pathogen in the future.

Vishnu Kumar Kaliappan and Dugki Min of Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, and Rajasekaran Thangaraj, P. Pandiyan, and K. Mohanasundaram of the KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology, S. Anandamurugan of Kongu Engineering College in Tamil Nadu, India, point out that wearing a face mask in public places, particularly enclosed spaces, is one of the most effective strategies for protecting individuals from this disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO is yet to lower the status of COVID-19 from pandemic. At the time of writing, there were around 1.4 million new cases in the previous seven days and almost 10000 deaths reported in that time.

The team's algorithmic approach can determine whether a person is wearing a mask and whether or not that mask is in place correctly (not below the nose or chin, for instance). It is based on an object detection model known as YOLO version 5. YOLO is an abbreviation in this context for "you only look once". It has an accuracy of 99.4 percent. Such precision would make much easier the job of stewards or ushers in a space there to ensure correct mask wearing. The system copes with masks of different sizes, shapes, and colours.

Kaliappan, V.K., Thangaraj, R., Pandiyan, P., Mohanasundaram, K., Anandamurugan, S. and Min, D. (2023) 'Real-time face mask position recognition system using YOLO models for preventing COVID-19 disease spread in public places', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp.73–82.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2023.10053539

It has often been suggested that search engines are making us stupid. With so much information, and disinformation, at our fingertips, are we inclined to simply seek and search rather than analyse and learn? Researchers in the have flipped this notion, with a particular focus on personal healthcare and the academic wing of the most well-known search engine, Google Scholar. Writing in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, the team suggests that by bringing artificial intelligence tools into the frame, search engines could actually help make us smarter not dumber.

Luuk P.A. Simons, Mark A. Neerincx, and Catholijn M. Jonker of the Faculty of Computer Science at Delft University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands, refer to an infamous article from 2008 in The Atlantic magazine entitled "Is Google making us stupid?". In it, the technology, business, and culture writer Nicholas Carr, provocatively suggested that browsing for information was a suboptimal approach to reading and acquiring knowledge. Opinion has waxed and waned in the many years since.

Now, the Delft team hopes that we are mature enough to recognise that there are problems with blithely relying on search engine results without applying the skills of critical thinking. They also suggest that the use of hybrid AI in combination with a search engine such as Google Scholar might empower us. The researchers have focused on the notion of health self-management for employees that offers empowerment over medicalisation of illness. They suggest that for high-performance companies seeking the best from their employees, such an approach to healthcare might, in many cases, lead to increased productivity, resilience, and agility in the organisation's teams. The approach might also improve the health of the workforce, especially when one considers the rising average age of employees in many sectors.

The hybrid AI approach to using Google Scholar for personal healthcare might, the team suggests, help users cope with the more than half a million new health-related documents published every year. They have home in on two particularly common health problems – high blood pressure (hypertension) and type-2 diabetes – both of which can be managed and even reversed to some degree with lifestyle changes. Earlier research has often shown that many people value the potential to have more control over their own health especially when faced with potentially debilitating health conditions.

"For diseases of affluence, if 'health is what happens between doctors' visits', the AI support system proposed here may offer us a cheaper, more effective channel to deliver future healthcare," the team concludes.

Simons, L.P.A., Neerincx, M.A. and Jonker, C.M. (2022) 'Is Google making us smart? Health self-management for high performance employees and organisations', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp.200–216.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2022.10053605

New research in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies has looked at how comparative international law (CIL) can be used to better understand international migration law (IML). CIL is a research area that compares and analyses the laws and legal systems of different countries and regions. It can be used to show the similarities and reveal the differences in legal systems with a view to identifying best practices and emerging trends and how these might affect legal systems at the national level.

In the new work, Gillian Kane of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the University of Galway, Ireland, has shown how CIL could enhance the analysis of international migration law by offering insights into the interaction between different migration regimes within states. The work also reveals the limitations of CIL, but suggests that CIL should become the focus of increased attention with implications for policymakers and stakeholders.

Migration is, of course, nothing new, but ever-increasing global mobility driven by a wide range of factors means there are new contexts for understanding migration and its governance. There is now a pressing need to understand the legal world with respect to migrant workers, refugees, and trafficked persons among others. "Given that migration, by its very nature, often transcends state borders, international law's central role in migration governance is unsurprising," Kane writes. She points out that the research perhaps raises more questions than it answers, such as "where to from here?" but might also point to how to answer such questions.

It could be time for scholars in this research area to reflect on how CIL, either alone or used in parallel with other approaches, could boost their research. "As IML scholars begin to explicitly adopt CIL frameworks, where appropriate, and engage in reflection about the insight and understanding which CIL can provide, the answer to the question of 'where to from here?' will emerge in practice," Kane explains.

Kane, G. (2023) 'Comparative international law: enhancing migration law enquiry?', Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.149–165.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2022.10051275

There are significant privacy concerns surrounding the use of smart phones with camera-based assistive technology. The primary concern being that visually impaired users relying on such technology for facial recognition and object identification purposes may be exposing themselves and others to compromise through liberal software permissions on their device or should their device, connections, or the software be breached in some way by third parties.

There are significant privacy concerns surrounding the use of smart phones with camera-based assistive technology. The primary concern being that visually impaired users relying on such technology for facial recognition and object identification purposes may be exposing themselves and others to compromise through liberal software permissions on their device or should their device, connections, or the software be breached in some way by third parties.

AI representation of someone using assistive tecnhology on their phone

Writing in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Hyung Nam Kim of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, discusses user perspectives and the state of digital privacy issues in this realm. He has carried out a small-scale survey of users with visual impairments who use this technology and associated software.

The survey revealed that very few users had much knowledge of the privacy policies and potential risks of using assistive technology and were generally unaware of the potential issues that might arise with privacy and security breaches of personal information. Kim has developed the research to help form a conceptual framework that could be used to help researchers and professionals in this field to provide better support and education for those with visual impairment relying on this technology in their everyday lives, whether at work, in public, or even in the home.

Given that a significant proportion of people with visual impairments in the USA are just as likely as fully sighted people to use and engage with social media sites such as Facebook, there is a pressing need to improve and enhance their privacy awareness given the additional layer of risk they must face in using extra software to interact and engage online and so remain independent.

Kim, H.N. (2023) 'Digital privacy of smartphone camera-based assistive technology for users with visual disabilities', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.66–84.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2022.10051733

Research in the International Journal of Arts and Technology has looked at how generative adversarial networks (GANs) might be used to transform an artistic image with a given style into a similar image with a different style. For example, a Western abstract transformed into a Chinese figurative image. Tests with this type of artificial intelligence, AI, and the results of questionnaires about the generated art reveal how people in the East and West might perceive artistic style differently when presented with such images. The work might also help us understand art appreciation, concept of beauty and whether or not AI can somehow "understand" art in a parallel manner.

Mai Cong Hung of Osaka University and Ryohei Nakatsu, Naoko Tosa, and Takashi Kusumi of Kyoto University, Japan, explain how a new paradigm in AI – big data + deep learning – has emerged. This approach to AI is developing rapidly with many positive results and benefits to those in the field and beyond. There is always the underlying notion that given that the neural networks used in AI are based on our brains there might be some parallels with how these networks function with our own thought processes. Indeed, AI has surpassed human ability in some areas, for instance in playing Shogi (Japanese chess) and Go. These are games of logic and planning but the question arises as to whether AI can compare in terms of creativity and art.

The team found that by converting one artistic image into the style of another artist there were able to anonymise the image so that the viewers' perception of the image was not coloured by preconceived notions about the artist. They found that volunteers perceived an original abstract artwork by Kandinsky transformed to look like a new abstract painting by one of the authors to be similar in characteristics. They suggest that this might suggest that Western abstract art and Eastern figurative art have very close parallels. It may be that they are essentially interchangeable semantically. They do concede that at this point it is not possible to automatically determine the origins of the original artwork as being from the Western tradition or the Eastern.

Hung, M.C., Nakatsu, R., Tosa, N. and Kusumi, T. (2022) 'Learning of art style using AI and its evaluation based on psychological experiments', Int. J. Arts and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.171–191.
DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2022.10045168

We know that bees are important to natural ecosystems and also to human agriculture and horticulture. They are great pollinators of so plant flowering plant species and are also a source of food and materials we have used for thousands of years, namely honey, honeycomb, and beeswax.

Here's the sting in the tale though. Bees are in decline. The problem is partly due to habitat and climate change but also because of our growing reliance on pesticides for food production. Conservation and rewilding efforts are often stymied by building construction. So, what if we could incorporate bee-friendly habitats into those very buildings?

Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Design, a UK research team discusses the design of a bee brick, which can be incorporated into the stonework of a new building, or perhaps even replace some bricks in older buildings. The bee brick is aimed at providing habitat for solitary bees, which are far more common pollinators than the more familiar honeybee.

Kate Christman and Laura Hodsdon of Falmouth University's Penryn Campus and Rosalind Shaw of the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, explain that there are some 250 species of bee in the UK. 9 out of every 10 of these species is a solitary bee species, one that does not congregate and swarm with its own kind to build and maintain a hive. And, of the solitary bees around one in twenty makes its nest in a cavity. Creating suitable habitats for these master pollinators should be a priority in construction, especially given that the incorporation of suitable cavities in a number of bricks used in a building could be done relatively easily.

The team's bee brick is a "fit and forget" component of construction. There is no ongoing maintenance and the solitary bees will find the bricks, use them to test and represent no threat to the occupants of the building. The team's design has to be durable and strong enough, of course, to substitute for a standard building brick. It would benefit from being low-cost and made from recycled materials.

As such, china clay waste found in abundance in Cornwall is the material of choice the team suggests. Add some granite aggregate and cement as a binder, and the team had the right recipe for their bee brick. Each bee brick has 18 cavities moulded part-way into the otherwise solid structure. There is the potential to have different colours to fit more aesthetically with a given construction project or even to highlight the presence of the bee bricks in a site.

The team explains that "The Bee Brick provides a nesting site for solitary bees, adapting and rethinking how existing building components are used. Made using locally sourced recycled materials, it offers the dual function of being a construction material that also promotes biodiversity."

Christman, K., Shaw, R. and Hodsdon, L. (2022) 'The Bee Brick: building habitat for solitary bees', Int. J. Sustainable Design, Vol. 4, Nos. 3/4, pp.285–304.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSDES.2022.10052860

As we sit once more on the cusp of major change in our world with the advent of machine learning, algorithm-driven decision-making, and so-called artificial intelligence, it is time once again to ask a question that piqued commentators during the industrial revolution of the 19th Century: Does social change drive technological innovation or is the path taken by society determined by new technology.

Writing in the European Journal of International Management, Fred Phillips of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, USA, suggests that there is no need to answer such a question. Indeed, given that it can be argued perfectly well that both perspectives are true and that both perspectives are false, it is time for us to recognise that society and technology form a continuous feedback loop with each other. A nudge from one, leads to a change in the other, but that change then drives additional in the other and so on. We can thus say goodbye to determinism and welcome the circle of innovation.

The nuances of each deterministic viewpoint – society driving technological change and technology leading to societal change – were noticed by Schumpeter in 1943 who argued for a feedback cycle to explain change. However, most research since has been divisive talking of a social determinism or technological determinism as if the two paradigms could somehow exist in isolation. Phillips argues that we must now recognise the feedback loops as underpinning change and innovation. Such recognition could provide a clearer vision for innovators and technologists, policymakers and economists, businesses and society.

Phillips points out that our current technology and the nature of society today allow us to see more clearly the feedback cycles that underpin both and to override the linguistic biases that lead us into deterministic deadends when we could instead be rolling forward.

Phillips, F. (2023) 'Goodbye to determinism: the circle of innovation', European J. International Management, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.295–306.
DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2020.10021762

There are many different forms of autoimmune disease, but by definition they all have one thing in common – they arise when the body's immunological defences go awry and attack our cells or trigger biochemical changes that lead to inflammation and other responses that can be detrimental to our health. There are at least 150 different autoimmune diseases, some of them have the status of rare disease while others, such as Type I diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease are quite common.

Research in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications has looked at several autoimmune diseases using bioinformatics to help improve our understanding of these important diseases.

Durbadal Chatterjee, Jyoti Parkash, and Arti Sharma of the Central University of Punjab in Bathinda, India, have focused on eight autoimmune diseases: Addison's disease, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, pernicious anaemia, psoriatic arthritis, systematic lupus erythematosus, and vasculitis. They explain that science is yet to determine the genetic and biochemical pathways that give rise to these diseases.

The researchers point out that some autoimmune diseases don't tend to become apparent clinically at a single moment but symptoms gradually emerge in the patient ultimately leading to a diagnosis. Unfortunately, the problems are difficult to disentangle from the observations of autoimmune disease as some run in families, some are triggered by infection, and others arise because of environmental factors. It is possible that a combination of factors underpins the emergence of some diseases and that the specifics might be different from patient to patient. It is worth noting that genetics will inevitably have some role to play even if it is not the entire explanation.

The team has probed the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database of genetic information surrounding these conditions and identified 668 genes associated with this group of diseases. The team found that most of these genes are involved in processes related to the activity of the immune system, intracellular signalling, and metabolism. However, while these genes are expressed and active in healthy people, they are silenced or have altered activity levels in people with these various autoimmune diseases.

The researchers found that one gene in particular, PTPN22, was present in seven of the eight diseases we studied. PTPN22, or protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 is a member of the so-called PEST family of protein tyrosine phosphatases. It acts to lower T cell receptor (TCR) signalling, which keeps activity and biochemistry steady, it maintains homeostasis, in T cells until they are needed by the immune system to fight disease.

The findings open up the possibility of finding pharmaceuticals that might be used to control errant behaviour of the proteins associated with the given gene and so perhaps modulate the problematic autoimmune response in patients. The work might also provide useful clues as to how more targeted immunotherapy and stem cell treatments might be developed, that would again allow medicine to control the harmful immune response in these diseases.

"With the development of proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics, far more sensitive and specific methodologies will be developed in the future. Improved understanding of protein-protein interactions and specific targets anticipate further improvements in challenges of autoimmune diseases," the team concludes.

Chatterjee, D., Parkash, J. and Sharma, A. (2022) 'A bioinformatics approach to solving the puzzle of autoimmune diseases', Int. J. Bioinformatics Research and Applications, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp.415–459.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBRA.2022.10052770

A significant amount of electrical energy could be generated from municipal solid waste in the Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi metropolitan areas of Indonesia, collectively known as Jabodetabek.

Research published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management used historical data on municipal waste available from the Regional Environmental Agency and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to build a model of the electrical potential for the period 2020-2030 based on energy generation estimates from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model.

Moh. Hadianto Ismangoen, Leopold Oscar Nelwan, I. Wayan Budiastra, and Kudang Boro Seminar of the IPB University in Bogor, and Muhammad Achirul Nanda of the Universitas Padjadjaran in Jatinangor estimate that during 2020 more than 800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity might have been generated from waste and that by 2030, the figure could be well over 1000 GWh given appropriate infrastructure development. The team says such figures should be sufficient incentive for policymakers to develop an integrated waste management system in the Jabodetabek metropolitan area to utilise the vast quantities of solid waste – more than 8 million tonnes annually – and to produce biogas from the "organic" part for electricity generation.

Such a solution will help a developing region cope with its solid waste but does raise the issue of pollution and carbon emissions, which are inescapable as the biogas must be burned to heat water to generate steam to turn the turbines. Of course, there can be enormous net benefits when compared to burning fossil fuels in the absence of solar, wind, tidal, hydroelectric, or other alternatives.

Ismangoen, M.H., Nanda, M.A., Nelwan, L.O., Budiastra, I.W. and Seminar, K.B. (2022) 'Estimation of energy generation from municipal solid waste in the Jabodetabek Metropolitan Area, Indonesia', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp.453–471.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2022.10034017

The role of technology in healthcare is high on the agenda especially in the face of rising costs, but also more positively in terms of how providers can improve the outcomes for patients with improvements in technology. Indeed, technology is critical to patient outcomes and the overall performance of healthcare systems. A literature review published in the International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management would suggest that current research in the field has not fully explored just how far we might take the deployment of technology in improving the performance of healthcare provision.

Amia Enam, Heidi Carin Dreyer, Jonas A. Ingvaldsen, and Luitzen De Boer of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim conducted a systematic literature review to come to this conclusion. They identified three key limitations in the published research. First, there is an apparent lack of understanding of the connection between technology and healthcare performance. Secondly, existing theories are not being used effectively in many studies. Thirdly, there is a lack of understanding of the context in which technology is deployed.

The team has developed a framework that could be used to help address these limitations in the research literature. The researchers suggest that future work might focus on conceptualizing technology in terms of its functionalities, clearly identify and explain the choice of performance attributes, and identify and explain the mechanisms by which technology, and specifically information technology serves healthcare operations.

Ultimately, by highlighting the importance of a clearer understanding of how technology is used to improve healthcare performance, the team hopes that the next tranche of research papers to enter the literature might more effectively fill the gaps in current knowledge. The team adds that their framework could help researchers produce the research to support healthcare providers and policymakers in making informed decisions about technology deployment, ultimately to the benefit of patient and perhaps even the bottom line.

Enam, A., Dreyer, H.C., Ingvaldsen, J.A. and De Boer, L. (2022) 'Improving healthcare operations with IT deployment: a critical assessment of literature and a framework for future research', Int. J. Healthcare Technology and Management, Vol.19 No.3/4, pp.185 - 217.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHTM.2022.10051288

The reliability and security of power distribution systems is a critical infrastructure issue that can affect the lives of many people when compromised. Research in the International Journal of Power and Energy Conversion looks at how the gSpan method for screening data sets can be used to ensure power security.

Keyan Liu of the China Electric Power Research Institute and Hui Zhou of the School of Electrical Engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University both in Haidian District, Beijing, China, have proposed a new method for detecting abnormal data in digital power distribution devices. Their approach utilises the gSpan algorithm and a cloud computing platform. By combining fuzzy association rules to collect abnormal data and wavelet threshold denoising to clean and prepare the data. The researchers explain that they then use the gSpan algorithm to screen the processed data and to extract strong correlations for secondary screening to give them the final results.

The gSpan algorithm is a graph-based algorithm commonly used in pattern mining and structured data analysis. It can detect irregular, unexpected, and incomplete patterns in a data set. Fuzzy association rules allow uncertain and imprecise information to be processed, while wavelet threshold denoising improves data accuracy by boosting the signal-to-noise ratio.

Proof of principle tests have shown the approach to have a minimum screening time of 6.2 seconds and an error rate of less than 0.2%, it also demonstrates a low rate of missing data. Overall, the team suggests that their approach offers a faster and more accurate means of detecting abnormal data in power distribution devices. The approach improves on the length of time that is often needed with traditional methods to screen for abnormal data, it reduces the number of errors, and cuts the rate of missed data. The next step will be to improve the data-processing capacity of the approach while ensuring data-screening efficiency is maintained.

Liu, K. and Zhou, H. (2022) 'An abnormal data screening method of digital power distribution device based on gSpan', Int. J. Power and Energy Conversion, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.170–181.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPEC.2022.10052104

Research published in the International Journal of Management and Enterprise Development has shed new light on what makes young people in Ghana more likely to start their own businesses.

Victoria Mann, Ernest Yaw Tweneboah-Koduah, Stephen Mahamah Braimah, and Kwame Adom of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana Business School in Legon-Accra surveyed 600 unemployed young adults to help them understand entrepreneurial motivations. They found through an analysis of the survey results using structural equation modelling that having a positive attitude and feeling in control of one's actions were the biggest factors influencing whether a respondent had the desire to become an entrepreneur. The team also found that when the same young people had the support of those around them and a strong desire to start a business they were more likely to actually go through with it.

Interestingly, and in some ways paradoxically, the researchers also showed that despite these various factors encouraging entrepreneurialism in young people, most of the young adults surveyed said they were unsure of themselves, self-doubt was common. They often reported that they needed more help and guidance in order to feel truly confident in their business aspirations and ventures.

The researchers suggest that their findings could help policymakers in Ghana devise new approaches to better support and encourage young entrepreneurs and so help this developing nation thrive. They add that by understanding the perceived and real problems that are holding back young people and preventing them from from starting their own businesses, they could devise ways to give them the boost they need to succeed.

It is worth adding that their analysis explained only 38% of the variance in the actual entrepreneurship behaviour of those surveyed. The team suggests that future studies need to investigate the mediation or moderation roles of other environmental factors to explain that variance more completely. Policies that reduce barriers to entrepreneurialism due to costs and taxes might also be looked at and the issues addressed at the governmental level to encourage new businesses where enthusiasm among young entrepreneurs is stifled by limiting financial pressures.

Mann, V., Tweneboah-Koduah, E.Y., Braimah, S.M. and Adom, K. (2023) 'Understanding entrepreneurship behaviour among the youth: a behavioural change theory perspective', Int. J. Management and Enterprise Development, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp.1–24.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMED.2023.10051374

Research in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising has investigated how online social networks can influence our choice of holiday destination. The team found that about two-thirds of people interviewed use sites such as Instagram and Facebook to help them decide on the places they would like to visit. LinkedIn had a lot less influence on such decisions, the team found. The study has implications for those working in tourism marketing and management.

Bruno Miguel Vieira, Ana Pinto Borges, and Elvira Pacheco Vieira of the ISAG – European Business School and Research Centre in Business Sciences and Tourism (CICET – FCVC), in Porto, Portugal suggest that it is beyond doubt that social networks are important hubs of information and opinion that influence our choices with regard to so many aspects of our lives including the products and services on which we choose to spend our money.

The researchers have used various approaches to examine this notion. They extend the technology acceptance model (TAM), a widely used framework for understanding how and why people adopt new technologies, and looked at perceived usefulness, perceived ease-of-use, attitude towards use, and perceived enjoyment. They also consider the effects of electronic word-of-mouth recommendations and previous influence factors and how all of those feed the decision-making process for putative tourists and their behavioural intention with regard to using social networking to help them decide on their next destination.

The answers from their survey of tourists were analysed using quantitative research methods, including confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. These tools allowed the team to test their hypotheses rigorously. The use of logistic regression helped home in on an explanation of the influence of social networking on finding information about a destination and on making the final choice to visit that place.

"Our results show that businesses need to consider this mean as one of the most cost-effective way to reach potential consumers," the team writes. "The conclusions of our study provide important inputs for decision-makers to define strategies to make the best advantages of these powerful new tools."

Vieira, B.M., Pinto Borges, A. and Pacheco Vieira, E. (2023) 'The role of social networks for decision-making about tourism destinations', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.1–27.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2023.10053065

According to the World Health Organisation, tens of thousands of tonnes of extra medical waste from the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put incredible strain on healthcare waste-management systems particularly where infrastructure was already limited in the developing nations. Plastic waste, needles, test kits, masks, and liquid waste represent a significant disposal problem but also a direct risk to individuals required to handle and process such waste in terms of potential needle stick injuries, burns from corrosive chemicals, and exposure to pathogens, including the causative agent of SARS-CoV-2.

Researchers from the University of Benin, Nigeria writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management point out that at the height of the pandemic and to this day was not being appropriately handled and contaminated materials were often seen to be overflowing from bins outside hospitals and simply accumulating untreated piles representing a health risk to staff, patients, and the general public should they come into contact with these materials.

The team of Efosa Bolaji Odigie, Osaze Blessing Airiagbonbu, Joyce Osarogie Odigie, and Adiru Afolabi Adegboye suggest that the mishandling of healthcare waste could represent a serious risk of pathogens recirculating and reinfecting. A lack of awareness, negligence, ignorance, and inept infrastructure are all to blame for the problem, the team suggests. They suggest that disinfection followed by incineration is critical to reducing the ongoing risk from healthcare materials.

In their summary, the team offers a six-point approach to dealing with medical waste to reduce the potential risks.

First, they suggest that waste generated from management of COVID-19 should be collected, handled, and disposed of aseptically before management by trained waste collectors. The materials must not be recycled. Secondly, such waste should be stored for as short a period as possible before disposal. Their third point suggests that hospital administrators must ensure waste does not enter the environment. Fourthly, that same administration must work with professional waste mangers to ensure policies are in place to monitor the management and disposal of COVID-19 generated waste.

The team's final two points address regulatory and governmental issues and they suggest that there needs to be raised awareness of the dangers and risks associated with improper healthcare waste management in this pandemic era particularly with the relevant authorities and that governments in developing and under-developed countries should urgently put into law the necessary regulations to ensure that waste disposal standards are in place and upheld.

This work should help guide us with respect to COVID-19 healthcare waste disposal but will also stand us in good stead in terms of addressing similar issues when we face subsequent pandemics.

Odigie, E.B., Airiagbonbu, O.B., Odigie, J.O. and Adegboye, A.A. (2022) 'Environmental pollution from COVID-19 generated wastes result in widespread recycling of SARS-CoV-2 infection', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp.1–13.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2022.10048096

They say an army marches on its stomach, but an army of soldier fly larvae mashes food waste into compost. New work in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management could help in the fight to mitigate the growing problem of food waste from restaurants, fast food establishments, and other eateries.

It is difficult to obtain precise figures on the generation of food waste worldwide, but it is estimated that the global food service industry generates billions of tons of food waste each year. Much of this waste is fed into landfills, where it simply contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems.

Ideally, reducing food waste across the industry would be an important step in addressing global food insecurity and reducing the environmental impact of food production. However, there will always be some food waste regardless of our best efforts to minimise waste. Some might be suitable for conversion into raw materials for biofuel production, but much of the waste could benefit from efficient processing into compost for farming and gardening.

A. Jamilah, K.A. Irfana, A.J. Nurul Ain, N.M. Nur Aimi, A.B. Noor Ezlin, and A. Mohd Reza of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Selangor have investigated the potential of larvae of the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, to break down food waste from cafeterias into useful compost for agriculture. The team carried out studies on uncooked food waste, cooked general food waste, and cooked vegetable-only food waste. They found that the larvae could convert all of the available food waste offered to them within twelve days at which point they enter the pre-pupation state and stop feeding. The raw vegetable-only waste led to the greatest growth of the larvae compared with the other two classifications of food waste. However, the team found that larval growth in these scenarios was slower and less than that seen with this species raised on chicken guano. Nevertheless, there is potential for the efficient processing of vegetable waste into compost materials by this species.

Jamilah, A., Irfana, K.A., Nurul Ain, A.J., Nur Aimi, N.M., Noor Ezlin, A.B. and Mohd Reza, A. (2022) 'Composting of food wastes by using black soldier fly larvae', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp.55–68.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2022.10037272

There are many sources of heavy metal pollutants, including vehicle exhausts, various industries, mines, thermal plants, and other combustion processes, and even volcanic activity. The presence of heavy metals in the environment represent a health risk to people and other living things. A review of approaches to biomonitoring of heavy metals, and specifically the use of plants, so-called phytomonitoring has now been published in the journal Interdisciplinary Environmental Review.

Heavy metals are defined as metallic chemical elements that have a high atomic mass and a density at least five times greater than that of water. They are generally toxic to living organisms and can have harmful effects on human health if they accumulate in the body.

The review concludes that phytomonitoring represents an economical method of monitoring and so potentially controlling hazardous airborne heavy metal emissions. It is thought that more than 90 percent of the world's population lives in a place where atmospheric pollutant levels exceed the safe limits set by the World Health Organisation.

New insights into the distribution of heavy metal pollutants are critical to the identification of sources and finding ways to reduce emissions and ameliorate their impact on the environment. Plants can not only be used in the monitoring process but because they can trap atmospheric pollutants, and perhaps pollutants that have entered the soil in which they grow, there is also the potential to use them to remove the pollutants from the environment. Contaminated plants would need to be processed to extract the heavy metals they have trapped prior to composting or other means of disposal.

"Information obtained by biomonitoring provides an invaluable resource for the government and industries to focus on regulatory and management efforts, reduce exposure and identify opportunities for making the environment clean and healthy," the team writes.

Sweta Tiwari, Ankesh Tiwari, Mohineeta Pandey, Astha Tirkey, Roshan Lal Sahu, and Sudhir Kumar Pandey of Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya (A Central University) in Chhattisgarh, and Triratnesh Gajbhiye of Government Shankar Sao Patel College Waraseoni, Balaghat, India, have looked at how heavy metal content of particulate deposits on plant surfaces is determined and used assess local air quality where the plants are growing.

Tiwari, S., Gajbhiye, T., Tiwari, A., Pandey, M., Tirkey, A., Sahu, R.L. and Pandey, S.K. (2022) 'Phytomonitoring of hazardous metals in air', Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, Vol. 22, Nos. 3/4, pp.232–256.
DOI: 10.1504/IER.2022.10050493

Research in the International Journal of Tourism Policy on sustainable ecotourism has new insights from the case of Kakum National Park and Bobiri Forest and Butterfly Sanctuary with implications for the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that run such sites.

Ecotourism and sustainable visitor attractions are moving higher up the environmental agenda as external and internal pressures on regions increases. Understanding the needs of different groups, or stakeholders, with a vested interest in tourism, and ensuring sustainability of their activities, is key to moving forward in this area without compromising targets on emissions, recycling, and other efforts.

The work, carried out by Fatima Eshun of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development in PMB Somanya, Eastern Region, Ghana, focuses on the position of NGOs as research in this area has so far been lacking. Given that many such sites are generally run by government organisations in the developing world, this is perhaps not surprising.

Sustainable ecotourism is important to the developing world. Fundamentally, it will provide economic benefits to the local communities supporting the visitor attraction in question, create employment opportunities, and generate income for local residents, such income could come direct from activities such as guiding, transport, and accommodation, but also indirectly from the owners and employers of a particular visitor attraction.

Looking to a sustainable future also means the conservation of natural and cultural resources become a priority and promoting an understanding and appreciation of those natural and cultural resources will feed into their wider appreciation among tourists and visitors and perhaps even the local communities themselves. This can underpin wider development goals in a region and contribute to poverty reduction and social inclusion.

Eshun's study has its own specific implications for sustainable ecotourism. She recommends that the public sector enact policies, strategies, and frameworks to drive institutions to empower residents to ensure ecotourism sustainability. By contributing to ecotourism knowledge her study has practical policy implications for the empowerment of residents towards sustainable ecotourism.

There will be many individuals and other organizations that could benefit from Eshun's findings. For example, other researchers and academics in Eshun's field as well as tourism, sustainability, and environmental studies.

It could be that ecotourism eschews the mass tourism of previous generations of holidaymakers so that the focus is on small-scale, low-impact tourism, wherein the negative impacts of overcrowding and any resulting environmental degradation are minimised. Indeed, its aim should be not simply to reduce the detrimental effects of tourism, but if it is to be truly sustainable it should improve conservation.

Eshun, F. (2022) 'Roles of institutions in empowering residents towards sustainable ecotourism in Ghana: insights from Kakum National Park and Bobiri Forest and Butterfly Sanctuary', Int. J. Tourism Policy, Vol.12 No.4, pp.357 – 371.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTP.2022.10053171

Research in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, discusses the potential of bagging and boosting of machine learning classifiers for the accurate detection of email spam. Bagging and boosting are two popular methods used to improve the performance of machine learning classifiers. They are used to improve the output from machine learning algorithms, such as decision trees, logistic regression tools, and support vector machines.

Bagging, or bootstrap aggregating, is a technique used to reduce variance of results given by a machine learning model. The approach works by training several models independently on different random subsets of the training data. The predictions from those models are then averaged, this effectively smooths out the different mistakes made by each individual model so that the overall degree of error in the final output is lower than it would be for any single model.

Boosting, on the other hand, involves training a series of models one after the other so that each model can attempt to correct the mistakes made by the previous model in the sequence. Ultimately, the predictions of these models are then combined so that once again the overall error of the holistic model is lower than any one model within the approach. The boosting happens when the algorithms give more weight to examples in the training set that were misclassified by previous models.

Uma Bhardwaj and Priti Sharma of the Department of Computer Science and Applications at Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak, Haryana, India, have used both bagging and boosting to demonstrate how email spam might be more effectively detected to improve the lot of users. Their approach detects email spam by first "bagging" the machine learning-based multinomial Naïve Bayes (MNB) and J48 decision tree classifiers and then "boosting" the weak classifiers using the Adaboost algorithm to make them strong.

The team did experiments to compare their approach to results obtained by using individual classifiers, the bagging approach alone, and the boosting approach by itself. They were able to demonstrate an evaluation accuracy of 98.79% with a precision of 100% and a recall of 92.78%. The researchers explain that this indicates that the boosting concept has classified all the legitimate emails as true values and spam emails also have a lesser error rate of 7.22%.

In terms of future development, bagging and boosting might also be used to detect fake news, reveal suspicious activity on social media, and spot unsubstantiated rumours.

Bhardwaj, U. and Sharma, P. (2023) 'Email spam detection using bagging and boosting of machine learning classifiers', I Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 24, Nos. 1/2, pp.229–253.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAIP.2023.10052961

The concept of socio-cultural integration refers to the processes through which individuals from different cultural backgrounds come to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance within a new society having migrated from their homeland to somewhere new. Such integration might involve learning the language and customs of that new society, participating in social and community activities, and developing relationships with the members of that society.

There is perhaps a suggestion that individuals who become more integrated tend to have better mental health, higher levels of social support, and a greater sense of belonging and purpose in their new community. Research in the International Journal of Happiness and Development has investigated whether or not this is true in the European context with regard to new migrants and the natives.

Eleftherios Giovanis of the Nazilli Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences at Adnan Menderes University in Cumhuriyet and Sacit Hadi Akdede of Izmir Bakircay University in Izmir, Turkey, first looked at the degree of integration between first-generation and second-generation immigrants and the natives and then how this affected well-being. The study was based on an analysis of panel data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe across the period 2004–2017 for 29 countries. The team used seemingly unrelated regressions (SURE) to explore whether there is in fact a relationship between socio-cultural integration and well-being.

The researchers found that first-generation immigrants represented in the data were less likely to participate in the socio-cultural activities that might lead to greater integration. However, they add that those who did engage in such activities, commonly participated more frequently than the natives. In addition, the team found that even though immigrants tended to report lower levels of subjective well-being, this is in fact greatly enhanced through socio-cultural integration.

This beggars the question as to whether proactive immigrants see the value of socio-cultural integration and so are motivated to participate in such activities that can help them feel more connected with their new community. Of course, this might come at a price for some individuals in terms of losing their own social and cultural identity but there are ways in which the pros and cons of integration might be more equitably balanced.

It is worth adding that while socio-cultural integration does seem to have a positive impact on well-being, it is not likely to be the sole factor that can affect the well-being of immigrants. Economic status and opportunities as well as access to healthcare and education will also affect well-being. There is also the question of discrimination to be taken into account with regard to socio-cultural integration and how this affects an individual's overall well-being. Indeed, there is evidence from other sources that discrimination might push those who might benefit away from activities that lead to greater integration.

Giovanis, E. and Akdede, S.H. (2022) 'Well-being of old natives and immigrants in Europe: does the socio-cultural integration matter?', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.291–330.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2022.10053068

There are many factors that can contribute to the success of an entrepreneur and their enterprises. Most commonly, one might cite passion and drive as these are what helps turn ideas into reality. Entrepreneurs also need to be adaptable, not averse to taking risks, persistent, and creative. All such factors allow them to respond to changing market conditions, to innovate, and to make tough decisions in a timely manner.

An entrepreneur must also have leadership and communication skills to allow them to direct a team to achieve a common goal and encourage financial backing and other kinds of support as needed from third parties. Often a strong work ethic is critical to entrepreneurial success, An entrepreneur that is not willing to put in the hard work and the long hours will rarely build a successful business.

Writing in the Journal for Global Business Advancement, a team from Thailand has looked deeper into what makes for a successful entrepreneur, specifically in Northeast Thailand. The team analysed interviews with 350 successful entrepreneurs from the region using Atlas.ti software, frequency-weighted average scores (FWA), the Pareto method, and Venn diagrams. This allowed them to determine five important categories of characteristics that pointed to success.

Some of the characteristics that emerged were closely related to or overlapped with those mentioned above, including "striving/diligence/energy", which one might suggest connects passion, drive, and work ethic. The joy of developing the business was also perhaps linked to drive and passion, but also hints at perception of reward and personal mental well-being in becoming successful. Another characteristic revealed by the study is "integrity". In many ways, integrity must overlap with the more obvious personal traits, without integrity the entrepreneur could be said to be faking it and regardless of the maxim "fake it till you make it", that's rarely a tasty recipe for success.

The team found that differences regarding gender, age, level of education, type of business, and length of time in business also all affected the characteristics associated with success.

The bottom line for business students hoping to follow in the footsteps of the successful entrepreneurs discussed in this research is that honesty, hard work, and a love of what you're doing are the key ingredients that must be baked into the psyche of the budding entrepreneur.

Rangkoon, A., Wongsurawat, W. and Igel, B. (2022) 'The traits of success according to those who made it: a survey of successful entrepreneurs in northeastern Thailand', J. Global Business Advancement, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.196–225.
DOI: 10.1504/JGBA.2022.127993

The main drive towards electric vehicles comes from the environmental urgency of eradicating our dependence on fossil fuels, reducing local pollution levels, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by turning to sustainable and renewable power. However, there are some perceived obstacles on the road that are putting the brakes on the transition for many drivers. One of those is the range that a vehicle can achieve on a single charge. This is especially critical for long-distance journeys through places with limited fast-charging infrastructure.

Research in the International Journal of Vehicle Performance discusses a novel approach to determining the range of an electric vehicle under real driving conditions. Carlos Armenta-Déu of the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, and Erwan Cattin of the Université Clermont Auvergne in Aubière, France, suggest that their approach has the potential to give drivers of electric vehicles the most accurate prediction of range. In their simulations, road characteristics and five different driving modes are assessed.

The team explains that their software, in taking into account all relevant parameters, driving conditions, road characteristics, and driver style (braking and acceleration) allows them to give the driver that vital piece of information when they are out on the road – how far they can go before needing a battery recharge. At the end of the driving day, the system also tells the driver how much charge is needed in their battery and indicates the putative range for the next day's driving.

The approach, the researchers say, is more accurate than other methods for range prediction and can work for disparate driving conditions and driving style as well as the degree of "aging" in the vehicle's battery.

Armenta-Déu and Cattin explain that although driving range has been improved in the last few years, it continues to be the most important challenge researchers and the industry have to face to make electric vehicles competitive. When considering the range of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, electric vehicles often fall short, especially in inter-urban driving, the team adds. Understanding the performance and how it changes with conditions so that drivers have a clearer view of the road ahead will help bump start the skeptics in the transition period while electric charging infrastructure is being topped up.

Armenta-Déu, C. and Cattin, E. (2023) 'A new method to determine electric vehicle range in real driving conditions', Int. J. Vehicle Performance, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.91–107.
DOI: 10.1504/IJVP.2023.128067