2019 Research news

The automated labelling and severity prediction of bug reports for computer software is the target of researchers at The Hashemite University in Zarqa, Jordan. Details of their efforts are mapped out in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering. Ultimately, they are developing an intelligent classifier that can predict whether a newly submitted bug report is of sufficient concern in the bug-tracking system to warrant urgent investigation and remediation.

To develop their system, the team build two datasets using 350 bug reports from the open-source community – Eclipse, Mozilla, and Gnome – reported in the monstrous, well-known, and aptly named database, Bugzilla. The datasets with have characteristic textual features, based on 51 important terms, the team explains and so based on this information, they could train various discriminative models to carry out automated labelling and severity prediction of any subsequent bug report submitted. They used a boosting algorithm to improve performance.

"For automated labelling, the accuracy reaches around 91% with the AdaBoost algorithm and cross-validation test," the team reports. However, they only saw a severity prediction classification of some 67% with the AdaBoost algorithm and the cross-validation test. Nevertheless, the team says their results are encouraging and offers hope of removing the bottleneck that is the manual assessment of bug reports used until now.

"The proposed feature sets have proved a good classification performance on two 'hard' problems," the team reports. "The results are encouraging and, in the future, we plan to work more on enhancing the classification algorithms component for better performance," the researchers conclude.

Otoom, A.F., Al-Shdaifat, D., Hammad, M., Abdallah, E.E. and Aljammal, A. (2019) 'Automated labelling and severity prediction of software bug reports', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp.334-342.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2019.10022718

Business incubators can provide the requisite infrastructure, mentoring, and nurturing environment to allow startup companies to grow and thrive. At least that is the theory. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a team from India has investigated whether this is indeed the case.

Monika Dhochak of the Goa Institute of Management and Satya Ranjan Acharya and S.B. Sareen of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India in Ahmedabad, have looked at 29 such business incubators created under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) model.

"In today's competitive business world, business reinvention model based on disruptive innovation and technology has become the new source of sustainable competitive advantage," the team writes. "India being a developing and competitive economy aspires to realise the sustainable development through innovative startups," they add.

The team points out that business incubators offer four clear benefits to startups: First, they provide access to debt and equity capital to launch and sustain growth. Secondly, they allow links to be formed with investors through contacts. Thirdly, they create in-house equity and debt funds to seed a deal and to fill financing gaps. Finally, an incubator can create relationships with other entities and service providers that might otherwise be inaccessible.

In the context of the Indian incubators, there are limitations, such as inadequate computing facilities and a lack of mentoring in some areas. These issues could be overcome now that they are known, the team suggests. Virtual incubation and soft services might also be worth investigating further. "Offering such support could contribute significantly to the sustenance and growth graduated companies on one hand and offer a new revenue stream to the incubator on the other hand," the team concludes.

Dhochak, M., Acharya, S.R. and Sareen, S.B. (2019) 'Assessing the effectiveness of business incubators', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp.177–194.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2019.10022108

Windpower has been with us for millennia. Our ancestors used it to power vessels to sail the River Nile around 3400 BCE and the seven seas ever since. Now. A modern tack sees US scientists developing a "wingsail" to assist with the propulsion of an otherwise diesel-powered vessel that might be used as a ferry. They outline their plans in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management.

Timothy Lipman and Jeffrey Lidicker of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, explain how a carbon-fibre, computer-controlled wingsail could be mounted on a 14-metre trimaran test vessel, which was then sailed through San Francisco Bay over a three-month test period.

The project demonstrated that for the test vessel sailing at seven knots on a given ferry route, wind of between 10 and 20 knots was sufficient to save between 25 and 40% of the fuel that would otherwise be burned running the vessel's engines; also assuming no seriously adverse effects of currents. This the team says not only makes sense economically but also could be useful in reducing carbon emissions and pollution from such vessels. The real-world benefits might be somewhat different given that the Bay ferryboat services operate at 17 or more knots, but the proof of concept is encouraging and could provide the basis for further investigations and optimisation of the system for ferries.

Lipman, T.E. and Lidicker, J. (2019) 'Wind-assist marine demonstration for ferries: prospects for saving diesel fuel with wind power', Int. J. Environmental Technology and Management, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp.68–83.
DOI: 10.1504/IJETM.2019.10022837

Sepsis is a major risk factor for patient death among those in intensive care not suffering from heart problems. In fact, it is the eleventh cause of death overall in the USA. It arises when infection causes a breakdown in the immune system leading to a major inflammatory response. Research published in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics suggests that infrared thermography could be used for the early detection of sepsis. Early detection is key to treating this condition and reducing the sepsis mortality rate.

Hasanain Al-Sadr, Mihail Popescu, and James Keller of the University of Missouri Columbia, USA, explain that abnormal patterns of body temperature can reveal the earliest stages of sepsis. "We suggest using thermography as a non-invasive tool capable of continuously measuring body temperature patterns and detecting abnormalities," the team writes. The add that of the odd patterns is temperature difference between body extremities and the patient's core temperature.

The team has now developed an automatic system that can calculate core versus extremity temperature differences based on a frontal and lateral infrared thermogram of the face. The measurements are determined for the inner and outer ear and tracking the tip of the nose by monitoring the position of the inner corner of a patient's eyes in the images. The statistical methods the researchers used can work successfully to detect sepsis almost irrespective of the angle of the head relative to the imager and if there are different backgrounds. The system works well in real-time, the team reports.

Al-Sadr, H., Popescu, M. and Keller, J.M. (2019) 'Early sepsis recognition based on infrared thermography', Int. J. Data Mining and Bioinformatics, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp.301-327.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDMB.2019.101389

A high degree of uncertainty surrounds the issue of the prion disease risk associated with fertility drugs derived from urine, gonadotropins. Writing in the International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, a team from Canada hopes to address this issue. At the time of writing, the transmission of prion disease via this route is entirely theoretical as there have been no reported cases of incidence.

Neil Cashman of the Department of Neurology at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues at the University of Ottawa, Health Canada, the University of British Columbia, and at Bristol University in the UK, write that the international panel of experts ultimately concludes that the risk is very low although the use of bovine serum instead of urine lowers this small risk by 1200 times.

The team points out that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a human neurodegenerative disorder that is currently incurable and invariably fatal. CJD is a prion disease transmitted by errant proteins and is closely related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease), scrapie in sheep, and a range of other diseases that affect the mammalian brain and all of which have a specific prion associated with their development. Fundamentally, prion diseases are thought to be caused by the misfolding of an otherwise benign and ubiquitous protein in cells into a distinct pathological form that essentially self-replicates by inducing the benign form to transform into the pathological conformation.

The team concludes that "While a formal assessment of the likelihood of prion disease transmission through the use of urine-derived fertility drugs is impossible due to a current lack of relevant scientific data." Nevertheless, now that the theoretical possibility of prion transmission has been raised in this context, scientists and healthcare workers in the area of fertility treatment must be vigilant for any cases that might arise.

Cashman, N.R., Tyshenko, M.G., Cheung, R., Aspinall, W., Wong, M. and Krewski, D. (2019) 'Prion disease risk uncertainties associated with urine-derived and recombinant fertility drugs', Int. J. Risk Assessment and Management, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.109–127.
DOI: 10.1504/IJRAM.2019.101292

Spyros Papathanasiou and Dimitrios Balios of the Department of Economics at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, working with Nikolaos Papamatthaiou of EPAS OAED in Lamia, anticipate that Bitcoin will ultimately be used in everyday life. At present, there are subtleties that may be obvious to experts but entirely overlooked by the public. Their survey of experts and laypeople suggest that the public sees Bitcoin as mainly a means to carry out secure transactions and payments. This is in marked contrast to expert opinion where Bitcoin is seen primarily as an investment vehicle.

Digital currencies began to have a serious impact on world economies as the US financial crisis of 2007 deepened and spread to the rest of the world resulting in serious recession, bankruptcies, and bailouts the following year and through the following decade. Indeed, a public increasingly disgruntled with political measures to remedy the recession, such as austere budgets, and the multi-billion bailouts of financial institutions might also be to blame for the rise of populism in politics. Regardless, the reliance on anonymous, decentralized monetary systems coincides with this need to increasingly protect oneself and one's assets and resources even at the expense of others makes a cryptic currency an obvious, to the experts, way forward for investing. It is essentially off-limits to prying governmental or commercial eyes and also beyond the reach of conventional tax authorities.

Cryptocurrencies represented a negligible fraction of global wealth for a period after their invention, their net value is now perhaps several hundred billion dollars, if not more. The researchers describe the most well-known of these cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, as offering "the promise of a better financial system with anonymous transactions that are free from banks and government intervention." They add that "Bitcoin may be the greatest change to the current economic environment in relation to our perception about money, investments, means of transactions and payments."

Papathanasiou, S., Papamatthaiou, N. and Balios, D.P. (2019) 'Bitcoin as an alternative digital currency: exploring the publics' perception vs. experts', Int. J. Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.146–171.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFERM.2019.101296

Malware, malicious software, is on the rise, whether in the form of Trojans, worms, and viruses, bot-net systems, denial of service tools, and hacking programs. Antivirus, firewall, and intrusion detection systems are all essential components of the protections a systems operator might put in place on their users' computers and the network they operate. Unfortunately, these are passive rather than active protections and so there are limitations to how well they can protect digital resources especially given the dynamic and evolving nature of attacks on seemingly robust systems.

Writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking, researchers in China offer a somewhat novel paradigm – an evolving protection system that mimics the dynamics between predator and prey in the natural world.

Leyi Shi, Yuwen Cui, Xu Han, Honglong Chen, and Deli Liu of the China University of Petroleum (East China) in Qingdao, present a novel concept of a mimicry honeypot. This, they suggest, can bewilder adversaries (hackers and malware exploits) by evolving protective systems as network circumstances change when under attack. The team says that in tests their mimicry honeypot performs better than a conventional decoy system that might be in place on a network to attract and so distract malware and hackers away from the actual target. Fundamentally, the evolving honeypot adapts and so is never revealed as a honeypot, or honey-trap, to the attackers.

Shi, L., Cui, Y., Han, X., Chen, H. and Liu, D. (2019) 'Mimicry honeypot: an evolutionary decoy system', Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.157–164.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHPCN.2019.10022735

Machine learning techniques can be used to search for new drugs for one of the most insidious causes of stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems, the bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori.

Ulcers are like open sores in the wall lining the stomach into which stomach acid can eat. These so-called peptic ulcers can be very painful and are a major risk factor for stomach cancer. In the late 1980s, Australian scientists demonstrated that the corkscrew-shaped H. pylori. This was the subject of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine as it overturned decades of received wisdom regarding the nature of ulcers. It suggested that a multi-billion dollar drug industry based on acid inhibitors and other such agents was no longer needed as a course of antibiotics might suffice. This later proved to be the case in treating ulcers caused by H. pylori.

Unfortunately, bacteria quickly evolve resistance to antibiotics, so there is always a need to find new ones that can keep us one step ahead of the infectious pathogens. Now, work published in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications, points the way to a new approach to finding antibiotics to treat conditions associated with H. pylori infection.

The approach taken by Surekha Patil and Shivakumar Madagi of the Department of Bioinformatics at Karnataka State Women's University, Jnanashakti Campus in Karnataka, India, could truncate the drug discovery pipeline significantly in this area of medicinal chemistry. The researchers discuss which algorithms work best to screen a database of small molecules against the target proteins associated with the bacterium. Specifically, the enzyme peptide deformylase is the focus of the work. As candidates emerge from the computer, those that have the most promise can be screened in the laboratory against the target, before further testing against H. pylori in laboratory animals and then humans.

Patil, S. and Madagi, S.B. (2019) 'Application of machine learning techniques towards classification of drug molecules specific to peptide deformylase against Helicobacter pylori', Int. J. Bioinformatics Research and Applications, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.221–242.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBRA.2019.10022509

Researchers in India have taken a computational approach to investigate a protein that could become a novel target for new drugs to prostate cancer therapy. Uzma Khanam, Puniti Mathur, and Bhawna Rathi of Amity University and Balwant Kishan Malik of Sharda University, explain how the target, a protein known as caveolin-1, acts as a scaffold within certain types of cell membranes. The protein interacts with proteins involved in cell signalling and can regulate their activity.

Importantly, it was already known that caveolin-1 levels are elevated in the blood serum of men with prostate cancer. Indeed, this protein is secreted to promote blood vessel growth, angiogenesis, as well as cell proliferation. It also blocks the natural programmed cell death, apoptosis, which allows tumours to grow unfettered.

The team has used a computerized model of the protein to allow them to see how small molecules, putative pharmaceuticals, might fit into pockets in the protein, how they might "dock" with the protein, in other words. This kind of computer simulation of docking behaviour has wrought many novel drugs for a wide range of diseases in the past.

The team explains how they used molecular docking, structural base molecular modelling and molecular dynamics simulations to search for compounds that would inhibit the protein. They used a predictive model to screen against a large database of compounds. Their study has gleaned several potential lead compounds that dock with the active site of the protein. Blocking the protein might block its activity and prevent blood vessel growth and cell proliferation in a tumour within the prostate gland. The team suggests that the biochemical characteristics of these compounds with the protein should now be the focus of laboratory work in the search for new drugs to treat prostate cancer.

Khanam, U., Malik, B.K., Mathur, P. and Rathi, B. (2019) 'Human caveolin-1 a potent inhibitor for prostate cancer therapy: a computational approach', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.203-218.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2019.10022528

The concept of "cool" is an ephemeral one. Coolness might be defined as an aesthetic of attitude, behaviour, comportment, appearance, and style, but to define it as such might not in itself be seen as cool. Instead, it is conceived as a cultural term, largely of the youth vernacular to suggest something or someone is worthy of admiration. One esoteric popular culture icon, app, meme, or celebrity, might be perceived as cool while to those in the know, another is seen as uncool.

Nowhere is the concept more simultaneously important and insignificant than in youth culture where fashions, trends, fame, and even fortune can wax and wane in the wake of cool.

Research published in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, discusses the concept of cool and compares and contrasts what is seen as cool among Indian youth and their counterparts in the notional "West". Ekta Duggal and Harsh Verma of the University of Delhi, point out that sociological research has focused on Western cool but there is scant data on Indian cool. They hope to redress this balance to some extent.

Their analysis produces a quite overwhelming conclusion: That while Western cool seems among young people seems to be about counter-culture and rebellious characteristics as well as unbridled hedonism, and commercial consumption, Indian youth do not perceive such characteristics as cool. Quite the opposite, it is usually seen as cool among Indian youth to be seen to be sensitive to the environment and people. Although these too are increasingly considered cool among some sectors of youth even in the West.

The team suggests that marketers and businesses in India are at risk of failure if they conflate western and Indian cool by assuming that the values are the same.

Duggal, E. and Verma, H.V. (2019) 'Indian cool: concept and contrast with western cool', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp.67-80.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICBM.2019.10019469

Diesel engines are widely used in transport the world over. Regulatory and legal efforts are afoot to reduce their use in some countries because of concerns about pollution. However, they are likely to remain a mainstay of heavy goods transport for many years to come because their efficiency and power general outstrip petrol engines and electric vehicles in some contexts.

Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, researchers from Turkey are investigating how the efficiency of diesel engines might be boosted by simple changes to the way the engines operate. Kubilay Bayramoglu, Semih Yilmaz, and Kerim Deniz Kaya of Dokuz Eylul University, Tinaztepe Campus, in Izmir, have carried out a numerical investigation of valve lifts effects on performance and emissions in diesel engines. Their work is carried out in the context of transport being the source of approximately one-third of the carbon emissions the world over and as such plays an important part in global warming and thus climate change.

The team has specifically examined the effect of changing intake valve lift distances on combustion characteristics and so efficiency and emissions, in a four-stroke single-cylinder diesel engine. The team's analysis of the data with the commercially available ANSYS-Forte software, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for combustion system analysis and ANSYS-Chemkin for reaction kinetics of combustion, showed the changes in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions as well as so-called NOx emissions (nitrogen monoxide and dioxide) and how crank angle changes these.

The analyses showed that gross indicated power, indicated main effective pressure, and combustion efficiency all increase when valve lift is extended, the team reports.

Bayramoglu, K., Yilmaz, S. and Kaya, K.D. (2019) 'Numerical investigation of valve lifts effects on performance and emissions in diesel engine', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 18, Nos. 3/4, pp.287-303.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2019.101088

Much of the public is "on-side" when it comes to sort and recycling their rubbish, but what about the more fundamental concept of "waste prevention". Despite thirty years of efforts, the message has got through about sorting and recycling but not concerning reducing the amount of waste the public generates. Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Development, Mickaël Dupré of IAE de Brest at the University of Occidental Brittany in France discusses how this situation might be remedied.

In his paper, he explores the social representation of waste prevention in order to identify how people think about this idea. If we can work out what people think of waste prevention it might be possible to find ways for citizens to deal with it. His findings suggest that waste prevention is largely understood as waste sorting. As such, he goes on to formulate some guidelines for the public that steps back from waste sorting and addresses the issue of how they can reduce waste generation in the first place.

"Creating a shared societal vision of waste prevention, therefore, appears as a sensible path to reduce waste. This could come under culture management, confirming the role of culture as a pillar of sustainable development, Dupré concludes.

Dupré, M. (2018) 'Waste prevention: a misunderstood concept', Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2/3/4, pp.150-169.
DOI: 10.1504/https://dx.doi.org/10.1504/IJSD.2019.10022565

It is known that much terrorist activity utilizes the power and immediacy of online social media and social networking tools to coordinate its attacks, rally support and spread the various agendas of the different groups and networks. Writing in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing, a team from China explains how we might turn the tables on the terrorists and use those tools to analyse terrorist activity and so make predictions about future scenarios and so have the weapons to thwart them in their malevolent endeavours.

Xuan Guo, Fei Xu, Zhiting Xiao, and Hongguo Yuan of the National University of Defense Technology, Wuhan and colleague Xiaoyuan Yang of the Engineering University of PAP, in Xi'an, have demonstrated how they can look at two kinds of different intelligence sources in China and apply social network analysis and mathematical statistics to understand the information. First, they used the social network analysis tool to construct an activity meta-network for the text information. This allowed them to extract four categories of information: person, places, organisations and time. They could then decompose the intelligence into person-organisation and person-location, organisation-location, organization-time. They then applied statistical methods to this extracted data for the years 1989 to 2015.

The team says that the use of big data can help in combating terrorism whether that emerges from networks and cells within a terrorist organization or even the so-called "lone wolf" attack. We will never eradicate terrorism, but if more attacks can be thwarted through such analysis and the development of predictive tools, then its toll on lives and society as a whole might be reduced.

Guo, X., Xu, F., Xiao, Z., Yuan, H. and Yang, X. (2019) 'Winning the war on terror: using social networking tools and GTD to analyse the regularity of terrorism activities', Int. J. Grid and Utility Computing, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.422-437.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGUC.2019.10022137

Individuals, corporations, organizations, and even governments now utilize cloud storage for their data. It provides a readily accessible, often distributed, remote, and robust way to stockpile digital resources without having to invest directly in the requisite and often vulnerable hardware nor to find the facilities to house that hardware. Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, a team from China is developing an improved public auditing protocol for cloud storage integrity checking. This would allow data integrity to be checked on cloud servers in order to ensure no data is lost.

Jindan Zhang and Baocang Wang of the State Key Laboratory of Integrated Service Networks at Xidian University, have shown that it is possible to carry out a software attack on the earlier auditing protocols that makes those approaches wholly vulnerable to malicious third parties. Having thus demonstrated the pitfalls of earlier technology, the team has now developed a much stronger and far less vulnerable protocol.

Given how cloud data storage now underpins much of government and business as well as providing ease of backup and accessibility for millions of individuals as well as websites and other systems, it is critical that public auditing become transparent and viable as well as mostly invulnerable to hackers and other malicious third parties.

Zhang, J. and Wang, B. (2019) 'An improved public auditing protocol for cloud storage integrity checking', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.282–303.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2019.10022424

In the era of so-called "Fake News" can good old-fashioned journalistic fact-checking be automated in order to reduce its detrimental impact on society, politics, and civilization in general? Writing in the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence, a team from Senegal, hope to answer that question. It is worth pointing out that propaganda and misinformation have always existed and have been exploited to pursue a political or other agenda since humanity first communicated.

However, the advent of the internet and social media, in particular, meant that misinformation can spread very rapidly and reach far more people across the globe in a matter of seconds. This is very different to the rate of misinformation spread that occurred up to the digital age. Even the invention of the radio, cinema, and television did not have quite the far-reaching impact of the incredibly familiar and ubiquitous information sources hundreds of millions of people rely on every day now – Google, Facebook, and Twitter, for example.

In recent years, politicians, companies, activists, and terrorist groups have exploited this facile means of spreading propaganda, misinformation, and fake news. Now, the pressure must be exerted that we might reduce the deleterious effects it has on society. Edouard Ngor Sarr of the University of Thies and colleagues there and in the Department of Computer Sciences, Supdeco Dakar have reviewed the state-of-the-art in approaches that might help automate fact-checking in data journalism. They conclude that automated methods can be very powerful but there will always remain a need for human intervention to assess the bottom line and decide whether something is fake or fact in the context of the data journalistic web.

Sarr, E.N., Sall, O., Maiga, A. and Diallo, M.S. (2019) 'Towards an automation of the fact-checking in the journalistic web context', Int. J. Big Data Intelligence, Vol. 6, Nos. 3/4, pp.307-321.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBDI.2019.10021741

A laboratory study published in the International Journal of Environment and Health looks at the effects of flavoured mineral water drinks and sugar substitutes on the exogenic erosion of tooth enamel. Given that many more people drink flavoured sugar solutions today than ever before, there is the likelihood of an emerging dental crisis. However, the switch to sugar substitutes might not be the answer to this problem, the researchers suggest.

Anna Lewandowska and Marzena Joanna Kuras of the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland investigated several drinks available in Poland. They considered pH, titratable acidity and the concentration of phosphorus in the various flavoured mineral waters on the market. They also used solutions of xylitol, erythritol, stevia, and glucose-fructose to see what effect such sweeteners have on exogenous erosion of tooth enamel in the laboratory, with a view to understanding how that might affect dental health in the outside world.

Both flavoured mineral water and sweeteners tested in this study cause exogenous erosion of enamel according to the results of phosphorus released from hydroxyapatite," the team explains. It is worrying that they discovered that "The erosive potential of the tested sugar substitutes concerned as beneficial for our health was similar to the glucose-fructose syrup."

The team adds that "replacing glucose-fructose syrup with another sweetener has no beneficial effect on the exogenous erosion," Indeed, "Any type of sweetener enhances the exogenous erosion potential of the solution [because of the drink's] low pH.

Lewandowska, A. and Kuras, M.J. (2019) 'The impact of flavoured mineral water drinks and sugar substitutes available on the Polish market on exogenic erosion of teeth enamel – in vitro study: preliminary results', Int. J. Environment and Health, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.213-223.
DOI: 10.1504/IJENVH.2019.100573

Online social media analytics is a powerful tool to boost e-commerce, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics. Ogunmola Gabriel Ayodeji and Vikas Kumar of the School of Business Studies, at Sharda University, in Greater Noida, India, explain how social media apps and websites are almost ubiquitous in the lives of many people around the world now. There are more active members of some of these services than there are people in even the most populace of nations.

Businesses can instantaneously share information with their customers and clients. But, the greatest benefits to the commercial world can only come if those businesses are fully aware of how their social media presence sits within the wider context and how their customers and future customers are affected and interact with the online presence of that business.

The team explains how there are different phases of the social media analytics process and that this has to become integrated with the companies' online retail strategy. The paper discusses the challenges and the opportunities.

"SMA metrics for customer life-cycle (acquisition to enhancement) are discussed, the team writes. They then make a comparative analysis of different analytical tools to identify which can be used to the best advantage in the online retail environment. The team points out that the tools are still in their infancy, whether free or paid and proprietary. They must be developed further to allow the approach to online retail to mature.

Ayodeji, O.G. and Kumar, V. (2019) 'Social media analytics: a tool for the success of online retail industry', Int. J. Services Operations and Informatics, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.79-95.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSOI.2019.100630

Chemists and materials scientists have been worried about the elements for many years. Some precious metals are, by virtue of their very nature, hard to come by. They are found in remote reserves and often in places with interesting politics that might preclude access to those resources for some companies. Other non-metal elements, such as helium are also dwindling. Ultimately, we may run out of some elements on which we rely for modern electronics and computing systems and the cooling for the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging MRI) machines, in the case of helium. Another element around which the alarm bells are ringing is the critically important phosphorus which is essential for agriculture.

Writing in the International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, a team from Germany asks the important question: Is phosphorus really a scarce resource?

They explain that this is a QTWAIN – a question to which the answer is no – phosphorus abundant. However, the extraction of more than 90 percent of the supply is not feasible with current technology and economic and political limitations. In 2007/2008 there was a price spike in this commodity that triggered a debate around the notion of "peak P" just as we have had with "peak oil". The team argues that the peak P crisis was one of economics and politics rather than an actual scarcity of the element, or more specifically, the mineral from which it might be extracted to be used in agricultural fertilizer manufacture.

The team adds that better recycling and management practices are already in hand to sustain phosphorus so that for the foreseeable future there is no need to consider peak P or any other claims as a crisis. Indeed, recycling phosphorus could actually become more economically viable than acquiring and processing virgin resources.

Köhn, J., Zimmer, D. and Leinweber, P. (2018) 'Is phosphorus really a scarce resource?', Int. J. Environmental Technology and Management, Vol. 21, Nos. 5/6, pp.373-395.
DOI: 10.1504/IJETM.2018.100584

Geothermal energy can be used to sustainably keep a house cool in notoriously hot parts of the world, thanks to the design of a new cooling system by researchers in Italy and Turkey. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, the team explains how their vapour absorption chiller (VAC) was designed to meet the cooling demands of a 140 square metre, detached family home in Izmir, Turkey.

Hot geothermal fluid from deep beneath the house is transported to the VAC in which water and ammonia are used as an absorbent and a refrigerant, respectively. The system runs at temperatures of 30, 90, and 2 degrees Celsius at the condenser, boiler, and evaporator. The system runs at an equivalent of about 4.5 kilowatts based on cooling load calculations.

Under optimal conditions, the team estimates that costs would be offset by electricity saved running a conventional air-conditioning unit within six and a half years. This takes into account an up-front estimated cost of US$3500. Moreover, the use of sustainable energy to drive the system means a greatly reduced carbon footprint.

It is critical as we face rising global average temperatures and sharply rising local temperatures because of anthropogenic climate change, that we find alternative, sustainable ways to keep people cool in their homes without simply burning more fossil fuels to generate electricity to do so.

Ozcan, B., Aykurt, I.E., Akpak, M., Tacer, T., Yildirim, N., Hepbasli, A. and Ozcan, H.G. (2019) 'Thermodynamic analysis and assessment of a geothermal cooling system for a house', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 29, Nos. 2/3/4, pp.350-369.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEX.2019.100370

Remote or computer-controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as "drones" could revolutionize the way in which emergency medical supplies, such as bags of blood plasma, are delivered to areas hit by disaster, accidents or other life-threatening situations. Of course, drones are costly and require skilled operators. Writing in the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management, a team from the USA has undertaken a cost analysis of using drones for this purpose.

The team hoped to show that the delivery of emergency supplies using drones is economically viable in the context of road-traffic accidents. By looking at a range of scenarios where drones might be used the team's cost analysis supports their hopes, especially as the timely use of drones rather than ground vehicles could ultimately be a matter of life and death. Their particular focus could readily be generalized to other emergency situations given adequate additional data and the construction of appropriate scenarios for other types of emergency.

The team's analysis focused on two locations in Florida, one near Tampa, the other near Orlando. Both areas have at least one fatality every week due to a road traffic accident and so an improvement in the medical response in those areas could have a significant impact on total lives lost each year in the state. Of course, a road traffic accident will inevitably increase the level of congestion on already congested road networks and make it more difficult for paramedics and ambulances to reach the accident quickly. The use of drones could allow equipment and supplies to get to a site where paramedics may well have arrived on a motorbike, for instance.

Poudel, S.R., Chowdhury, S., Marufuzzaman, M., Bian, L., Mudbari, M. and Pradhan, G. (2019) 'Drone transportation cost analysis for emergency medical products', Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.251-282.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBCRM.2019.100416

Untreated glaucoma is a major cause of sight loss. There are several forms and they are all essentially caused by damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure within the eye. A collaboration between scientists in Algeria and Belgium has led to a new "intelligent system" for glaucoma detection that promises to help diagnose the condition sooner rather than later and allow patients to be treated in a timely manner and their sight saved.

Mohammed El Amine Lazouni and Amel Feroui of the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, at Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen University in Tlemcen, Algeria and Saïd Mahmoudi of the Computer Science Department at the University of Mons, in Belgium discuss their approach in detail in the International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology.

Technically, glaucoma originates from an increase in the intraocular pressure (IOP). In the healthy eye, the aqueous humour behind the cornea is maintained in equilibrium with and equal quantity of liquid being discharged by the eye and this region refilled with fluid continuously. However, in glaucoma the rate of flow of liquid out of this cavity is slower than the flow into the space and the pressure within rise, putting damaging pressure on the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form but another condition called normal tension glaucoma can be just as debilitating. Closed-angle glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. The most common form causes no pain, but gradually leads to damage of one's peripheral vision and ultimately the whole field of vision, causing complete blindness.

The team's approach involves one of the standard tests for the early stages of glaucoma measuring the ratio of cup to disc measurements of the retina. Machine learning built on a database of these ratios allows an early diagnosis for a new patient to be made very quickly and accurately, almost 9%%. Such accuracy would allow the ophthalmologist to make a much more precise estimate of glaucoma risk for their patient.

Lazouni, M.E.A., Feroui, A. and Mahmoudi, S. (2019) 'A new intelligent system for glaucoma disease detection', Int. J. Computer Aided Engineering and Technology, Vol. 11, Nos. 4/5, pp.613-633.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCAET.2019.100457

Text messaging remains an important means of electronic communication for many people requiring only the simplest connection to the cell phone network. Nevertheless, other more sophisticated tools such as Whatsapp are increasingly prevalent given their multimedia capabilities and the near ubiquity of smartphones and almost universal wireless broadband connectivity in major towns and cities and beyond. Julian Bühler and Markus Bick Chair of Business Information Systems at the ESCP Europe Business School Berlin, Germany, ask what influences how quickly such technologies are adopted in different parts of the world and how the novel displaces the old.

Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, the team has looked at the use of text messaging and Whatsapp and how these have a cultural impact on mobile commerce in two countries: the United Kingdom and Russia. Fundamentally, the team found, the expectations of users in the UK are higher than those in Russia when interacting with mobile commerce sites. This is particularly true of user expectations for hedonic services. It seems, however, that social surroundings actually play a minor role in the user decision-making process. UK users are often early adopters especially in the hedonic sphere seeking out new technology whereas Russian users maintain inertia with the initial services and systems and stay with them in the long term. When Russian users do change they are eager and keen to try out all the new functionality of a service.

The team suggests that their findings have implications for how companies hoping to introduce new technology and services might assess the putative market. They should introduce the service in the UK first as a testing ground for early adoption and move to the Russian market if the UK proves enthusiastic.

Bühler, J. and Bick, M. (2019) 'From text messages to WhatsApp: cultural effects on m-commerce service adoption in the UK and Russia', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.441-464.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2019.100506

There is a significant negative correlation between environmental uncertainty and corporate social responsibility, according to a study published in the International Journal of Business and Systems Research. The conclusion drawn from 23 years of data associated with more than 3000 companies in the USA suggests that an ethics view should be taken when it comes to corporate social responsibility rather than allowing a changing environment to determine whether or not a company makes a positive ethical decision or not.

Brian Chabowski and Li Sun of the Collins College of Business at the University of Tulsa, in Oklahoma and Sharon Xuerong of the Huang Miller College of Business at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, explain that their insights could offer policymakers solid guidance on taking an ethical stance rather than allowing the business environment to steer policy. A new ethical stance could provide clearer and more positive approaches to employee lay-offs, union relations, health & safety, retirement benefits, as well as recycling, pollution limitation and clean energy, and even in some instances human rights, whether those of indigenous people in the company's own country.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that performs a direct empirical test on the relationship between environmental uncertainty and corporate social responsibility (CSR)," the team writes. "Overall, our study shows that managers engage in less CSR activities when in an uncertain environment," they add. This is perhaps to be expected after all CSR might be costly and when markets are not in favour of a particular company then cuts have to be made. However, the team suggests that there are practical implications that would preclude the need for a company to abandon its ethical stance and instead simply temper its CSR to some degree when the firm is faced with a volatile environment.

Chabowski, B., Huang, S.X. and Sun, L. (2019) 'Environmental uncertainty and corporate social responsibility', Int. J. Business and Systems Research, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.364-389.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBSR.2019.100378

Throughout civilisation, coastal defences have been an issue for those people who live by the sea. Now, climate change and its implications for rising sea levels make the issue increasingly pressing for more and more people. Research published in the International Journal of Lifecycle Performance Engineering, discusses the issue of over-topping of sea defences in the face of a changing environment.

Mehrdad Bahari Mehrabani of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Greenwich, in Chatham, Kent, UK and Hua-Peng Chen of East China Jiaotong University, Jiangxi, China, have looked at how our changing climate makes it all the more urgent to find ways of assessing coastal defences and ensuring that they are maintained not only on a critical schedule but can be re-engineered on an ad hoc basis when time and tide require it.

Earth sea dykes of the kind that edge lowland coasts and protect towns and cities and the people that live and work on land reclaimed from the sea or vulnerable former marshland, are widespread. Higher than normal tides, storm conditions, and rising sea levels all conspire to breach such sea dykes. The team has demonstrated that it might be possible to predict the demise of a given sea dyke given particular conditions and so offer the possibility of shoring up and improving such coastal defences before problems arise.

Mehrabani, M.B. and Chen, H-P. (2019) 'Lifetime wave overtopping assessment of coastal defences under changing environments', Int. J. Lifecycle Performance Engineering, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.93-110.
DOI: 10.1504/IJLCPE.2019.100334

Medical information and healthcare advice abound on the internet, both genuine, science-based information as well as spurious and fake. Research published in the International Journal of Web Engineering and Technology, looks to using a crowd-sourcing approach to the validation of medication information on one particular niche of the internet – the well-known microblogging platform known as Twitter.

Scott Duberstein, Daniel Adomako Asamoah, Derek Doran, and Shu Schiller of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, point out that social media, of which Twitter can be said to be one of the popular, can be a very useful place to gather information. However, it remains challenging for the lay person to know whether the information they glean from such a system is valid or whether, in the parlance of the modern political vernacular, it is "fake news". This might not matter so much when the information pertains to celebrity gossip, but it is important in the political realm, and very often a matter of life and death when the subject is medicine.

The team has attempted to develop a system that might automate the validation of information on the internet and specifically Twitter. It utilises the Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) crowdsourcing platform and focused, as a proof of principle, on information about major depressive disorder, an important medical condition that is frequently discussed on social media. "The core of our approach entailed the design of a custom survey and the use of a crowdsourcing mechanism to generate a collective understanding and validation of the information collected," the team writes.

The team has demonstrated that it is possible to use crowdsourcing to successfully extract and validate information about a specific medical topic from a platform like Twitter. They suggest that the same approach might be extended to other medical topics, and perhaps beyond and to other platforms that carry a large body of unvalidated information that might be tested and validated or otherwise. Automation of some aspects of the processing would remove the risk of human error at various stages. It might even be possible for the algorithms employed to differentiate between valid statements and ironic ones that might, with earlier approaches, be confused.

Duberstein, S.J., Asamoah, D.A., Doran, D. and Schiller, S.Z. (2019) 'Finding and validating medical information shared on Twitter: experiences using a crowdsourcing approach', Int. J. Web Engineering and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.80-98.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWET.2019.100344

A statistical analysis of volatility in cryptocurrencies has been carried out using a news impact curve. The analysis provides empirical evidence that could help economists decide whether these modern digital currencies are trust-based but intrinsically worthless like the "fiat" paper money system of familiar currencies we use or the new "gold standard". The research team offers details of their analysis and their conclusions in the International Journal of Monetary Economics and Finance.

Anwar Hasan Abdullah Othman, Syed Musa Alhabshi, and Razali Haron of the IIUM Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance at the International Islamic University Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, explain that trading in Bitcoin, perhaps the most well known of the cryptocurrencies is more on a par with trading in precious metals, specifically gold, as opposed to trading in hard currency. The analysis shows that the volatility and response to economic shockwaves are similar for Bitcoin and gold but that hard currency, such as the US dollar, responds differently in terms of how value changes with the ups and downs of trading and the wider economic conditions.

The team adds that their analysis supports the notion that Bitcoin and gold represent safe-haven assets and could be exploited in hedging against market risk especially during ebullient economic times. "Evidence suggests that cryptocurrency is a potential alternative to the current fiat money system," the team writes, "offering benefits to policymakers and a good investment option for positional investors in terms of hedging, portfolio diversification strategy, and risk management."

The next step with this research will be to extend a similar analytical processing to other cryptocurrencies to determine whether or not these conclusions might be generalized beyond Bitcoin.

Othman, A.H.A., Alhabshi, S.M. and Haron, R. (2019) 'Cryptocurrencies, Fiat money or gold standard: empirical evidence from volatility structure analysis using news impact curve', Int. J. Monetary Economics and Finance, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.75-97.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMEF.2019.10019878

Cybersquatting was rife in the early days of the World Web of the 1990s. An individual would register a domain name that was perhaps associated with an organisation or company and even a trademarked term. The cybersquatter might then use the domain for their own purposes whatever they might be or endeavour to sell the domain to the organisation. At first, it was unclear whether cybersquatting was illegal. Laws were tightened, domain registrars would take a dim view of such activity and commonly the domain would be handed over to what would appear to be the more legitimate owner. However, there are blurred lines when it comes to generic terms rather than company names or trademarks.

Some pundits perceive cybersquatting as unethical. It still goes on. Others suggest that it is beyond unethical it is criminal. Writing in the International Journal of Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, a team from India suggests that cybersquatting, rather than being an artefact of an immature Web of a quarter of a century ago, is still rife and exploitative. The team offers many examples of cybersquatting and highlights how the activity is detrimental to the growth of the internet and society as a whole.

There may well be instances where cybersquatting was intentional. This author can point to a US government website that has essentially hijacked the name of a well-known personal and commercial website for its own use by using the domain with the .gov suffix where the .com already existed!

The team points out that there are no useful methods to prevent cybersquatting and in India and elsewhere it is increasing on a daily basis as new companies emerge only to find that the most pertinent domain for the website has been taken by a third party. There is a need to increase awareness of the problem before algorithms could be implemented at the registrar level to help preclude this unethical and often criminal activity on the internet.

Chandra, R. and Bhatnagar, V. (2019) 'Cyber-squatting: a cyber crime more than an unethical act', Int. J. Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp.146-150.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSCCPS.2019.10021909

Gaming technology can assist with physical therapy and rehabilitation, according to a team from Brazil. Writing in the International Journal of Auditing Technology, the team discusses the potential for the Microsoft Xbox games console and its motion sensor system, Kinect. The team has reviewed the use of this technology in the rehabilitation arena and concludes from their analysis, that the system has a positive role to play.

Ivo Pedro Gonzalez Junior, Fábio Madureira Garcia, Karla Souza Caggy Costa da Silva, Fernanda Xavier Ferreira, Jaqueline Ribeiro da Silva and Wylena Monteiro das Chagas of the Faculdade Adventista da Bahia, Brazil, point out that there have been many advances in the techniques, methods, resources, and instruments used to enable improvements in patient treatment and to reduce the time taken for an individual to return to "normal" life following injury, accident, surgery, or acute medical condition, such as non-lethal cerebral or spinal stroke.

The team points out that the games available promote movement, particular of the upper limbs and upper body, but perhaps more importantly than that "games tend to make patients momentarily forget their limitations and move motivated by the fun and immersive factor." This is a crucial insight into the development and further implementation of gaming technology for physiotherapy in a wide range of conditions. Moreover, where conventional physiotherapy may be perceived as a boring necessity and see many patients skip sessions through lack of motivation, the gaming approach could, for many, avoid the sinking into apathy and provide its own motivation for engaging with the therapy and improving patient outcomes.

Gonzalez Jr., I.P., Garcia, F.M., da Silva, K.S.C.C., Ferreira, F.X., da Silva, J.R. and das Chagas, W.M. (2018) 'A review of the use of new technologies in physical therapy rehabilitation: possibilities and challenges with Xbox and kinect', Int. J. Auditing Technology, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.1-15.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAUDIT.2018.10021899

Is it plausible to develop targeted online marketing that does not impinge on the consumer's privacy? Of course, the dilemma is that in order to show putative customers advertisements that are likely to hit the mark rather than random enticements, the advertiser needs to know something about the putative customer's interests, tastes, personality, and other factors. Many see the acquisition of such information as worrying and there are now many places where gathering personal and private data would be in breach of local laws.

Writing in the International Journal of Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, a team from India discusses the very possibility of privacy-preserving, but nevertheless, targeted advertising. Ainish Dave, Hardik Gajera, and Manik Lal Das of DA-IICT, in Gandhinagar, India, explain that targeted advertising is very attractive to sellers, because its success is likely to be greater than non-targeted, almost advertising. They too worry about a consumer's private data getting into the hands of third parties. As such, they are developing a new model for targeting that does not compromise one's privacy.

In the new approach, only keywords are extracted from the user's browser history and these are encrypted homomorphically before being stored within the system to allow a targeted advertisement to be selected for that user without their personal data being acquired and stored on the advertising company's servers and without anyone actually knowing what keywords were used to pull in the advertisement. Tests so far show that it is efficient and practical even when compared to other available advertising technology. "The security analysis of the proposed scheme shows that the scheme is secure with the hardness assumption of approximate-GCD problem, which is an intractable problem," the team reports.

Dave, A., Gajera, H. and Das, M.L. (2019) 'Privacy-preserving targeted online advertising', Int. J. Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp.132-145.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSCCPS.2019.10021908

Science feeds into patents and thence to economic growth. However, our understanding of the details of this transformation is limited. An analysis of twelve scientific discoveries carried out using an inductive grounded theory approach aims to fill the gaps. Karin Beukel of the Unit for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management, in the Department for Food and Resource Economics, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, explains all in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management.

Beukel recasts the relationship between scientific discovery and patent showing that there are particular processes that affect "patent breadth". Patenting experts can exploit the surplus patent breadth depending on the abstraction and cognitive variety within the patent. Her findings confirm that science acts as an input for technological advances, as one might expect. However, it has to be underpinned by foundations that allow the discovery to be explored and exploited.

Fundamentally, says Beukel, "the direction of how to exploit a scientific invention must be determined early in the process, immediately after scientific discovery, in order to guide the inventor and IP owner through the patent examination process." Many years of anecdote suggests that this is indeed the case.

The research also shows that academia is not always best suited to the processing of scientific discovery to patent and that academic scientists, often through lack of awareness and knowledge of the patent process, will take a fragmented approach to sealing their intellectual property in a patent. This can mean less than great success for the invention or even failure, but also in a more esoteric sense a simple lack of patent breadth that means the potential of the discovery is not exploited to the full.

Beukel, K. (2019) 'How patent experts create patent breadth', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp.91-119.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIPM.2019.10021958

Researchers from Brazil and Portugal are developing the tools to detect malicious networks, botnets, on mobile phones based on machine learning. They provide details in the International Journal of Security and Networks.

A botnet is defined as an ad hoc network of Internet-connected devices control of which is usually taken for malicious purposes. Often a botnet controller will use the network to carry out a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) on another system, which might allow them to then gain access to the upper echelons or a corporate network, government computers, or other important data stores. They can use a botnet to steal data from organizations or individuals send spam and carry out phishing attacks to compromise many users' email accounts, bank websites, and more.

Mobile internet devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, are now almost ubiquitous, and so have become common targets for those who wish to exploit the vulnerabilities of such devices for criminal or malicious intent through the surreptitious recruitment of those devices into a botnet. Staying ahead of the malware so that devices are protected from attack and being taken over requires sophisticated defence technology.

The Brazilian team has found that it can achieve a high performance of some 84% in detecting botnet activity based on the similarity of "system calls" from different pieces of malware that would otherwise exploit a mobile device. The machine learning requires it to examine only 19 features of putative botnet characteristics, which makes it much faster than the prototype algorithm which needed 133 parameters. This means that the presence of a botnet can be detected within a second and so be blocked very quickly by associated protective software on the device before any real damage is done.

Turrisi da Costa, V.G., Barbon Jr., S., Miani, R.S., Rodrigues, J.J.P.C. and Zarpelão, B.B. (2019) 'Mobile botnets detection based on machine learning over system calls', Int. J. Security and Networks, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.103-118.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSN.2019.100092

Crowdfunding in the wine business could represent a useful opportunity for small wineries, allowing them to garner the necessary funds to make their speciality product for a discerning and engaged clientele.

Giuseppe Festa, Gerardino Metallo, and Maria Teresa Cuomo of the Department of Economic and Statistical Sciences at the University of Salerno, in Salerno, Italy and Mario Situm of the Institute for Corporate Restructuring, at FH Kufstein Tirol University of Applied Sciences, in Kufstein, Austria, address the notion in the International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business.

Crowdfunding is the practice of financing a venture through raising small amounts of money from a lot of people, usually via social media and the Internet. It has been used by authors, musicians, artists, scientists, charities, and organizations very successfully. The incentives for the funders can vary enormously and are often correlated with the size of their donation. For example, an author might crowdfund the publication of their book and offer smaller donors a free copy of the published first edition, a slightly bigger donation might get the donor a signed copy, bigger still and additional materials and merchandise might be offered or perhaps access to "secret" details, such as videos or short stories or background essays from the author. Sometimes, there might be an opportunity to receive a credit in the publication for a large donation or perhaps the opportunity to meet the author.

The extension of such a concept to winemaking has obvious benefits. The small winery gets the necessary funding to grow their grapes and make their wine. The donors get to drink the wine they helped make and perhaps get a tour of the vineyard, they might also have the opportunity of a share of the profits instead of the wine. There are a limited number of crowdfunding sites aimed at wineries and their consumers. However, the concept is expanding in offering donors involvement, engagement, and commitment at different levels.

The researchers caution that in this relatively new world of wine crowdfunding, those involved at the winery side, the wine entrepreneurs and managers, need to constantly provide and communicating effectively with their donors to ensure positive sentiment and ongoing commitment, especially given that wine-making is not a one-off event as publishing a book might be, but an annual task.

Festa, G., Metallo, G., Cuomo, M.T. and Situm, M. (2019) 'Crowdfunding in wine business as financing opportunity for smaller wineries', Int. J. Globalisation and Small Business, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.278-292.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGSB.2019.100126

Scientists at a research university often play a formative role in the commercialization of intellectual property and inventions emerging from their laboratories. Often, the "spinning off" of a startup company will be to the benefit of society as a whole particularly in the biomedical research areas where innovation might have a significant impact on human health.

Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, V.J. Thomas of the School of Business at The University of the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Elicia Maine of the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, Canada, discuss the impact of regional startups on innovation when those scientists are star players in their field. They point out that regional effects can promote or restrain those star scientists to the benefit or detriment of the spinoff company and that such effects must be managed if entrepreneurship is to be fostered.

The research points to four recommendations for fostering spinoffs. First, there needs to be a focus on developing technology transfer and intellectual property policies that support inventors and align the long-term interests of the scientist-entrepreneur, the university and the regional system of innovation. Secondly, there has to be targeted funding for faculty and student research with commercial potential. Thirdly, research partnerships with local anchor companies must be built to generate positive feedback loops. Finally, encourage an entrepreneurial mindset should be encouraged among science, technology, engineering, and medical (STEM) students through entrepreneurship training and business plan competitions.

"Developing an entrepreneurial culture within universities can contribute not just to university spin-off formation but can fuel growth in the regional, national and global economy," the team writes.

Thomas, V.J. and Maine, E. (2019) 'Impact of regional systems of innovation on the formation of university spin-offs by biomedical star scientists', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp.271-287.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2019.100108

Might an enormous orbiting "shield" be one way to combat the rising temperatures around the world caused by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels? Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, a team in China has done the calculations and they suggest it might be possible to lower average global temperatures by a third of a degree Celsius with such a shield. This could have a significant, low-cost impact on climate change when we consider that fractions of a degree rises in temperature are already causing serious problems at the Earth's extreme environments.

Jie He of the School of Mechanical Engineering, at Xi'an Aeronautical University, in Shaanxi and Fei Zheng of the School of Electromechanical Engineering, at Xidian University also in Shaanxi, outline the details in their paper. There have been numerous suggestions for how we might combat the effects of rising atmospheric carbon concentrations due to the ever-increasing industrialization of the world and our seemingly insatiable appetite for burning fossil fuels whether coal, oil, or natural gas.

Many of the schemes involving taxing emissions to make it prohibitively expensive to burn fossil fuels. Other approaches involve finding ways to sequester carbon dioxide from exhaust gases or the atmosphere as a whole. There are schemes where developed nations can offset their carbon emissions by financing more sustainable options - wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric - in the developing world. Large-scale engineering - geo-engineering - also has its schemes for reversing the effects by seeding the oceans with iron to help cultivate algae that can absorb carbon dioxide.

Then, there is the off-planet approach being addressed by He and Zheng. At first, such a scheme - essentially putting in place a giant parasol to shield our planet to some degree from the sun - seems farfetched, the stuff of futuristic science fiction and yet it has many merits, the team argues. The team has tested successfully a much-reduced scale model of such a shield, just 2 metres in diameter. The concept of the shield being a controllable spacecraft that shifts in its orbit depending on what region of the planet needs shielding at a given time over the course of the day will be considered in future work.

He, J. and Zheng, F. (2019) 'Efficiency evaluation of huge space shield for mitigating global warming', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.1-15.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2019.100172

In a country with limited resources, might social media be useful in the post-surgical care of patients in their own homes? That is the question researchers from India hope to answer with their research just published in the International Journal of Telemedicine and Clinical Practices.

Naval Bansal of Fortis, in Mohali, India, and colleagues Sanjay Kumar Yadav, Saroj Kanta Mishra, Gyan Chand, Anjali Mishra, Gaurav Agarwal, Amit Agarwal, and Ashok Kumar Verma of the Department of Endocrine Surgery, at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, in Lucknow, India, discuss their feasibility study in this context. The team followed more than one hundred thyroidectomy patients who were offered some of their follow-up care via Microsoft's well-known voice over internet (VoIP) application, Skype. In detail, 76 of the patients had Internet access and of those 51 opted for conventional follow up and 25 patients consented to have tele-follow up using the software.

The team found that distance from the treating hospital was the most significant factor in choosing Skype follow up. Moreover, those who opted for Skype tended to be better educated, with a degree or postgraduate degree. Everyone who opted for Skype follow-up saved money and work days by avoiding the need to take time to re-visit the hospital. "Even in resource constrained countries, social media can provide an alternative mode of healthcare delivery," the team suggests. There remains a need to instill confidence in such an approach for the less well-educated and for those who see face-to-face care as a better choice.

Of course, there will be times when a Skype follow-up would be inadequate at which times patients would have to visit their healthcare worker or receive physical as opposed to virtual care in their home.

Bansal, N., Yadav, S.K., Mishra, S.K., Chand, G., Mishra, A., Agarwal, G., Agarwal, A. and Verma, A.K. (2019) 'Post-surgical continuity of care from home using social media in a resource limited country', Int. J. Telemedicine and Clinical Practices, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.156-164.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTMCP.2019.100040

The internet is ubiquitous and for many people it is part of every aspect of their everyday lives from news and information to finding their way around a new city and from emailing close friends to finding a partner. But, how do we know which websites on the internet are trustworthy in so many different contexts?

Writing in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Himani Bansal of the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India and Shruti Kohli of DWP Digital, in London, UK, suggest that a template is needed to assess the validity of information, this could be a matter of life or death with respect to medication information, they add.

The team has assimilated data from a range of websites that are classified by an external website as being "similar". They have then aggregated all of the behaviour around those websites and analysed that data to see how the different sites are perceived by the users. They compared their scores for a website's trustworthiness with assessments of the same websites made by others independently using different tools.

Trust is an essential factor in any relationship if it is to be a positive one and if it is to thrive. There is at the moment no common tool for assessing the trustworthiness of a website. The new approach taken in the present papers offers an alternative that may well allow us to validate websites objectively. Such a system might be interlaced with a search engine or be incorporated into a browser plugin or extension that would offer the user information about the trustworthiness of a site they intend to use.

Bansal, H. and Kohli, S. (2019) 'Trust evaluation of websites: a comprehensive study', Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 13, Nos. 1/2, pp.101-112.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAIP.2019.099946

In the late 1980s, Chaos Theory came to the fore in the realm of science popularisation. Strange attractors and the so-called butterfly effect became a part of modern culture. The science was often lost in the wake of beautiful artful representations of the mathematics in the form of colourful fractals that were generated on the computer and revealed the spiralling infinities within. Terms such as the Julia set and the Mandelbrot were scattered around as butterfly wings on the breeze.

Of course, the public fascination may have dwindled as the next trendy discovery came along, but scientists keep working on such things, following the threads that might lead to a new discovery within the coils of those fractals. Now, writing in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, a team reports how they have used Julia sets and a logistic map to devise a new way to compress and encrypt digital information based on fractals.

Bhagwati Prasad and Kunti Mishra of the Department of Mathematics, at Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, in Noida, India, suggest that their success with their proposal could open up a new efficient and secure way to send confidential images, such as those from medical imaging, military, and other multimedia applications.

The team has demonstrated proof of principle with their approach using various medical images, including a conventional chest X-ray, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, and a CT (computerised tomography) scan. For these images they were able to compress and encrypt the files by almost ten times.

Prasad, B. and Mishra, K. (2019) 'A novel encryption compression scheme using Julia sets', Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 13, Nos. 1/2, pp.8-14.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAIP.2019.099940

Is there a valuable role that social media can play in education? Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a research team from Malaysia and Thailand discuss the advent of e-learning and its growth in the early part of this century.

"E-learning combines modern interactive learning methods with knowledge management methods that provide better evaluation of knowledge," they explain. They add that "Social media has brought revolutionary new ways of interacting, participating, cooperating and collaborating which involve users generating content and connecting with people through a 'many-to-many', rather than the traditional 'one-to-many', communication approach."

The question then arises as to what the interplay between e-learning and social media acceptance and use look like. Khalid Abdul Wahid of the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Kelantan, Malaysia, working with colleague Wan Saiful 'Azzam Wan Ismail there and Haruthai Numprasertchai of Kasetsart University, in Bangkok, Thailand, hoped to lay bare the connections. Fundamentally, their survey of 359 students in Malaysia shows that:

"All antecedents of technology acceptance which included performance expectancy, effort expectancy and facilitating condition have positive significant effect on collective learning except social influence."

The team points out that universities must provide sufficient infrastructure and those people working around students need to recognise just how much time students spend online. Importantly, students are accessing the internet on campus, but many spend more time online than in face-to-face classes. This has become a normalized scenario and thus it is important that the information and communications technology is in place to support this shift in attitude and activity.

Wahid, K.A., Ismail, W.S.A.W. and Numprasertchai, H. (2019) 'The role of social media in collective learning', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp.363–376.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2019.099981

The phrase "sewage farm" may have fallen from favour and been replaced with terms such as waste water treatment works and the like. But, the origin of that archaic phrase refers very directly to the fact that partly processed human waste was at one time commonly used as agriculture fertiliser on farmland close to such a treatment works.

Majeed Ali, Talaat Ahmed and Mohammad A. Al-Ghouti of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar, discuss the modern potential for using sewage sludge on soil and plants in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management. The team emphasizes that in their review of approaches to the use of sewage they have found great variation in how the material is used and how much pre-treatment is carried out.

"The fertiliser potential and pollutant risk for applied sewage sludge in agricultural activities must be specifically evaluated for each sludge due to the fact that there is variation in the characteristics of sludges in which they undergo different treatment levels, in addition to the differences in the pollutant nature that is found in the wastewater," the team writes.

Whereas the old-fashioned sewage farm may have been able to use simply treated raw sewage in an essentially small and closed community. In the modern world of much greater personal mobility and exposure to a wide range of pathogens and pollution from around the world, it is essential that sewage sludge be adequately treated before it can be used as fertilizer. This must be done to eliminate and remove any harmful materials that can negatively affect the environment, human health, soil, and the crops grown with the help of that sludge. The team suggests that there are several viable ways to adequately treat sewage sludge, namely aerobic, anaerobic digestion, and thermal treatment.

Ali, M., Ahmed, T. and Al-Ghouti, M.A. (2019) 'Potential benefits and risk assessments of using sewage sludge on soil and plants: a review', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp.352–369.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2019.099992

The microblogging platform, Twitter, is almost ubiquitous. Members of the public, citizen journalists use it, so too do business leaders, charities, scientists, authors, writers, politicians, even presidents. But, are companies making the most of it? Writing in the Journal of Global Business Advancement, a team from India has analysed 25 startups and the twitter use of their Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) there to answer that question.

Nakul Parameswar of the Indian Institute of Management Jammu, in Jammu and Kashmir, and colleagues explain that "The active involvement of Chief Executive Officers in social media influences the business effectiveness, performance and market legitimacy of the business." The team used two data mining tools – Anaconda Navigator and TIBCO Spotfire – to analyse well over 160 000 tweets from the 25 CEOs to come to this conclusion. They point out that the CEOs were tweeting about a wide range of topics: various aspects of emotions ranging from the business sector to personal feelings, political views, and societal concerns.

As the shine has worn off the traditional media newspapers, television, and radio in the wake of Web 2.0 and the advent of the so-called social media and online social networks there is greater equity between the information providers and the information consumers. Indeed, citizens feel that social media gives them a voice that was once the preserve of editors, journalists, news anchors, and presenters. In terms of commerce, social media gives consumers a voice that allows them to share experiences with products and services as well as reach out to the very people who offer them in a way that was never possible in the days of one-way media and a handwritten letter to the company headquarters.

In return companies and providers need to recognize and be responsive to the activity of the clients and customers online. There is a vast spectrum of responsiveness among the 25 CEO twitter accounts analysed. Some need to do more, some maybe do too much. Balance is needed.

Sindhani, M., Parameswar, N., Dhir, S. and Ongsakul, V. (2019) 'Twitter analysis of founders of top 25 Indian startups', J. Global Business Advancement, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.117-144.
DOI: 10.1504/JGBA.2019.099918

It was once the stuff of science fiction security, open your eye wide and look into the camera to gain entry to the spaceship flight deck or press a finger tip or palm of your against the pad to access the secret database that lets you take control of the baddies' weapons. Today, of course, iris recognition, fingerprint readers, and other biometric systems are becoming increasingly commonplace. Most modern smart phones have a fingerprint reader that lets you unlock your phone without having to remember a password or number.

Of course, from a security perspective, what's to stop a third party "lifting" your fingerprint, and creating a facsimile of its loops, whorls and arches with a piece of a skin-like rubbery material and then presenting this to the biometric device to gain access? The simple answer is nothing! Moreover, for a simple fingerprint ID system, there would be no way for it to know that the presented fingerprint was not part of a living person's finger rather than a rubber dab.

However, writing in the International Journal of Biometrics, a team from India describes their approach to developing a system that not only reads fingerprints but can detect the "liveness" of the fingerprint based on an algorithmic analysis of micro and macro features. Rohit Agrawal and Anand Singh Jalal of GLA University, in Mathura, and K.V. Arya of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Lucknow, explain that their approach sidesteps the problem associated with earlier statistical methods that work well with micro, but not the macro, features of a fingerprint.

The team explains that they have combined local Haralick micro texture features with macro features derived from neighbourhood grey-tone difference matrix. This allows them to generate an effective feature vector. They then train the algorithm with known fingerprints and test it against genuine and fake fingerprints. They achieve an almost 95 per cent accuracy with a low error rate. Earlier systems can boast only 90 per cent accuracy.

Agrawal, R., Jalal, A.S. and Arya, K.V. (2019) 'Fake fingerprint liveness detection based on micro and macro features', Int. J. Biometrics, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.177–206.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBM.2019.099065

In the age of Web 2.0 and social media and online social networking, user-generated content has become the main source of information for many people. Nowhere is this truer than on popular photo-sharing websites. While the likes of Instagram have moved to the fore, there are still millions of people using the much older and more sophisticated service Flickr. This site was established in 2004 by Ludicorp, it was then bought by Yahoo, which itself was acquired by Verizon, and the Flickr component sold on to another photo site, SmugMug in April 2018.

Research published in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management describes an empirical study on how tags might be mined from the comments Flickr users make on each other's photographs, videos, and other images. Haijun Zhang, Jingxuan Li, and Bin Luo of the Department of Computer Science at Harbin Institute of Technology Shenzhen Graduate School and Yan Li of the School of Computer Engineering at Shenzhen Polytechnic in Shenzhen, both in Guangdong Province, China, hope to develop a technique that might be useful in the curation of the huge database of images stored by Flickr.

They have developed a two-phase approach wherein tags are generated from comments on a given photo and then these are ranked.

"In the phase of candidate tags generation, two methods are introduced relying on natural language processing (NLP) techniques, namely word-based and phrase-based," the team explains. "In ranking and recommending tags, we proposed an algorithm by jointly modelling the location information of candidate tags, statistical information of candidate tags and semantic similarity between candidate tags. Extensive experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our method."

The team claims this to be the first paper addressing the problem of tagging photos in the Flickr database in this way, it could assist in curating the collection, especially where photos have not been tagged initially by the person that uploads them.

Zhang, H., Li, J., Luo, B. and Li, Y. (2019) 'Needle in a haystack: an empirical study on mining tagsfrom Flickr user comments', Int. J. Information Technology and Management, Vol. 18, Nos. 2/3, pp.297–326.
DOI: 10.1504/IJITM.2019.099808

Researchers in India have developed an application (app) for Android smart phones that allows two users to make voice calls to each other even if they have neither data nor internet connectivity provided that they can both access a local Wi-Fi network. The app is thus limited to the range of the wireless network, but effectively allows the phones to be used like "walkie-talkies" or an "intercom" system without having to connect to a cell-mast or even have be connected to the wider internet.

The app could be useful in remote areas in the developing world or in a military zone where internet access may be limited or entirely off-limits, but a local wireless network can be sustained from a single server at a central location or military base, for instance.

Writing the in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, computer scientist Shalini Goel of Mahavir Swami Institute of Technology, in Delhi-NCR, India, and colleagues Vipul Garg, Deepak Garg, and Manshiv Kathait of the Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, also in Delhi, describe details of WiFi_Intercom. The app uses communications classes that allow a user to connect with other users through the Wi-Fi wireless standard protocol using a point to point system on the wireless local area network (WLAN). Voice communication can then be made between any Android-based wireless devices that have a microphone and speaker and can connect to the WLAN. The system offers full duplex conversation just as anyone has with a conventional phone call, as opposed to the walkie-talkie where only one person can speak at a time.

The next step will be to extend the app to encompass encryption and so take security up to the requisite level for most users, but particularly for those with sensitive conversations to make in such an environment, particularly for military use. The team will also develop ways to lower energy consumption and improve call clarity.

Goel, S., Garg, V., Garg, D. and Kathait, M. (2019) 'Voice transmission through WiFi', Int. J. Information Technology and Management, Vol. 18, Nos. 2/3, pp.268-283.
DOI: 10.1504/IJITM.2019.099821

Certain ranges of frequency across the electromagnetic spectrum are reserved by regulators for particular applications: TV, digital radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. Unregulated devices are precluded from broadcasting on these spread frequencies. However, much of the bandwidth is unused across vast swathes of the planet and could be used by other devices, but for those legal constraints.

Writing in the International Journal of Internet Protocol Technology, Naziha Ali Saoucha and Badr Benmammar of the LTT Laboratory of Telecommunication Tlemcen, in Algeria explain how they have taken a bio-inspired approach to an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) radio system. The approach offers the user a high-quality service without interfering with other user systems. It exploits three algorithms inspired by nature: the firefly, bat, and cuckoo search. The team has simulated their approach and compared it to the real-life alternatives - the classical genetic algorithm and particle swarm optimisation - for link adaptation.

"Our proposed algorithms exhibit better performance in terms of convergence speed and solution quality with saving rates reaching over 98.93% and 46.60%, respectively," the team reports. It allows secondary, users to operate in the holes between the spread of frequencies reserved by law for the primary users. The system could cope with 1024 sub-carriers. The approach could be useful in wireless healthcare applications, multimedia, and elsewhere.

Saoucha, N.A. and Benmammar, B. (2019) 'Bio-inspired approaches for OFDM-based cognitive radio', Int. J. Internet Protocol Technology, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.61-75.

Engineers in China have used a chaos-based system to pipe data securely through a fibre-optic at a rate of 1.25. gigabits per second across a distance of 143 kilometres.

Hongxi Yin, Qingchun Zhao, Xiaolei Chen, Hehe Yue, and Nan Zhao of the Lab of Optical Communications and Photonic Technology, School of Information and Communication Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, and their colleagues Dongjiao Xu and Ying Chang of HAEPC Information and Telecommunication Company, in Zhengzhou describe details of the achievement in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking. The team points out that their greatest success in this physical form of encryption was in the use of off-the-shelf components. They add that this keeps costs down significantly. Moreover, there is no need to use dispersion compensating fibre (DCF) or forward-error correction (FEC).

The researchers offer a rationale for the need to develop such high-speed, long-distance secure optical communications technology. High-speed secure message transmission and exchange is they suggest, an essential part of modern life at the individual, business, organisational, and governmental levels. "Modern information networks provide convenience for personal message transmission, national economic and technological development, national defence construction, battlefield communications and so on," they explain. However, it also brings new problems, such as personal information, governments, enterprises, defence and other secure message leaks and attack. "These have been a serious threat to economic, technological development and social stability, and even national defence security," the team writes.

The record-breaking physically encrypted transmission of 1.25 gigabits per second over 143 kilometres is a major advance. The team, however, points out that they can achieve double that data rate over a shorter range, 25 kilometres. It is only a matter of time and development before the longer distance can sustain the higher data rate.

Yin, H., Zhao, Q., Xu, D., Chen, X., Chang, Y., Yue, H. and Zhao, N. (2019) '1.25 Gbits/s-message experimental transmission utilising chaos-based fibre-optic secure communications over 143 km', Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.42–51.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHPCN.2019.099738

Ginger is a widely used spice, particularly in the cuisine of East and South Asia. It is known to have some physiological effects and is commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Writing in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design, Guang Zheng, Fei Hou, Jinghu Wang, and Nannan Wang of Lanzhou University, China, focus on one of the spice's most well-known properties: its warming effect on the body.

The spice we know as ginger is derived from the root of the flowering plant Zingiber officinale. It feels hot to the mouth when you eat something containing this spice, but it also has an apparent warming effect on the stomach and the small intestine. However, a mechanism for this purported activity noted in TCM, specifically at the leve of protein regulating networks remains obscure, the team writes.

The researchers have now used literature and protein database searching of the two main active natural products in ginger, 6-gingerol and 6-shaogaol, and identified proteins targeted/regulated by these compounds. They were then able to piece together likely compound-protein and functional protein-protein interactions to build up a picture of the underlying regulating networks within the stomach and the small intestine that might respond to these ginger compounds.

The team has found through enrichment analysis of functional protein-protein interactions that in participating proteins there are five key metabolic processes that seem to be linked to the warming effect of ginger. The two main bio-active compounds present in ginger having a regulator effect on adenosine triphosphate (ATP), glycogen, glycerolipid, fatty acid, and coenzyme. The team suggests that such insights might add to the evidence base that supports the modernisation of TCM.

Zheng, G., Hou, F., Wang, J. and Wang, N. (2019) 'Networks regulated by ginger towards stomach and small intestine for its warming interior function', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.189–202.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2019.099763

Can drinking tea made from leaves of the "rooibos" plant, Aspalathus linearis, improve physical performance during exercise? That was the question a team from South Africa set out to answer. They report their findings in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics.

Simeon Davies of the Department of Sport Management, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in Cape Town, and colleagues there and in the university's Oxidative Stress Research Centre explain how rooibos herbal tea, often referred to as bush tea in Southern Africa o redbush tea in the United Kingdom, has become a popular product, although well known in South Africa for generations. It has a taste not dissimilar to hibiscus tea but sometimes with what is often referred to as an earthy flavour. However, taste aside, there is always interest in the putative physiological activity of any traditional drink given the wide range of natural products, such as alkaloids and antioxidants, that might be present in such a drink.

Such a drink might counteract the formation of free radicals and other oxidizing species that form naturally in the body through metabolism and especially during exercise. Free radicals have their uses in the body's defences but are largely problematic causing damage at the cellular and molecular level. During exercise, this might lead to pain and inflammation as well as premature muscle fatigue. So, might a drink containing relatively high levels of antioxidants be useful in the sport and exercise context?

Tests with 32 male volunteers and a fatiguing arm exercise test to exhaustion showed that the group drinking rooibos prior to the tests performed the exercise for longer without premature fatigue. This was compared to the group of volunteers who drank a "placebo tea", a similar-tasting infusion with none of the antioxidants present in rooibos.

"It is tentatively suggested that a worker/person engaged in tasks of a repetitive nature requiring forceful actions may benefit from supplementing his/her diet with rooibos, a recognised antioxidant, because it may reduce the precursors to cellular oxidative damage, namely reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species," the team says. They add that there was prior evidence that acute "dosing" with rooibos might be more beneficial than long-term use of this herbal tea.

Davies, S.E.H., Marnewick, J.L., West, S., Taliep, M.S., Rautenbach, F. and Gamieldien, R. (2019) 'The efficacy of rooibos Aspalathus linearis as an ergogenic aid during exercise', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.88-102.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2019.099585

The symbolism inherent in product design can have an impact not only on how the product is used but how it makes the user feel. For instance, a proud parent might cherish their offspring's school medals, an erstwhile traveller might have warm nostalgia for their battered old rucksack, an heirloom might encapsulate one's family history and so on. Symbolism can represent memories, shared experience, aspirations, attachment, love, grief and much more.

Indeed, writing in the Journal of Design Research, a team from The Netherlands suggests that there are sixteen design directions that might build on this and inspire deliberate design for personal wellbeing. Their concept is supported by earlier research from others that talks of six enhancing characteristics of products; positive relations with others, personal growth, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.

The team explains their motivation: "While previous research has shown that symbolic meaning can contribute to a person's well-being and elicit attachment to products, it is not yet known if (and if so, how) products can be designed with the deliberate intention to support consumers in attributing such symbolic meanings, particularly with the aim of having a well-being effect," they write.

Of course, symbolic meaning is entirely subjective. One person's cherish heirloom is another's dusty old junk while a single red paperclip underpinned an impressive chain of bartering by one young man that achieved so level of fame and fortune. Of course, at the heart of any symbolism is authenticity. If one is to endow a product with particular design characteristics with a view to boosting well-being in the user of that product though those characteristics, then it has to be genuine. Kitsch inspirational aphorisms against a scenic sunset or another clichéd backdrop will look obviously fake to everyone but the least cynical and naïve.

The present work, however, investigates symbolism in durable consumer goods, such as household items. The team explains that they focused on consumer durables because people often interact with these products, often on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the same findings regarding symbolism can be applied to other products, even intangible goods or services.

Casais, M., Mugge, R. and Desmet, P. (2018) 'Objects with symbolic meaning: 16 directions to inspire design for well-being', J. Design Research, Vol. 16, Nos. 3/4, pp.247–281.
DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2018.099538

A grassroots movement is one that emerges and evolves naturally, growing new support as it does so. "Astroturfing" is the opposite of that. It is a movement support for which is bought and paid for. It has the look of a grassroots movement, but a closer inspection reveals it to be fake. Now, writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, Australian computer scientists have surveyed the techniques available to detect astroturfing on the internet. The term derives from the synthetic green grass - AstroTurf - often used in sports arenas and public areas as an alternative to living turf.

Syed Mahbub and colleagues at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, explain that astroturfing represents a significant threat in the business world, in politics, public health, and many other realms. Fake support for a controversial system, product, or service can persuade unwitting observers and stakeholders of merit, where no merit is due. This can have dire consequences for genuine political candidates in an election, for instance, or for sales of better rival products, and adoption of systems and services that are in reality better than the astroturfed ones. Political blogs, news portals, and review websites are carpeted with Astroturf to the detriment of everyone but the astroturfers and their associates.

At its most mundane, astroturfing might lead to someone buying a, perhaps inferior, green widget from company A in preference to the better blue widget from Company B. At the other extreme, one might see a politician achieve election success where support has been entirely faked and the electorate duped into disregarding the genuine candidate.

Researchers in social media, e-commerce, and politics, are looking to find detection methods for spotting astroturfing. Mahbub and colleagues point out that there are content analysis techniques, individual and group identification techniques, linguistic feature analysis, authorship attribution techniques, and machine learning all being used with varying degrees of success to detect astroturfing.

"Astroturfing, in the present world, is a global phenomenon," the team writes. "The magnitude of its effect is significantly threatening the integrity and consistency of information we receive from the internet. Thus, the prevention and detection of astroturfing demand more attention from the research community." Their research paper offers researchers a taxonomy of those detection techniques that might help in the development of better approaches to the detection of this insidious problem.

Mahbub, S., Pardede, E., Kayes, A.S.M. and Rahayu, W. (2019) 'Controlling astroturfing on the internet: a survey on detection techniques and research challenges', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.139-158.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2019.099561

Could the health benefits and reduced costs to healthcare systems be enough to justify subsidizing charging infrastructure to allow society to switch from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles faster than current trends predict?

Writing in the International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, Mitchell House and David Wright of the University of Ottawa, Canada, suggest that the migration from polluting vehicles that burn fossil fuels to electric vehicles, ideally using electricity generated sustainably could significantly reduce the incidence of cardiopulmonary illness due to air pollution. This would lead not only to less employee absence from work through illness but also lead to broad improvements in quality and length of life.

The team's paper compares the financial costs of building electric vehicle charging infrastructure using empirical data with health costs to see if there is a net benefit. They have found that in the majority of plausible scenarios of balanced growth, when the number of vehicles rises and so does the number of charging stations, there is a positive net benefit to society.

"Since health benefits accrue to governments, businesses, and individuals, these results justify the use of government incentives for charging station deployment and this paper quantifies the impact of different levels of incentive," the team concludes.

The team explains that the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) (an organization supported by 16 governments) has a target of 20 million electric vehicles by the year 2020. This was based on a notional growth rate of 75% per year defined in 2016. At that time, EV sales amounted to more than half a million (550000) worldwide in 2015, which represented growth of 70% on 2014. Electric vehicle sales have continued to grow, with 2017 and 2018 experiencing 61% and 64% year-over-year growth respectively.

Their results suggest that a 75% growth rate for electric vehicle uptake is not unrealistic. Moreover, in the face of anthropogenic climate change and the detrimental effects of health on pollution, some observers see the transition to electric vehicles as being a matter of serious urgency. This has to take into consideration the electricity generating mix from which the vehicles derive their power. If electricity is mostly supplied from power stations generating electricity by burning fossil fuels, including coal, gas, and oil, then many of the benefits are lost. This is particularly true in terms of climate impact at the global level but also in terms of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate pollution. This has been witnessed in China, India, and Russia, as electricity demand has risen rapidly.

This latest study points out that governments have not been keen to support charging infrastructure due to a variety of industry players being involved and their responsibility to carry some of the cost. This would include electric utility companies who would profit directly from charging vehicles, out-of-town shopping centers that could attract more customers with charging points in their car parks, the manufacturers of vehicles and a new generation of "gas station" operators.

"The savings that can be achieved by 2021 are higher than the cost of installing charging station infrastructure over a wide range of scenarios," the team writes. "These net benefits apply both to balanced growth in charging stations (in which the number of charging stations is proportional to the number of EVs) and also to rapid build out (in which charging stations are built over 2-4 years in order to achieve government EV targets for 2020 and 2025)." Ultimately, it is the reduced financial burden of a healthier populace that offsets the costs.

House, M.L. and Wright, D.J. (2019) 'Using the health benefits of electric vehicles to justify charging infrastructure incentives', Int. J. Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.85-105.

Visual surveillance of crowds is an important part of event management as well as policing. Now, a team from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have looked at the various tools that have become available in recent years for automatically assessing the number of people in a crowd and determining the dynamics and movement of that crowd. Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, the team finds several gaps in the current state-of-the-art technology and points developers to how those gaps might be filled.

Huma Chaudhry and Mohd Shafry Mohd Rahim of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Tanzila Saba of Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, and Amjad Rehman of Al Yamamah University, also in Riyadh, point out that computer vision research has moved towards crowd control and management in recent years with a view to addressing issues of security and safety when large numbers of people are gathered in one place. The fundamental problem that has to be addressed is how to manage multiple data streams from closed-circuit television (CCTV) and other sources that monitor crowd dynamics at events, in busy towns and cities and elsewhere. There a limit to how visual assessment of CCTV and so automated, computerised solutions are needed.

The team highlights some major events where there have been numerous casualties. Sometimes casualties at some events might be fewer than 100 people, but larger events might see thousands of casualties over a prolonged period. Automated crowd assessment could open up new ways t understand crowd dynamics and reduce those numbers. Some of the same insights from aerial crowd surveillance and other methods might also help in disaster relief activities where large numbers of people might be present in a given location.

Chaudhry, H., Rahim, M.S.M., Saba, T. and Rehman, A. (2019) 'Crowd detection and counting using a static and dynamic platform: state of the art', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.228–259.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCVR.2019.099435

How do personality traits affect one's use of the online social networking site, Facebook? That is the question researchers from Greece hope to answer in a paper in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising. The team surveyed 367 university students and analysed their answers concerning Facebook with the backdrop of different personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness.

The team report that "agreeable individuals use Facebook to express their orientation to other people rather than to themselves," whereas "extroverts use Facebook as a relationship building mechanism". They add that neurotic people strive to bring out the best of themselves. Oddly, the personality traits of openness and conscientiousness do not seem to affect significantly Facebook use.

The bottom line is that extraversion is the main driver for Facebook use. Extroverts are heavy users and have more friends and interact with them and others at a higher rate. But, neurotic people also use it heavily to create a comprehensive and detailed profile of themselves to present to the public. There are limitations to the research in that those surveyed were students and some of them may well be aware of research into personality types and their use of social media, whereas the lay public would perhaps be less aware of such research. The obvious next step is to survey a wider group of people to reduce any inherent bias in the results.

Hatzithomas, L., Misirlis, N., Boutsouki, C. and Vlachopoulou, M. (2019) 'Understanding the role of personality traits on Facebook intensity', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.99–119.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2019.099494

Climate variability, which might arise through global warming or other factors has been shown to have an impact on mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, according to research published in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Baishali Bakshi of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, Raphael Nawrotzki of Deutsche Evaluierungsinstitut der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (DEval) in Bonn, Germany, Joshua Donato of Houston Engineering, Inc. In Maple Grove, Minnesota, and Luisa Silva Lelis of Universidade de Sao Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil, explain how the persistence of high mortality rates in this region are stifling development and sustainable development in particular.

They have look at climate variables over the last half a century and more to see if climate patterns correlated with mortality rates. Any insights in this regard might then be returned to policymakers, healthcare, and education to find ways to ameliorate the effects and perhaps lower mortality rates and thence allow sustainable development to proceed without this intrinsic hindrance.

The team looked at elevated mortality in rural Kenya, Mali, and Malawi during the period 2008 to 2009 and then analysed this against climate variability at this time against a long-term climate normal period, 1961-1990. The results were quite enlightening: Cold snaps led to increased mortality in Kenya but reduced mortality in Mali and Malawi, the team reports. Too much rain, as well as droughts, was also associated with increased mortality in Kenya and Malawi. Moreover, adverse climatic conditions increased mortality where HIV/AIDS was prevalence but led to lower mortality in malaria-stricken areas.

"Programs for reducing climate-related mortality through early warning systems, agricultural extension services, and improved access to health infrastructure will help more fully realise sustainable development goals of mortality reduction for sub-Saharan Africa," the team concludes.

Bakshi, B., Nawrotzki, R.J., Donato, J.R. and Lelis, L.S. (2019) 'Exploring the link between climate variability and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa', Int. J. Environment and Sustainable Development, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.206-237.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESD.2019.099518

Haggling will be familiar to anyone who has visited a market during the last few thousand years! If a deal is to be done between hawker and customer, then the price has to be right. A modern twist on this is that the seller has no input and the customer simply pays what they want for the goods; although there has always been free access to some things where a donation is welcomed. It is rare that this approach becomes the predominant pricing model although there have been numerous experiments, such as pay-what-you-want for digital goods online, including music from famous artists.

Now, Vinaysingh Chawan of the Indian Institute of Management Indore, writing in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management explains that the pay-what-you-want pricing model whether for digital goods, services, or entrance to a museum or exhibition is perhaps counterintuitive. This is especially so given that the buyer may opt to pay nothing and so the seller makes no financial gain from the transaction. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the PWYW model does have its supporters and many companies give their customers the option.

It turns out that the vast majority of people will take the view that this "honesty box" type approach deserves to be rewarded and will pay what they perceive as a fair price. Few pay nothing at all. Some people might even pay more than the price the seller hoped for and this can offset the loss due to those who pay nothing. The seller has to assume a majority of fair-minded customers and few freeloaders.

Chawan has investigated with PWYW works for the restaurant industry. If the menu gives a fair suggested price rather than an obligatory price, then it seems customers will pay a fair price. There is always the option of setting an absolute minimum which precludes freeloading and allows the restaurateur to at least cover costs, perhaps with a small profit margin. Indeed, when a minimum is set and a guide price is given, profits commonly end up being higher than when the restaurateur sets absolute pricing. There is much research to be done before this paradigm becomes widespread if not universal.

Chawan, V. (2019) 'A pay-what-you-want pricing model for restaurants', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp.431-449.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSOM.2019.099476

Many online shoppers will take a look at the reviews for the product or service they're about to purchase. The majority will presumably trust that the e-commerce site will only be posting genuine reviews of any given product, posted by other customers. However, as several recent high-profile cases have shown this is not always the case. Unfortunately, e-commerce sites are littered with fake reviews. These can persuade innocent shoppers to make a purchase and anticipate a certain level of quality to which the product or service they receive ultimately does not reach.

Even the most respected of sites can succumb to fake reviews because it is very difficult to automate detection despite the many protections that some operators of such sites have implemented to do so. Now, writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking, a team from China has demonstrated how a dynamic multimode network might be employed to efficiently detect fake reviews.

There are four fundamental concepts that might be examined to detect fake reviews, explain Jun Zhao and Hong Wang of the School of Information Science and Engineering, at Shandong Normal University, China. These are the quality of the merchandise, the honesty of the review, the trustworthiness of the reviewer, and the reliability of the e-commerce site. However, even taken together these cannot discern whether an unscrupulous merchant has employed third parties to post favourable but fake reviews of their products and services. In order to more subtly detect fake reviews, the team's dynamic approach utilizes three algorithms to uncover the nuances common to fake reviews.

Zhao, J. and Wang, H. (2019) 'Detecting fake reviews via dynamic multimode network', Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.408-416.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHPCN.2019.099264

In the context of information technology, IT, a "honeypot" is an attractive online destination usually established to attract malicious third parties who then, assuming they have reached a valuable resource unwittingly reveal details about themselves in order to access what they perceive is within the honeypot. A honeypot might also be referred to as a honeytrap.

However, writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, US researchers caution that the use of a honeypot to gather personal or private data albeit of a malicious third party, or hacker, may well be in breach of local and perhaps even federal laws in some situations. Use of a honeypot may also leave the operator open to issues of legal liability because of the deception that is the honeypot by definition.

Also, by opening a honeypot on a system it might attract hackers who then find a way to access the genuine parts of the network or other system and so compromise that legitimate content in some way, exposing the honeypot operator to liability for damages caused.

Having recognized the putative legal implications of operating a honeypot, the team offers recommendations for how to detect and deceive malicious third parties who may be attempting to fraudulently access the actual online resource without compromising the operator. Moreover, by taking a properly legally compliant approach to a honeypot, the evidence accrued from third parties might then ultimately become useful and admissible in the prosecution of that third party.

Brown, A.J. and Andel, T.R. (2019) "What"s in your honeypot: a privacy compliance perspective", Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.289–309.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2019.099443

"The modern contract cheating industry allows students and ghostwriters to connect to each other over the internet, often using through an essay mill, agency website or other third-party service," explains Thomas Lancaster Department of Computing, Imperial College London, UK, in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management.

He adds that such contract cheating sees students recruiting a third party to create original work on their behalf and then submitting that work, an essay or another assignment, in order to gain the requisite academic credit. This is an ethically questionable practice that compromises the validity of any course from the lower to the upper echelons of education and makes a mockery of the value of work carried out honestly by other students.

Little research has been done so far to learn more about the ghostwriters, where they are, and how they operate. Lancaster has now investigated the ghostwriters working in this cheating industry and specifically those working in India. His study is based on openly available data from freelancing websites that operate as so-called "essay mills". The information that can be gleaned from these sites reveals details of the projects ghostwriters have completed and the marketing techniques the ghostwriters themselves use to garner new customers for their services. Lancaster found that there are many prolific writers on one major freelancing website. These writers turn around one or more essays each day. Much of this work is entirely original and of reasonably high quality. By contrast, some of the ghostwriters provide low-quality essays with much of the content plagiarized from other sources.

"It is hoped that understanding the ghostwriters will aid instructors in taking preventative measures against contract cheating," Lancaster explains. Indeed, he suggests that preventative approaches to avoid validating students that have used ghostwriters would be to monitor ongoing engagement with the course and other assignments and assessments. It would be relatively trivial to examine different pieces of work side by side to see whether writing style differed significantly to show that a third party may have completed an assignment. Moreover, for the lower-quality essays, there are many tools to detect plagiarized text.

Lancaster, T. (2019) 'The emergence of academic ghost writers from India in the international contract cheating industry', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp.349–367.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICBM.2019.099281

Every year computer security companies share their findings regarding passwords and data breaches. Again and again, they warn computer users to use complex passwords and not to use the same passwords for different accounts. And, yet, data breaches and other sources show that too many people use the same simple passwords repeatedly and that some of those passwords are ludicrously simple, the word "password" or the number "123456" really isn't a password at all given even the least-sophisticated hacking and cracking software available to malicious third parties these days.

Inertia is one important problem: it is difficult to get users, set in their ways, to change their old, easily remembered passwords to complex, difficult to remember codes. It is even harder to get such users to use password managers or multifactor authentication, which would add another layer of security to their logins.

Now, writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, Jaryn Shen and Qingkai Zeng of the State Key Laboratory for Novel Software Technology, and Department of Computer Science and Technology, at Nanjing University, China, have proposed a new paradigm for password protection. Their approach addresses online and offline attacks to passwords without increasing the effort required of a user to choose and memorise their passwords.

"Passwords are the first security barrier for online web services. As long as attackers steal and crack users' passwords, they gain and control users' personal information. It is not just an invasion of privacy. It can also lead to more serious consequences such as data damages, economic loss and criminal activities," the team writes.

Their approach involves having a login system based on two servers instead of one. The user has a short, memorable password to access their longer, computer-generated "hashed” passwords on another server, the key to "de-hashing” those longer passwords are stored on the second server, but the actual password is stored on the user's device too and so the memorable password acts as a token for two-factor authentication. The approach means that attackers with even the most sophisticated hacking tools cannot apply an offline dictionary and brute-force attacks effectively.

Shen, J. and Zeng, Q. (2019) 'CSPS: catchy short passwords making offline and online attacks impossible', Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.255–274.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2019.099434

Researchers in India are developing an "intelligent" system that can monitor energy usage of Internet of Things devices in the home and connect or disconnect them appropriately as needed. The system uses a Hall effect sensor to monitor the current flowing to a device.

In work described in the International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, the team presents a new approach to IoT control with software and hardware. An IoT device can monitor energy levels while the intelligent system is connected via Wi-Fi to allow control from a remote site, specifically using an internet-connected smartphone. Such a system would be a boon to those with various forms of disability who might thus take back control of their home and its appliances, such as lights, fans, heaters, and other enabled devices, where before many gadgets were wholly inaccessible or required another person to be present to help.

Experiments with the prototype circuit board offer a proof of principle where two connected devices, a standalone PC fan as a surrogate for a domestic fan and an LED as a substitute for a houselight were used in the tests.

Nalajala, P., Godavarthi, B. and Prabhakar Reddy, G. (2019) 'An intelligent system to connect or disconnect home appliances and monitoring energy levels using IoT', Int. J. Technology Intelligence and Planning, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.209–222.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTIP.2019.099203

In the world of cybersecurity, just as in nature, there are predators and there is prey. The predators are the hunters, the ones that seek out the weak and the vulnerable on which to prey, that applies whether we are talking cat and mouse or hacker and computer system. Writing in the International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, a team from the USA suggests that the waxing and waning, the ebb and flow of cyber attack on the Internet of Things and other systems reflects the natural rise and fall of predator and prey numbers. When predators attack more frequently and with more sophisticated weaponry, the prey ultimately adapts to cope and so the predator must also evolve to have sharper teeth and longer claws to persist in the next round of attack and so on [...]

Legitimate firms or hackers – who is winning the global cyber war?

An assessment of local and regional air-quality forecasts for London, UK is reported in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution. In their evaluation, Amy Stidworthy, Mark Jackson, Kate Johnson, David Carruthers, and Jenny Stocker, of Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants Ltd., explain how levels of nitrogen oxides, ozone, and sooty particulates (PM2.5 and PM10), can be predicted quite accurately but the origin and how the various pollutants are dispersed must be taken into account in forecasts to ensure accuracy.

Atmospheric dispersions models are critical to accurate, long-range predictions of air quality. Such forecasts inform the public and others of how pollution levels are shifting over the coming days and can be used to advise people with reduced lung function and other medical conditions sensitive to high pollution levels on whether or not to avoid certain areas at certain times or even to stay indoors entirely.

The researchers add that "Forecasting systems must account for long-range transport of pollutants in addition to local emissions, chemical processes and urban morphology; thus it is common practice to couple local air dispersion models with regional models to account for pollutant emissions, transport and chemistry at a range of scales." As such, their evaluation of the commonly used system of London's airTEXT, which uses CAMS regional ensemble air quality forecast data, and the ADMS-Urban dispersal model to make accurate predictions is important both for ensuring that guidance is appropriate.

The team showed that this system performs better than the regional-scale CAMS forecasts for all pollutants considered, with the exception of PM2.5. However, there were no major air-quality incidents during the study period so the absolute predictive power could not be determined. Prediction of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels was much better in urban areas with this system as one might expect given that the main source is road traffic. Ozone levels are a secondary pollutant and so levels depend heavily on dispersal.

The team adds that "conservative" and "cautious" alerts should be considered and data points on the threshold might be removed to avoid bias and so improve accuracy still further, although this would only be sensible with very long data sets covering a significant time period.

Stidworthy, A., Jackson, M., Johnson, K., Carruthers, D. and Stocker, J. (2018) 'Evaluation of local and regional air quality forecasts for London', Int. J. Environment and Pollution, Vol. 64, Nos. 1/2/3, pp.178–191.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2018.099160

Almost ten years ago computer and software giant Microsoft introduced a movement-detecting controller for its gaming platforms known as Kinect. Aside from being able to play games, there was much excitement among musicians, scientists, and even healthcare professionals who saw its potential as a virtualised control for their particular areas.

A user could play a computer-based musical instrument through gestures and movements picked up by the 3D sensing device. However, the system required large movements, of arms and legs for instance, which perhaps limited the nuances of the music one might play with such an "instrument". Now, writing in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, a team from Taiwan describes their algorithm for real-time finger movement tracking using a Kinect device that would allow a performer to simulate playing the guitar and the software to generate appropriate sound.

One might envisage the wannabe rock guitarist playing "air guitar" and generating guitar or other sounds synchronised to their finger movements with the melody, chords, and sounds pre-programmed. But, more seriously, the system could be used to genuinely play music through finger movements alone without the need for an actual guitar.

The team's experiments with the system show that the proposed method can be used to play music of different genres with acceptable quality. They add that the application might a novice who has no or little experience of playing real musical instruments as well as experimental musicians seeking an alternative paradigm to the conventional instruments available to them.

Hakim, N.L., Sun, S-W., Hsu, M-H., Shih, T.K. and Wu, S-J. (2019) 'Virtual guitar: using real-time finger tracking for musical instruments', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp.438-450.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2019.099081

Blogs, or as they were originally known, weblogs, first hit the World Wide Web back in 1997. The term "weblog" was coined in December that year and almost immediately abbreviated to "blog". The subsequent two decades saw the rise and rise of millions of blogs, they rode the wave of Web 2.0, became multi-author publication tools, and many matured into fully-fledged information and news services.

Now, writing in the in International Journal of Electronic Business, Parag Uma Kosalge, Suzanne Crampton, and Ashok Kumar of the Department of Management, at Seidman College of Business, at Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, ask whether blogs have had their day given the rise of social media and social networking sites and systems, such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, which are outpacing blogs in so many ways today.

Their study of over four hundred internet users found statistically significant evidence for reduced user awareness and consideration of blogging in recent years. However, their study also identified four business areas that users still find important for blogs, such as employee networking and online sales. As with many aspects of technology and in particular information and communications technology, the services on which users rely and use the most are constantly shifting. The services must, in the parlance of natural selection, adapt or die. Blogs may not have had their day, but it is critical that bloggers recognize the opposition they face from other non-blogging services online and in order to be sustainable must find ways to ride whichever wave comes along.

Kosalge, P.U., Crampton, S. and Kumar, A. (2019) 'Blogs: are they headed downwards in social networking? An empirical analysis', Int. J. Electronic Business, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.72–91.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEB.2019.099063

There is much debate about whether or not violent video games give rise to violent tendencies in those who play them. Some research shows this to be the case while other studies demonstrate the opposite. However, a third factor may be critical to understanding what role, if any, such games play in society and that is "family resilience." Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, Mirjana Radetic-Paic of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, at Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, in Croatia, has investigated the influence of violent video games on player aggression and violent tendencies in the context of this third factor.

She has found that in general, emotional maturity, responsibility, and an ability to keep promises within the family is linked to playing video games with non-violent content. "The results are especially important for future teachers, since they need to be able to develop appropriate strategies which prevent adverse impacts on learning abilities such as social and communication skills," Radetic-Paic explains.

"Although special attention has to be paid to reaching conclusions and looking for a direct correlation among violence, video games with violent contents and family resilience factors, it can be deduced that this occurrence has many causes, which means that a larger number of variables has been used in the interpretation," she adds.

Radetic-Paic, M. (2019) 'Video games with violent contents and family resilience factors', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp.223–236.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2019.098883

Music is big business. It has been since the advent of the sheet music industry in the 19th Century and the ensuing piracy scandals, right through the invention of radio, recorded music, and the usurping of the family piano for devices that could replicate the songs we loved without anyone having to be able to sight-read, play or sing. Into the 21st Century, the industry is still playing catchup with the pirates who found technological ways in which to replicate and share the music they love without spending a penny of their own money.

Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Business, Teresa Fernandes and João Guerra of the Faculty of Economics, at the University of Porto, in Porto, Portugal discuss the advent of music streaming services. Streaming services emerged as an alternative business model to the failing CD-buying model in the wake of file sharing and the mp3. It was obvious to the technology, as opposed to the record companies, that are a new model was needed if money was to be made and an industry soaked in the copyright and intellectual property laws founded in the 19th Century if not before was to survive in some form into the 21st Century.

The problem remains, however, whereas video streaming services are adding millions of users each month as on-demand alternatives to cable and satellite TV, music lovers are not adopting music streaming at quite the rate its purveyors would like to reach a solid bottom line in their business model. Whereas ten dollars a month for almost unlimited TV show and movie streaming on-demand seems like a bargain, the same fee for music does not compute when it is so easy for listeners to quickly download the latest hits and even the golden oldies without it costing them anything even at the risk of legal action being taken against them under copyright laws.

The team's analysis suggests that there is no simple solution, no magic button that the music (streaming) industry might press to persuade people to sign up for its offerings. They must instead now consider how to generate revenue through balancing free and premium components as well as adjusting their strategies for different market segments based on age, gender, for instance. There may well always be consumers willing to pay as long as they are targeted correctly, but one might suggest that the billion-dollar music industry of the 20th Century is probably long gone and a new paradigm is needed. Perhaps we could all go back to making our own music...

Fernandes, T. and Guerra, J. (2019) 'Drivers and deterrents of music streaming services purchase intention', Int. J. Electronic Business, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.21–42.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEB.2019.099061

There are many ways in which hackers and crackers can break into a Wi-Fi network. It is trivial if the network uses out of date security protocols or weak passwords. But even if the system is setup with the latest security measures, strong passwords, and firewall and malware protection, there are still ways and means that a malicious third party might access such a network. Writing in the International Journal of Wireless and Mobile Computing, researchers from China review the various hacking techniques that might be used and show what defensive measures might best be taken to preclude system compromise.

Rui Guo of the Department of Internet Crime Investigation, at the National Police University of China, in Liaoning Province, China, explains that there is a fundamental security flaw in all Wi-Fi systems. Because of the way Wi-Fi works, the access-point, must listen passively for a signal, a beacon, from devices that may wish to connect whether legitimately or illicitly. This beacon is wholly unencrypted, it has to be because until a connection is made no data can be exchanged to encrypt subsequent communication between the access-point and device.

"This makes Wi-Fi easy to use because you can see networks and their names around you without exchanging some key or password first, but it also makes Wi-Fi networks prone to many kinds of attacks," explains Guo. He has now looked at the top three exploit kits used to break into Wi-Fi: Rogue AP, ARP spoofing, and Wi-Fi MITM. The first point of concern is that none of these kits need physical access to the network, by virtue of its wireless nature, Wi-Fi is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, whereas a wired network would require the hacker to have a plug-and-socket connection to the network to be able to breach its security.

These "automated cyber weapons" can cause havoc by penetrating and bypassing protections, they can also forge disassociations and deauthorise packets, compromising legitimate communications. Guo describes the protection tools that are available but none of them is perfect and there almost always ways in which a hacker can breach a Wi-Fi network.

Guo, R. (2019) 'Survey on WiFi infrastructure attacks', Int. J. Wireless and Mobile Computing, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.97–101.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWMC.2019.099026

Music is an essential element of both the tourism offering and promotion in branding a holiday destination, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Tourism Policy. Indeed, music can make a tourist destination unique and distinctive. Christian Stipanović, and Diana Grgurić of the University of Rijeka, working with Nataša Jurina of the City of Krk Tourist Board, Krk, Croatia, discuss the details.

Krk is the most populous islands of the Adriatic Sea, lying towards the north near Rijeka on the Dalmatian Coast in the Bay of Kvarner. It covers more than 400 square kilometres as does the neighbouring island of Cres, although Cres has a population of three thousand or so compared with Krk's approximately 20000 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination being connected to the mainland by a concrete bridge and in relatively close proximity to Slovenia, Hungary, Southern Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy.

The team reports that the traditional music of Krk, whether performed live or recorded music at various venues and locations across the island is an important part of the authenticity, culture, and heritage of the island. “Recently the destination has sought to innovate its music offering to reflect the island's sustainable development strategy and, by implementing its own development concept model,” the team writes.

The team's study shows that audio management represents a crucial dimension of an integrated tourism product based on sustainable development and indigenous values. They add that it can improve the destination's tourist offering and the overall experience for visitors but only if there is planning for music, noise control, and acoustic design, in venues for instance.

Stipanović, C., Grgurić, D. and Jurina, N. (2018) 'Audio management in the development and branding of Krk Island', Int. J. Tourism Policy, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.319-336.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTP.2018.098933

Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy shows how a neural network can be trained with a genetic algorithm to forecasting short-term demands on electricity load. Chawalit Jeenanunta and Darshana Abeyrathna of Thammasat University, in Thani, Thailand, explain that it is critical for electricity producers to be able to estimate how much demand there will be on their systems in the next 48 hours. Without such predictions, there will inevitably be shortfalls in power generation when demand is higher than estimated or energy and resources wasted if demand is lower than expected.

The team has used data from the electricity generating authority of Thailand (EGAT) to train a neural network via a genetic algorithm. The results are compared with the more conventional back-propagation approach to prediction and show that the system is much better and predict the rise and falls in electricity demand. The genetic algorithm neural network (GANN) approach takes about 30 minutes to train for prediction compared with 1 minute for back-propagation training of a neural network. However, the added value of much more accurate predictions far outweighs this additional time and effort.

Jeenanunta, C. and Darshana Abeyrathna, K. (2019) 'Neural network with genetic algorithm for forecasting short-term electricity load demand', Int. J. Energy Technology and Policy, Vol. 15, Nos. 2/3, pp.337–350.
DOI: 10.1504/IJETP.2019.098957

An ego network is one perspective on social network analysis, it looks at the individual and their circle of friends and the connections that fan out from that person. Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Tinghuai Ma of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China, and colleagues describe a way to look at an ego network and to automatically and accurately glean information about the community surrounding the person at its centre. Obviously, by applying such an analysis to different individuals it should be possible to build up a picture of the wider community. The approach developed by the team could be useful users themselves, allowing them to take control of their contacts in an automated manner.

The team can build up circles of friends from their analysis. In a three-step process that looks for the similarities between user attributes, features of network structure, and the contact frequency between the central user, the ego, and their friends. "We compare the similarity among attributes of users first, the team reports, they can then "divide all friends by the similarity of properties between any friend and the central user.”

Xing, F., Ma, T., Tang, M. and Guan, D. (2019) 'Friend circle identification in ego network based on hybrid method', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp.224–234.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2019.098860

A soundscape workshop offered young people an opportunity to participate in the conversation surrounding the urban sonic environment, changes in it, and its future. The outcomes are discussed in the International Journal of Electronic Governance in the context of a large, creative Europe project known as "The People's Smart Sculpture".

Aura Neuvonen of the Department of Film and Television at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, in Helsinki, Finland, examined the issues of creating and experiencing soundscapes in the mobile soundscape workshop. "The soundscape platform and the workshop method was created to experiment with mobile and participatory methods with sound and sonic experiences," she explains. The sub-project entitled "Neighbourhood as a living room" was focused on finding new ways to make exhibitions at the Helsinki Museum of Technology more interesting especially to young people. The findings could have wider implications for other museums, galleries outdoor installations, and events.

During the workshops, participants generated soundscapes using a mobile tool known as "Soundspace" and an Audio Digital Asset Management System developed at Metropolia. Having created their soundscapes, they listened to each other's and discussed their experiences and opinions. "The participants' focus on hearing, listening and observing their surrounding sonic environment increased when emotional engagement and personal experiences were acknowledged during the workshop," Neuvonen explains, an important point in the wider context of taking part in the discussion about our aural environment.

Neuvonen, A. (2019) 'Experiencing the soundscape with mobile mixing tools and participatory methods', Int. J. Electronic Governance, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.44–61.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2019.098811

How might we ensure that our young people are safe and secure while being sociable online? That is the question addressed by a team in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research.

In the age of online social networks and social media, countless millions of us are connected to internet services other individuals and corporations almost constantly. We rely heavily on social media to obtain and share information, news, and multimedia content. Moreover, we share much of this information with relatives, friends, and other online users. What is not always obvious to many users is just how much of our personal and private information is being shared across these networks and with the corporations that offer the services, often at no obvious financial cost to us, but ultimately at some cost to our privacy and perhaps our security.

Ajith Sundaram of Anna University, in Chennai and P. Radha of the SNT Global Academy of Management Studies and Technology, in Coimbatore, India, have investigated the impact of phishing, profile squatting, image tagging, spamming, cross profiling, and other activities on youth security and safety online. Their modelling of social media activity does show that security and privacy concerns have a moderating effect of perceived privacy on trust. The pair offers practical and theoretical implications that could be applied irrespective of whether an individual or an organization is being discussed. The researchers highlight best practice that might be employed to protect online privacy.

Sundaram, A. and Radha, P. (2019) 'Social media security and privacy protection concerning youths. 'How to be safe, secure and social'', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp.453-471.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBIR.2019.098761

Vaccination is the most effective and safe preventive strategy against many childhood infectious diseases. We can vaccinate effectively and safely against potentially lethal and debilitating diseases including measles, mumps, influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, Rubella, poliomyelitis, and various other diseases. However, there are still outbreaks where vaccination is not available and increasingly in the era of contrarian thinking where vaccines are not taken as an option by some parents for their children, we are seeing the re-emergence of epidemics of these horrendous diseases.

Now, mathematician Kazeem Oare Okosun of Vaal University of Technology, in Gauteng, and Oluwole Daniel Makinde of Stellenbosch University, South Africa, have derived and analysed a deterministic model for the transmission of childhood disease perform optimal control analysis of the model. Writing in the International Journal of Computing Science and Mathematics, they report on how a disease might be controlled optimally to reduce the devastating impact of an epidemic. Their approach also looks at how financial costs might be minimized in efforts to control a childhood disease.

Vaccination has proven to be the most effective prevention strategy against childhood diseases, the team writes, the need to achieve an optimal level of vaccine coverage is essential to controlling the spread of childhood disease in the twenty-first century, they add. Prevention is ultimately better than cure the research suggests especially given that many of the most debilitating and lethal diseases have no effective pharmaceutical, or indeed, any other form of, treatment.

Okosun, K.O. and Makinde, O.D. (2019) 'Mathematical model of childhood diseases outbreak with optimal control and cost effectiveness strategy', Int. J. Computing Science and Mathematics, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.115–128.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSM.2019.098743

Lead is a poisonous metal and a significant environmental pollutant. An important source of waste is the lead used in car batteries. Research published in Progress in Industrial Ecology - An International Journal shows how lead, scrap plastic, and sulfuric acid from used car batteries might be retrieved based on a mathematical reverse logistics network model.

Najme Roghani Langarudi of the Department of Industrial Engineering, at Amirkabir University of Technology-Tehran Polytechnic, in Tehran, Abdolhossein Sadrnia of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Quchan University of Technology, both in Iran, and Amirreza Payandeh Sani of the Department of Industrial Engineering, at the Islamic Azad University of Semnan Branch, United Arab Emirates, explain a five-layer framework that involves reverse logistics based on collection, remanufacturing, repair, recycling, and disposal. The approach has two objective functions - to minimise costs and avoid carbon dioxide emissions. "In order to show the practicability of the presented model, a numerical example using general algebraic modelling system (GAMS) software was applied," the team explains.

The team points out that traditional manufacturing is usually undertaken in a forward logistics management sense. With increasing environmental awareness, however, life cycle and cradle-to-grave assessment of a product and its end of life disposal or recycling are increasingly important. In this context the notion and benefits of reverse logistics become critical. A closed-loop supply chain offers a viable approach to automobile batteries, the team suggests.

Langarudi, N.R., Sadrnia, A. and Sani, A.P. (2019) 'Recovering lead, plastic, and sulphuric acid from automobile used batteries by mathematical reverse logistics network modelling', Progress in Industrial Ecology - An International Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.63-83.
DOI: 10.1504/PIE.2019.098786

Enterprise social media (ESM) is an open and public platform that facilitates employee discussions about work-related matters. However, there are known disadvantages. Now, writing in the International Journal of Agile Systems and Management, researchers reveal their findings with regards to the impact of ESM and employee psychological wellbeing and the modulating role played by communication quality in this context.

Abdul Hameed Pitafi of the School of Management, at the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, Shamsa Kanwal of the School of Public Affair there, and Adnan Pitafi of the Mehran University Institute of Science, Technology and Development (MUISTD), in Sindh, Pakistan, explain how researchers and even practitioners are rather vague about the advantages of ESM. The teams carried out a study based on information processing theory to investigate whether or not an employee's "psychological safety" is positively correlated with their "agility"; agility being their ability to react to and to adopt environmental changes rapidly and in an appropriate manner.

A study of 167 employees who adopted ESM in the workplace, lends new understanding to the team's hypotheses. "The existing investment in ESM is insufficient to achieving better employee agility," the team says. "Managers should take appropriate steps in implementing ESM and improving the psychological safety and, consequently, the employee's agility. The findings in this study are an important attempt to provide guidance and knowledge to managers regarding the positive side of ESM."

Pitafi, A.H., Kanwal, S. and Pitafi, A. (2019) 'Effect of enterprise social media and psychological safety on employee's agility: mediating role of communication quality', Int. J. Agile Systems and Management, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.1–26.
DOI: 10.1504/IJASM.2019.098708

Why have so many people become dependent on their smartphones. This almost ubiquitous communication and information tool seems to be perpetually in so many and taking our undivided attention even when the "real world" has much to offer. Research published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications discusses the various factors that have led to this state of dependence.

Repeated studies show that large numbers of smartphone owners never disconnect, many check their device repeatedly throughout the day, every day, many keep their phones at their bedside, and for a large number of people, the smartphone has usurped more traditional information sources, such as radio, television, print publications, and even human conversation and face-to-face social interaction. To some extent where observers of the early adopters of smartphones perhaps saw them as the object of conspicuous consumption, today, with more mobile phones than people in the world, they have become something of a mundane artifact, despite their information, communication, and computational power.

Sylvia Chan-Olmsted of the Department of Telecommunication at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, USA and Min Xiao of the Department of Advertising there have explored the role of dependency on and usage of other media platforms, multiplatform media use, mobile ownership and perceptions, smartphone functions, and various consumer characteristics. Their analysis suggests that while the television and the personal computer remain important information media, it is, perhaps obviously, the simple portability of the smartphone, which essentially combines television, computer, and telephone, that has enthralled so many in recent years.

Chan-Olmsted, S. and Xiao, M. (2019) 'Factors affecting smartphone dependency of media consumers', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.353-375.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2019.098595

Computing with words is a computational method where the objects of computation are words and propositions drawn from a natural language rather than the ones and zeroes of binary. Computing with words is perhaps what makes humanity a unique animals species in many regards allowing us to communicate detailed abstract concepts, to reason, to make predictions based on experience and observation. Moreover, we can do those things even with a lack of empirical data, with imprecise, or fuzzy, information, and other deficits.

Now, Arindam Dey of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at Saroj Mohan Institute of Technology, Hooghly, working alongside Anita Pal of the Department of Mathematics, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, India, have proposed a generalized algorithm, a generalized Diskrtra’s algorithm, specifically, that might allow a computer to do some of what the human brain can do in the context of solving decision-making problems using information extracted from natural language.

They have devised a computer model that can determine the rank of the shortest path which is a collection of words. In everyday language we would colloquially describe the shortest path between points in a space, the nodes, using fuzzy terms - adjectives - rather than numbers. The new model could allow a computer to describe paths in such fuzzy terms too without the need for raw numerical data.

Such a computer tool could utilise words to make decisions based on information that lacks numerical data and be of real-world applications in designing and running transport systems, in logistics management, and many areas where nodes within a network and the connections between them need to be formulated and considered in an abstract rather than conventionally computational sense.

Dey, A. and Pal, A. (2019) 'Computing the shortest path with words', Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 12, Nos. 3/4, pp.355-369.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAIP.2019.098577

There is much ongoing research into autonomous road vehicles and experimental cars and heavy-goods vehicles have already hit the roads. A paper published in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management examines some of the myths associated with driverless vehicles and analyses the route that we might navigate to a new transport destination - the autonomous mobility paradigm.

Alexandros Nikitas, Eric Tchouamou Njoya, and Samir Dani suggest that "Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could become the most powerful mobility intervention." Unfortunately, despite the paradigm-shifting impact on traffic safety, economics, the environment, social inclusion, and network performance, there are still many complications associated with acceptance by the industry, policymakers, drivers, and passengers to be addressed before this new transport becomes the norm.

The team recognizes that there is a pressing need to frame an unproven, disruptive, and life-changing intervention, against the conventional automobile technologies without generating new misconceptions, overreaching expectations, and with sufficient room to accommodate predictive errors and avoiding hyperbole. If the benefits of this paradigm shift are to be wrought. They discuss eleven myths surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles

  • Enhanced traffic safety and accident prevention.
  • Better security - more monitoring and control of the vehicles of the new travel eco-system.
  • Reduced traffic congestion due to more efficient mobility and parking management.
  • Significant time savings - people can use in-vehicle time to be more productive.
  • Smoother rides, more cabin space and more relaxed travelling.
  • Environmental benefits including less CO2 emissions due to CAVs eco-driving capacity.
  • Decreased noise nuisance - CAVs will have more noiseless engines and drive unobtrusively.
  • Reduced energy consumption and fossil fuel dependence due to CAVs eco-driving capacity.
  • Huge car-sharing and demand-responsive public transport potential.
  • Fewer layers of social exclusion - less age, disability and skill barriers in 'driving’ a vehicle.
  • Smaller enforcing, policing, insurance premiums and road signage requirements.

Their paper tests these eleven myths that perhaps refer to an overly optimistic CAV development and adoption timeline. By taking this approach they have highlighted unresolved issues that need to be addressed before an inescapable transition can happen. They thus provide relevant policy recommendations on how it might ultimately become achievable.

Nikitas, A., Njoya, E.T. and Dani, S. (2019) 'Examining the myths of connected and autonomous vehicles: analysing the pathway to a driverless mobility paradigm', Int. J. Automotive Technology and Management, Vol. 19, Nos. 1/2, pp.10-30.
DOI: 10.1504/IJATM.2019.098513

The refugee crisis in Europe has become a global humanitarian problem argues Edita Calakovic of the Karl Franzens Universität, in Graz, Austria. Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy explains how in the summer of 2015, the problem came to a head and finally gained international recognition as the biggest refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II. Many of the refugees and asylum seekers came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and number at least one million attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and begin a new, safer life in 2015 in Europe.

While many people were seeking asylum there was the wider issue of migration to address and this has led to a rising sentiment of alienation. Hundreds of people have died attempting to escape, war, extremists, and tyrants. The image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down and dead on a Turkish beach was perhaps a turning point in awareness. His death in attempting to reach the safety of Greece has become a symbol for the suffering of Syrian refugees.

In the bigger political picture, the issue of migration, growing population, and other issues are constantly high on the agenda. Fed by misinformation, disinformation and the often distorted perspectives of those with their own political agendas, the public can either see the crisis as being one with which they must help or persuade their leaders to help or they can turn their backs on those seeking our help, closing borders and reducing immigration allowances irrespective of need.

In this mixed and often polarized debate Calakovic says that migrants and asylum seekers can help themselves by ensuring they quickly become part of the community in the country where they seek refuge, they must attempt to successfully integrate or risk the inevitable rejection by the more right-wing factions within European society. Learning the local language and, if not adopting, then at least learning about and accepting local culture and traditions could play an important part in this integration process. Of course, there should be no pressure to abandon or forget their own cultural traditions and language.

"Even if the anti-immigration and anti-refugee political parties have been doing very well in recent years, this should not stop the refugees to secure multiculturalism," concludes Calakovic.

Calakovic, E. (2019) 'The European refugee crisis in Europe and multicultural integration', Int. J. Foresight and Innovation Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.19-36.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2019.098370

Venezuela is one of the world's biggest oil producers. Is it any wonder that it is a political hotbed? Oil means money, money means power. Unfortunately, none of that seems to have led the country to a settled state. Initially, the discovery of oil led to development and industrialization. But, the wealth ended up in few hands and the poverty was widespread.

Venezuela has proven oil reserves amounting to 300 billion barrels, this is the largest reserve in the world. It also has extensive natural gas reserves and mineral deposits. And, yet this somehow led to extremely high inflation, economic recession and an energy crisis accompanied major politic upheaval which is ongoing at the time of writing but had changed considerably since the research paper discussed here was itself written.

Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, Nikolina Jankovic, Mariana Olvera Colin, Melissa Ari, and Agnes Haidacher of the University of Graz, Austria, explain how, as popular unrest rose, Hugo Chávez came to power. He declared war on capitalism and left a divided society and a country currently afflicted by a deep economic crisis. The researchers discuss this rise to power and roles of the various "actors" in the conflict.

The team concludes that the societal imbalances are largely the fault of political corruption. If corruption could be fought, then that would make an essential contribution to poverty alleviation efforts. Such a statement applies in whatever political situation a nation finds itself where there are unethical power struggles.

Jankovic, N., Olvera Colin, M., Ari, M. and Haidacher, A. (2019) 'The divided Venezuela', Int. J. Foresight and Innovation Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.5–18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2019.098377

If people who work together don't have good interpersonal relationships, and more to the point, there is actual incivility between them, this can seriously impede the flow of knowledge within a company. A survey conducted among workers in the information technology and communications industry is analysed and discussed in the International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management. Incivility is generally characterized, not as physical violence, but as rude behaviour displaying disrespect and a lack of regard for others.

Muhammad Farrukh of Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, He Ting of SEGi University, and Imran Ahmad Shahzad and Zhou Hua of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Malaysia, found a statistically significant correlation between incivility and knowledge sharing behaviour in ICT companies. There was also a demonstrable mediating effect of perceived organisational support. The team also points out that their analytical approach contributes to theory in this area of management by bonding two opposing poles of social exchange theory in one framework.

"Social exchange theory underpins the basis for studying workplace incivility that is based on a 'tit for tat' pattern and is reciprocal in nature," the team writes. They add that "In a work context, these norms of reciprocity would respond favourable actions of management in a positive way, whereby negative and unfavourable treatment would produce negative reciprocity." In contrast, knowledge sharing is a positive phenomenon and the team points out that it is to the detriment of this that factors that do not lubricate knowledge sharing are ignored by management. It is vital to understand the barriers of knowledge sharing and to overcome them in order to nurture and enhance active knowledge sharing in the workplace, the team suggests.

"This study confirmed the importance and value of a supportive organisational climate for sharing knowledge," the team concludes.

Farrukh, M., Ting, H., Shahzad, I.A. and Hua, Z. (2018) 'Can incivility impede knowledge sharing behaviour?', Int. J. Information Systems and Change Management, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.295–310.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISCM.2018.098381

Research into the changing position and posture of gender in the context of female-dominated occupations first published in Inderscience's International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business (IJESB) has been cited in an important World Health Organization (WHO) report this month.

The WHO report was produced by the WHO Global Health Workforce Network's Gender Equity Hub, (this is co-chaired by the WHO and Women in Global Health). It represents the latest gender and equity analysis of the health workforce. Collectively, the report has taken the first-ever look at the issues of leadership, decent work free from discrimination, harassment, the gender pay gap, and occupational segregation across the entire workforce.

The report is a clarion call for gender-transformative policies and measures to be instigated by policymakers and leaders. It suggests that if global targets such as universal health coverage are to be achieved then these policies and measures must be implemented urgently. "This report serves as an essential resource to all policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, educators and activists that must make it part of their core business to understand and effect change," the WHO authors write.

The IJESB paper cited in the WHO report was authored by Nnamdi Madichie, currently Director of the Centre for Research & Enterprise at the Bloomsbury Institute in London. He offers a gender entrepreneurship slant on the evolving landscape of the "culinary underbelly". The well-known occupations stereotypically associated with women more than men social work, nursing, and elementary education.

The research cited brings to the boil the notion of "chef life" and gender segregation in the world of the commercial kitchen. Traditionally it seems cooking has been the preserve of women, in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. The modern culture of celebrity chefs and the prestige associated with glamorous restaurants has, however, enticed men to don the white apron more than ever before. It is as if men have adopted and adapted to this one last bastion of female career choice.

Author of the IJESB paper had this to say following the publication of the WHO report:

My research article speaks to the conversation on misplaced gender stereotypes and the changing dynamics in the social workforce. It also highlights subtle elements of occupational segregation, safety in the workplace and the empathy of the collective in occupations. These issues, in addition to several others, have prompted both scholarly and policy intervention across unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral levels.

Madichie, N.O. (2013) 'Sex in the kitchen: changing gender roles in a female-dominated occupation', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.90–102.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2013.050754

'Delivered by Women, Led by Men: A Gender and Equity Analysis of the Global Health and Social Workforce Human Resources for Health Observer' – Issue No. 24 (March 2019). ISBN: 978-92-4-151546-7

The human body is well equipped to maintain an adequate level of hydration through the various biological feedback control mechanisms of homeostasis. However, this regulation relies on an adequate supply of water. While there is much mythology surrounding how many glasses of water we each must drink daily to stay healthy. Many people sip at a water bottle throughout the day in the belief that this will keep them well hydrated without considering the possibility that it might nudge their systems to expect such levels of water consistently and so when they have no access to their bottle they feel far more thirsty and suffer a feeling of dryness more than another individual who drinks water only when they feel thirsty and is perfectly well hydrated nevertheless.

Of course, the problem with recommendations for how much we each need and when we should drink it varies from person to person, changes with body weight, environment and specifically temperatures and humidity, personal fitness level, physical activity, age, and illness.

Monitoring water intake, which comes from drinks and food, of course, is the top of a paper published by a team in China in the International Journal of Embedded Systems. Bin Dai, Rung-Ching Chen, and Yuan-Yu Ding of Xiamen University of Technology. They have used "fuzzy" reasoning taking into account the various personal factors such as age, weight, temperature, activity level etc, to develop an application on the Arduino platform that uses Bluetooth electronic scales to connect to a smart phone and can monitor a person's water intake and give them a recommendation on whether they need to drink more or less water.

Dai, B., Chen, R-C. and Ding, Y-Y. (2019) 'A practical approach for estimating human daily water intake', Int. J. Embedded Systems, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.210–219.
DOI: 10.1504/IJES.2019.098297

Storing one's personal or company data on remote storage systems "in the cloud" is an increasingly popular way to reduce internal computing costs and to provide all the securities of off-site backup without having to deal with encryption and data limits in-house. A team from Tunisia has now looked at an identity-based cryptographic scheme that cloud computing providers might employer to make that data even more secure.

Manel Medhioub of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management of Sfax, ESPRIT School of Engineering, Sfax and Mohamed Hamdi of the School of Communication Engineering (Sup'Com), Ariana provide details in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing. They point out that while cloud computing and remote storage systems have many advantages there is always the issue of outsourcing one's data to a third party in terms of critical security, confidentiality, integrity, authentication, anonymity, and resiliency.

The team's approach to addressing that issue lies in an ID-based authentication approach in which the cloud tenant is assigned a private key generator function, technically the IBC-Private Key Generator (PKG) function, which is certificate free and so removes one of the possible entry points for a malicious third party. The tenant can then use this to issue public elements to each of its users but keep confidential and private from the provider the resulting IBC secrets. The team suggests that their approach might be used by a popular cloud storage service, such as Dropbox.

Medhioub, M. and Hamdi, M. (2019) 'An identity-based cryptographic scheme for cloud storage applications', Int. J. Grid and Utility Computing, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.93–104.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGUC.2019.098210

What role might science and technology parks have in the context of corporate social responsibility? That is the question researchers from Spain address in a paper in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management.

José Moyano-Fuentes, Antonia Rodríguez-Martínez, and Juan José Jiménez-Delgado of the University of Jaén, explain their work as flowing in the stream of research that investigates the factors that explain corporate social responsibility. They use reasoning derived from institutional theory to examine the effects of the sense of belonging to such a park, the involvement of institutions with links to the park, and the know-how that exists within the park. The research literature has paid much attention to geographical concentrations of companies and been used in some areas to justify the benefits to companies of setting up in such environments.

The study of some 239 companies based on science and technology parks reveals that all three aspects have a significant positive influence on the corporate social responsibility of those companies. However, "know-how" was shown to be of only secondary importance when compared to the corporate sense of belonging and the role played by institutions associated with the parks.

"The literature has also paid significant attention to geographical concentrations of companies and justified the benefits to companies of setting up in such environments," the team writes. Fundamentally, "Companies could be observed to want to pay back society in return for the benefits that they obtained from being located in a science and technology park," the team adds.

Moyano-Fuentes, J., Rodríguez-Martínez, A. and Jiménez-Delgado, J.J. (2019) 'Territorial agglomerations and corporate social responsibility: the role of science and technology parks', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.180–203.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2019.098152

Mobile computing is pervaded society the world over across all walks of life. Smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets are always on, always connected, always in our hands. But, why? Why has grasping a device for the constant feed of novel information grabbed us so tightly? Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, a team from South Korea and the USA discusses the effects of personal motivation and computing characteristics on ubiquitous mobile device usage.

Changsu Kim of the School of Business, at Yeungnam University, Gyeongbuk-Do, South Korea, Jongheon Kim of the Department of Information Systems, at Auburn University Montgomery, Alabama, and Dan Kim of the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA, have focused on intrinsic and extrinsic values that the mobile user experiences when possessing, interacting with, and using ubiquitous computing via mobile devices. The study extends previous research on the use of ubiquitous computing by introducing a theory from consumer research and applying gratifications theory.

The team makes the broad assumption that ubiquitous computing characteristics and user motivation can be considered as the key features of the adoption of such devices. Their results clearly reveal that user attitudes towards the adoption of ubiquitous computing mobile devices are positively related to the individual's innovativeness, sociability, and ability to personalise their device. In addition, the team reports, users generally perceived the utility of mobile devices through UC dimensions, including mobility, context awareness, interoperability, and personalisation.

Kim, C., Kim, J. and Kim, D.J. (2019) 'Effects of personal motivation and computing characteristics on ubiquitous mobile device usages', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.127–156.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2019.098060

Is there a link between levels of air pollution, a country's economic growth, and the happiness of its citizens? That is the question Zahra Fotourehchi and Habib Ebrahimpour of the Department of Management and Economics, at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, in Ardabil, Iran, hoped to answer in their paper just published in the aptly named International Journal of Happiness and Development.

Prior research into a putative link between economic growth and happiness has not offered researchers the chance to reach a consensus. The results have been mixed. In an attempt to reconcile this state of affairs, the team has looked at gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and its impact on happiness by taking into account the role of air pollution in each country using annual unbalanced panel data for 59 countries between the years 2005 and 2015.

It is curious that the team's analysis suggests that rising per capita GDP leads to a decrease in happiness if the air pollution level is sufficiently high but in contrast, if air pollution is low, rising GDP leads to an increased level of happiness. "We also found that leaving air pollution out of the analysis led to about 15-27% underestimation of the income effect, the team reports. "These results provide some important implications for policymakers seeking to increase economic growth without aggravating happiness."

Fundamentally, "Our research emphasises that improving air quality is an important policy measure to increase happiness in developing countries. Along with economic growth, the current focus on related costs of physical health ignores other hidden costs of pollution on mental health (happiness). If counting these additional costs, the benefits of reducing pollution would be higher," the team concludes.

Fotourehchi, Z. and Ebrahimpour, H. (2019) 'Happiness, economic growth and air pollution: an empirical investigation', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp.1-13.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2019.098047

In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU in a national referendum vote. At the time of writing, the economic implications of the so-called British Exit from the EU, "Brexit" are yet to be fully clarified. Writing in "Global Business and Economics Review", Jeremy Head of the International Business and Economics Research Group (IBERG), Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, analyses the possible impacts of different Brexit scenarios on inward foreign direct investment (FDI) to the UK.

Head demonstrated that the "harder" forms of Brexit are likely to have worse outcomes in terms of inward FDI to the UK. He also suggested that the export platform FDI will be potentially significantly affected too. "The effects of Brexit could also be diverse in different industries, given the different motives for FDI, and also diverse in terms of the type of activity of the FDI," explains Head. He also points out that the effects will not be evenly spread across the UK given the patterns of FDI in the UK. There are clear policy implications...

Even though there was slow economic growth in the UK between 2010 and 2015 following the 2018 economic crash, FDI remained an important component of the UK economy. It was reported in 2016, that FDI amounted to the equivalent of almost US$40 billion for 2015. The flows led to a stock of inward FDI in the UK of $1.5 trillion by 2015. Most studies suggest that inward FDI boosts gross domestic product (GDP). Indeed, there is broad agreement that the UK’s membership of the European Union led to greater inward FDI than the country would otherwise have experienced and it is a matter of record that GDP increased. A 2015 report suggested that EU membership enhanced UK inward FDI by 25 to 30 percent.

However, there is some research that suggests that countries outside the EU benefit in terms of inward FDI and thence GDP significantly and that it may well be that the UK would have been better off outside the EU in some economic sense. Unfortunately, there is no way to carry out randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in the world of economics. Moreover, how things might have been is generally an irrelevant consideration in future prosperity or otherwise, especially given political machinations and the personal and partisan agendas of those playing out the script on behalf of the electorate.

Head, J. (2019) 'An analysis of different Brexit outcomes and their effect on inward FDI to the UK', Global Business and Economics Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp.139-155.
DOI: 10.1504/GBER.2019.098087

UPDATE: This post was scheduled just as news came in that the Fair Isle Bird Observatory had been destroyed by fire on Sunday, 10th March 2019). Thankfully, nobody was injured in the fire. Plans are already afoot to rebuild, but that will take time and money.

Richard Butler of Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, UK, is worried about the impact of niche tourism, specifically birdwatching, on the well-being of a remote island and its residents. Writing in the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, he explains how birdwatching has been the predominant form of tourism on Fair Isle, the most remote of the inhabited British islands since tourism began there in 1905.

The research analyses data collected in two surveys of the resident population that were carried out half a century apart. "The information obtained allows a longitudinal examination of the impact of tourism on the well-being of island residents and resident attitudes towards, and involvement with, tourism, and reveals that attitudes have remained positive throughout the half-century of study," Butler reports. Moreover, the numbers, location, and nature of tourists and tourism are identified as key factors in the positive relationship between residents and visitors. Tourism has benefited Fair Isle in terms of environmental, sociocultural, and economic well-being.

Fair Isle has a world-famous bird observatory and represents something of a pilgrimage site for keen birdwatchers. Aside from resident species, the position of the island halfway between Shetland and Orkney at about seven degrees south of The Arctic Circle makes it a likely place for migrants and vagrant bird species from other continents to pass through on their various travels. Even if many of the human residents departed the island there would likely still be enthusiastic ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers who would take to the see in order to reach the observatory.

"While it would be naïve to claim that the current nature of tourism is completely sustainable or perfect, it is closer to sustainability than in most tourist destinations, and overall achieves a measure of symbiosis with both the human and non-human environment with positive effects upon resident well-being," Butler concludes.

Butler, R.W. (2019) 'Niche tourism (birdwatching) and its impacts on the well-being of a remote island and its residents', Int. J. Tourism Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.5–20.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2019.098097

Researchers in China have designed an improved energy-aware and self-adaptive deployment method for autonomous underwater vehicles. The team of Chunlai Peng and Tao Wang of the Guangdong University of Technology, in Guangzhou, provide details in the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control.

The researchers explain that autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are essential mobile robots that can travel underwater and perform tasks that are considered to hazardous for people to carry out for various reasons. There are, however, problems that face the operators of AUVs, specifically the fact that control algorithms are not necessarily optimized for distance nor energy consumption.

The team’s approach to enabling energy awareness, as well as self-adaptive deployment, has now been tested with ten AUVs. Their work demonstrates that they can reduce energy consumption with their algorithm in the test AUVs by almost a third. This could be a real boon for marine environment monitoring, military missions, search missions after the loss of a craft at sea, and perhaps even after a tsunami, earthquake or other geological catastrophes.

The team concludes their paper with a nod to the future direction of their research. "Future work will study an energy-supplying problem during the ocean rescue that generating trajectories for AUVs to rendezvous with energy-carrying robots, such as mobile charging stations, i.e., a rendezvous problem for AUVs and mobile charging stations," they explain.

Peng, C. and Wang, T. (2019) 'An improved energy-aware and self-adaptive deployment method for autonomous underwater vehicles', Int. J. Modelling, Identification and Control, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.182-192.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMIC.2019.098005

Maize is perhaps the single, most-important cereal crop in the world. It is consumed by millions of people and is a staple for a large proportion of the global population. It is also used for animal feed and its total production far outstrips rice and wheat. It is also converted into other edible products such as corn syrup and corn starch as well as useful, but inedible products, like bioethanol. Unfortunately, as with many vital crops, there are significant pests and diseases that can devastate the harvest or damage the product afterwards, during transportation and storage prior to consumption.

Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, Enquhone Alehegn of the Bahir Dar University, in Ethiopia, has used a support vector machine and image processing to develop a recognition and classification system for maize diseases. Alehegn points out that Ethiopian maize is afflicted by some 72 diseases that attack different parts of the plants. Visual observation and chemical analysis are commonly used to identify a particular infection in the plants' leaves. However, such approaches require experts, time, and often costly equipment and facilities. His new approach side-steps many of the problems of conventional disease detection and classification.

He explains that he used 640 images from a dataset of 800 to train the algorithm and the other 20% for testing. "Based on the experiment result using combined (texture, colour and morphology) features with support vector machine an average accuracy of 95.63% achieved." It should be possible to improve accuracy by optimization of the image segmentation part of the analysis.

Alehegn, E. (2019) 'Ethiopian maize diseases recognition and classification using support vector machine', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.90–109.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCVR.2019.098012

Many people enjoy luxury and those that don't have access to luxury goods and services often aspire to it. Writing in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, a team explain how in the "West" the notion of luxury, which has existed for millennia was perhaps considered sinful or wasteful but is now a way of life for many people and as mentioned an aspiration for others. With worldwide economic growth, globalization, and many other factors the notion of luxury and it accessibility to the nouveaux riches is now essentially independent of one's location, provided one is sufficiently "riche", nouveau or otherwise.

The team has used multi-dimensional scaling used to map the aspiration to possess and willingness to purchase luxury products in the near future among Indian women, looking at the type of luxury products women desire and their ability and wont to buy them. The team adds how the luxury market is growing rapidly in India and although still in its infancy, it is already in double figures of billions of dollars.

"With evolved tastes, awareness and worldliness, Indian consumers are willing to pay a premium for a well-designed, quality product," the team reports. Specifically, the team found that lifestyle products are the most appealing and include jewellery (as was always the case), designer clothes, luxury vehicles, exotic holidays, top-end mobile phones, laptops, and other gadgets.

The team suggests that their paper will be invaluable in marketing research and for marketers themselves looking to understand and exploit luxury brands.

Chacko, P.S., Ramanathan, H.N. and Prashar, S. (2019) 'Desire and likeliness to buy luxury products: mapping perceptions using multi-dimensional scaling', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.123–136.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICBM.2019.098001

Finding ways to maximize influence on social networks is a significant endeavour for a wide range of people including those involved in marketing, election campaigns, and outbreak detection, for instance. Technically in a network scenario, "Influence maximisation deals with the problem of finding a subset of nodes called seeds in the social network such that these nodes will eventually spread maximum influence in the network."

Writing in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering researchers from India point out that this is one of a class of difficult-to-solve problems known as NP-hard problems. In their paper, they focus on providing an overview of the influence maximisation problem and cover three major aspects. First, they look at the different types of inputs required. Secondly, they investigate influence propagation models that map the spread of influence in a network. Finally, they look at approximation algorithms proposed for seed set selection.

The study provides new insights into how a marketing campaigner might trigger a viral response to a product launch through the very careful selection of key influencers whose word of mouth promotion would reach and affect the maximum number of people. Similarly, it could be used to spread a political message more rapidly than by traditional canvassing methods. But, from the scientific perspective, the very same tools and insights could help us to better understand how a few infected individuals might lead to the emergence of an epidemic.

"Scope for future work in the area of influence maximisation lies mainly in finding efficient solutions to the extensions of the basic influence maximisation problem", the team concludes and to finding ways to handle the vast and growing amounts of data that networks can generate in a short space of time.

Tejaswi, V., Bindu, P.V. and Thilagam, P.S. (2019) 'Influence maximisation in social networks', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.103-117.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2019.097955

Brands have to vie with each other to grab our increasingly diminishing attention spans across a much wider range of media, from traditional print and broadcast to the rapidly changing social media that are so readily scrollable. Writing in the International Journal of the Business Environment, one research team explains how it has looked at the impact of social media on brand commitment and tested the mediation role of perceived value and brand image.

Homa Kavoosi Kalejahi and Mojtaba Ramezani of the Islamic Azad University, in Tabriz, Iran and Reza Rostamzadeh from the University's Urmia campus explain how firms always found it difficult to make their brands distinct through traditional means because branding is not only about a company's share of the market, but also the consumers' perception of that brand. In many ways, the advent of online social media has increased the customers' engagement with brands, but there are so many choices available that finding a way to stand out from the crowd in any given market remains a conundrum from marketing departments the world over.

The researchers undertook a case study of the consumer electronics company LG and looked at how brand commitment is influenced by perceived value and brand image. The team's analysis confirms the hypothesis but also poses new questions about marketing in the era of online social media and creating a unique brand that distinguishes itself from the competition.

Kalejahi, H.K., Ramezani, M. and Rostamzadeh, R. (2019) 'Impact of social media on brand commitment: testing the mediation role of perceived value and brand image', Int. J. Business Environment, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.191–208.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBE.2019.097966

There is a complementary role between conventional marketing and advertising and electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) for motion pictures with high and low production costs, according to an analysis by researchers in Chile and Spain. They suggest that understanding the roles of advertising and e-WOM in the era of social media and social networking can have a big impact on low-budget movies compared to the blockbuster, perhaps even allowing low-budget movies to become surprise blockbusters and leading even the biggest budget movie to fail as a "rotten tomato".

Guillermo Armelini of the Universidad de Los Andes, in Santiago, Chile, and Jorge González and Julian Villanueva of the University of Navarra, in Madrid Spain, detail their findings in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising.

The team tested the two forms of promotion using a novel methodology in experience goods modelling, that endogenise the effect of e-WOM, advertising, revenues per screens and screens – the main constructs of our study. They applied the approach to a random sample of 202 movies.

The team found that "The advertising impact on revenues and e-WOM is more critical for high than for low-production budget movies. However, a higher positive effect of advertising on-screen allocation is found for movies with lower budgets."

They suggest that their findings have implications for managers: from the demand side, advertising affects the attention of moviegoers beyond a certain threshold and it has a ripple effect on e-WOM. In other words, e-WOM is unlikely to succeed as an exclusive approach to marketing. By contrast, they also showed that cinema owners consider advertising investment as a signal of quality for movies with a limited production budget.

Armelini, G., González, J. and Villanueva, J. (2019) 'The complementary role of advertising and electronic word-of-mouth for blockbusters and low-budget motion pictures', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.1-21.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2019.097897

Growing rice is an intensive business. But, in China where it is the primary food crop, mechanisation has not reached maturity, although it is as high as 90 per cent in some provinces. Writing in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, researchers have looked at the fuel consumption index and the working efficiency index as the main basis for a rice transfer machine.

Xin Yang and Zhenxiang Zeng of the School of Economics and Management, Hebei University of Technology, Jinyu Wei of the School of Management, at Tianjin University of Technology, and Xinjiang Cai of Yanshan University, explain how they have determined the best model for an optimal working ratio and efficiency, which not only satisfies the requirements of a short payback period on investment but also gives the operator long service life of the equipment.

The team explains that in most areas of China, manual handling is still the main way in which harvested rice is taken from field to transportation. Of course, given that rice grows in wet land, those fields are still wet, muddy after the harvest and manual handling is slow, inefficient, and uncomfortable for the handlers. "This problem cannot be ignored, because the traditional way has become the bottleneck of the realisation of full mechanisation of the rice farming," the team explains. The insights gained from the team’s analysis of mechanical picking could ultimately boost the amount of mechanization in other provinces allowing rice farming to become more efficient as the population continues to grow.

Yang, X., Zeng, Z., Wei, J. and Cai, X. (2019) 'The research on the selection of the rice transfer machine', Int. J. Information Technology and Management, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.63-73.
DOI: 10.1504/IJITM.2019.097885

The rock group Pink Floyd famously proferred that "we don't need no education" while singer Alice Cooper celebrated the fact that "school's out!". But, we do need education, just not necessarily provided in the traditional style of lectures.

Can blended learning that avoids the conventional lecture structure be a useful tool in higher education? An experiment by Kevin Anthony Jones of the School of Computer Engineering, at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore and Ravi Sharma of the School of Business, at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, suggests might be so in the teaching of software engineering.

The pair has chronicled a ten-year blended learning program at a leading technological university where the concept of online courses and the technology are already very familiar to educators and students alike. However, over the course of ten years the outcomes were not quite what might have been expected from a technological starting point.

"Though there were few technical problems, it required behavioural changes from teachers and learners, thus unearthing a host of socio-technical issues, challenges, and conundrums," the team reports in the International Journal of Digital Enterprise Technology. They add that "Education is a changing journey, not a prescribed destination, where learners, teachers, and administrators must reinvent themselves to harness the positive in this disruptive innovation of blended learning – closely related to flipped classroom – which combines eLearning with face-to-face and peer, interactions in problem-based learning."

The bottom line is that while blended learning has many benefits it does not necessarily lead to better delivery outcomes cost savings. Nevertheless, it makes higher education a more customisable proposition that can be adapted for different learning styles and so make it more accessible to a wider range of students.

Jones, K.A. and Sharma, R.S. (2019) 'An experiment in blended learning: higher education without lectures?', Int. J. Digital Enterprise Technology, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.241–275.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDET.2019.097846

Can consumerism ever by environmentally friendly, or "green" to use the common vernacular? And, how does going green tally with customer satisfaction? Researchers in Taiwan are developing a green customer satisfaction index (GCSI) model to explore green consumer behaviour. The model takes into account various factors including perceived quality, corporate social responsibility, expectation, brand image, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

The research shows that perceived quality has a positive impact on green corporate social responsibility. That perceived quality positive effects perceived value, satisfaction, and loyalty. Also that corporate social responsibility improves brand image. Brand image has a positive impact on perceived value and perceived value positively correlates with satisfaction. Finally, satisfaction has a positive impact on loyalty and expectation positively effects perceived quality and brand image.

The bottom line then is that "When the customer's expectations are higher, the enterprise will pay more attention and strive to meet the customer's expectations which in turn improves the enterprise's perceived quality and brand image." However, the research found that customer expectation has no significant effect on green perceived value and satisfaction.

"Green consumption can drive changes in the mainstream consumption patterns and, prompt companies to introduce green products that, meet customer and environmental protection needs," explains Kuang-Heng Shih of the Department of International Business Administration, at the Chinese Culture University, Taipei City. "Green products not only enhance business but also benefit social and environmental sustainability," he adds, paraphrasing earlier work that the present research corroborates.

The work focused on interviewing customers of three eco-smart hotels in northern Taiwan and thus has limitations but the extension of the modelling to a wider geographical region and beyond the hospitality industry could also reveal implications for the greening of other areas of consumerism.

Shih, K-H. (2018) 'The grass is greener: developing and implementing a green consumer satisfaction index', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp.573–591.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2018.094359

From the ancient amphora to the Californian carafe, how does wine change through time and is this most traditional of skills as susceptible to innovation as other areas of human endeavour?

Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Julien Granata, Beysül Aytaç, and David Roubaud of Montpellier Business School in France discuss developments through history into the modern world of business clusters in the wine industry. They suggest that while wine suppliers focus on technical innovations, winegrowers develop organisational innovations to address the problems they face such as a lack of resources, climate change and other issues.

Historically, innovation has been perceived as giving rise to both creation and progress while at the same time bringing about substitutions. The net effect of this is that the sum of the technical advances, social progress, and new skills created through innovation always add up to more than the job losses that change entails and the obsolescence of some products. That said, disruptive innovators rarely usurp the old-school approaches and products entirely even if they might take up some of the slack in the market. Californian wine-growing clusters might offer innovation but they are at the bottom line still selling containers of wine just as the ancient Egyptians did in seventh millennium BCE.

Granata, J., Aytaç, B. and Roubaud, D. (2019) 'Innovation developments in the wine industry: a journey from the amphorae of old to the California wine cluster', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.249–255.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2019.097742

Manal El Rhazi, Arsalane Zarghili, Aicha Majda, and Anissa Bouzalmat of the Intelligent Systems and Applications Laboratory at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, together with Ayat Allah Oufkir of the University's Medical Center of Biomedical and Translational Research, are investigating facial beauty analysis by age and gender.

Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, the team explains that our faces are the first source of information we see and while beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder and perhaps more than skin deep, attractiveness is often tied very closely to the first sight of a person's face. As such, several studies have been conducted in aesthetic medicine and image processing that might allow attractiveness to be measured in the adult human face.

The team has now proposed an automatic procedure for the analysis of "facial beauty". In their approach, they first detect the face zone on an image and its feature areas, they then present a novel method to extract features and analyse aesthetic qualities.

"Experimental results show that our method can extract the features corners accurately for the majority of faces presented in the European Conference on Visual Perception in Utrecht (ECVP) and Faculdade de Engenharia Industrial (FEI) images databases," they report. They add "That there exists a difference in the facial beauty analysis by gender and age, due to anatomical differences in specific facial areas between the categories."

The main difference by gender is observed in the forehead and chin while the main differences by age take place in areas like the eyebrows, nose and the chin. The eyebrows descend from a high position to a lower one which makes the eyes look smaller, and thus suggestively less attractive. Similarly, the nasal tip descends gradually causing enlargement of the nose, and the chin descends in the same manner as the nose and eyebrows, aspects of facial characteristics that are often considered less appealing than their opposite.

El Rhazi, M., Zarghili, A. Majda, A., Bouzalmat, A. and Oufkir, A.A. (2019) 'Facial beauty analysis by age and gender', Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 18, Nos. 1/2, pp.179–203.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISTA.2019.097757

Snejina Michailova of The University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand and Nigel Holden of Leeds University Business School, UK, offer the intriguing question: How can research on culture in international business be made more interesting? Writing in the European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, they suggest that an oft-overlooked aspect of business research is its potential for "interestingness". They suggest that this is a curious omission from existing reviews and analyses.

The pair has now looked at two interconnected issues that sociologists and management scholars have wrestled with for quite some time: namely, what exactly is interesting research and why does it matter? They have made the suggestion that contextualization is important and have highlighted the need for more research into language. Moreover, they advance the case for research into intracultural variation.

"Conducting research on these three topics involves a break with national value systems, on the one hand, and the embrace of non-cultural variables, on the other," the team writes. "The current shifts and changes in the world open up new vistas of truly interesting research, at which international business scholars can and indeed should be at the forefront."

They suggest that when we consider the BRIC countries and so-called emerging markets, the context of the USA as the "default business nation" for benchmarking activity is not necessarily the best approach and moreover is somewhat restrictive.

"The shift in the world's economic centre of gravity opens up new vistas of truly interesting research, at which cross-cultural management scholars as a specialist sub-group of IB scholars can and indeed should be at the forefront," the team concludes.

Michailova, S. and Holden, N.J. (2019) 'How can research on culture in international business be made more interesting?', European J. Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp.1–12.
DOI: 10.1504/EJCCM.2019.097824

What does it mean for a worker to have a "voice"? The moral and sociological implications are more far complicated than a cursory listen to employee voice…or silence…might at first suggest. The employee voice might influence suggestion-box systems, grievance systems, dispute reporting and resolution, whistle-blowing, issue selling, upward influence with management, voice through collective representation, also known as unionisation, employee participation, and employee involvement in the management or company development.

Now, a US team has used advanced bibliometric mapping tools to plot the sciencebase of the voice and silence literature. "Our findings indicate that employee silence and employee voice are terms that are largely claimed by the organisational behaviour (OB) and human resource management (HRM) literature," the team reports in the International Journal of Bibliometrics in Business and Management.

Debra Casey of Temple University, Philadelphia and Steven McMillan of Penn State University, Abington, both in Pennsylvania, USA, explain how they examined 376 articles, notes, and book chapters from the Web of Science (WoS) system. Importantly, from the perspective of reviewing the literature in this area and understanding the sociological and political implications, they found that the terms are defined much more narrowly in this part of the literature than they are in the industrial relations or employment relations disciplines, where one might imagine a clearer definition of the terms might be even more important.

"One of the benefits of using bibliometric techniques is that they provide a quantitative analysis that many times confirms what the astute researcher already knows," the team reports. "We hope that by further exploring and clarifying this important area of scholarship, both seasoned scholars and those new to this area will have a better appreciation of their own 'invisible college' and how to make good use of it," they add.

Casey, D.L. and McMillan, G.S. (2019) 'Employee voice and silence: a bibliometric analysis of the literature', Int. J. Bibliometrics in Business and Management, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.251-266.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBBM.2019.097729

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been widely adopted by higher education institutions for teaching more widely on-campus courses. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a team from Hong Kong explain how they have carried out case studies and examined best practice for running a MOOC.

Kam Cheong Li and Billy Tak-Ming Wong of The Open University of Hong Kong, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, demonstrated three principles that can help with the development and ongoing maintenance of MOOCs. First, the division of labour in the implementation of a MOOC is important. Secondly, technology must be used effectively. Finally, a MOOC must be adaptable so that a course might be redesigned based on teacher and learner experience with the MOOC. They point out that there are many diverse ways in which MOOCs have been implemented on-campus, specifically.

MOOCs allow huge numbers of students to participate in a course at the same time in far greater numbers than is possible with a conventional on-campus lecture and tutorial approach to teaching. It has also been demonstrated in the past that MOOCs can be used to improve accessibility, equity and inclusiveness of education given that many people might be excludes from a conventional course for any number of reasons depending on personal circumstances and geopolitics of a particular campus.

"Following the trend of adopting online technology for teaching in higher educational institutions, this study illustrates how 'online technology can be used to deliver hybrid courses with reduced class time without compromising student outcomes'," the team concludes.

Li, K.C. and Wong, B.T-M. (2019) 'Advancing teaching with massive open online courses: a review of case studies', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp.141-155.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2019.097660

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects communication, social skills and other behaviours. Characteristic of some cases in both children and adults is repetitive movements or unusual behaviour - stereotyped movements.

A research team from France and Morocco describe in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, an automated detection system for diagnosing stereotyped movements that uses the motion detector system of the "Kinect" video game. The Kinect system is based on a webcam type peripheral computer device that allows the player to control the computer through movements and gestures (as well as spoken commands via a microphone input). The Kinect was originally an add-on for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console.

The team of Maha Jazouli of Sidi Mohamed Benabdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, and colleagues have used a $P Point-Cloud Recogniser to identify multi-stroke gestures as point clouds as recorded by the webcam component of the Kinect and its processing system for gesture and movement determination. Their new methodology can automatically detect five stereotypical motor movements: body rocking, hand flapping, finger flapping, hand on the face, and hands behind back.

The researchers report that for many people with ASD tested using this system, satisfactory results were obtained in identifying stereotyped movements. They suggest that the system might be used in a clinical setting or in the home as a temporary smart surveillance system to augment early diagnosis of ASD by expert clinicians.

Jazouli, M., Majda, A., Merad, D., Aalouane, R. and Zarghili, A. (2019) 'Automatic detection of stereotyped movements in autistic children using the Kinect sensor', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp.201-220.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2019.097621

Extracting relevant information from the scientific literature about side effects and adverse drug reactions to pharmaceutical products is an important part of data mining in this area. Writing in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, a team from China has developed a new search strategy that offers the optimal trade-off between retrieving pertinent abstracts and coping with the vast amounts of information available.

The team's "corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies" of side effect and ADRs could be, they suggest, an important tool in a thriving area of pharmaceutical research and development – drug repurposing.

Alex Chengyu Fang of the Department of Linguistics and Translation, at City University of Hong Kong, Yemao Liu, Yaping Lu, and Jingbo Xia of the College of Informatics at Huazhong Agricultural University, Jing Cao of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China, describe their approach as offering a useful compromise between the relevance of the content retrieved given a large body of work. The terms "side effects" and "adverse drug reactions" are commonly used interchangeably and the latter might in some sense be considered a euphemism of the former term used by members of the public.

Indeed, side effects and ADRs are synonyms. The two, of course, have many hyponyms, terms that are essentially related to examples of both side effects and ADRs, which by definition are the hypernyms to those hyponyms. These terms too must be retrievable by any data mining algorithm that analyses a body of work and is intent on seeking relevant abstracts discussing the "hypernyms. Phrases such as "adverse drug event", "drug toxicity", "undesirable effects", and others all fall into the same clade and so must be involved in the retrieval.

Fang, A.C., Liu, Y., Lu, Y., Cao, J. and Xia, J. (2018) 'A corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies of side effect and adverse reaction in support of text retrieval for drug repurposing', Int. J. Data Mining and Bioinformatics, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp.269–286.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDMB.2018.097684

Rice straw is the waste product of growing rice. Normally, it is simply burned adding sooty pollution to the local air and nudging up atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. What if there were a better alternative to simply burning this material? Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management a team from India offer an alternative. Pardeep Aggarwal and Anu Prashaant of Amity University in Gautam Budh Nagar, India, suggest that rice straw could instead be utilized for power generation or bioethanol production.

Unfortunately, the team explains, some farmers believe that rice straw open burning can remove weeds, control diseases and release nutrients for the next crop. There is little evidence that rice straw burning does anything but pollute. Rice straw length, low elevation land, and even the great distance from farmhouse to farmland are additional factors that influence the field burning of rice straw. Rice straw cannot be used as cattle feed either and there is very little time between successive crops to do much with the fields other than eradicating the stubble.

In order to make the alternative proposition viable both commercially and logistically, they explain that there is a need for a sustainable supply chain management of rice straw. At the moment, there is but a single 12-megawatt power plant that uses 100% rice straw as its fuel, one million tonnes annually, but that is a fraction of the tonnage of this agricultural waste product. The team points out that the numbers of rice straw power plants in China too is low and actually falling. However, the environmental and economic benefits of utilizing a ubiquitous waste product could make power production and bioethanol production tenable given the right geopolitical conditions.

The team concludes from the study that "only when such infrastructure with proactive planning is available, a secured supply of rice straw can be maintained for continuous year-long operations of a power plant."

Aggarwal, P. and Prashaant, A. (2019) 'Economic utilisation of rice straw – an effort for preventing social hazard', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.97-112.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2019.097606

Spirituality is good for the bottom line, according to research from India. Writing in the International Journal of Business Excellence, researchers from Anna University, in Chennai explain how spiritual theories in India are based on the principle of unanimity, integrating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of people through dharma (righteousness). They point out that the Bhagavad Gita highlights the practice of spirituality and ethics in the workplace. In their paper, they review twenty years of research into the spiritual aspects of business practice in this context and define workplace spirituality from a new perspective. They also delineate its dimensions as a persistent positive state of work environment that promotes spiritual awakening and enhances business ethics.

The team suggests that there is a need for a new wave of spirituality in business suggesting that workers must carry out their tasks not only with their brain and limbs but also with heart and spirit. They add that "Western" thought has often been concerned with spirituality and finding links to "Eastern" philosophy. "Workplace spirituality is applicable to practically every organization," they suggest, in the West or the East.

The team has extended the theory of the positive relationship between workplace spirituality and business ethics. Indeed, they suggest that supporting and nurturing spiritual practices in an organisation can maximize the “triple bottom line": people, profit, and planet.

Srilalitha, R. and Supriya, M.V. (2019) 'Workplace spirituality: insights from the Bhagavad Gita', Int. J. Business Excellence, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.210–229.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBEX.2019.097544

Electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming more and more prevalent. There is thus an increased risk of data leaks, breaches or other ways in which personal and private medical information might be compromised. As such, a team from India has now described an efficient two-stage encryption for securing personal health records stored "in the cloud".

KrishnaKeerthi Chennam and Lakshmi Muddana of Gitam University, in Hyderabad, explain how accessibility to remote servers for the storage of huge amounts of data – the storage aspect of cloud – computing is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to on-site data storage. Given the vast amounts of medical information stored in patient records, this is a useful alternative for any healthcare facility. The cloud approach also means that patient EHRs are more readily available to a healthcare worker regardless of their location, whether with the patient in their home, at the doctor's surgery, in hospital, in an ambulance en route to another site, or perhaps even at the scene of an accident.

Regardless there is a critical need for EHRs to be safe from the prying eyes of third parties whether simply other members of the public, unconnected health workers or those with malicious intent. The team explains how their approach uses a hierarchical clustering algorithm that determines the different user roles associated with the EHRs. Once clustering is done twofish-based encryption algorithm is used to lock down the data. The team's novel approach to encryption has lower encryption and decryption times than other approaches.

Chennam, K. and Muddana, L. (2018) 'An efficient two stage encryption for securing personal health records in cloud computing', Int. J. Services Operations and Informatics, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.277–296.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSOI.2018.097487

Bullying is as old as humanity, but in today"s world of ubiquitous and always-connected devices, there is a whole realm of bullying that can take place out of sight but be just as devastating to its victims – cyberbullying. Detecting and so having the opportunity to prevent cyberbullying in open online forums and social networking sites, for instance, requires technology that can automatically detect trollish and thuggish behaviour. Once detected, the problems that victims face might be addressed but more importantly, the cyberbullies might be shut down or otherwise punished.

Writing in the International Journal of Autonomic Computing, a team from India reveals their algorithm which detects and weighs the words in forums and calculates whether or not particular clusters of words are associated with cyberbullying behaviour.

The team explains the problem and why it matters so much: "Cyberbullying has emerged as a major problem along with the recent development of online communication and social media. Cyberbullying has also been extensively recognised as a serious national health problem, in which victims demonstrate a significantly high risk of suicidal ideation," they write. They add that "This proposed framework shows better results while the action is to stop the online users becoming the victims of cyberbully."

Sheeba, J.I., Devaneyan, S.P. and Tata, P. (2018) "Improved cyberbully detection techniques using multiple correlation coefficient from forum corpus", Int. J. Autonomic Computing, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.152–171.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAC.2018.097620

The presence of tiny deposits of calcified tissue in the breast remains an important indicator of early breast cancer. However, the standard diagnostic, the X-ray mammogram, cannot always distinguish between benign tissue artifacts and such microcalcifications because there is a great diversity in the shape, size, and distributions of these deposits. Moreover, there is only very the low contrast between malignant, cancerous areas and the surrounding bright structures in the mammogram.

Writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, a team from Algeria explain how they have devised an effective approach based on mathematical morphology for detection of microcalcifications in digitized mammograms. The approach first extracts the breast area from the image, removes unwanted artifacts and then boosts contrast and eliminates noise from the image.

The team has now tested their approach on 22 mammograms with a known outcome. They successfully compared the "diagnoses" they obtained with their technology with a radiological expert manual examination of the mammograms. The team says that their approach is quick and very effective, especially in terms of sensitivity. They suggest that a digital analysis of this sort could be used to complement conventional examination of mammograms by a radiologist and perhaps help to reduce the number of false positives and false negatives that occur with X-ray mammography.

Hadjidj, I., Feroui, A., Belgherbi, A. and Bessaid, A. (2019) 'Microcalcifications segmentation from mammograms for breast cancer detection', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp.1–16.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIJBET.2019.096877

The question of how much energy a virus needs to replicate in its host translates into how likely a single infection is to become an epidemic. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, Sevgi Eylül Ferahcan, Ayse Selcen Semerciöz, and Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering, at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how poliovirus is an RNA virus which proliferates in the host's intestines ultimately leading to a crippling disease.

Despite its apparent eradication through extensive worldwide vaccination, there have been major polio epidemics in modern times. In 1988, 350,000 cases were reported. The team has calculated mass, energy, and exergy balances to show that the energy and exergy leeched from a host cell by a single virus are 4.65 × 10-19 and 3.35 × 10–17 kilojoules, respectively. During the 1988 epidemic, a total of 1.627 × 10–9 kJ of energy and 1.174 × 10–7 kJ of exergy was exploited by the multitude of viruses in infecting more than a third of a million people. The energy and exergy are used in the biochemical machinations of replicating the virus and its RNA by exploiting the molecular machinery of the host cells.

These are small numbers in terms of energy and exergy, as such the team argues that it is the almost vanishingly small figures that facilitate the spread of the virus to epidemic levels so readily. It almost makes the disease "going viral" inevitable, the team suggests. As such, it serves as a cautionary tale that we must be ever vigilant as old and new viral diseases emerge or pay the toll in the huge numbers of people that might be afflicted during an epidemic.

Ferahcan, S.E., Semerciöz, A.S. and Özilgen, M. (2019) 'Extremely small energy requirement by poliovirus to proliferate itself is the key to an outbreak of an epidemic', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp.1–28.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEX.2019.097269

Social media has become a useful tool for the rapid dissemination of information. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, a UK team describes their investigations into whether or not the likes of Twitter can be integrated effectively into emergency management.

Sophie Parsons and Mark Weal of the Web and Internet Science Group, at the University of Southampton, Nathaniel O'Grady of the Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, at the University of Manchester, and Peter Atkinson of the University of Lancaster explain that at the moment integration remains ambiguous. The team has used the winter floods of 2013-2014 as a case study to reveal the pros and cons of social media in this context.

The team found that emergency responders were wont to post cautions and advice during an emergency. However, it seems from their results that information about structures and utilities affected by any given incident would be most likely to engage and be of use to the public. Moreover, the team found that responders do perceive social media as a useful tool for them to effectively deliver information to the public. However, while that might be the case, responders did not appear to fully exploit it in the emergency studied.

The team concedes that before they can say whether or not social media is an effective tool for emergency management, there remain several questions about how it might fulfill a useful role for emergency responders and the public that rely on them during an incident. Uppermost among those questions are: Who are the responders' followers on social media? Are the responders actually reaching the public in emergency situations? Do the public find the responders' social media activity useful in an emergency? What do the emergency responders actually gain by having a social media presence? If future research can answer these questions then we might be in a position to make the most of social media in the event of an emergency.

Parsons, S., Weal, M., O'Grady, N. and Atkinson, P.M. (2018) 'Social media in emergency management: exploring Twitter use by emergency responders in the UK', Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.322–343.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2018.097360

"The digital divide is the gap between those who are digitally literate and those who are not, between those who do and do not have access to digital environments." So begins a paper in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning from Gila Cohen Zilka of the Department for Teaching Social Science and Communication, at Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel. She has now investigated the implications of the digital divide for the "online" safety of children and adolescents.

Cohen Zilka studied three hundred forty-five Israeli children and adolescents who participated in her mixed-method study. Fundamentally, the research found that youngsters who have digital equipment at home displayed higher eSafety skills and computer literacy than did children who have no digital equipment or those who have only a few such devices, as one might perhaps expect. A lack of access to information and communications technology (ICT) results in a lack of or limited skills in this critical area of modern life. One result is that those youngsters on the wrong side of the digital divide are at greater risk of cyberbullying and other problems, online hazards and the problem of predatory adults, than the more computer literate with better access to ICT at home.

She concludes on the basis of her research, that it would be desirable for children and adolescents who are part of a disadvantaged population in terms of access to ICT to be encouraged and educated and given greater access to computer time and eSafety skills in school or in public digital environments. The work corroborates the earlier research of others that those youngsters that are especially vulnerable to internet risks are often those whose families have financial difficulties, are part of a minority or immigrant group, are in poverty, have disabilities, or have simply moved from one educational setting to another.

Zilka, G.C. (2019) 'The digital divide: implications for the eSafety of children and adolescents', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.20–35.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2019.096736

After the Second World War of 1939-1945, Western democracies had attempted to reconcile their criminal law in democratic, "republican" terms aimed at the citizen. However, in the last two decades, new criminal law has been written that pertains not to the citizen, but to the foreigner. Writing in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, Alessandro Spena of the Department of Law, at the University of Palermo, Italy, discusses these new laws. The research focuses on how these new laws essentially treat foreigners as inferior to the citizen and proffer fewer human rights on those individuals when compared to the natives of a given nation.

Spena describes the ephemeral, and yet legally consequential notion of good and bad citizens, good and bad foreigners and 'ugly' mass-foreigners that invokes the neologism of "crimmigration". He further explains how in contemporary criminal law, citizens have renewed importance despite the notion of globalization. Indeed, while globalization is apparent in many developed countries and those we might refer to as "developing" nations, the natural geological, geographical, and political obstacles to human mobility are becoming more apparent.

Indeed, globalization and an urge to become more cosmopolitan both have their opponents and populism and nationalism are on the rise with worries among some pundits and political observers that these are beginning to lead towards fascism in some arenas. Reaction and collective anxieties about political borders, and an "us and them" attitude that has arisen in some quarters during the last two decades are growing stronger as concerns about unfettered immigration get nudged higher up the agenda by those with their own political power agenda.

Of course, the notion of us and them is entirely artificial as is the notion of borders and national identity. Human mobility has been extant since we took our first steps from the cradle of humanity. Moreover, we are all the same within, there are good, bad, and ugly among us and our legal system recognize this and the humanity of us all whether "citizen" or "foreigner".

Spena, A. (2018) 'The good, the bad and the ugly: images of the foreigner in contemporary criminal law', Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.287–302.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2018.096752

The seminal research on the concept of product globalization was published by Levitt in 1983. And yet, business, branding, and marketing researchers are yet to settle on a clear understanding of how an international product is perceived by people from different parts of the world. A product, such as the caffeinated soft drink, Red Bull, may well be considered an international brand but how is this originally Austrian product and its associated "cartoon character", really perceived by people in France and Great Britain, for example? Researchers from Germany writing in the International Journal of Comparative Management hoped to find out.

Kerstin Bremser and Véronique Goehlich of the Department of International Business, in the Faculty of Business and Law, at Pforzheim University, Nadine Walter of the University's Department of International Marketing carried out an exploratory study. They found through their analyses of viewers' perceptions of advertisements that cultural background affects a person's feelings towards the marketing character associated with this soft drink and in addition the articulation and style of the background music are perceived in different ways by the British and French respondents to the research.

The team points out that celebrity endorsement is often a strong factor in marketing products, but in the case of Red Bull, it uses more traditional advertising, especially on television, where cartoon-like advertisements that centre on the slogan that 'Red Bull gives you wings' is the focus rather than an association with a famous person who purportedly imbibes the drink. The advertisements are standardised between nations but for the language of any narration or written word display. That said, Red Bull used Napoleon as a famous character in their advertising campaign for 2012 and there would likely be a very different perception of that between the British and the French.

However, the team found that although the perception of Napoleon is very different, the branding and sloganising of the campaign transcended these cultural differences. The same famous person can still convey the same meaning to the consumer despite their feelings, positive, negative, indifferent, to that celebrity, in this case, a controversial historical figure.

Bremser, K., Walter, N. and Goehlich, V. (2018) 'A comparative study on global commercial advertisement perceptions – British and French viewers' responses to Red Bull', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.333–354.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCM.2018.096777

Researchers in the USA have found a way to extract information from the well-known internet search engine, Google, that can be used to assist with understanding trading on the stock market. The approach follows, what the team refers to as "a long short-term memory approach".

Writing in the International Journal of Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Joseph St. Pierre, Mateusz Klimkiewicz, Adonay Resom and Nikolaos Kalampalikis of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Massachusetts, explain how they have extracted Google search indices from a Google trends tracking website. This allows them to study the putative investor interest in stocks listed on the Dow Jones index (Dow 30). Essentially, they accomplish this task by using a long short-term memory network that finds correlations between changes in the search volume for a given asset with changes in the actual trade volume for that asset.

"By using these predictions, we formulate a concise trading strategy in the hopes of being able to outperform the market and analyse the results of this new strategy by backtesting across weekly closing price data for the last six months of 2016," the team reports. In that proof of principle based on historical data they demonstrated a success rate of 43% and suggest that their algorithm would be scalable beyond the narrow scope of their study and so might be applicable to numerous other assets on the market.

The study begins by citing the received wisdom that the "market" cannot be outperformed and that any attempt to predict stock market rises and falls is effectively doomed to failure. However, given that some investors do regularly "beat" the stock market and make a profit, this conventional theory perhaps does not hold universally and there might be algorithmic methods that look at live data that might allow some investments to predictably outperform the market. They say that their 43% success rate is significant and worth exploring further.

St. Pierre, J., Klimkiewicz, M., Resom, A.and Kalampalikis, N. (2019) 'Trading the stock market using Google search volumes: a long short-term memory approach', Int. J. Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.3-18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFERM.2019.096669

Does the emergence of national democracy lead to economic wealth? Researchers in Hong Kong and the UK suggest that the face pace of change in a new democracy actually leads to detrimental effects initially to a country's macro-economy. However, if the state reaches the well-developed stage, then ultimately it will become democratised without external pressure.

Writing in the International Journal of Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Rita Yi Man Li and Edward Chi Ho Tang in the Department of Economics and Finance, at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, and Tat Ho Leung in the School of Environment, Education and Development, at the University of Manchester, UK, explain how they have carried out research on 167 countries. They used the democracy index, corruption perception index, inflation, population, number of internet users, the balance of trade, foreign direct investment, and other factors to determine democratic state and national wealth. They also included sub-indices such as the electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, culture, and civil liberties, to ensure they got a clear picture of each country's specific level of democracy.

The received wisdom always seemed to suggest that democratization leads to economic growth. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union are often cited in such discussions. But, the flip side of this is the examples of China and Singapore, which are not considered democratic nations in the "Western" sense where economic freedom and equality do not prevail. It seems apparent that an electoral system leads to the establishment and protection of personal rights and private property, which are often precluded in the non-democratic nation. However, the team has found that with the assistance of the political sector, the economic sector cannot perform at as high a level as it otherwise might and so it is demonstrable that the emergence of democracy can slow economic growth indirectly for a short period at least until it is well established and a nation "developed".

Li, R.Y.M., Tang, E.C.H. and Leung, T.H. (2019) 'Democracy and economic growth', Int. J. Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.58–80.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDATS.2019.096622

Rauno Rusko of the Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Lapland, in Rovaniemi, Finland, has studied the roots of and the features of smart specialisation associated with brand slogan management. Writing in the International Journal of Public Policy, he explains how the European Union is using the smart specialisation concept in its documents, plans, and regional fieldwork to portray itself as a growth-efficient organisation.

However, it is obvious that smart specialization is not the sole preserve of the EU. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation And Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all utilize this concept, although perhaps to a lesser degree than the EU. Moreover, within the EU itself the concept has been used with greater success in regions within the EU than the EU as a whole. Rusko suggests that the temptation exists to simply see this concept as little more than a slogan, however, its benefits and utility are apparent. Indeed, it is a process in which the EU is the rule maker and gatekeeper for funding innovations and investments in the region as a whole.

Intellectual reform intellectual was launched to achieve as wide an influence as possible and to enhance competence and to boost regional learning and research and development. Rusko has shown that "The instruments of marketing research, such as brand, slogan, brand management, and brand slogan management, provide incremental value to public management discussions, such as the smart specialisation discourse. " However, although place branding does not necessarily need sloganisation, "It is easy to understand that, if the EU is a brand, then smart specialisation is supporting this brand in a way that is typical for slogans in the business sector," Rusko adds.

Rusko, R. (2018) 'The European Union's smart specialisation launch and brand slogan management', Int. J. Public Policy, Vol. 14, Nos. 5/6, pp.320–342.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPP.2018.096665

A new research paper in the International Journal of Economics and Business Research uses log-linear models to study the correlation between happiness, employment and various demographic factors.

Sultan Kuzu of the Department of Quantitative Methods, in the School of Business, at Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey together with Sevgi Elmas-Atay and Merve Gerçek of the Department of Human Resources Management there, explain how unemployment is an important economic measurement. It is studied in the context of a nation's development as well as in a sociological context. Importantly, it is known to be closely associated with welfare, quality of life and psychological health of individuals.

The team has now looked at unemployment not as an abstract, statistical concept in the macroeconomic arena but from the personal perspective based on "micro" level data acquired from household surveys carried out by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK). Log-linear models were used to analyse the data and these showed clearly that employment is related to a person's happiness and gender and that there is a statistically significant difference between happiness and gender in a developing country such as Turkey.

Kuzu, S., Elmas-Atay, S. and Gerçek, M. (2019) 'The analysis of unemployment, happiness and demographic factors using log-linear models', Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.87–105.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEBR.2019.096588

Taiwan is one of the most important suppliers of electrical and electronic products in the world; as such it is itself also an important consumer of those products. This means that the amount of electronic waste, e-waste, generated from information technology (IT) products, home electrical appliances and lighting, is increasing rapidly there.

Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, Wen-Tien Tsai of the Graduate Institute of Bioresources, at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, in Pingtung, Taiwan, explains how he has investigated the regulatory promotion of e-waste recycling in Taiwan. He found that although the annual quantity of e-waste recycling through the implementing agencies seemed to increase more than tenfold from 7,321 tons in 2001 to 74,421 tons in 2015, there is evidence that the recycling market in Taiwan has matured in recent years partly because of the country's ageing population and slow economic growth. Tsai also highlights the case of fluorescent lighting tubes and how mercury can be successfully recovered from these at end-of-life.

He points out how the waste composition is still shifting as new products emerge in the realm of personalised medicine, electric vehicles, IT products, novel consumer electronics products, and an increased diversity of food products and home electrical appliances.

We must address these novel waste streams and find ways to recycle such goods, especially those that contain toxic materials, including mercury. Tsai adds that the improper management and disposal of waste or discarded items could lead to significant environmental harm and harm to human health. In addition, there is a need to retrieve from such goods rare elements that are of limited supply such as precious metals and mineral elements.

Tsai, W-T. (2019) 'Current practice and policy for transforming e-waste into urban mining: case study in Taiwan', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp.1-15.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2019.096540

With every news story, the concepts of data mining healthcare information move higher still up the research and policy agenda in this area. Clinical information and genetic data contained within electronic health records (EHRs) represents a major source of useful information for biomedical research but accessing it in a useful way can be difficult.

Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Hassan Mahmoud and Enas Abbas of Benha University and Ibrahim Fathy Ain Shams University, in Egypt, discuss the need for innovative and effective methods for representing this huge amount of data. They point out that there are data mining techniques as well as ontology-based techniques that can play a major role in detecting syndromes in patients efficiently and accurately. A syndrome is defined as a set of concomitant medical symptoms and indicators associated with a given disease or disorder.

The team has reviewed the state of the art and also focused on reviewing the well-known data mining techniques such as decision trees (J48), Naïve Bayes, multi-layer perceptron (MLP), and random forest (RF) techniques and compared how well they each perform in the classification of a particular syndrome, heart disease.

The team concludes that in experiments with a public data set, the RF classifier provides the best performance in terms of accuracy. In the future, they suggest that data mining will benefit healthcare and medicine significant for building a system able to detect a specific syndrome.

Mahmoud, H., Abbas, E. and Fathy, I. (2018) 'Data mining and ontology-based techniques in healthcare management', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 6, No. 6, pp.509–526.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIEI.2018.096549

Face recognition is becoming an increasingly common feature of biometric verification systems. Now, a team from India has used a multi-class support vector machine to extend the way in which such systems work to take into account a person's age. Jayant Jagtap of Symbiosis International (Deemed) University in Pune, and Manesh Kokare of the Shri Guru Gobind Singhji Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Nanded, India, explain that human age classification has remained an important barrier to the next generation of face recognition technology but could be a useful additional parameter in security and other contexts.

The team's novel two stage age classification framework based on appearance and facial skin ageing features using a multi-class support vector machine (M-SVM) can classify, the team suggests, classify images of faces into one of seven age groups. Fundamentally, the system examines characteristics of the image coincident with facial skin textural and wrinkles and is accurate 94.45% of the time. It works well despite factors such as genetics, gender, health, life-time weather conditions, working and living environment tobacco and alcohol use. Indeed, accuracy is more than 98% in the first step wherein adult and non-adult faces are distinguished.

"The proposed framework of age classification gives better performance than existing age classification systems," the team reports. They add that future research will look to improve accuracy still further for use in real-time applications. This will be done through the development of an algorithm for extracting facial skin ageing features and through the design of an efficient age classifier, the team concludes.

Jagtap, J. and Kokare, M. (2019) 'Human age classification using appearance and facial skin ageing features with multi-class support vector machine', Int. J. Biometrics, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.22-34.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBM.2019.096559

Sentiment analysis is an increasingly important part of data mining, especially in the age of social media and social networking where there is endless opinion and commentary that could be of use to a wide range of stakeholders in commerce, other businesses, and even politics.

Now, an innovative and efficient method of sentiment analysis of comments on the microblogging platform, Twitter, is reported in the International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management by a team from India. Hima Suresh of the School of Computer Sciences, at Mahatma Gandhi University, in Kottayam, Kerala and Gladston Raj. S of the Department of Computer Science, Government College, also in Kerala explain how sentiment analysis centres on analysing attitudes and opinions revealed in a data set and pertaining to a particular topic of interest. The analysis exploits machine learning approaches, lexicon-based approaches and hybrid approaches that splice both of the former.

"An efficient approach for predicting sentiments would allow us to bring out opinions from the web contents and to predict online public choices," the team suggests. They have now demonstrated a novel approach to sentiment analysis surrounding the discussion of a commercial brand on Twitter using data collected over a fourteen-month period. Their method has an unrivalled accuracy for gleaning the true opinion almost 87% of the time in their tests using a specific smart phone model as the target brand being studied. They suggest that accuracy could be improved still further by incorporating a wider lexicon that included Twitter slang, for instance.

Suresh, H. and Raj. S, G. (2019) 'An innovative and efficient method for Twitter sentiment analysis', Int. J. Data Mining, Modelling and Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.1-18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDMMM.2019.096543

Online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting could be used to combat credit card fraud according to a team from Botswana International University of Science and Technology, in Palapye, Botswana. Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Motlhaleemang Moalosi, Hlomani Hlomani, and Othusitse Phefo explain how there are numerous existing credit card fraud detection techniques employed by card issuers and other stakeholders. Nevertheless, billions of dollars are lost each year to fraudsters.

The team has now combined behaviour and fingerprinting technology to boost the efficiency and efficacy of the fusion approach using Dempster-Shafer theory and Bayesian learning for fraud detection. The approach can spot odd behaviour that is not characteristic of the legitimate user of a given credit card and so detect fraudulent activity on the account. The approach discussed in the paper is at present a theoretical treatise, the next step will be to simulate actual behaviour using synthetic data sets and then apply to a real-world scenario for testing its efficacy. So far efficacy has been demonstrated with data from devices that have already been used in known fraudulent activity.

The team suggests that their approach goes well beyond simply tweaking existing fraud-detection algorithms and could offer what they say is a ground-breaking approach that performs far better than trial and error approaches and reduces the number of false positives.

Moalosi, M., Hlomani, H. and Phefo, O.S.D. (2019) 'Combating credit card fraud with online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting', Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.46-69.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESDF.2019.096527