BizTech

Business and Technology News from NUS

Month: April 2018

Are Self-Driving Cars Safe For Our Future?

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Worldwide drivers will be soon replaced by robots. If you hated commuting in office-hour traffic so far, now you can relax. Self-drive cars will also cut down the errors that humans make on road and which results in tons of fatal accidents every year. Unlike human beings, autonomous cars will never be driving under influence, fall asleep on highways or get distracted while changing lanes. It seems like finally we have been able to find a solution that will ensure road safety. However, the recent accident where a self-drive Uber killed a woman has raised some important questions.

How Did The Accident Happen?

It has been reported that a woman was crossing the road with her bike at 10 PM, when the car came towards her. Neither the car’s sensor nor the human safety driver who was in the car noticed the woman. The brakes were not pushed at all and the car rushed towards the woman resulting in a fatal accident. When taken to the nearest hospital the woman succumbed to her injuries.

What Might Have Happened?

Experts are saying that sometimes autonomous cars fail to detect inanimate objects with pedestrians. It must have been a similar case. Also, the human safety driver was not paying attention to the road which led to the accident which could have been avoided. It was huge setback for Uber. Their autonomous cars have been banned by the state of Arizona. Must be a huge loss for its partners who usually uses fleet management services to manage their cars. Other autonomous car companies are claiming that their cars wouldn’t have made this mistake, which puts Uber in a tricky position.

Why Are Autonomous Cars Considered Safer Then?

There are good reasons to consider autonomous cars a lot safer. Research has shown that car accidents happen mainly due to human error. With the advent of smartphones, chances of getting distracted has increased, hence road accidents have increased too. But robots are always alert, they are machines after all.

However, the problem arises when self-drive cars use the same road that is used by human drivers. Robots follow rules stringently. They will never overspeed, always stop at Stop signs. When a human driver breaks some of these rules, chances of accidents become higher.

Shall We See Autonomous Cars On Road Soon?

That is a question, which can’t be answered right now. Post the accident the lawmakers have asked the autonomous industry to stop plying their cars on public roads. But the way the automotive industry is spending on innovations regarding self-drive cars, it seems likely that companies want to launch them soon.

Technology will always have some downsides. Which is why the big companies have their research and development departments. We hope scientists come up with some solution that will ensure zero accidents with self-drive cars in the future. That is when the common people can have a worry-free journey on a autonomous car.

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

Blockchains in the transport industry

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Blockchain is the newest buzzword in the tech lexicon. But its application is still confusing for many. Here we will explain blockchain technology and how it is being used in the transport industry

Many people associate the term with bitcoins or crypto currencies. Blockchain uses cryptography to provide a decentralised digital ledger or data base of every transaction that takes place among pre-approved users in the network. The technology can work in any kind of transaction, including money, property or goods. It eliminates the need for a third party in any transaction and promotes peer to peer exchange.

Currently, only a very small proportion of global GDP (around 0.025%, or $20 billion) is held in the blockchain, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. But the technology is disruptive and will bring about changes in many industries, including finance, legal, health, transport and the public sector.

With the global economic geography shrinking, consumers want quick and seamless delivery of goods and services. The transportation industry is facing a crisis of innovation. Any small or large technical improvement means cost- effective seamless and secure delivery. Most transport and commercial vehicles and trucking services invest in the latest tracking and security technology. But there is always margin for improvement and scalability, especially in the authentication department.

A study by TMW says that transportation companies and the commercial vehicles industry need authenticated secure data to consistently improve their operations. Companies need constantly updated data from the various suppliers and users to execute quick operations, which in turn means all the data coming through has to be secure and authentic. Blockchain’s biggest advantage is it is hack proof as all the data is interconnected and layered, making it almost impossible to be breached

Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) is actively promoting blockchain to solve some of the most intransigent problems in trucking.

When ferrying perishable goods or food, maintaining a certain temperature is required and the blockchain technology comes in handy to ensure a smooth food supply chain. Industries dealing in perishables have invested heavily in blockchains. IBM is offering a tech solution “designed to bring the requisite efficiency, transparency and authenticity to food supply chains around the world,” in partnership with the concerned sectors.

By marrying internet of things and blockchain technology, freight and commercial carriers can detect cargo volumes through sensors and calculate costs and transmit the same to blockchains, which in turn can be used to authenticate payment transactions based on the price determined.

Blockchain data can help determine the fleet efficiency of used vehicles, which is useful information for commercial vehicle operators. The same technology can even determine the track record of the operator and drivers of the vehicles, ensuring safety metrics

Another concern with transport carriers and truckers is load board because data can be unreliable and duplicated. Blockchains can eliminate duplication, and authenticate and time stamp all loads.

The key advantages of blockchain in the commercial vehicle industry are transparency in processes, prices and data authentication.

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

The Future of Car Subscriptions: is it better than the traditional process of buying or leasing?

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Until very recently, your only options for vehicle ownership were to either lease a car from a dealership or buy one outright. However, in a large number of metropolitan areas, a third, more accessible option of car subscriptions is rapidly becoming a norm.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show in late 2017, Volvo first introduced their subscription model, announcing that their up and coming XC40 compact SUV would begin at a $600 every month subscription with a 2 year contract. The company also offers a $700 per month model, that includes a  higher-spec’d R-Design rendition of the XC40 that comes with a Harman Kardon sound system and 20-inch wheels.

While the subscription model might look the same as leasing a car, there are a few major differences between the two. When you lease a vehicle, you pay a pre-defined, month-on-month payment to rent that particular vehicle until lease term is terminated. This can serve as an intelligent alternative when you don’t have the money required for a hefty car down payment. A lease, you’re able to drive a car that you cannot otherwise afford in your present circumstances. As the driver, you still need to deal with getting your own accident protection and managing regular upkeep of  the vehicle. The car is usually under a warranty during the entire lease period.

Cadillac, Porsche, Ford and Volvo are among the few carmakers giving drivers the alternative of a subscription model. The biggest advantage of this is the time period: Rather than being attached to a years long lease, subscriptions enable you to “own” a car on a month-to-month premise. Hypothetically, you could not have a car for 10 months of the year when you’re making use of public transport, and get a vehicle subscription for the remaining two months when you’re expecting to travel  more regularly. Most of the subscription models are designed to incorporate insurance, sparing you the hassle of hunting down a beneficial policy yourself. On a similar note, unlike a typical novated lease,  you don’t necessarily need to purchase the car your subscribed to when your term expires.

Car subscriptions have garnered a lot of support from well-informed twenty to thirty year olds from residential metropolitan areas – a demographic that has been time-and-again pegged for avoiding car ownership (among the myriad number of things millenials have supposedly killed). As it turns out, most millenials prefer not to depend on Uber and public transit for their transportation needs. In any case, a subscription demonstrates lesser responsibility than an all-out purchase but more convenient and accessible than a car rental service like Zipcar, possessing all the necessary qualities for drivers wavering on the edge of forsaking car ownership, or ones who can’t exactly bear the cost of the car they have always wanted.

Canvas, the subscription model offered by Ford outlines the following process: To start, you pick a car, after which you pick a month-on-month mileage package that ranges from 500 to unlimited miles. Extra miles can be added to your package at a specified cost, however, similar to prepaid smartphone operator plans, in an event that you don’t utilize every one of the miles you paid for, they’re carried over to the following month. Once you’ve planned and scheduled the delivery, the vehicle lands with everything included—registration, insurance, warranty, protection, maintenance and roadside assistance. At the end of each month, you can either return the vehicle or renew your subscription.

Cadillac and Porsche offer comparative deals. The Porsche Passport gives you a chance to pick from 8 car models (counting the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman S) for $2,000 every month or browse through the 22 distinctive Porsche models for a $3,000 membership. With Porsche Passport, you can switch cars as frequently as you want. With Cadillac’s subscription benefit, you can swap between cars as regularly as 18 times each year for $1,800 per month.

Care By Volvo is more constrained than these variants – but at the same time it’s also less expensive. At a $600 flat rate, you can subscribe to the XC40 Momentum SUV or a a higher end XC40 model for $700, that you can hold onto for 2 years – similar to an old fashioned lease. It also comes with factory-scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance, Liberty Mutual auto insurance and ‘wear and tear’ replacements on the most commonly replaced parts like windshield wiper blades. Unlike many of its larger rivals, Volvo gives their subscribers the choice to purchase their vehicle toward the end of their subscription term.

Looking at the costs, if the concept of car subscriptions continues to catch on, then it’s fairly easy to make out which car makers will win out in the end. Most of the car membership services offer a phenomenal approach to simplifying the car ownership  experience. After all, if you can get a subscription for everything from meals to music, why should your car be any different?

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

Maintaining Cybersecurity Standards When Conducting Business Online

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The cyber security of a company running their business online has become a determining factor of its success and overall safety. It is important to take the time and effort to enforce vital practices that will ensure data security so that any information uploaded online stays out of unwanted hands. With the surge in leaks and malware designed to target vulnerable platforms comes a heightened sense of awareness of the necessary steps to take in order to avoid the phishing and hacking of your confidential data. This article will outline a few steps that are otherwise simple for ensuring security, yet might be overlooked with those unfamiliar with the effects of cyber threats.

Backing Up Your Data

The simplest way to ensure that your data is safe is to back it up on an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage platform. By storing it on an external hard drive, any data that may have been hacked or deleted can easily be retrieved and restored. Additionally, using a secure data room to house this important information can take your safety to the next level. VDRs provide a higher amount of security with their intricate features designed to give the administrator the utmost control with their documents. They can be used for various projects and allow easy and efficient communication between the users and any third parties.

For anyone looking to upload documents online for viewing, a VDR is a better option over generic alternatives, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, simply because the security is much stronger. In 2012 Dropbox was subject to an extensive password leak that left many users and their data vulnerable to attack. Having an iron-clad storage platform for when you need to share information during arduous business processes, such as audits or M&A, a virtual data room is seen in a much higher regard than generic services and works even harder to protect your important information.

Using Strong Passwords

Another very simple way to secure your confidential information online is by having strong passwords for all devices and services. It can be easy to overlook the importance of a strong password because of how often we are forced to create them, opting to rather use the ones over and over again for ease and convenience. However, time and again, we are shown the damage a weak password can cause on unsuspecting individuals and businesses. Having a strong password isn’t enough to improve your digital security, you also need to change it every few months to lessen the chances of it being hacked and used to your disadvantage. Many companies’ computers prompt their employees to change their passwords, making the process easier to remember and much better enforced.

For those who have difficulty creating new passwords, there are random password generators available online that take the hassle away and generate a series of random letters and numbers for you to use. If you’ve reached your wits end for strong passwords, this can be a good alternative to strengthen the cyber security of your data.

Staying Aware & Enforcing Secure Practices

It’s never too late to start taking notice of what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong when it comes to your digital security. The best way to make a habit of staying safe online is by being aware of your practices and enforcing new, better ones if they are required. This is especially important in a company with a large number of employees as their bad practices can be detrimental to the business. As mentioned above, computer prompts to change passwords every few months are helpful in keeping employees aware and creative with newer, stronger passwords. Additionally, holding weekly meetings with employees to discuss security practices can benefit their understanding and improve their implementation of them.

Conclusion

Keeping your data secure online doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be taken seriously. Putting forth the time and effort to learn about security procedures and their importance can save you a devastating hack or the loss of data that was not stored somewhere impenetrable. Use past examples of malware attacks and leaks as fodder for your transition to a safer digital workspace.

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

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