Pushing for open African governance

first_img30 May 2013 Representatives of 16 countries gathered in Mombasa, Kenya on Wednesday for the first Africa outreach meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Launched in New York in September 2011, the OGP is international coalition of leading governments and civil society organisations aimed at advancing transparency and accountability in government, increasing civic participation and fighting corruption. The partnership has grown since then to 59 countries, including the eight founding countries: the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa and the UK. Africa is represented in the OGP by founding member South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, who committed to joining in 2012, and Liberia and Ghana, who are in the process of joining.Service delivery, development benefits Speaking at the opening of the OGP Africa meeting on Wednesday, South African Deputy Public Service and Administration Minister Ayando Dlodlo said it was important to “recognise the benefits of enhancing governance in order to improve service delivery and foster development”. Dlodlo told the gathering of politicians, administrators, civil society workers, academics and others that South Africa sought to help build strong international partnerships to promote good governance, which was “fundamental in improving the delivery of services to our citizens and enhancing public trust in government”. While stressing the value of a civil society with the “independence, capacity and will to hold governments accountable”, Dlodlo challenged challenge African governments and civil society to move away from a “cold war of us against them” and to work together for the betterment of people’s lives. She also highlighted the use of information communication technology (ICT) by governments, not only to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, but also to promote information sharing and public participation.Importance of ‘open data’ Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology Fred Matiangi relayed a welcome message from President Uhuru Kenyatta calling for constructive engagement between governments and civil society to improve the living conditions of Africa’s people. Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Bitange Ndemo, speaking at a separate session on open data, spoke about the challenge of making technical information available to the public in clearly understandable language. Open data had to be relevant to people, Ndemo said, in order for them to understand it and use it to improve their living standards. He lauded those Kenyans who used technology to access data and rework it in language that people could understand through smartphones and apps “Our Open Data portal has information about the various counties we have in Kenya, and this is important for making development decisions about a county. The data compares counties to each other on which is lagging behind,” Ndemo said.Platforms for citizen feedback Unathi Bongco, South Africa’s OGP programme manager, told a session on improving the public service that citizen feedback was crucial in monitoring quality and improving accountability in service delivery, and noted the South African government’s use of outreach forums and special telephone hotlines to gather this feedback. The two-day conference continued on Thursday, with panelists drawn from government and civil society set to share their experiences on open governance in the day’s main event, “Conversations with African Leaders”. The panelists scheduled to take part included Qinisile Delwa from South Africa’s Department of Public Service and Administration, Thomas Karyah from Liberia’s Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Prince Kreplah of Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia, Gladwell Otieno of the Africa Centre for Open Governance, and Emmanuel Kuyole of Ghana’s Revenue Watch Institute. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Have Facebook Apps Peaked in Popularity?

first_imgThere appears to be evidence that Facebook users are beginning to suffer from app fatigue, and there is growing discontent about how applications are being distributed and about the amount of noise that the application platform has introduced into the Facebook ecosystem. As Mark Glaser writes on the PBS MediaShift blog, Facebook has a growing trust problem. Further, new numbers suggest that fed up users might have had enough of some of the most popular Facebook apps. This, however, could be a good thing for users and for the health of the platform in the long run.Glaser talks about how he used to be excited when he received a notification of a new action on Facebook — a poke, a wall post, a message — but more recently, all that has changed. “Now, my reaction to getting the same kinds of notifications has changed, and I dread clicking through to see what kind of spam or scam is coming my way,” he writes.What happened? Well, for one, the Facebook platform happened. The Facebook platform allowed application developers to flood the site with applications, both useful and not (by many accounts, mostly not), and because of the way it is set up, app developers were able to encourage, and sometimes force or trick, users into sending out mass invites, notifications, or new feed announcements about often times trivial matters. This increased the noise on the Facebook network ten fold, and decreased the enjoyment of the social networks for some people.Users, though, are beginning to push back. In just over a month, more than 65,000 people have joined the No, I will NOT invite 20 friends just to add your application! group, which has spun off an ancillary group that catalogues the applications that require users to invite friends before even using the app. And over 4,200 people have signed a petition calling on Facebook to step in and stop developers from using the “forced invite” tactic to grow their apps virally.Further, blogger Alex Saunders points to recent statistics from Adonomics that indicate that the top Facebook apps have recently seen significant dips in the number of active users. “All of the top 10 leaderboard applications have seen substantial drops in daily users since peaking in November and December,” writes Saunders. The chart below is from his site:It is important to note that not all (if any) of these applications employ forced invites or tricky user invite schemes. Nonetheless, the drop in active users is telling, and is perhaps indicative of a Facebook populace that is beginning to get fed up with application noise or is getting tired of applications in general. It is certainly possible that the novelty has begun to wear off, and users are no longer interested in trying every hot new app under the sun, and have grown weary of some of the apps they were once so fond of.One of the most annoying apps on Facebook — at least in my opinion — “Pirates vs. Ninjas,” is way down off its November peak as well, according to Adonomics. What would make an app slide from over 165,000 daily users to 24,000 in just a couple of months? It’s hard to say, but perhaps users have begun to grow tired of noveltly apps that don’t do much else except spam their friends with invites to join the application.App Fatigue: A Good Thing?I wrote earlier that users suffering from app fatigue and pushing back against apps that employ sneaky invite schemes to grow is a good thing, and I think it probably is. Assuming Facebook steps in and imposes stricter invite rules — which they should, applications will need to find different ways to spread virally. If people are simultaneously beginning to suffer from app fatigue (or app apathy — appathy?), there is really only one sure fire way to get apps to spread virally: make better applications!There are now 15,422 apps on the Facebook platform — how many of them are truly useful? Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the novelty has worn off and users are finally starting to demand more of the applications they install. As Alex Saunders writes, “Developers of Facebook applications, however, have reached a watershed that demands a focus on delivering utility and value rather than thinly disguised advertising vehicles.”What do you think? Are you suffering from Facebook app fatigue? Do you think Facebook should step in and tighten invite rules for developers? Sound off in the comments below. josh catone 1 Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#Facebook#social networks#Trends#web Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…center_img The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Related Posts A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

Is Identification the Missing Piece in LP’s War against ORC?

first_imgSponsored by Avery DennisonLast month, police officers from the Berkeley Police Department in California raided a house as part of an investigation into a retail theft ring and found stolen cosmetics and other goods totaling $500,000, according to news reports. It was a major bust that was, nonetheless, fairly typical—reflecting just how extensive organized retail crime (ORC) has become. The raid was also the kind of score-one-for-the-good-guys story that gives retailers hope they are making progress against a stubborn enemy.But the extent to which a feel-good police raid denotes a genuine victory largely depends on whether there is a way to identify where the stolen products originated. Without identification, prosecuting and disrupting fencing operations could be difficult and impracticable, victim retailers may not recover any products for resale, and the perpetrators of the crime or boosters will feel little lasting deterrence from returning to work.- Sponsor – “When you go to seize product, if there is no label and you can’t identify where the product came from, then you don’t have a victim. And you don’t have a crime unless someone can take the stand and say ‘this is mine,’” said Denny Dansak, who until April served as the head of Kroger’s organized retail crime division for all 24 of its companies.Kroger began labeling its high-theft products several years ago to take advantage of improvements in labeling technology made by Avery Dennison. Labels that, if removed, leave a residue or otherwise degrade the product. That technology advancement has created a new class of theft prevention solutions—one that costs just pennies.“When people think about ORC, they tend to think the answer is expensive electronic solutions and EAS gates at the door. Those are a deterrent, but they may not always be the most cost-effective way to protect merchandise,” explained Bob Glavin, vice president for innovation in Avery Dennison’s Printer Solutions division. “A lot of our customers report really strong ROI through paying just a little more in label costs. They’re reporting positive payback in a couple of months, rather than the years that it can take for more involved solutions.”Through its partnership with the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC), Avery Dennison has seen the impact of its identification solutions on theft. “Partnering with LPRC we know fences are forced to re-sell products at a lower cost if they’re labeled, so it actually deters boosters from stealing them in the first place,” said Glavin. “We’re able to use this kind of knowledge to create solutions that will work, and manage the cost.”Avery Dennison Theft Deterrence and Recovery labels, which feature numerous types of face sheets and difficult to remove adhesives to work on different kinds of product material, are less expensive than other LP tools. Labor costs are minimal when retailers target their use on high-theft items, or if stores are already affixing labels for other reasons, such as for pricing or promotions. And Avery Dennison’s solutions extend beyond pre-printed store identification and allow retailers like Kroger to include variable information at the time of application to the product, such as store number, phone number, date, and whatever else LP finds useful for recovery. Thus, eliminating the need for hundreds of pre-prints that have to be ordered and warehoused. In addition, they can be combined with pricing or promotion labels and used to improve product appearance and enhance store branding.Recovery is the most obvious value of product identification. If a retailer can show that they own products seized in an investigation—a pallet, for example, of Tide detergent—they can recover it and potentially make it available again for sale. However, even if products are consumable or otherwise unable to go back on store shelves, identification yields value by strengthening criminal cases against fencing operations, which cuts into ORC operations. “Cutting the head off the snake can put 40 to 60 boosters out of business,” said Dansak, who added that ownership identification not only helps to secure convictions but can—for instance by demonstrating when stolen products have traveled over state lines—increase charges and penalties against fencing operators.Identification can also help increase sales. Some major customers are reporting a sales uplift that they attribute to the recovery labels. “Because ORC thieves often clear out an entire section of merchandise—an entire shelf of teeth whitening products, for example—then when customers come in they can’t purchase it because they’re out of that item,” explained Glavin. “This solution prevents that kind of issue.”Moreover, the value that theft recovery labels are providing from a loss prevention perspective is growing alongside the awareness of ORC rings. “We’ve had boosters cooperate with us, and they say that more and more fences are telling them not to bring them products with identification labels,” said Dansak. “Now that you have labels where the adhesive is strong enough that they can’t really be removed, then if retailers A, B, and C have labels, boosters will hit retailer D instead. We’ve seen that.”In addition to providing low-cost theft deterrence, labeling solutions also account for a hard truth about ORC—that 100 percent prevention isn’t realistic. “The mentality of many boosters is that they’re going to get the product they’re after regardless of the theft deterrent in place,” be it EAS, video surveillance, or some other prevention tool. However, even when criminals can’t be deterred, identification labels—unlike many other LP solutions—still yield value by providing critical intelligence to retail investigators. For example, when a legitimate retailer finds itself with a labeled product and calls its 800 number and provides the store number from the label, investigators can trace their stolen product back to its original store.Using information gathered from recovered products, retailers can: uncover the type of schemes they’re falling victim to, such as a diversion issue or a refund issue; determine the extent of a fencing operation trafficking their products; and gather the information that law enforcement needs to pursue a case.“It really helps investigations, especially with fences selling products online, and we’ve followed products from New York City to Phoenix to the Philippines,” said Dansak. “I got a call from ICE in New Jersey saying, ‘We have three pallets here with your labels being sent overseas,’ and that was baby formula, which many retailers sell. I got the call because it had our labels. But what happens to all the others that don’t have an identification label?”Dansak says that his real-world experience coincides with recent data from the National Retail Federation that shows ORC poses a growing threat to retailers. And the motivation behind ORC makes it particularly difficult to combat. “It’s is a not a crime of opportunity, but a crime of economics,” he says.The enormity of the challenge may be why retailers have reflexively looked first to intricate, expensive solutions when an inexpensive, straightforward tool is available to help deter crime, recover merchandise, prosecute crime rings, and improve sales. The value was obvious to Dansak, a former special agent in law enforcement. “When I first got to Kroger, after one month, I started asking, ‘how do we identify our products from those of other retailers?’ With me, it just seemed essential that we have something on there that identified our products. That’s how it all starts. That’s how you build a case.” Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Why Is Microsoft Still Manufacturing Dumbphones?

first_imgMicrosoft’s Nokia division made a surprising new announcement today: Although the Nokia X, Asha and S60 lines have succumbed to Microsoft’s ax, somehow two Nokia Series 30–powered “dumbphone” models have escaped the bloodshed. It’s a 180-degree move for Microsoft, which not long ago moved Nokia’s mobile development to Windows Phone. But for some reason, it has decided to spare the $25 (€19) new entry-level Nokia 130 and Nokia 130 Dual Sim handsets. It may seem like a rather sudden pivot, but those basic handsets (what industry jargoneers call “feature phones”) could represent Microsoft’s best chance at capturing the low-end market—say, in developing countries. “Microsoft doesn’t have any other project that can reach these consumers,” Jo Harlow, a vice president at Microsoft, told Recode. And the Nokia 130 phones may not be the only ones aimed at these target customers, suggests this tweet from Doug Dawson, Microsoft spokesperson: @greengart @jonfingas To clarify – We will continue to offer a portfolio of Nokia-branded mobile phones. Our smartphones will be WP.— Doug Dawson (@theDougDawson) August 11, 2014Even so, the move is still baffling. Microsoft has made it very clear that it wants to shift Nokia’s mobile development toward its own mobile platform. (After all, it could use all the help it can get. Windows Phone is still trailing Android and iPhone by, ahem, a lot.) So it would make sense if the company used this dumbphone as a way to tempt users of low-end phones into the fold, then nurture them into the Windows Phone way of life—which is what some tech sites think could be happening here. Unfortunately, the Nokia 130 bears no resemblance to Windows Phones. At all. This candybar phone has hardware keys, no camera, no Internet connectivity and, most important, no ability to download and run Windows Phone mobile apps. Its feature list is incredibly sparse, covering calling, texting, reading off a microSD card, acting as an LED flashlight and playing music or videos. Contrast that with the Android and iPhones aimed at developing countries: Although they’re also cheaper and less dense with advanced hardware specs, those devices are still smartphones that run a variety of apps. So you might reasonably assume that Microsoft is merely giving Nokia a final moment in the sun. (That is, if you consider a minor product launch of a dumbphone to be a last hurrah.) That’s not likely to change, unless Microsoft can figure out how to tie some of its basic smartphone software—or even superficial interface elements—to this basic handset. Otherwise, the company has virtually no chance of tempting or introducing users to Windows Phone with this device. Not that the  Nokia 130 can’t be useful. When it launches, later this quarter, its rock-bottom price point and basic features would make it a terrific emergency phone, a back-up in case your primary smart gadget fails. But it’s not going to slow Microsoft’s massive bleed. For that, the company will need to look elsewhere. For a closer look at the 130, check out Nokia’s promo video below.  Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#dumbphone#feature phone#Microsoft#mobile#Nokia#smartphones#Windows Phone Related Posts adriana leecenter_img What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more