Global business developments - drone deliveries

Global business developments - drone deliveries

Businesses across the world are increasingly looking to developments in technology that may help streamline their working processes. One area that has been scrutinized with a great deal of interest has been in the field of automated delivery systems. Recent experiments were undertaken in Germany that could indicate a whole new range of possibilities for mail delivery. The potential for this technology in eventually slashing running costs cannot be overstated.

This experiment was performed by a research team from Deutsche Post DHL, the global logistics giant. They carried out a drone delivery by using an unmanned aerial vehicle. The cargo for this unique transfer was a medicine packet weighing approximately three kilograms. The transportation of this simple package was undertaken as part of Deutsche Post's preliminary research into the use of unmanned carriers for the delivery of urgent material.

Researchers were particularly interested in exploring the possibilities for taking mail to areas that, for any number of reasons, were inaccessible to traditional forms of transport. This would obviously be of most benefit to customers living in isolated rural communities, with limited road access, or island-dwelling communities.

The experiment relied on a ‘parcel copter', that was launched across the River Rhine, in Bonn. Cruising to an altitude of 50-metres, it carried its three kilogram cargo for a distance of almost one kilometer.

According to a spokesman from Deutsche Post, Ole Nordhoff: ‘We are at the beginning of the research project'. He was obviously extremely excited at the experiment's successful conclusion, particularly since the ability to transport post this way has the potential to solve a vast range of logistical issues.

Another spokesman for the company underlined the fact that Deutsche Post are now giving serious considering to the use of these unmanned drones, not just for delivery to remote areas, but as a general tool for providing a streamlined service to all customers. Allowing customers to receive items within half an hour or less of purchase would be a revolutionary boost for commerce.

Employing drones for general delivery purposes will remain the stuff of science fiction for some time. But the use of copters to handle urgent deliveries is something that is not only possible, but within the not-too-distant future may well prove to be probable. The use of commercial drones is not widely covered by legislation.

Amazon are excited about Prime Air — a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.

Manila night market

Manila night market

The so-called ‘night market', held for almost a quarter of a century in Manila's Tutuban Center, has been a magnet for would-be entrepreneurs, and small business exponents wishing to make an extra few dollars for their families. As well as being a bustling street market where a diverse range of wares are displayed, the area is also popular with the many tourists who visit the Philippines' capital. They drop in to the Tutuban, not just in the hope of coming across bargains or holiday souvenirs, but simply to get a taste of the authentic Filipino atmosphere.

Although the wonders of the night market have been imitated in other Filipino population centers, none come close to reproducing the vivid and colourful background of the original market. There are many reasons for its enduring popularity.

A lot of people in the city lead very busy lives, often ruled by the dictates of the nine-to-five treadmill. When they have finished their daily toil and are contemplating the commute, a lot of the shopping malls are already starting to wind down towards closing time. The night market it perfect in this respect, as it offers hassle-free browsing around the stalls at a time that is very convenient for a lot of city dwellers. The range of products on display is another huge draw. Many locals choose to do a lot of their Christmas shopping here due to the sheer variety of items available, and their relative inexpensiveness compared to goods being offered on supermarket shelves. At any time it is possible to come across stalls hawking toys, fashionable accessories, home furnishings, clothes and electronic gadgets of every conceivable description.

The tenants taking advantage of the competitive rates for setting-up shop come from a wide variety of different backgrounds. T-shirts are always popular in the Philippines, either for adults or kids; and clothes stalls are excellent outlets for local manufacturers to sell their wares. One stall owner stated: ‘The designs are good but not expensive'.

The opportunity to reach a wide cross-section of Filipino residents, as well as visitors, means that many tenants have branched out. They might well have kicked-off their fledgling business enterprises with a solitary stall, but the benefits of expansion are there for all to see. Some tenants quickly find themselves having to open another stall, or stalls, in order to cope with demand. Even the most humble Manila resident can find themselves making a considerable little income from the night market, certainly enough to support a family, as well as giving enough to invest in a few home improvements, or perhaps a modest car.

Another reason cited for the market's popularity with entrepreneurs is the community aspect. People get to know neighbouring stall owners, and can swap ideas and observations about consumer trends. There is also a greater sense of security from thieves amongst the closely-packed stalls, with their owners keeping an eye out for each other.

Manila call center news

Manila call center news

As evening falls in Manila and the rush-hour traffic begins to fade, there is an unusual migration occurring in the opposite direction. Hordes of office workers are departing their homes to head into the capital's financial districts to commence work. Welcome to the world of Manila's call centers.

The enthusiastic young men and women who operate in these skyscrapers are known as call center agents, and the majority of their clients live on the other side of the world. This is the reason that their nightshifts are by far their busiest periods. A study undertaken last year discovered that the Philippines employs approximately 600,000 such workers, officially overtaking India as the world's most populous call center operators.

The actual tasks that are performed in these neon-lit buildings cover a diverse range of possibilities. Whether you are an Australian seeking to book a flight, or someone in New York trying to purchase a theatre ticket, or even an irate customer in Western Europe complaining of faults with their washing machine, calling the helpline is much more likely to result in them being routed through to an enthusiastic Filipino than the traditional Indian call center stereotype.

So why have call centers exploded in this way in the Philippines? There are any number of reasons, but perhaps the most obvious one of all are these two: wages are relatively low, ensuring that call center costs are extremely manageable in this part of the world; Filipinos, with their American colonial influence, speak easily-recognizable, international English. This makes them particularly easily understood on the other side of the Pacific, where large numbers of the individuals ringing their lines are doing so from the USA.

There are other reasons for the burgeoning numbers of call centers in the Philippines. Their development followed on from internet telephony – the evolution in this technology meaning that overseas telephone calls were no longer unduly expensive. There is an even more simplistic reason. Filipinos have long taken pride in their traits of being a friendly, charming and approachable people. These characteristics are worth their weight in gold when it comes to having the tools to dealing with large numbers of strangers calling on the telephone on a daily basis.

The industry itself is fast evolving. Despite the fact that there are significant levels of poverty in the country, managers are prepared to invest heavily in the technology, in order that Filipino call centers can find themselves equipped to deal with those in any other part of the world.

According to Raffy David, a director at the Teleserv call center: ‘The Philippines came into this business about ten years ago, around the time of a technological shift to IP telephony'. In other words, this coincided with the likes of free voice services such as Skype, making outsourcing cheap and easy.

Manila – IT security news

Manila – IT security news

Yes the main news is all about the WannaCry global ransomware attack that kicked off on 12 May 2017 encrypting user files till they paid a fee.

In other recent news emanated from the technology sector in Manila – a local software firm had unearthed the existence of a group of cyber criminals. These unsavoury individuals have been conducting espionage via a particularly virulent strain of malicious software. So far this has spread to an estimated 31 countries, with every indication that this tally is set to increase.

The so-called malware has been given the name ‘careto', this being the Spanish name for ‘mask'. The relatively innocuous-sounding component is actually reckoned to be one of the most advanced of its kind, and computer network managers throughout the world have every god reason to be treating the potential threat from this latest online baddie with the utmost attention.

According to one expert, a spokesman from Kaspersky Labs, who was summarizing a report published on its own computer security website: ‘the mask is one of the most advanced threats at the current time. This and several other factors make us believe this could be a state sponsored operation. We observed a high degree of professionalism in the operational procedures of the group behind this attack, including monitoring of their infrastructure, shutdown of the operation, avoiding curious eyes through access rules, using wiping instead of deletion for log files, etcetera. This level of operational security is not normal for cybercriminal groups'.

Exactly who is behind the mask software remains open to speculation. But the list of intended targets is both extensive and diverse. Over 1,000 IP addresses have been infected to date, with that number growing regularly. By far the most infected country has been Morocco with 380-plus instances, or over one-third of the total mask attacks. Other countries that have suffered similarly have been Brazil with 173 infections, the UK with 109, Spain with 61, France with 52, Switzerland 33, Libya 26, and the USA with 22. Those IP addresses that have been affected include websites relating to government institutions, foreign embassies and diplomatic offices, energy companies, research institutions and private equity firms.

Kaspersky went on to underline exactly how dangerous this type of viral infection could be for the respective network infrastructures. ‘For the victims, an infection with careto is disastrous. The malware intercepts all the communication channels and collects the most vital information from the infected system. Detection is extremely difficult because of stealth rootkit capabilities. In addition to built in functionalities, the operators of careto can upload additional modules which can perform any malicious task. Given the nature of the known victims, the impact is potentially very high'.

The mask has been out there since at least 2007, and could well have infected Windows, Apple, Linux and Android operating systems. This also includes the likelihood of having spread to mobile devices.

Given the increasingly complex nature of malware attacks, it goes without saying that computer security organizations must work doubly hard at keeping one step ahead. As has happened on numerous previous occasions, the lure of the substantial remuneration available from Apple or Microsoft might inspire many of these villains to jump ship and become ex-hackers working for the other side?