September 29, 2017

Caution: Driverless Cars Ahead

Filed under: News — csadm @ 9:20 am

Mention “driverless car” in Port Moresby and folks will think you are talking about a PMV rolling backwards down a hill due to a mechanical failure of epic proportions, as passengers and pedestrians jump for their lives.

To avoid confusion, that’s a vehicle that is out of control.

In other societies, “driverless car” and “autonomous vehicle” have far different connotations – instead referring to the future of automotive transport. Eventually, one day, such truly driverless, fully-controlled vehicles will be on the streets of Port Moresby. Just don’t expect to see them too soon.

Towards a driverless future

The International Society of Automotive Engineers has classified self-driving capability in vehicles into stages ranging from Level 0 to 5.

Level 0: Many of the cars available today are Level 0, as they lack any autonomous driving functions. The driver is responsible for all steering, acceleration, and braking, even if the vehicle is equipped with forward collision warning, cruise control, or lane departure warning.

Level 1: Level 1 autonomous vehicles have one or more systems that can intervene to brake, steer, or accelerate the car, but the systems do not work in tandem with one another. Examples of Level 1 features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist.

Level 2: Vehicles with Level 2 autonomous technology can simultaneously control steering and speed at the same time, without driver intervention for short periods. They cannot perform autonomously under all conditions. The driver is required to stay attentive and be able to regain control of the car at any time. The Tesla Model S is perhaps the best-known Level 2 autonomous car, but it’s not the only vehicle that is available with the technology.

Level 3: Level 3 vehicles have full autonomous functions in all driving conditions but need to shift control back to the driver if they are unable to perform. Several of the autonomous cars currently being tested on public roads by companies such as Waymo (Google’s driverless car project) feature Level 3 technology.

Level 4: Fully autonomous vehicles can operate with no intervention from the driver other than the entry of the destination. They are designed to operate under any conditions. If the autonomous car systems fail, the vehicle will safely stop. They typically have redundant controls for the driver to actively take command of the car if they wish.

Level 5: Level 5 autonomous vehicles are designed from the ground up to operate entirely autonomously. While they may have redundant controls, they are not intended to be driven regularly by human drivers. Level 5 vehicles are likely still years or decades away from widespread deployment.

The main argument for driverless, autonomous vehicles is not geek-value but the fact that 90% of road traffic accidents are currently caused by human error.

2017 Tesla Model S and Model X

Perhaps the best-known semi-autonomous vehicle sold today is the Tesla Model S and Model X. The company’s Autopilot technology has received as much attention for its well-publicized failures as it has for its cutting-edge capabilities. The Enhanced Autopilot in the Model S uses four cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors to “see” what’s happening around the car.

With Enhanced Autopilot, the Model S can center itself within its lane, automatically change lanes when directed, keep pace with traffic, transition from one freeway to another, and transition from a freeway to surface streets. When you arrive at your destination, the car can park itself.

Pushing the envelope even further, Tesla is set to offer a Full Self-Driving Capability package on the Model S. It is subject to further testing and regulatory approval before it can be activated. When it is activated, you’ll only have to enter an address in the navigation system or let the car see your upcoming appointments, and it will take you there with little or no driver intervention.

Likewise the Model X comes with the hardware needed for driverless operation; the functions just need to be activated in the car’s computer when you buy the car, or via an over-the-air update at a later time. When you are cruising down the freeway, the Model X will look for the fastest lane and guide you there when directed.

Plug-in Cars

The other major advancement in automotive technology are electric vehicles (EV) or “plug-in” cars, and they are a response to a demand for cheaper and eco-friendly alternatives to petrol and diesel engines.

EVs are very much in the space today and this is where Port Moresby city authorities need to begin forward planning.

If we look at Europe, Britain is set to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide pose a major risk to public health.

The commitment, which follows a similar pledge in France, is part of the government’s much-anticipated clean air plan, which has been at the heart of a protracted high court legal battle.

Closer to home, in July this year the Queensland Government announced plans to build an “Electric Super Highway” spanning 2,000 kilometres along the east coast. The road will have free, fast-charging stations at 18 points along the route to create one of the longest electric highways in the world.

In the United States there are already around 20,000km of electric highways, with 16,107 charging stations and 43,828 charging outlets across the country.

However, there may be some obstacles in the road ahead as energy giants are now warning that electric cars could put an enormous additional load on power grids that are already struggling to cope with demand.

Electric Vehicles / Hybrids

Another form of EV is known as a hybrid.

A plug-in hybrid, for example, has a large battery capacity and is often capable of running entirely on electric power at least part of the time, though it will have a petrol engine as well, as a back-up.

One type of plug-in hybrid, often referred to as a range-extended EV, is essentially an electric car with a small petrol engine that acts as an on-board generator.

Electric vehicles are very much here to stay with dramatic economic consequences. Industry analyst Bloomberg reports that global sales of electric vehicles will hit 41 million by 2040, representing 35% of new light duty vehicle sales. This would be almost 90 times the equivalent figure for 2015, when EV sales are estimated to have been 462,000, some 60% up on 2014.


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September 15, 2017

Where we fit in the smart city space

Filed under: News — csadm @ 7:44 am

Imagine living in a city that could use the information available within it to make life easier for its inhabitants. The city becomes a living organism, feeding off a central nervous system providing real time power and information – “sensory data” – empowering it to react.

The first step towards creating a smart city is visualisation and then having the political will to pursue an achievable dream. The question is: could Port Moresby ever become a smart city?

A practical approach towards POM achieving this dream is to isolate one area, such as the CBD of Port Moresby, taking in the new Ela Beach development, and make it a smart city precinct – a “city within a city”.

This test case would then be a prototype for the development and roll-out of other similar smart city precincts in the National Capital District, and other parts of PNG. So it is an example of taking one step at a time.

The Smart Cities Council defines a smart city as a city that has digital technology embedded across all city functions. In their Smart Cities Readiness Guide, the council takes a comprehensive, holistic view that “includes the entirety of human activity in an area, including city governments, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, resources, businesses and people.”

According to Wikipedia, a smart city is an urban development vision to integrate information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets.

A smart city is promoted to use urban informatics and technology to improve the efficiency of services. ICT allows city officials to interact directly with the community and the city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. Through the use of sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems, data are collected from citizens and devices – then processed and analyzed. The information and knowledge gathered are keys to tackling inefficiency.

If you think this is the stuff of science fiction then think again. The future is already here.

Already more than half the world’s people live in cities and by the end of this decade it’s estimated that three out of five people will live not only in cities, but in megacities – metropolises with over ten million people.

We have reached a point where “the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.”

It is now just a case of interconnecting all the available technology and information and applying it to a smart city model.

The Internet of Things

One of the key components in a smart city is the Internet of Things (IoT).

This is an inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and  “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.

On a global level, experts estimate that the IoT will consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020.

Smart City Vision

There are a number of large multinational companies currently working in the smart city space. One such company is Lockheed Martin, who say that the first component necessary to build a smart city is energy.

A smart city won’t just use energy from a power plant a few miles away like the cities of today. It will find energy everywhere—from sunlight, wind, rain, waves, heat and even motion. In the future, buildings, roads and other infrastructure will double as our power plants.

Smart cities will also use every last drop of energy as efficiently as possible. With smart energy storage, we will be able to save power until its needed and smart meters and networked sensors will be able to optimize electricity distribution in real-time, making energy waste a thing of the past.

Once powered, the smart city increases safety for its citizens through sensors.

Sensors already play a critical role on today’s ships and aircraft to identify and address maintenance issues. In the future, we will be able to implement sensors on trains, self-driving cars and subways to ensure maintenance issues are solved before they even become a problem.

In fact, crime and health would also be monitored so that issues are solved before they become a problem.

So why become a smart city? The question is a bit like asking why one should get an education.

The Smart City Council identifies three core values behind smart city thinking. They are:

Smart City as the new urban space which, provided with millions of sensors, will be able to “listen” and “comprehend” what is happening all over the city to thus make better decisions and provide the right information to its inhabitants.


According to NEC, another global giant developing smart city solutions, city evolution is a three-stage process consisting of Growth, Maturation and Reconstruction.

During the Growth stage, a city’s infrastructure develops rapidly in response to industrial growth and a rising population. To a large degree, quantity is prioritized over quality.

In the Maturation stage, growth stabilizes and residents seek a higher standard of living by purchasing higher quality goods and services, moving to the suburbs, etc. Quality is prioritized over quantity during this phase.

During the Reconstruction stage, mature cities undergo renewal to maintain services and enable further development. These cities collaborate with other cities to meet new challenges. They also redevelop to satisfy the changing expectations of residents.

By collecting and sharing information more effectively and linking the network layers that support urban life, state-of-the-art ICT can bring people closer together, strengthen the fabric of society and realize the dream of a Smart City.

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September 1, 2017

Mobiles: use or be used 

Filed under: News — csadm @ 2:30 pm

Anyone that owns a mobile phone, and knows how to use it, is aware that access to ICT – information and communications technology – is now almost a necessity. It is hard to imagine life without it.

Mobile technology contributes to social development, provides access to education, financial services, a wealth of knowledge and generally provides a platform for a better quality of life.

According to the industry body GSMA which represents the interests of mobile operators around the world, by the end of 2016 65% of the world’s population had a mobile subscription. That’s 4.8 billion unique users. It is a market that accounts for 4.4% of the world’s GDP. And it is climbing.

By 2020 73% of the earth’s population will have a mobile subscription – a market that will be worth US$4.2 trillion.

In Papua New Guinea the uptake of mobile communication has been equally phenomenal but by world standards still below par.

By the end of 2015 the number of people connected in PNG was 3.3 million, climbing 5.64% in three years. It is still less than half the population.

78% of this market is prepaid, a market that has had slightly negative growth over three years.

The prepaid market has plateaued because mobile operators have wrung every remaining toea out of people with an already low level of disposable income.

Those with access to mobile broadband, being those that can afford it, accounted for 19% of the market – a growth rate of 33.49% over three years – a telling statistic as people want and adopt faster, more reliable access.

It is also an example of the Pareto Priniciple – business makes 80% of its money out of the top 20% of its clientele. So you know where the focus will be.

The future belongs to those that can afford to pay for better services, and invariably these people will be urban dwellers.

The problem with Papua New Guinea is that outside the capital city, and other cities, towns  and developments such as mines, it is not commercially viable to run and maintain a mobile communication service – the same trend we see with other services.

It has really been left up to various levels of government to fill these non-profitable gaps for those less fortunate, as others with resources and education head to the cities and towns in search of better services, job opportunities and generally a better quality of life.

It is a situation that is not unique to PNG, but rather part of a global phenomena of rapid urbanisation. Already more than half the world’s people live in cities and by the end of this decade it’s estimated that three out of five people will live not only in cities, but in megacities – metropolises with over ten million people.

We have reached a point where “the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.”


There are three mobile operators in PNG and each has its own unique range of benefits for consumers. It will depend on whether you live in the city or rural areas as to how you best maximise the benefits.

If you live in an area only serviced by Digicel, for instance, then there is not much point thinking about subscribing to a Bmobile data plan.

If however, you live in Port Moresby or Lae, then you have enormous choice of very good services. The secret here is to use the services and plans available… or be used.

Your choice of plan will depend on your individual circumstance.

However, your preferred choice of handsets is essential to your ability to make best use of the services available.

Here are some tips to buying a handset that will help you get the best out of what’s available, and save you money as well.

AND…do you actually need a smartphone? Can you afford the data charges that will inevitably come with owning and operating a smartphone? If you only need to make calls and text, then you do not need a smartphone. Nokia recently realised there is still a market that only demands a cheap, fashionable and modern phone for making calls and sending texts. They launched the Nokia 3310 taking the iconic shape of the original with a new user interface with a 2.4” polarised and curved screen window. So it is no longer cool to have a smartphone for appearance sake.

The real smartness comes in your choice of handset.

First of all you will have ready access to the two networks, and will be able to milk the value of both – for instance, one could have a great data plan and the other great value for voice calls;

Personal v Business. Having a dual-SIM smartphone allows you to manage your business on one card and plan, and your personal life on the other card. This is also useful and simple if you need to account for phone usage;

If you are going overseas you can keep one SIM port for calls back home and make the other port available for a local SIM card, hence avoiding global roaming charges;

Emergencies – if one network drops out, or even if you are travelling within PNG and one network is stronger than the other than you have a back-up plan already locked and loaded.

Finally, protect your investment. Buy a cover that will protect your handset in the inevitable case that you drop it. Also avoid using your new investment in public places, especially markets and PMVs where someone less honest will want to deprive you of your hard-earned and rightful property.

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