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Can technology help reduce the risk of the virus?

For example, many Malawians who live in the semi-urban areas of the capital city, many homes do not even have the facility of drinking water or running water. Mary Kooneka, a woman living this is area, every day has to make frequent trips to a nearby kiosk in her Mchezi neighborhood with cash to pay to the attendant. The Kiosk is manually operate and during those hours, that is three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening, a lot of congestion was common and along with this increasing Covid crisis spreading. It was getting difficult day by day, as the costs varied according to the Kiosks, costing one Malawi kwacha per liter of water. It made the situation even worse by making it difficult in engaging in the increased hygiene and hand washing practices as advised by the Government at that time to help mitigate the risk of Corona virus spread.

Chrissy Kawanga, a former kiosk manager said that she used to receive cash directly from the ones who came to get water filled, which was a very risky attribute at that time. In reaction to public concerns, the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) began the installation of E-Madzi kiosks, fully-automated systems allowing users to draw water using an e-card. The E-Madzi kiosks gives residents complete access to water at any time in the day. This system also enabled a 65 per cent reduction in the water costs as there was no longer a need for an attendant and there was no wastage of water. About 8750 citizens from few of the city’s vulnerable neighborhood was able to access water with improved hygiene practices and started the practice of hand washing methods.

The Government supported the installation of these automated kiosks throughout the installation of public places all across the city led by Lilongwe City Council. Training awareness campaigns on hand washing methods and using the social distance norms and supply of protective equipment for the LWB frontline staff were also provided.

The E-Madzi kiosks have simplified the way they now manage water kiosks, especially, that they do not need an employee from the water board to be available to sell water and receive cash while ensuring water is available all the time, said John Maweja, a Lilongwe Water Board kiosk technician. The E-Madzi system was comprised of mainly three elements , that is, a smart card, a dispenser unit and a water management system. It was installed in every kiosks and it operated through electronic water management devices. The smart card given used Radio frequency identification ( RFID ) technology to allow users to draw water by just tapping on the dispenser unit. Consumers with a smart card had to just tap on the unit, and the credit was deducted from the card balance to the exact amount of water collected. The Water Management System Server arrests all the reports from remote kiosks to allow LWB system administrators to tenuously monitor the performance and water usage of the kiosk through an easy-to-use web-based console.

This system is a very useful platform which ensure the continuity of water supply services to some of the most vulnerable communities in Lilongwe, at times when water was most needed, said Odete Muximpua, World Bank task team leader of the LWSP. He also said that, the system minimized human contact, thus reducing the risk of corruption from taps during opening and closing, and cash payment transactions at the kiosk.

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AI role in customer experience in banking

The concept of banking first sprung up around 8000 BC. Then, there came various drastic changes to expand their services and innovate their business models. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are applied to help banks and financial institutions nowadays. A survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) showed that 77% of banking executives believe that the use of AI will ultimately differentiate between winning and losing banks.

This pandemic has triggered a sudden socioeconomic shift from physical to digital. There is a rapid switch to digital channels. Recent research by YouGov was conducted in June 2021. And that revealed that digital services have become the de facto way of conducting business and access services during the pandemic. EIU’s survey showed that enhancing the user experience through better personalisation ranked first in the most valuable uses of AI.

Customer propositions are no longer fit-for-all. It involves both banking and non-banking products and services. To identify the customers’ needs the banks must take an entirely new approach to innovation. They should adopt a customer-centric view. This starts with understanding the customer needs. AI makes it much easier to analyse customer preferences. The redesigning of customer loyalty program gives banks an accurate understanding of customer. Effective personalization offers customers not only better leads but also a more unique experience. The customer experience can be improved by applying AI. Banks must also build out their capabilities to strike new partnerships.

Businesses across all industries are working hard to retain their customers, including banks. AI can become a banking institutions’ superpower. This can take the customer experience to new heights, resulting in happier and more loyal customers. It will also reduce a bank’s operating costs and enable increased revenue per customer. To become AI First, banks must focus on streamlining their technology layer. They also require a strategy to engage customers through channels owned by them and their non-banking partners. Business and technology must work hand in hand, with cross-functional teams breaking up organisational silos.

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Amazon to offer insurance to UK businesses

The technology giant’s first foray into business insurance in the country, broker Superscript said that Amazon is going to start offering insurance to small and medium-sized UK business customers. Members of Amazon’s Business Prime program will be able to buy cover from superscript such as contents insurance, cyber insurance and professional indemnity insurance. Superscript spokesperson said that those would be underwritten by major UK insurers. A discount of 20% will be offered to current rates. This is to entice the businesses over to them.

50% of customers are prepared to buy insurance from non-traditional players. A recent survey of 12,000 people globally by consultants Capgemini showed this. Cameron Shearer, co-founder and CEO of Superscript, said in a statement that the insurance industry needs to bridge the divide between insurers and customers. Amazon’s move into UK business insurance comes after U.S. insurtech Next Insurance said that it was offering cover to U.S. small businesses. And that too via Amazon Business Prime. Molly Dobson, Country Manager for Amazon Business UK & Ireland, said in the statement that as the businesses come out of the pandemic, they want customers to have the best-in-class tools to run their business.

Financial institutions are worried that tech firms will steal their business. But industry sources said that the insurers and tech firms are more likely to forge partnerships. Because of the given difficulties and expense for outsiders in entering the highly regulated finance sector. Amazon also offers warranty insurance and “buy now, pay later” services in Britain.

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In NFT fantasy soccer game, SoftBank leads funding

Blockchain-based fantasy soccer game Sorare has raised $680 million. This is through a funding round, which is led by SoftBank. According to the company, it includes players such as ex-England international Rio Ferdinand and Spain’s Gerard Pique. Paris-based Sorare said that the investment valued the company at $4.3 billion. Sorare is an online game, since 2018. Here players buy officially licensed cards that represents soccer players. They can build teams and play against each other. This is based on the players’ performance in real-life games.

The cards are traded in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The market for NFTs has seen major growth in 2021. Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International, said that they think NFTs represent a new paradigm in the collectability, usability, and engagement with assets. This evolution from physical assets to digital assets is very powerful. This also creates a lot of exciting potential business models. NonFungible.com is a website that tracks NFT market data. According to them, Sorare is the largest sports-based NFT platform by sales volume. They are planning to open an office in the United States. So that they can expand into other games out of Sorare.

Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare said that they saw the immense potential that blockchain and NFTs brought to unlock a new way for football clubs, footballers, and their fans to experience a deeper connection with each other. They believe that this is a huge opportunity to create the next sports entertainment giant. Since January 2021, there have been $150 million of sales on Sorare. The fundraising round was SoftBank’s first time investing in Sorare. SoftBank’s Latin America fund also contributed. Other investors in Sorare’s raise are such as venture capital firms Accel and Bessemer Ventures, Pique, Ferdinand, Antoine Griezmann and Spain’s Cesar Azpilicueta.

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