Bristol looks for partner in smart city initiative

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NEWSBYTE Bristol City Council has tendered a £400,000 contract to find a supplier to deliver phase two of its Smart City strategy. The programme looks to upgrade urban traffic management and healthcare, among other connected services.

According to a posting on the UK government’s digital marketplace, the local authority is looking for a partner to “lead, plan, prioritise, prototype, and deliver the technical innovations that will form Bristol’s SMART services”.

The work will also cover a variety of other areas, including security and surveillance, energy, the environment, and waste, says the announcement.

The local authority said that it wants to ensure better use of its assets, funding, and technology. The successful applicant will help to ensure that programmes are taken all the way from concept to implementation.

Under the scheme, commercial strategies will also be put in place to ensure that Bristol’s fibre network, Operations Centre, urban assets, and infrastructure are all “fully utilised in an efficient way to ensure the best use of technology, capacity, people, and processes”.

The first phase of the Smart City programme has already been completed, and Bristol City Council wants to complete phase two by February 2019.

Multifunctional operations centre

Under phase one, the council built a new multifunctional operations centre, which includes an IT platform on which other systems can be integrated to provide dashboard-based management, insights, and analytics. Urban traffic management will be the first programme to move into the new centre, followed by tele-health and broadband rollouts.

Phase 2 also hopes to increase the number of customers using the Operations Centre. Alongside Operations Centre staff will be other council employees and partner agencies, such as Bristol is Open, the University of Bristol, local emergency services, and clinical commissioning groups.

Internet of Business says

The expected contract length is 8-9 months with a maximum budget of £400,000. The closing date for applications is 5 April.

Read more: Asia Pacific smart city spend to top $ 28.3 billion in 2018

Read more: Smart city hotspots: FLIR manages traffic using thermal imaging

Read more: Councils partner with Telensa on smart city programmes

Read more: Poles apart: Five cities putting smart streetlights to new uses

The post Bristol looks for partner in smart city initiative appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Apple expands self-driving car initiative, now has more testing vehicles than Uber and Tesla

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Apple Car

A few years ago, there were rumors that Apple was interested in developing its own branded car, an idea that made little to no sense for a number of reasons. Since then, word has surfaced that Apple’s interest in the automotive field has undergone a marked shift. Rather than developing a car from scratch, Apple now appears to be singularly focused on developing self-driving car technologies. And in a rare admission for the notoriously secretive company, Tim Cook this past June confirmed that Apple was in fact working on “autonomous systems” for cars, an initiative Cook dubbed the “mother of all AI projects.”

Last we heard, Apple’s self-driving car initiative includes dozens of test vehicles, a good number of which are Lexus SUVs. Indeed, there have even been a few sightings of Apple test vehicles outfitted with an assortment of advanced LIDAR sensors. Without question, self-driving car technology has the potential to completely upend the way we travel, and Apple is seemingly working hard to ensure that a future filled with self-driving cars will not belong exclusively to companies like Tesla and Uber.

That said, a new report from the Financial Times reveals that Apple over the past few months has added upwards of 18 new self-driving test vehicles to its fleet and now has an estimated 45 in total. All told, Apple now has more test vehicles at its disposal than both Uber and even Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division.

Waymo’s fleet reduction in California means it now has fewer vehicles testing in its home state than rivals Tesla, Uber and Apple. Uber has permits to test 29 cars there — though it has now suspended testing everywhere following Sunday’s crash — while Tesla has 39 permits, according to the DMV.

All three are now exceeded by Apple’s testing fleet, which has expanded rapidly in recent months. After first receiving a permit to test just three autonomous vehicles in April last year, that figure jumped to 27 in January.

As for Apple’s end-game with all of this, well, that remains to be seen. It is worth noting, though, that Tim Cook earlier this year said that Apple is already working on products and technologies that won’t see the light of day until the 2020s.

Apple – BGR

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California to introduce ‘right to repair’ bill, joins 17 other states in consumer initiative

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California on Wednesday became the latest state to ready so-called "right to repair" legislation that would require companies like Apple to provide consumers and third-party repair outlets access to repair information, diagnostic equipment and parts.
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Mark Zuckerberg is increasing his stock sales to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Zuckerberg could sell as much as $ 13 billion over the next 13 months.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has started to accelerate his funding of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic investment vehicle he set up with his wife, Priscilla Chan, in late 2015.

Zuckerberg sold $ 69.5 million worth of Facebook stock earlier this week, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. Zuckerberg has been selling stock regularly through a prearranged sales plan for almost two years, and this sale is not exceptionally large.

But the sale does have some special significance: A spokesperson for CZI confirmed that it marks the beginning of a sales process Zuckerberg outlined in September, when he announced plans to “accelerate” his stock sales over an 18-month period in order to “fully fund” CZI.

“These sales are the next step in a process Mark laid out in September to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s work in science, education and issues related to justice and opportunity,” a CZI spokesperson told Recode. “The funds will go to support a range of CZI’s philanthropic activities and operations for many years to come.”

When CZI launched in 2015 at the same time Chan and Zuckerberg had their first daughter, Zuckerberg said he planed to “sell or gift no more than $ 1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years.”

In two years, Zuckerberg has sold about $ 1.6 billion of Facebook stock to fund CZI.

But last September, Zuckerberg changed the plan: He would now sell between 35 million and 75 million shares of stock “in the next 18 months,” he wrote.

Wednesday’s sale is the first to count toward that new commitment, which means that if Zuckerberg stays to true to that plan, he could sell as much as $ 13.3 billion of stock in the next 13 months, given Facebook’s current stock price.

The revised sales plan came about after Zuckerberg and Facebook’s board tried and failed to split Facebook’s stock — an attempt to issue a new class of nonvoting shares into the market that would help Zuckerberg sell his own shares without losing voting control over Facebook in the process. As of last April, Zuckerberg controlled 59.7 percent of Facebook’s voting power.

Investors sued Facebook over the plan, and the company’s board dropped the stock split just a few days before Zuckerberg was set to testify publicly in court.

“Facebook’s business has performed well and the value of our stock has grown to the point that I can fully fund our philanthropy and retain voting control of Facebook for 20 years or more,” he wrote at the time.

Zuckerberg has not said anything publicly about his plans to sell Facebook stock after this accelerated plan is done sometime early next year. But he and Chan have pledged to give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares over their lifetime. Zuckerberg’s net worth is more than $ 72 billion.

Of course, even this plan could change. Zuckerberg’s plans are not binding in any way — they’re mostly guidelines to keep investors abreast of the fact that the CEO is offloading billions of dollars in stock.

Recode – All

Apple At Work teams with CDW to help enterprise deploy Macs, iOS in employee choice initiative

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Apple is expanding its efforts to make it easier for the enterprise to more efficiently buy or lease iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other products in a new initiative it is initially rolling out with CDW.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

Google and five other companies join Universal Stylus Initiative, bringing total number of partners to over 30

There are so many styluses available on the market for different devices, yet those with active features are rarely compatible with devices from other companies. That’s why the Universal Stylus Initiative, or USI for short, was created: to “develop and promote an industry specification for a cross-system active stylus.” Google, 3M, MyScript, and three other companies have just joined the USI, bring the total number of partners to over 30.

Google is joining as a promoter member, MyScript and Tactual Labs are joining as contributor members, and 3M Touch Systems, Lattice Semiconductor, and Maxeye Smart Technologies are joining as adopter members.

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Google and five other companies join Universal Stylus Initiative, bringing total number of partners to over 30 was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Molly Graham, the top operations exec at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is leaving

CZI has grown from 40 to more than 200 people in less than a year.

Molly Graham, one of the top executives at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is leaving the company after just one year.

Graham joined CZI, the philanthropic investment company for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, less than a year ago to serve as VP of operations (essentially, COO).

Now Graham is leaving, but she says it’s for good reason. She recently got engaged and is moving to the east coast to live with her new fiancé. Eventually, Graham says, she’d like to start her own business, but plans to take some time off in the interim.

“Molly joined us at our infancy and helped lay a strong foundation for CZI,” Chan, who is very hands-on at CZI, said in a statement provided to Recode. “It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to someone who has been so central to our organization — it’s hard to imagine this place without her. Mark and I wish her nothing but the best as she embarks on this new adventure.”

CZI is very much a startup, but with the very un-startup-like task of properly investing and donating the Zuckerberg fortune, now valued at more than $ 75 billion. Since its founding in late 2015, CZI has invested in a wide range of initiatives, from education reform to disease-related research to a program that provides eye glasses to school children.

In the year since Graham joined, the company has grown from 40 people to more than 200; much of her role revolved around setting up the company’s operational structures, including integrating new employees and those who joined via acquisition.

Still, fast growth usually comes with lots of other quick changes, and Graham is not the only high-ranking exec to leave CZI in the past year. CTO Brian Pinkerton left in August, and head of communications Brent Colburn left in November.

“CZI is made up of the most extraordinary group of people I’ve ever worked with,” Graham sent in an email to colleagues Thursday morning. “I am so grateful to Mark and Priscilla for giving me the chance to help build CZI … There is no doubt in my mind that this organization will transform the spaces that we are investing in.”

CZI’s CFO, Peggy Alford, will take over much of Graham’s role.

Recode – All

Apple’s growing self-driving car initiative now includes 30 test vehicles

Apple Car

A little more than a year ago, Apple decided to completely shift the focus of its car research initiative. After reaching the conclusion that developing and manufacturing an Apple branded car from scratch was either too challenging or expensive — or perhaps both — the company decided to streamline its research and focus exclusively on self-driving car technologies. Since then, scores of Apple engineers who previously worked on Project Titan were either let go or shifted to other areas within the company.

This past June, Apple for the first time confirmed its interest in the automotive space when Tim Cook said that Apple is, in fact, working “on autonomous systems” for cars. Calling the company’s research into self-driving cars the “mother of all AI projects,” Cook added that while the work is incredibly difficult, it’s nonetheless an incredibly strategic area for Apple.

Since then, we haven’t heard much at all about Apple’s ongoing research into self-driving cars. Earlier today, however, a new report from Bloomberg revealed that Apple’s foray into the world of self-driving cars has only expanded over he past few months.

The report specifically notes that Apple has now registered 27 vehicles for autonomous testing as the company reportedly remains focused on keeping pace with the work being done by companies like Waymo and Tesla.

Since receiving a permit to test three autonomous cars in California last April, the iPhone maker has registered 24 more Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles, the California Department of Motor Vehicles said in an emailed response to questions.

Indeed, there have been scattered sightings of the aforementioned Apple-operated Lexus vehicles in recent months. For instance, the following video highlights one such vehicle outfitted with an astounding number of sensors.

Apple – BGR

A lobbying group for Amazon, Facebook and Google is kicking off a new diversity initiative thanks to pressure from Congress

The Internet Association told lawmakers this week that its new campaign aims to “improve diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.”

A key voice for Amazon, Facebook, Google and other tech giants in the nation’s capital is kicking off a new initiative to try to diversify the industry’s predominately white, male ranks.

For years, Silicon Valley and other tech hotspots around the country have faced constant condemnation for failing to hire and retain employees from underrepresented groups. Among the critics is the Congressional Black Caucus, a powerful group of lawmakers that has even threatened regulation if tech doesn’t make major changes.

In response to that political pressure, a key lobbying group for the industry, the Internet Association, told lawmakers this week that it would create a new role to focus on those issues — and kick off a campaign that aims to “improve diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.”

That means a fresh commitment to publish more “accurate and relevant industry-wide employment data,” according to the group’s leader, Michael Beckerman.

“It is important that the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints among internet users is represented in the industry generally and our policy engagement specifically,” he wrote in a letter dated Jan. 23 and obtained by Recode. Other members of the Internet Association include Airbnb, Uber and Twitter.

The missive specifically responds to two lawmakers, Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Bonnie Watson Coleman, who wrote the trade organization last year to demand that it play a greater role in addressing racial and gender bias.

Asked about the hiring announcement, Cleaver told Recode in a statement: “The Internet Association has responded in a very serious and proactive manner to our concerns that there was no one guarding the guardians when it comes to the internet and its potentially negative effects on racial and gender bias. It is critical that this position be given a high level of authority and respect such that any perceived racial and gender biases can be immediately identified and addressed.”

Diversity is hardly a novel challenge for the tech industry; for years, the most prominent brands in Silicon Valley have faced criticism for poor hiring practices and workplaces that lack or fail to retain employees from underrepresented groups.

At Facebook, for example, its U.S. workforce is only 3 percent black, according to data released last year. Google’s technical workforce is 1 percent black, its 2017 data show.

As a result, tech companies have faced immense pressure to improve — including from groups like the CBC, which even traveled to Silicon Valley in recent years to press Apple, Facebook, Intel and others to demand they rethink their hiring practices.

Even outside the context of congressional criticism, these companies claim they’ve made great improvements while investing in organizations that seek to aid minorities in science, technology, engineering and math fields. But there’s a recognition, including on Capitol Hill, that change has not come quickly enough.

In the meantime, tech giants Facebook and Google — which lobbied the federal government extensively last year — tasked their Washington, D.C., offices to focus on lawmakers’ concerns about diversity, according to federal ethics reports.

Recode – All

Apple’s ‘Everyone Can Code’ Initiative Adopted in 70 Education Institutions Around Europe

Apple today announced that 70 colleges and universities across Europe have adopted its “Everyone Can Code” initiative, which aims to help people learn to create mobile apps for the App Store.

Education institutions in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland, and Portugal are now offering Apple’s App Development with Swift curriculum, which is a full-year coding course designed by Apple educators and engineers.

“Coding is an essential skill for today’s workforce, and through Everyone Can Code, we’re giving people around the world the power to learn, write and teach coding,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Since launching Everyone Can Code two years ago, we’ve seen growing excitement for the initiative from schools around the world, who are increasingly incorporating the curriculum into their classrooms.”

Institutions highlighted in Apple’s press release include: the Technical University of Munich in Germany, which uses Swift and ARKit to teach business skills that are relevant to the local workplace; the publicly funded Mercantec Vocational College in Denmark, which will offer the course to its 3,000 students; and the Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen in the Netherlands, where 34,000 students will be offered the chance to learn to code. The U.K.’s Harlow College will also offer the course to its 3,000 students, some of which are adults seeking to regain employment.

“At Harlow College, we recognize that learning to code will help students prepare for a technological future. It develops their approach to problem solving, logic and reasoning, as well as reinforcing key mathematical skills,” said Karen Spencer, Principal of Harlow College. “Everyone Can Code demonstrates how any student can code by providing a unique and innovative environment for learning.”

Apple introduced its App Development with Swift curriculum in early 2017, with the materials available as a free download from the iBooks Store. At the time the initiative was introduced, six community college systems serving 500,000 students across the United States agreed to offer the Apple-designed course. Later in the year, the course expanded to 30 more community college systems in the U.S. before becoming available internationally.

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