I recently came across this term “Metathesiophobia” while reading a book written by Neil Sahota and Michael Ashley titled “OWN THE A.I. REVOLUTION”. The authors of this book spend a lot of the initial chapters of the book delving into the evolution of different technologies leading to Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) alongside the side of psychology and the human mind on “Learning” and the rate of adoption of change relating to technology. The authors bring out an interesting comparison of technology adoption based on knowledge. Their description of the “things we know, we know”, “things we know, we don’t know” and “things we don’t know, we don’t know” really caught my attention especially in regards to technology adoption! Metathesiophobia, as loosely put by Michael and Neil means “Fear of Change” and I thought this might just the biggest constraint of innovation.
In the wake of Internet of Things (which has become my daily life), metathesiophobia might get a lot more amplified than it already is. Simply because, Internet of Things is a collection of technologies and not just a single technology. The technologies making up this collection are constantly experiencing evolution leading to new changes almost every year driven by more innovation. This is enough to scare off a company, especially one that has a traditional setup. At a first glance, Internet of Things (IoT) should be understood as simply as the term – “Internet of Things” where one part has “Internet” and the other part has “Things”. In this era, even a 5 – year old who will have a slow loading cartoon on YouTube, will tell you “there is no Internet” (Am not overlooking the digital divide, there are many rural places lacking Internet access so the 5 – year olds here have a different experience) which means we are all growing into having Internet access as a basic need. This definitely speaks for the numbers that know what “Internet” means. On the other hand, “Things” are just that – Things, that is: buildings, roads, land, atmosphere, vehicles, electronics, transformers, boxes, warehouses, oil pipelines, solar power plants among other numerous things. It is important to note that people, under IoT, are also things! From this get go, anyone who hears “Internet of Things” should relate to the term as its two parts and be excited to hear how everything works. It is its implementation that probably starts to breed metathesiophobia.
Looking at the diagram included here which breaks the two terms – “Internet” and “Things” into two parts and lists their technology domains perhaps can help bring out the different elements that IoT encompasses which somehow just shows how wide an IoT conversation can get within an Innovation subject. A lot of C-level individuals are happy to have it but how many are really doing it? Or how many are really ready to invest in some of these technologies just to create a paradigm shift in their existing business models? Could it be a fear of “we know, we don’t know” or “we don’t know, we don’t know” so cannot set up a separate budget to get moving on Low Power Wide Area Networks Innovation or TV White Spaces, Artificial Intelligence etc? How many startups are VC’s funding to develop solutions leveraging these kind of technologies? In Kenya, my experience of working with corporates, has got me almost getting to a conclusion that, it is the fear of change (read metathesiophobia) that is limiting the pace of innovation.
A research publication done by Dr. Ovidiu Vermesan and Dr. Peter Fries titled “Internet of Things – From Research and Innovation to Market Deployment” lists “Smart Living” as one of the applications of IoT embodying intelligent ways of shopping, efficient usage of energy and water, remote control of appliances, usage of smart home appliances, gas monitoring, safety monitoring among other sub-applications. In the 374-page document, the authors seem to converge to one objective elucidated by the Internet of Things (IoT) which is “A Smart Population”! A smart population inspired by “Internet” and “Things”.
There is a lot under the umbrella of these two terms to be implemented in order to really realise the smart population. First, the technical pieces which stretch from Things to the Internet amidst constant innovative developments. Second, a supportive Research and Development ecosystem within companies and research institutions to inspire the development of the technical components. Third, a proactive and flexible national environment that follows the development of the technologies close enough to craft the regulatory frameworks for all of these technologies to thrive for the growth of the smart population. Fourth, other reasons. The innovation happening at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM among the other tech giants exploring the technologies around IoT (as shown in the diagram) is the biggest driver for their growing revenue. New careers are also emerging within this innovation space spitting out job titles that have not existed before especially as new domains emerge. Elon Musk’s description of Tesla Inc. as a technology company is probably the reason that has kept the company staying on top of innovation consuming the technologies around “Internet” and “Things”.
If we do not rise above metathesiophobia, we will not innovate and sooner than we know it, we might have innovative startup companies buying out well established companies. metathesiophobia might limit our dream of achieving a smart population that can provide us ready markets. It might also get us holding onto the statement of “there are no jobs” when we could create more jobs through innovation. Whichever way we look at it, Metathesiophobia might limit our innovation when probably all we need is the “Internet” and “Things”!
Leonard Mabele is a Junior Research Fellow and Manager of the IoT Research Lab at iLabAfrica, Strathmore University
ACPM IT Consulting Ltd. an international consulting company today announced the expansion of ACPM IT Consulting to Kenya. As part of this expansion, it shared details of a Memorandum of Understanding with @iLabAfrica Centre -Strathmore University and BCK Kenya. The overarching goal is to make it safer for Kenyans to access the internet without having their data compromised. The Strathmore ACPM SOC as a Service will provide the best way for companies to outsource their Security Monitoring by providing the benefits of 24/7 monitoring, decrease in cybersecurity threats to IT infrastructure, achieving regulatory compliance and Saving money.
The African market is experiencing significant rise in cybercrime due to fast-paced technological advances and companies are investing more in Cybersecurity experts to help prevent cyber-attacks.
Through the Hungarian Embassy in Kenya, ACPM IT is collaborating with @iLabAfrica Strathmore University and BCK to provide information and assistance to academic and commercial sector in Kenya on risk reduction and computer security incidents. This partnership will equip African students with the technical skills and certifications required to help companies prevent cybercrime and build the Kenyan economy.
@iLabAfrica- Strathmore University has built an international reputation for its world-class academic teaching, professional training, and research in technology. Working with ACPM IT and BCK, the University has already begun training students on various cyber security training programs and is providing cybersecurity services to potential clients.
@iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology at the University, is spearheading the rollout and students will be able to benefit from access to high-quality learning online resources, hands-on lab experiences to develop technical skills, and the opportunity to achieve industry-recognised cybersecurity certification to complement their chosen fields of study.
“We are delighted to be part of this partnership with ACPM IT and BCK to help train and equip our students and the public with the right skills to help companies in Kenya fight cybercrime. We are happy for the support from the Hungarian Embassy in Kenya for helping to facilitate this partnership from a government perspective in partnership with Academia and Media. From this collaboration we look forward to bring skills to the local workforce, provide a service to local companies and an opportunity for us to further embark on research and understand what is happening in the world of IT in Kenya.” said Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University.
“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between ACPM IT Solutions, ILabAfrica and BCK features a historic moment as the first Foreign Direct Investment from Hungary to Kenya. This partnership will ensure the training and employment of highly-skilled cybersecurity experts to run the SOC and will save billions of Kenyan shillings for those companies that are affected by cybercrime in Kenya.,” said Mr Marton Milkos, CEO, ACPM IT.
The Partnership has come at a time when kenya is experiencing cybercrime attacks and organisations are looking for ways to safeguard their ventures.
@iLabAfrica, Strathmore University, launched a cashless revenue collection system in Busia County. The system, a project under @iLabAfrica’s outsourcing and consulting unit, dubbed County Pro was launched on the 10th of April 2019. The launch, which was spearheaded by Busia’s County Governor, Hon. Sospeter Ojaamong, is set to collect revenue and seal leakages that have led to a decline in the county’s revenue collection.
In his statement the governor applauded @iLabAfrica for contributing to a course that seeks to seal loopholes and maximize revenue collection in the county.
“I thank @iLabAfrica from Strathmore University and the vendors of the County Pro system for effecting the cashless system in partnership with Safaricom,” Ojaamong said.
Busia County now aims at attaining and realizing its potential of collecting Sh1.5 Billion from the various revenue streams through the system.
Implementation of the System
Busia County has already procured 100 P.O.S (Point of Sales) Devices to its 7 sub-counties and training done to all the Revenue Collectors in the specific sub counties.
@iLabAfrica, through the County Pro vendors, is taking part in the implementation process in two steps; the Gap Analysis Report which is going to ensure that the county has the prerequisite infrastructure that is: Computers, Printers and the Internet, for the program to kick off and the Modular Process of Implementation which is going to make sure that the Backend System of the structured revenue and P.O.S (Point of Sales) system of the unstructured revenue are up and running.
Once the systems are operational, data that is obtained from the P.O.S system, which will include parking tickets and market receipts, shall be directly synchronized into the Backend System of the Structured Revenue of the county government.
Monitoring and Evaluation
This system will be monitored on a daily basis using the User Support System. Through this system, Revenue Collectors can contact the County Pro Developers through calls and e-mails and make their cases regarding any queries on the system.
Quarterly Site visits will also be done to assess the success of the system. This is also meant to enable the creators of County Pro address any vital issues concerning the system’s workability.
@iLabAfrica has been at the forefront of technological advancements with projects just like ‘County Pro’ to help solve notable issues facing the counties and country through the use of technology
County Pro has replicated the same system in Kiambu, Taita Taveta and Kisumu Counties which are now yielding positive results in terms of revenue collection.
Three Researchers from @iLabAfrica- Strathmore University, were selected to present their papers in the IST Conference 2017 held in Windhoek, Namibia. Tabitha Mberi, Tracy Weru and Lorna Mutegi presented their individual papers to an audience comprising of senior officials from both the public and private sectors in education and research; Innovation stakeholders from Namibia, the European Commission, the African Union Commission, Southern African Development Community, Ubuntu Alliance among others. There were over 150 presentations from 36 countries.
L-R; Lorna Mutegi, Tracy Weru and Tabitha Mberi
Tabitha’s paper themed:”Challenges to the Successful Implementation of E-Government Systems in Developing Countries: A Case of Taita Taveta, Kenya “was on work that @iLabAfrica- Strathmore University continues to implement in Taita Taveta County. Tabitha’s research looked at how devolvement of government from local authorities to county governments in Kenya has resulted in many counties adopting online revenue collection systems with the aim to improve public sector services and deliver them in an effective and efficient manner. Her study assessed the various challenges that the team has faced in implementing the system which range from lack of trust of e-government systems by citizens, lack of infrastructure servicing by the county government, failure to follow procedures by system users among other reasons
Lorna’s paper, titled “Unlocking the Supply of Open Government Data for SDGs: A Case of Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)” focused on demand for data-for-development to support and monitor a country’s progress in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a rising global need. Lorna’s paper illuminates on a model for unlocking the supply of Open Government Data (OGD) for monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs based on a project that Strathmore University, through @iLabAfrica- Strathmore University, is currently working on in partnership with The World Bank and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). The model informs on the benefits of utilizing a quadruple helix model (public/private/research/civil society) in an OGD initiative, to unlock quality, timely and reliable government data to support and measure SDGs and other national development goals.
Tracy presented her paper titled “Cyber-Smart Children, Cyber-Safe Teenagers: Enhancing internet Safety for Children“. Child Online Protection is a hard and tricky concern that requires multi-national efforts if it’s to be successfully tackled in the near future. This is mainly due to the exponential growth in smart devices. Providing a safe environment requires an in-depth understanding of the types and prevalence of online risks young Internet users face, as well as of the solutions most effective in mitigating these risks. To be able to get the right information on protecting children and teenagers there is need of an Internet Safety awareness program that will build a generation of responsible digital citizens whose online behaviour demonstrate media literacy, ethics, safety and security.The paper presented by Tracy Nyatoro Weru proposes the development of a mobile based game application based on child online protection that will provide a comprehensive learning experience that is amazingly fun, highly interactive and extremely effective.
The IST Africa Conference provides a platform to strengthen Information Society, ICT and Innovation related policy dialogues both within Africa and between Africa and Europe, through Plenary Sessions, the rich thematic knowledge exchange facilitated by Scientific Programme and co-located multi-lateral (eg. JEG8, eu-Africa HLPD on STI) and private bi-lateral meetings. (Source: IST Africa).
Participation in the IST Africa 2017 conference continues to contribute to @iLabAfrica’s- Strathmore University exploitation and research and innovation strategy. In addition, the networking opportunity will continue to help build the research Centre ties with leading Public, Private, Education, and Research organizations from more than 39 countries who took part in the conference.
The Falling Walls Lab is a challenging interdisciplinary platform that allows innovators in various fields to present their breakthroughs, that is research work, business ideas and initiatives in 3 minutes. The first Walls Lab in East Africa took place on September 13, 2016 at the Goethe-Institute Nairobi.Lorna Mutegi, @iLabAfrica Project Coordinator had the pleasure of presenting her research work whose topic was‘BREAKING THE WALL OF IT Security Service Commoditization’ among 12 other participants from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.
Lorna is grateful for the opportunity to take part in the first Falling Walls Lab in East Africa. It was a unique nerve-cracking experience as it builds the art of ‘3-minutes Idea Definition’ to a top class jury from academia, research institutions and business and to an audience of industry experts.
It was great to connect with other young innovators, researchers, excellent scientists, and professionals from a diverse range of fields. Lorna encourages more researchers in academia, staff and students alike, to apply for the next call of the Falling Walls Lab.
In seeking to solve the challenges of traditional assessment methods for large classes, Strathmore University’s Delphine Mukandutiye, explored research in the use of e-assessment which guarantees to reduce lecturers’ burden in terms of marking assessments and giving feedback to students, reduce costs incurred by the University in terms of managing CATs and offer a richer experience to students who are familiar with e-Learning for consumption of learning materials.
In her research findings, she discovered that e-assessment was better than traditional assessment; students performed better and they were happy with instant feedback, lecturers spent more time setting up CATs but enjoyed the automated marking, easier analysis of the results and faster generation of necessary reports. By adoption of such a system, the University could save a considerable amount of money by implementing e-assessment. The success of this research resulted in the establishment of an eLearning Support Centre that was established to spearhead e-assessment, e-feedback and mobile learning in Strathmore University.
For this research paper, Delphine has subsequently been awarded a grant by Kenya Education Network (KENET) to enable her present a paper at the IST Africa 2014 Conference that will be held in Mauritius, from 6th to 9th May, 2014. Delphine’s paper entitled “E-assessment Implementation in Strathmore University” will be presented in the Technology Enhanced Learning session. The IST Conference provides a platform to strengthen Information Society, ICT and Innovation related policy dialogues within Africa and between Africa and Europe.
Delphine Bheny Mukandutiye is a Research Assistant at @iLabAfrica and Masters Scholar at the Safaricom Academy. Her research was part of her Master’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Sevilla, a Senior Lecturer and Director of @iLabAfrica. @ILabAfrica is a research and innovations lab in Strathmore’s Faculty of Information & Technology.