Technology has changed so many facets of society that it is hard to imagine a world without it.
It has most certainly changed business models. The world’s fastest growing taxi company, Uber, doesn’t own any of its own vehicles. The world’s premier online destination site Airbnb does not own any real estate and the world’s fastest growing news site, Facebook, does not generate any of its own content.
Technology has become such an influencer that it is starting to become a person’s reference point for any facet of their life. Compliments and complaints are aired on a platform where they will receive the biggest audience. Opinions will be garnered using the same platform, and people turn to social media before traditional news sites to get news.
But what effect is the growing influence of technology having on our everyday life?
Airbnb’s Disneyfication effect
** **A report on the telegraph.co.uk website shows that Italian cities are the latest subjects of concern that Airbnb is pushing permanent residents out of historic city centres and aiding a trend in Disneyfication in places such as Florence, according to a new report from the University of Siena.
The authors behind the report claim that up to one in five properties in the historic centre of Florence is being rented out through Airbnb, turning the feted city into a theme park for tourists.
“Almost 20 percent of the entire housing stock in the historic centre of Florence is listed on Airbnb, which is a lot,” said Stefano Picascia, one of the authors of the report. “Every single flat on a short-term let is one flat less in the regular long-term market.”
Picascia and his colleagues claim locals are increasingly being pushed out by tourism, which is affecting the character of Italy’s cities.
“The centre of Florence is now Disneyfied,” Picascia told Telegraph Travel. “It’s basically a theme park for tourists.”
The problem is even more acute in the historic city of Matera, the report claims, where more than 25% of the local housing stock is available to rent on Airbnb.
One so-called “super host” in Milan is reported to have taken around €500 000 in rent last year.
“What we found was great inequality in the distribution of revenue,” said Picascia. “Every city has a few super hosts that sometimes own hundreds of properties.”
The Airbnb boom, warns Picascia, is also having an impact on the price of everyday items such as groceries, as city centre retailers focus on cashing in on tourism rather than catering for locals.
The medical industry stands to benefit significantly from technology.
A report on iol.co.za discusses this in detail. What can be certain is that future medical trends will be driven by access to Big Data, to shape new models of care in driving innovative, affordable and accessible services, across this diverse continent. With 1.2 billion people, many enjoying a longer life, and the rise of NCDs (non-communicable diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes, Respiratory, Cardiovascular) there is a growing recognition of the importance of digital innovation in delivering curative and preventive care.
According to Charmaine Odendaal, Healthcare Practice Lead at SAP Africa, the transition to digital healthcare offers opportunities to aggregate patient data from multiple sources – for example, from external healthcare providers and specialists who consult to the patient – to give them a single, accurate patient profile. “This allows healthcare professionals to quickly connect all the dots in a patient’s care, with a view to focusing on optimum outcomes for the patient. In fact, a study in the Journal of Neurology found that putting a digital core at the heart of a healthcare provider can result in 40% faster checking of medical records during preparation and post-processing of ward rounds in the hospital.”
World-leading advance in cancer screening
The article adds that the power of using a technology platform to improve the delivery of care to patients in Africa was brilliantly illustrated by the Emerging Technologies in Cervical Cancer Screening (ETiCCS) solution, developed by the Heidelberg University Hospital and leveraging SAP’s technology platform. ETiCCS focuses on identifying women at risk of cervical cancer and delivering end-to-end care by leveraging a cloud-based platform that makes data entry simple and access to patient data and test results immediately available to medical professionals – no matter where they are.
SAP Africa’s Managing Director: East Africa, Dr Gilbert Saggia, said of the solution: “The potential for cloud-based technology solutions such as SAP Cloud Platform to transform the healthcare profession is unprecedented. It is hugely inspiring to see how the combination of expert research, local knowledge and modern technology can make an immediate and invaluable impact on the welfare of our citizens. We are excited to support the rollout of the ETiCCS solution to other countries by providing the technology backbone to this game-changing medical innovation.”
For Odendaal, the success of ETiCCS is further proof of the key role that technology can play in addressing the continent’s healthcare challenges. “Our technology powers more than 50 health care providers across Africa, and nearly 8 000 globally. We are using the global best practice learned from customers worldwide and adapting it to the African context. This puts the continent’s healthcare industry in a great position to leapfrog some of the problems experienced by the more developed markets to fast-track the delivery of connected healthcare to African citizens.”
A difference to farming
Research shows that the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050, and to feed that number of people, global food production will need to grow by 70%. For Africa, which is projected to be home to about 2 billion people by then, farm productivity must accelerate at a faster rate than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger.
A report on hbr.org shows that African entrepreneurs are now interested in how farmers work and how they can help improve yields. The barrier of entry into farming technology has dropped, as cloud computing, computing systems, connectivity, open-source software, and other digital tools have become increasingly affordable and accessible. Entrepreneurs can now deliver solutions to small-size African farms at cost models that farmers can afford.
For example, aerial images from satellites or drones, weather forecasts, and soil sensors are making it possible to manage crop growth in real time. Automated systems provide early warnings if there are deviations from normal growth or other factors. Zenvus, a Nigerian precision farming startup, measures and analyses soil data like temperature, nutrients, and vegetative health to help farmers apply the right fertiliser and optimally irrigate their farms. The process improves farm productivity and reduces input waste by using analytics to facilitate data-driven farming practices for small-scale farmers. UjuziKilimo, a Kenyan startup, uses big data and analytic capabilities to transform farmers into a knowledge-based community, with the goal of improving productivity through precision insights. This helps to adjust irrigation and determine the needs of individual plants. And SunCulture, which sells drip irrigation kits that use solar energy to pump water from any source, has made irrigation affordable.
Technology is changing the world at a rapid pace. Have we stopped and thought about what the world will look like when our children are adults?