Tech-enabled Hostels

17 Sep 2020

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In the current era of technological advancements where there is an app for almost everything, hostel management appears to lag behind in adopting a new innovation. From redundant paperwork to time-consuming manual processes, most of the hostels are still following archaic methods to manage their day to day activities. These old school methods of functioning results in ineffective communication between hostels, its students and parents. 

Some of the hostels or student housing companies are investing in new-age technologies to differentiate themselves by being markedly different from traditional university-led hostel systems. Such technologies include facial recognition security systems, RFID enabled libraries and canteens, attendance systems that both students and parents can access on their smartphones. 

Even though student housing as a market is currently dominated by university-led facilities, it will potentially see a substantial growth with private companies entering the space to plug demand gaps. Real estate consultancy firm JLL estimates the space is expected to see a 38% CAGR amounting to Rs 2,400 crore by 2020. 

Most companies in the space, like OxfordCaps, Stanza Living and Placio have standardised their attendance systems with a professional escalation matrix. They also offer biometric security systems where entry and exit times are recorded. Hostels can set a threshold time, based on which if the student is not in within a certain time, parents get a notification. OxfordCaps is leveraging IoT-connected devices to monitor energy and space consumption, specifically in gyms, reading lounges and TV rooms, where usage usually remains untracked. 

Considering industry average of around 40% for food wastage in hostels in urban centres, various organisations like Stanza Living are using advance analytics to reduce operational costs. With the ability to predict and analyse consumption data, food wastage at Stanza properties have been reduced to less than 10%. 

On the other hand, Placio brings social incentive that is used by ride hailing firms such as Uber and Ola to hostels. It digitally tracks various parameters like student behaviour, general cleanliness, punctuality etc. to reward the better ranked students with online gift vouchers. 

With majority of the students staying at hostels to complete their education, such tech-based offerings not only improve the quality of life but also help them get exposed to advanced technologies like facial recognition, digital gift vouchers etc. 

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Social Equality in Tech

Dear Reader,  
Why do we prize technology over everything else? Because it helps us solve problems as efficiently as possible. No one can predict from which gender, ethnicity or nationality the next great idea might come from. And the tech startup sector is a living embodiment of that. 
Moving to another part of the world for employment does pose a challenge. And since most tech jobs are located at specific hotspots, many talented workers always find themselves unemployed. Software as a Service products and services are enabling employers to find and employ talent from all over the world. Remote working, work from anywhere and digital nomadism are slowly becoming the new normal. Digital marketing firm Loganix understands the potential of having a diverse team. The company runs almost all its operations globally — with teams of people from the US, Asia, Australia and Europe —employees are dynamically moved between different teams, depending on requirements, allowing quick resolution of issues. 
Poor or different communication skills can fuel many workplace misunderstandings. And it costs quite a bit of time and money to learn a new language. The US Foreign Services Institute estimates that it takes on an average 480 hours to gain basic competence in languages. This was a problem that cloud-based tuition service Preply aimed to fix. The platform offers a place for both language tutors and students to collaborate easily and affordably. 
Tutors can create their profiles with rates, experience and number of languages spoken; and students can review their tutors, making it easy for other students to decide who to hire. Workers planning to move to another country can use such services to learn a new language far cheaper than attending a language school. HR teams can also hire tutors to educate employees who need to go abroad or new recruits from other countries. 
Social inequality isn’t always about creed, gender or nationality. Entrepreneurs are usually handicapped due to high entry barriers in business. Indeed, the cost of acquiring customers is every bit the startup killer it is known to be. Oleg Campbell, a Ukrainian developer who bootstrapped his startup, Reply, to a $2 million a year company, certainly identifies with the struggle. Campbell’s lack of sales experience stalled the growth of his first enterprise. Consequently, he focused his efforts on helping tech entrepreneurs overcome their lack of salesmanship with smarter tools. Reply’s LinkedIn email finder is specifically for new companies looking for affordable, effective lead generation. Such a tool can help a user find email addresses of prospects on LinkedIn. Paired with LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, users can create highly personalized outreach messages for each prospect. 
The tech sector can, and should, be the leader at showcasing the advantages of diversity. By championing the cause of gender diversity through socially agnostic platforms, they are leading the cause of social equality in tech. 
Credits : Akhil Handa Prithwijit Ghosh

The pandemic & cybersecurity

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an outbreak of new and unanticipated business moments. As digital spreads its roots deeper, it also increases the risk and impact of cyberattacks. The World Economic Forum’s COVID-19 Risks Outlook reported that 50% of enterprises were concerned about increased cyberattacks due to a shift in work patterns alone.
A TCS report states that, cybercriminals are using the heightened digital footprint and traffic to track vulnerabilities, or to siphon off money. They are launching Covid-19-themed attacks in the form of phishing emails with malicious attachments that drop malware to disrupt systems or steal data and credentials.
Attackers are creating temporary websites or taking over vulnerable ones to host malicious code. They lure people to these sites and then drop malicious code on their digital devices. Fake websites have also been soliciting donations for daily wage earners through email links. Some Covid-19 patient count-status apps and links are laden with viruses and identity theft malware. Remote working tools such as videoconferencing systems have been hacked for vulnerabilities; recent examples on Zoom are alarming.
In such a scenario, the first step in the right direction for Organisations would be to advise their staff and customers to be more vigilant and cautious especially when opening links, emails or documents related to the subject COVID-19.
Next, organizations should ensure their detection and ing capabilities are functional while keeping an eye on the impact of having many remote workers. There are some interesting solutions available in the market. For eg. KnowBe4 delivers on-demand internet security awareness training to small and midsized enterprises focussing on threats like social engineering, spear-phishing and ransomware.
Cofense provides organizations with the ability to improve their employees’ resilience towards spear phishing, malware and drive-by attacks and further facilitate employee-sourced detection of such attacks.
In India, cybersecurity start-ups like Cloudsek offers real-time information to prevent and monitor cyber threats through its SaaS platform. Another start-up Cyware’s cyber fusion solutions empowers organisations to foster information sharing with their employees mitigating cybersecurity risks.
The pandemic presents an opportunity for full-blown innovation, a dramatic shift in perspective and the adoption of safe and resilient operating processes. The intensity and emphasis an organisation brings to its cybersecurity strategy will determine its long term growth.
Credits : Akhil Handa

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