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BBC World Service - Digital Planet

Digital Planet

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Digital Planet

  • Harnessing tech during conflict
    Harnessing tech during conflict Twitter and Facebook have removed accounts that originated in mainland China that it says undermines the “legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement”. Evronia Azer knows all about the double-edged sword when it comes to technology in the midst of conflict. On one side there are tools to mobilise protest, on the other are tools of state control and surveillance. She is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business and Law at Coventry University in the UK where her research interests include data privacy and governance. She joins us on the programme Map Kibera Ten years ago Digital Planet reported on the Map Kibera project, which was just an idea to provide information to OpenStreetMap about the Nairobi slum. This quickly turned into the Map Kibera Organisation which makes sure that Kibera is connected and is focussed on improving people’s lives in the slum. Digital Planet has been back to Kibera to see how the project has changed. First ever plant selfie Hannah Fisher reports on a plant called Pete which could revolutionise field conservation by powering a camera to take selfies as he grows. London Zoo scientists have laid the groundwork for the world’s first plant selfie – a pioneering scientific trial in the Zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit which will try out how microbial fuel cells power a plant to take its own picture. This they hope will lead to using plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild allowing conservationists to monitor habitats remotely. (Protesters in Hong Kong are seen wearing helmets and gas mask while looking at their phone. Credit Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Millions of Instagram users’ activity tracked
    Instagram has removed US marketing company Hyp3r from its service after it was accused of grabbing users' data. Hyp3r was scraping profiles, copying photos and siphoning off data supposed to be deleted after 24 hours, according to Business Insider investigation. As Stephanie Hare explains, millions of users have been targeted. Breaking Silences – Rwanda’s first podcast On DP’s recent trip to Rwanda Gareth met two young women who have created the first ever podcast in the country. “Breaking Silences” is a podcast that brings you conversation around things happening in African Society particularly in Rwanda. It’s a really lively show and the hosts are not afraid to tackle subjects that no one else has spoken about publically before... Fire Hackathon package Our reporter Tom Stephens has been to a hackathon aimed at radically rethinking the way that fire safety is incorporated into the construction of buildings. The idea for the event came about in the summer of 2017 following the Grenfell Tower fire. (Photo: Instagram application seen on a phone screen. Credit: Thomas White/Reuters) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Jakarta power cut - millions without electricity
    Jakarta power cut The lights are finally back on for most of Jakarta’s ten million people, who suffered a nine-hour outage over the weekend. Taking into account surrounding regions, the power cut could have affected more than a hundred million people. Just a few weeks ago, there was a power outage on a similar scale across much of Argentina and Uruguay. The lights went out recently across the west of Manhattan too. Professor Keith Bell from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland joins us live to explain why these types of cuts happen. Project Loon Loon’s mission is to provide internet connectivity to areas that are typically underserved, using high-altitude balloons with solar-powered cellular network gear on board, replacing the need for permanent tower infrastructure in environments where that kind of option either isn’t practical or affordable. Gareth and Bill have visited Loon’s ground station in Nairobi to find out more. Penguin tech The British Antarctic Survey is using satellites to track wildlife in some extremely remote regions. Their surveillance recently revealed that emperor penguins are fleeing some of their biggest colonies as the ice becomes less stable. Satellites are also tracking whale populations in the remote ocean, but the tech doesn’t stop there, as Jason Hosken reports Art or Not app? The power of the neural net has is rendering your handset your friendly art critic in your pocket. You take a quick pic on your phone: is it a masterpiece, or could a young child have done that? The app called ‘Art or Not?’ is fun but for its creators at Monash University in Australia there’s a serious research question about machines and creativity behind it. The application hits the app store within the next week. Dilpreet Singh and Jon McCormack at Monash University’s SensiLab explain how it works. (Photo: Impact Of Electricity Shut Down In Jakarta And Surrounding Areas. Credit: Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Not-so anonymised data
    Could so-called anonymised data not be quite so opaque? A recent paper in Nature Communications suggests that information regulators around the world might need to reassess what constitutes anonymised data by showing that for any American, just 15 data points could identify an individual person. Insurers, health providers, even media providers should take note of just what can be harvested from these growing numbers of publicly available sets. Smells and Taste A look at sensing. Recently IBM Research demonstrated a new device called Hypertaste which uses AI to learn to identify compounds in water, comparing the unique electrical fingerprint of different molecules. It’s the sort of sensor that just might be included one day on a smartphone. We also look at applications of artificial smell production. Could VR experiences of the near future include convincing smells? Reporter Madeleine Finlay reports on efforts to include synthetic smells in immersive storytelling - AKA smellovision. And Jack Meegan meets musicians in northern England who are deploying some digital musical archaeological techniques in efforts to recreate some early Brian Eno. Presenter Gareth Mitchell Comments from Ghislaine Boddington Producer Alex Mansfield (Photo: New research shows how easy it can be to piece together clues in anonymised data sets. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Chandrayaan-2: India’s moon landing
    The Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, succeeded this week in getting its latest lunar lander into earth orbit. A new mobile money platform mGurush launches in South Sudan. In London young developers compete for a prestigious award, and in New Zealand a simple app offers security for lonely situations. (Photo: Indian Space Research Organisation orbiter vehicle Chandrayaan-2 launch. Credit: ISRO HANDOUT © European Photopress Agency) Producer: Alex Mansfield