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2022 Technology predictions from Veeam

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This AMEinfo’s article covered the views of 2 major personnel on their 2022 Technology predictions from Veeam Software, a privately held US-based information technology company.

Danny Allan, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Product Strategy at Veeam, and Claude Schuck, Regional Director, Middle East at Veeam, offer their outlook for the technology sector in 2022

  • AI and automation will replace entry-level jobs in the finance, healthcare, legal and software industries
  • Privacy-focused legislation will shift attention to data sovereignty clouds
  • Digital transformation powers ahead thanks to containers

Danny Allan, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Product Strategy at Veeam, and Claude Schuck, Regional Director, Middle East at Veeam, offer their outlook for the technology sector in 2022.

We start with Danny Allan with his 6 technology product predictions:

1- Acquisitions will stagnate as company valuations outstrip available assets

In 2021, global M&A activity reached new highs aided by low-interest rates and high stock prices. In 2022, we will see that momentum shift. Larger acquisitions will be few and far between as company valuations continue to rise. Only well-established, cash-rich companies will have the money required to make new purchases. The higher purchase threshold will make it harder for medium- and small-sized companies to grow and evolve, giving the advantage to larger, established firms.

2- AI and automation will replace entry-level jobs in the finance, healthcare, legal and software industries

The talent shortage will leave many jobs unfilled, making way for the advancement of artificial intelligence and automation to fill new roles. We have seen technology begin its takeover in the service industry with the introduction of robotic waiters during the pandemic. In 2022, we will see AI and automation capable of filling positions in other hard-hit sectors like the finance, healthcare, legal and software industries. These developments will mostly affect entry-level positions, like interns, making it harder for recent graduates entering the workforce to gain job experience in the future.

3- CI/CD will stabilize and standardize to become an IT team requirement

The Bill Gates memo in 2001 became the industry standard in how to design, develop and deliver complex software systems – and today it feels like there has been no standard since then. IT teams and developers fell into habits of adopting “known” technology systems, and not standardizing in new spaces, like continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). In 2022, we’re going to see a shift towards more stability and standardization for CI/CD. IT leaders have an opportunity to capitalize on this high-growth and high-valuation market to increase deployment activity and solve the “day two operations problem.”

4- Tech’s labor market will be met with big money and big challenges  

The COVID-19 economy – and the subsequent great resignation – throughout the last two years certainly made its mark in the tech industry. As we continue to see turnover and lower employee retention, tech salaries will begin to grow in 2022 to incentivize talent to stay. I see this causing an interesting dynamic, presenting bigger challenges, especially to the folks in the startup and VC world. The bigger tech giants are the ones who can meet the high dollar demand and deliver benefits for a competitive workforce. It will be interesting to see in the years ahead what this does for innovation, which tends to come from the hungry startups where people work for very little for a long time. We could very well see a resurgence of tech talent returning to the “old guard” companies to meet their needs for stable (and large) salaries, forgoing the competitive, hard-knocks of startups that could cause a skill and talent gap that lasts for years to come.

5- New privacy-focused legislation will shift attention to data sovereignty clouds

With increased focus on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulating data protection and privacy in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) enhancing privacy rights and consumer protection for Californians, other states and countries are facing pressure to enact comprehensive data privacy legislation. As this continues in 2022, I expect we’ll see much more focus on data sovereignty clouds to keep data within nations or within a certain physical location. This is a far more specified cloud model that we’re starting to see in EMEA with Gaia-X. Some will see this as an obstacle, but once implemented, this will be a good thing as it puts consumer privacy at the core of the business strategy.

6- Containers will become mainstream to support the cloud explosion of 2021

Businesses wrongly predicted that employees would return to the office, as normal, in 2021. Instead, remote working continued, and companies were forced to develop long-term remote working strategies to ensure efficiency, sustainability and to retain employees seeking flexibility. This remote work strategy demanded cloud-based solutions, resulting in an explosion of cloud service adoption. To meet this moment, containers will become mainstream in 2022, making the generational shift to cloud much easier and more streamlined for organizations.

Next, we go with Claude Schuck with his 4 security predictions

 Every enterprise in the Middle East looking to build a strategy around Modern Data Protection should keep the three important pillars in mind – Cloud, Security, and Containers. Businesses need to have a good understanding of what the cloud brings to an organization and why it is important. Secondly, before the pandemic, we had a centralized office where employees were all in one place. With decentralization now, the boundaries of the organization have become invisible. Data is all over the place, necessitating a need for a comprehensive security strategy to safeguard all entry points. And finally, we see an increased interest in Kubernetes as a critical piece of an enterprise’s cloud infrastructure. This has created a new area around container-native data protection that needs addressing.

1- Accelerated adoption of Cloud technologies

Although the cloud is not yet mainstream in the region, adoption is expected to witness significant growth in the Middle East as enterprises begin to “trust” in-country offerings with the big public cloud players like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services having opened data centers in the Middle East. Gartner forecasts end-user spending on public cloud services in the MENA region to grow 19% in 2022. Another big trend we see is that many governments across the Middle East are creating their own ‘Government Cloud’ in order to have control over their data and not letting it reside in the public realm. With this acceleration, Veeam is investing in more headcount in the region to be able to assist organizations as they transition to the cloud.

2- Security: cybercrime

In the Middle East, security will always be a top priority. Not only can cyberattacks affect day-to-day business, impact revenue, and create other problems, but above all, it affects the brand reputation and workforce. Enterprises will continue to invest and safeguard themselves against the ever-growing increase in cyberattacks, especially ransomware. Although organizations in the Middle East, in general, spend a lot on security technologies, there is a huge gap when it comes to planning and executing a security strategy. This mainly boils down to the complexity of the IT environment. There are still a lot of legacy systems. Protecting these complicated environments is a big challenge and becomes even more so in the transition phase of moving to the cloud. Regional CISOs need to have a stringent security program in place which includes important elements like stress testing of IT Systems, backups, a disaster recovery strategy, and educating employees to become the first line of defense for improving organizational resilience.

3- Security: data privacy and protection

In early September 2021, the UAE announced the introduction of a new federal data protection law. With this, data privacy and security are set to take center stage as consumers demand transparency and their “right” to be forgotten. By having the option of opting out, consumers can ensure that their data is being handled in a correct way and they are not targeted by organizations. But more importantly, international corporations that are based in the UAE and the Middle East can be assured that policies are being applied when it comes to data in-country – whether it be in terms of the way data is stored, IP is managed, or how customer and consumer data is protected.

4- Digital transformation powers ahead thanks to containers

The rapid adoption of Containers in enterprises, the need for on-demand resources, and the flexibility of workloads will drive digital transformation. The Lack of skilled resources and understanding around the technology is a big challenge for enterprises in the Middle East. Veeam, through its acquisition of Kasten, is simplifying container strategy and delivering the industry’s leading Cloud Data Management platform that supports data protection for container-based applications built-in Kubernetes environments.

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Some Favorite destinations in the Arab world for Digital Nomads

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Hadi Khatib of IMFInfo.com asks what are some Favorite destinations in the Arab world for Digital Nomads and provides answers that would not be a surprise for anyone who knows the MENA region.
But before we get into Hadi’s thoughts, here are some of Kamel Daoud‘s in his latest article in Liberte. It summarises well our situation at this conjecture, specifically that of the MENA region.

Strange paradox: the journey dies in the very century that has overcome gravity, distance, arduousness. As if after inventing so many Herculean engines, it is the vengeful immobility that becomes our lot.

Flying today? It is a long, expensive act, which requires availability, compelling reasons, health tests, a rare visa and other passage documents.

Go to sea? It goes through death, or shipwreck, or uprooting. It is no longer a journey, but a swim against the current.

Here is Hadi Khatib’s

What are some favorite destinations in the Arab world for digital nomads?

The evaporation of the traditional office workplace last year shifted the spotlight to the role digital nomads play choosing to work from anywhere thanks to special visas issued by a number of countries around the globe

  • Entrepreneurs and young CEOs may be categorized as digital nomads when constantly exploring opportunities
  • Working online and remotely depends on inflation’s stability and low costs of living
  • The Arab world has quite a few places where remote work is possible

The evaporation of the traditional office workplace last year shifted the spotlight to the role digital nomads play choosing to work from anywhere thanks to special visas issued by a number of countries around the globe. 

The UAE recognized this role and issue a special visa to attract those workers. Dubai’s Remote Work Visa provides digital nomads with the chance of mixing business with pleasure. Valid for one year, requirements extend to providing proof of employment with a minimum income of $5,000 per month, or proof of ownership of a company. The fee is $611 and must be accompanied by valid health insurance with UAE coverage.

But, as COVID-19 winds down, is a return to the office imminent?
Airbnb’s introduction of long-term rentals is one indication that this model for work-life balance may have some staying power. Just like desert nomads, digital nomads are not always on the move, and often settle for periods of time before moving on again.

Who are digital nomads?

Digital nomads are mostly freelancers – the likes of bloggers, writers, editors, content creators, web programmers, translators, consultants, and photographers. Additionally, entrepreneurs and young CEOs may also be categorized as digital nomads when constantly exploring opportunities.

Digital nomads are typically drawn to destinations that meet certain requirements and that are anchored by accessible visas that allow them to legally stay in a foreign destination for a good amount of time.

There are some important factors that every digital nomad should take into consideration when choosing a new neighborhood, city, or country:

Quality of Internet connection

While remote and exotic locations certainly are attractive, these places could quickly lose their appeal if they lack strong and reliable internet connections.

Costs of living

Working online and remotely depends on inflation’s stability and low costs of living. When paying the bills, like rent, electricity, groceries, and internet becomes a concern, it’s time to return to nomad life again.

Crime rates and safety ratings

Nomads like the presence of other nomads to hang out and share war stories with. Without them, they could feel isolated and dependent on the friendliness of locals. One thing that must be taken into consideration when choosing a destination is whether locals like foreigners and whether or not crimes rates are high.

Digital nomads in Arab countries

The Arab world has quite a few places where remote work is possible.

Rabat, Morocco

Morocco has multiple cities that are fun to explore, such as Rabat, Marrakech, Fes, and many more. If you’re more of a beach person, Morocco has that too. English, Arabic and French languages are spoken.  It’s pretty safe as a country and visas are relatively easy if you have a passport from a Western country.

You can stay in Morocco for up to 90 days with a tourist visa, which is easily extendible. In the cities, Morocco has pretty good internet access whether it is through cafes and hotels. There are also options to buy data plans for relatively cheap. Outside the cities, though, it might be tougher to find places with strong internet, but they do exist.

Morocco has multiple residence options depending on your budget. There are hostels (the cheapest option) and Riads (hotels typically created from houses in the medinas, and are the most expensive option), and many choices in between. As for the cost of living, Morocco is cheaper than the US.

Tunis, Tunisia

Tunis, the capital, is right on the coast and is a great place for remote work. There are many places to travel to within Tunisia to see beautiful landscapes and historic ruins. People do speak English, especially in cities, but not everyone. Tunisia is also pretty safe. The tourist visa for Tunisia allows for stays up to 90 days and is free for people with US passports. Longer than that, though, and you will need to fill out another application and pay for another type of visa. The visa application is now available online.

Internet speed in some places in Tunisia is slower than in other countries, which does make it harder for remote work, but there are places with faster internet.

Hotels there could be expensive, but there are renting options from locals in Facebook groups and hostels. For transportation, Tunis has a large public transportation system consisting of buses and light rail/metro. The average cost of living in Tunis for a digital nomad is $1000-$1200 a month.

Amman, Jordan

With amazing places to visit like Petra or Aqab, Jordan makes an amazing country for digital nomads to work from. Jordan has a lot of places to visit, food to try, and sites to explore. Many Jordanians in Amman speak English and overall, Jordan is safe.

In Jordan, the visa process is simple. You can get a visa at the border for single entry, two entries, or multiple entries. The single-entry visa is $56.50 and is valid for 30 days.

The prices of the visas increase from there. If you want to stay longer than 60 days, you have to register at a police station.  

For internet access, there are many cafes in Amman that have internet. In addition, data plans are available to buy and are somewhat cheap.  

Airbnb, hostels, and renting from locals is available. To get around in Amman, taxis are probably the best option.  

The cost of living in Jordan is more expensive than in Morocco or Tunisia, although the food is cheaper than in the US. On average, the cost of living is about $1330/month.  

Dahab, Egypt

Egypt has many places to visit including Alexandria, Luxor, Dahab, and more. Not every place in Egypt has Ancient Egyptian sites, but there are places that have beaches and are fun to explore. Not everyone speaks English but you’ll find help with the language very quickly. Egypt is relatively safe.

The visa process for Egypt is different than the other countries. A tourist visa for someone from the US costs $25 and is good for 30 days only. Beyond that, you will probably have to get a visa before traveling, which is available either online or at an embassy.  

Internet in Egypt is typically pretty slow. It would be hard for digital nomads to use the internet, but in some places, like in Dahab, Egypt, there are good spots for the internet. Beyond that, though, it might be better to get a modem or find a “coworking space” to work in.

Hostels are good options for long-term stays.  

As for the cost of living, Egypt is much cheaper than the U.S. The average cost of living for a single person in Egypt is $750/month, with some variance in cities. 

Data centre developments within the Middle East

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ITP.net in its SERVERS & STORAGE section claims that from challenge comes opportunity especially with Data centre developments within the Middle East.

From challenge comes opportunity: Data centre developments within the Middle East

By Adelle Geronimo

Natalia Makarochkina, Schneider Electric

Makarochkina, Senior Vice President, Secure Power Division, International Operations at Schneider Electric, highlights how the data centre industry in MENA can benefit from the recovery in economies across the region

With an end in sight to the major public health measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery and renewed development is high on every business agenda.

The data centre sector in the Middle East and North Africa is poised to take advantage of the recovery in economies across the region, as businesses and consumers adapt to new realities, while also looking forward to new opportunities.

With forecasts of significant growth in spending, there is an unprecedented opportunity for the sector to achieve digital transformation goals, incorporate new technologies and build a base of sustainability that will see it thrive into the future.

Growth momentum

According to a recent report from IDC, after a contraction of some 4.9% in 2020, IT spending across the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) will make a return to growth this year, increasing 2.8% to $77.5 billion. Furthermore, spending on digital transformation is set to accelerate in the post-pandemic period, increasing from 25% of total IT spending in 2020 to 37% by 2024.

Within that spending intent, the analyst reports that public cloud services spend will grow 26.7% to $3.7 billion, with SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS spend growing 24.5%, 30.6%, and 30.7%, respectively. Attendant with this is a professional cloud services spend growth to a total $1.6 billion.

The spend is reflective of the growth in demand for cloud services generally, combined with the pandemic effect that drove many consumers and business increasingly online for all manner of services.

Technology opportunity

From a data centre operator perspective, the pandemic has had many distinct effects. Not only is there a growth in demand, but it has been combined with limited access for hands-on operations, a general skills shortage and an increased requirement for resilience and availability.

To adapt to the increasing complexities of the industry, data centers and providers are shifting their priorities to meet the unique needs of these facilities who are facing numerous challenges from these growing, complex environments.

Data centre infrastructure vendors, builders and operators are focusing on increased instrumentation, through the deployment of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies, to provide greater transparency, insights and controls on all aspects of operations, facilitating the use of sophisticated integrated management systems. The increasing adoption of data centre infrastructure management systems (DCIM), incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and automation, will allow more efficient operations that will also contribute significantly to sustainability goals. This is supported by the IDC figures on AI spend which predict growth of 23% to top $540 million.

Preventative measures

The general skills shortage in the technology sector across the region, combined with the desire for increased availability and resilience, is also driving renewed interest in preventative maintenance for the data centre. With the new levels of instrumentation available and greater capacity to monitor and manage infrastructure, preventative maintenance will be more effective than ever in reducing downtime, increasing availability and improving total cost of ownership, allowing operators to best leverage what specialist skills are available.

For the required growth in capacity to be met quickly, modular approaches to data centres are being widely adopted, further reducing the demand for skilled technicians on the ground. It is expected this approach will also deliver benefits for energy efficiency and operational costs while bringing capacity online quicker.

Linking silos

New approaches to enterprise architecture are being adopted too, in the form of cloud-based integrated digital platforms to span silos of data and services. IDC had highlighted siloed initiatives as a potential stumbling block for digital transformation efforts in the region. It had reported that 44% of organisations in the region said their digital transformation initiatives are not integrated, and more than half (51%) highlighted siloed data as a challenge, driven by limited understanding of existing data assets and a lack of enterprise-wide data management. Almost two thirds (62%) of organisations reported concern over siloed technology environments.

Sustainability investment

According to market data firm Arizton, there are 29 announced, planned, and under construction data centre projects in the Middle East and North Africa region, that will be operational within the next two to three years. This is a significant level of investment, reflecting the overall growth and demand trends. However, as has been pointed out by major investment firms, much, if not all, of future investment funds, will come with a requirement to demonstrate sustainability in building and operation.

To continue to attract investment in the sector, data centre operators will need to have sustainability at the core of activities, with transparency and standardised reporting. A key factor in these sustainability efforts will be energy supply and consumption. Recent information from market data firm MEED Insight has found that so far in 2021, renewable energy project contract awards in the region have surpassed those for conventional power plant projects.

Power purchase

Building on this momentum, it will be possible for data centre operators to engage in power purchase agreements (PPA) for energy from renewable sources. PPAs will contribute significantly to reducing carbon footprints overall, while driving the development of RES generally in the region, with wider benefits for all from an increased supply of clean, renewable energy.

Challenge and opportunity

Despite challenges such as skills shortages, siloed initiatives, and changing patterns of usage and demand, the advent of new technologies, increasing supplies of renewable energy, and targeted investment, mean that the data centre sector in the MENA region will have the resources and the demand to grow significantly while building in the latest technologies to achieve new levels of service and sustainability.

As the market for data services becomes increasingly global, the unique characteristics of the region can build a vibrant industry, leading in digital transformation. The widespread availability of digital platforms and services can spur further economic development and drive innovation generally, ensuring a more prosperous future for all.

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Researchers develop new software for designing sustainable cities

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“Cities, more than any other ecosystems, are designed by people. Why not be more thoughtful about how we design the places where most of us spend our time?” wondered Anne Guerry in a Stanford University article in which Sarah Cafasso explains how Researchers develop new software for designing sustainable cities.

Stanford researchers develop new software for designing sustainable cities

By 2050, more than 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. Stanford Natural Capital Project researchers have developed software that shows city planners where to invest in nature to improve people’s lives and save billions of dollars.

By Sarah Cafasso, Stanford Natural Capital Project

New technology could help cities around the world improve people’s lives while saving billions of dollars. The free, open-source software developed by the Stanford Natural Capital Project creates maps to visualize the links between nature and human wellbeing. City planners and developers can use the software to visualize where investments in nature, such as parks and marshlands, can maximize benefits to people, like protection from flooding and improved health.

By 2050, over 70 percent of the world’s people are projected to live in cities. As the global community becomes increasingly urban, cities are looking for ways to design with sustainability in mind. (Image credit: Zhang Mengyang / iStock)

“This software helps design cities that are better for both people and nature,” said Anne Guerry, Chief Strategy Officer and Lead Scientist at the Natural Capital Project. “Urban nature is a multitasking benefactor – the trees on your street can lower temperatures so your apartment is cooler on hot summer days. At the same time, they’re soaking up the carbon emissions that cause climate change, creating a free, accessible place to stay healthy through physical activity and just making your city a more pleasant place to be.”

By 2050, experts expect over 70 percent of the world’s people to live in cities – in the United States, more than 80 percent already do. As the global community becomes more urban, developers and city planners are increasingly interested in green infrastructure, such as tree-lined paths and community gardens, that provide a stream of benefits to people. But if planners don’t have detailed information about where a path might encourage the most people to exercise or how a community garden might buffer a neighborhood from flood risk while helping people recharge mentally, they can’t strategically invest in nature.

“We’re answering three crucial questions with this software: where in a city is nature providing what benefits to people, how much of each benefit is it providing and who is receiving those benefits?” said Perrine Hamel, lead author on a new paper about the software published in Urban Sustainability and Livable Cities Program Lead at the Stanford Natural Capital Project at the time of research.

The software, called Urban InVEST, is the first of its kind for cities and allows for the combination of environmental data, like temperature patterns, with social demographics and economic data, like income levels. Users can input their city’s datasets into the software or access a diversity of open global data sources, from NASA satellites to local weather stations. The new software joins the Natural Capital Project’s existing InVEST software suite, a set of tools designed for experts to map and model the benefits that nature provides to people.

To test Urban InVEST, the team applied the software in multiple cities around the world: Paris, France; Lausanne, Switzerland; Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China; and several U.S. cities, including San Francisco and Minneapolis. In many cases, they worked with local partners to understand priority questions – in Paris, candidates in a municipal election were campaigning on the need for urban greenery, while in Minneapolis, planners were deciding how to repurpose underused golf course land.

Running the numbers

In Shenzhen, China, the researchers used Urban InVEST to calculate how natural infrastructure like parks, grassland and forest would reduce damages in the event of a severe, once-in-one-hundred years storm. They found that the city’s nature would help avoid $25 billion in damages by soaking up rain and diverting floodwaters. They also showed that natural infrastructure – like trees and parks – was reducing the daily air temperature in Shenzhen by 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) during hot summer days, providing a dollar value of $71,000 per day in benefits to the city.

Targeting inequities

A map of the Paris metropolitan area of France showing neighborhoods with the lowest access to green spaces (yellow), the lowest income neighborhoods (red), and an overlap of the two (blue) where, according to the Urban InVEST software, investing in green spaces like parks would have the greatest impact on reducing inequalities. (Image credit: Perrine Hamel et al)

Nature is often distributed unevenly across cities – putting lower-income people at a disadvantage. Data show that lower-income and marginalized communities often have less access to nature in cities, meaning they are unable to reap the benefits, like improved mental and physical health, that nature provides to wealthier populations.

In Paris, the researchers looked at neighborhoods without access to natural areas and overlaid income and economic data to understand who was receiving benefits from nature. The software helped determine where investments in more greenspace – like parks and bike paths – could be most effective at boosting health and wellbeing in an equitable way.

Planning for a greener future

In the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota region, golf revenue is declining. The downturn has created an appealing opportunity for private golf courses to sell off their land for development. But should developers create a new park or build a new neighborhood? Urban InVEST showed how, compared to golf courses, new parks could increase urban cooling, keep river waters clean, support bee pollinators and sustain dwindling pockets of biodiversity. New residential development, on the other hand, would increase temperatures, pollute freshwater and decrease habitat for bees and other biodiversity.

Healthy city ecosystems

Urban InVEST is already seeing use outside of a research setting – it recently helped inform an assessment of how nature might help store carbon and lower temperatures in 775 European cities.

“Cities, more than any other ecosystems, are designed by people. Why not be more thoughtful about how we design the places where most of us spend our time?” said Guerry, also an author on the paper. “With Urban InVEST, city governments can bring all of nature’s benefits to residents and visitors. They can address inequities and build more resilient cities, resulting in better long-term outcomes for people and nature.”

AI used to examine construction following earthquakes

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SmartCitiesWorld News team informs that AI is used to examine construction following earthquakes in its vital assessment concerning quality, safety and potential risks in its future usage.

The picture above is about how an App helps engineers identify structural issues. Photo courtesy: Build Change

AI used to examine construction following earthquakes

An open-source project hosted by the Linux Foundation with support from IBM and Call for Code will use machine learning to help inform quality assurance for construction in emerging nations.

A new open source machine learning tool has been developed to help inform quality assurance for construction in emerging nations.

Build Change, with support from IBM as part of the Call for Code initiative, created the Intelligent Supervision Assistant for Construction (ISAC-SIMO) tool to feedback on specific construction elements such as masonry walls and reinforced concrete columns.

Structural issues

The aim is to help engineers identify structural issues in masonry walls or concrete columns, especially in areas affected by disasters.

Users can choose a building element check and upload a photo from the site to receive a quick assessment.

“ISAC-SIMO has amazing potential to radically improve construction quality and ensure that homes are built or strengthened to a resilient standard, especially in areas affected by earthquakes, windstorms, and climate change,” said Dr Elizabeth Hausler, founder and CEO of Build Change.

“We’ve created a foundation from which the open source community can develop and contribute different models to enable this tool to reach its full potential. The Linux Foundation, building on the support of IBM over these past three years, will help us build this community.”

The ISAC-SIMO project, hosted by the Linux Foundation, was imagined as a solution to help bridge gaps in technical knowledge that were apparent in the field. It packages important construction quality assurance checks into a mobile app.

“ISAC-SIMO has amazing potential to radically improve construction quality and ensure that homes are built or strengthened to a resilient standard, especially in areas affected by earthquakes, windstorms, and climate change”

The app ensures that workmanship issues can be more easily identified by anyone with a phone, instead of solely relying on technical staff. It does this by comparing user-uploaded images against trained models to assess whether the work done is broadly acceptable (go) or not (no go) along with a specific score.

Workmanship issues can be identified by anyone with a phone. Photo courtesy: Build Change

“Due to the pandemic, the project deliverables and target audience have evolved. Rather than sharing information and workflows between separate users within the app, the app has pivoted to provide tools for each user to perform their own checks based on their role and location,” added Daniel Krook, IBM chief technology officer for the Call for Code initiative.

“This has led to a general framework that is well-suited for plugging in models from the open source community, beyond Build Change’s original use case.”

Construction elements

According to Build Change, the project encourages new users to contribute and to deploy the software in new environments around the world. Priorities for short term updates include improvements in user interface, contributions to the image dataset for different construction elements, and support to automatically detect if the perspective of an image is flawed.

Build Change seeks to help save lives in earthquakes and windstorms. Its mission is to prevent housing loss caused by disasters by transforming the systems that regulate, finance, build, and improve houses around the world.