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IBM Cloud Fuels Smart Building Innovation

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IBM Cloud Fuels Smart Building Innovation

CEBIT — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced several new clients deploying cutting-edge Smart Building solutions built on the IBM Cloud, cementing the company’s commitment to transforming the buildings we live and work in into connected spaces, using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. New contracts signed with Sodexo, Karantis, R +V Versicherung and HUF Haus, and existing relationships with KONE and Chameleon Technologies, are examples of IBM’s work fueling smart building innovation in connected work and home environments.

Today’s smart buildings generate massive amounts of data. The IBM Cloud provides the foundation to capitalise on this data by offering a powerful service delivery and consumption model that organizations can use to drive operational efficiency, innovation and improved quality of life through smarter buildings.

“Buildings have long mimicked living organisms – plumbing circulates through the walls, wires innervate every room, and concrete and beams provide skeletal support – but until recently, buildings lacked the most critical body part: a brain. The IBM Cloud is the cognitive centre that enables buildings we live and work in to serve our needs in new and unprecedented ways,” comments Bret Greenstein, Global Vice President of Watson Internet of Things (IoT) at IBM.

IBM provides a complete portfolio of offerings to support smarter connected spaces: for example, IBM’s cloud-based Watson IoT platform gathers and analyses exponential data volumes; IBM TRIRIGA helps to increase the operational, financial and environmental performance of a facility; and IBM Maximo provides asset management for real-time visibility of things within buildings.

In the home, IoT analytics coupled with AI capabilities in Watson Assistant enable home and in-home manufacturers, insurers and home care providers alike to cater for individual needs in innovative ways.

Connected Spaces

Sodexo Turns to IBM Maximo to Manage Connected Workplaces

Sodexo is a world leader in Quality of Life services that provides its customers with an integrated offering including food and facilities management services. Sodexo has selected IBM Maximo to transform its worldwide asset management function, and to meet the diverse needs of a wide array of client facilities and demographics, spanning offices, hospitals, research centers, schools and factories.  IBM Maximo provides Sodexo with real time data analysis and optimization across 2.5 million assets, making it easier to streamline global operations. Building an asset management program around Maximo will layer further agility and flexibility into Sodexo’s existing IBM Maximo asset management as-a-service solution.

“At Sodexo, we are highly focused on the consumer journey, ensuring an optimal environment for consumers at all service touchpoints, and always looking for new ways to improve upon their quality of life through our facilities management capabilities,” Keith Hamer, vice president, asset management and engineering, Sodexo.  “Through IBM Maximo, we are now able to deliver a better, connected workplace, which links these advanced technologies to the everyday consumer experience, from walking in the building to going to lunch to when they leave the facility.”

IBM Elevates KONE’s People Flow Innovation with IoT

KONE is a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry, and moves around one billion people each day. By connecting elevators to the IBM Cloud-based Watson IoT platform, the company helps its customers increase the flow of people throughout buildings in many of the world’s busiest cities. KONE is also using IBM Watson IoT to bring the same experience to escalators. Visitors to CeBIT 2018 can experience the conversation between these machines with a virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree video demo on the IBM stand (Pavilions 34 & 35).

“Elevators and escalators are responsible for moving the equivalent of the population of the earth every week and of course they need to perform safely and smoothly,” says HuguesDelval, EVP, Service Business, KONE. “We are already working with IBM to analyze vast amounts of data from sensors embedded in elevators to identify and predict maintenance issues. At CeBIT we are showing how IoT, analytics and insights can take maintenance from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”

HUF Haus and IBM Team to Present the World’s First ‘Learning House’

German pre-fabricated home manufacturer, HUF Haus, and IBM have partnered to create the first house in the world that learns from its occupants. Based in the HUF Haus model house park in Hartenfels, Germany, the smart bungalow named “Ausblick”, understands its residents through their interactions. Thanks to a network of sensors, data is collected in the IBM Cloud, analyzed by the Watson IoT platform and transformed into insights about residents’ behavioural patterns. HUF Haus uses Watson Assistant, IBM’s digital assistant to ensure the home and its occupants can interact together in a natural way. Through voice commands, facial recognition and understanding residents’ behavioural patterns, the HUF Haus learns how to optimise comfort for the occupants and adapts to changing living or working situations. For example, the light in a home office can be switched on at a certain time or a PC can automatically be booted up based on the occupants’ daily work schedule. Residents always have control over the commands, which can be overwritten or reset at any time, for example via a touch display or by voice command.

“We are a family-owned company with a 105-year old home-building pedigree, but we recognize that the learning house is the future,” said Georg Huf, managing partner of HUF Haus. “With IBM we have found a renowned partner who accompanies us on our journey into the new age of living. Homes are getting smarter, and our customers take it for granted that the Internet of Things plays a large part in that transformation. With our self-learning show house “Ausblick” we are setting a new megatrend in the entire construction industry.”

Chameleon Technology’s I•VIE enables users to have a conversation with their energy

UK-based designer and manufacturer of in-home displays for smart meters and connected homes, Chameleon Technology, is using IBM’s enterprise grade voice assistant, Watson Assistant to create a new intelligent, interactive device for homeowners. I•VIE enables homeowners to control, interact with and understand their energy in new ways. I•VIE pulls data from multiple sources including real-time energy used and retailer tariffs, the weather forecast, calendar data, electric car charge levels, and even driving patterns, to help homeowners better understand and control how and when they consume energy. I•VIE can offer ever more valuable insights, such as determining the optimal time to sell any additional energy back to the grid for maximum profit amid complex tariff rules and regulations.

Homeowners can ask I•VIE to check their schedule and identify what time they need to arrive at work the next day, and then I•VIE will automatically charge their electric car to the required level, set home temperatures, and use the most efficient source of power throughout the day, selling the excess back to the grid for a profit. I•VIE can offer valuable money saving insights, and can tailor the home to suit customers’ lifestyles and budgets providing enhanced comfort, security and well-being. I•VIE removes the complexity from the digital energy landscape for the homeowner and helps them to save energy and money.

R + V Versicherung and IBM Launch Smart Home Project To Provide Emergency Aid to Senior Citizens 

R + V Versicherung, one of the largest insurers in Germany, in conjunction with MalteserHilfsdienst, a not-for-profit non-governmental humanitarian aid agency, has selected IBM as a partner in a new smart home project designed to provide emergency assistance for vulnerable residents in medical emergencies. In its initial pilot, the insurer equipped 25 apartments with sensors and modern security technology to identify emergency situations and immediately provide an alert when abnormalities occur. Using the IBM Watson IoT platform on the IBM Cloud, the system learns from the behaviour of each resident and establishes a view of their daily routine. Any anomalies to this can trigger a warning message.  For example, if an elderly woman who usually gets up at 8:00am is still in bed at a later time than usual, the system analyzes this data and sends a warning message to healthcare professionals to intervene. Full results from this trial are expected by April 2019 and may be used to introduce new approaches to preventative care in the insurance industry.

“Smart Home is an interesting future market for insurers. We are very excited about what the future might hold, as a result of this pilot,” said R + V’s CEO Norbert Rollinger. “Temperature and smoke sensors measure the air in the room, a water monitor reports an overflowing sink or bathtub. Door contacts and motion detectors sound an alarm when something suspicious opens. Bed occupancy can also be recorded. The system quickly learns the personal habits of each resident so we can deliver a truly personalized service.”

IBM and Karantis Build AI-Driven Approach to Assisted Living for UK Elderly Population

UK-based care management provider Karantis has partnered with IBM to develop Karantis360, a smart cloud-based solution designed to enable assisted living through non-intrusive monitoring of individuals in their own homes, residential care, sheltered housing, or healthcare facilities. Leveraging IBM Watson IoT, delivered via a mobile application, Karantis360 learns changes in behaviour over time and flags exceptions to routines and habits as these occur.

Using IoT sensors via EnOceanGmbh, it can track whether a patient has got out of bed, used the bathroom, boiled the kettle, or left the house, sending alerts via a mobile app in case of any unusual behaviour which may indicate a need for emergency intervention. Services like these may lead to national healthcare providers like the National Health Service (NHS) being better able to care for elderly patients, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“In the UK alone, there are now 10.8 million people over 68 years old, 97% of which would prefer to stay in their own homes. Developed in partnership with IBM, Karantis360 is a totally new development in assisted living,” says Nick Hampson, Managing Director, Karantis. “We moved to the IBM Cloud to unlock the AI and IoT services which weren’t previously available to us and, combined with EnOceanGmBH sensors have now built a secure system designed to deliver genuinely smarter care with complete confidentiality and data security. This is a system trusted by clients and relied on by families and residents so that they can live more independently and safely in their own homes for longer.”

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IMF lifts global growth forecast for 2021, still sees ‘exceptional uncertainty’

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IMF lifts global growth forecast for 2021, still sees 'exceptional uncertainty' 1

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday raised its forecast for global economic growth in 2021 and said the coronavirus-triggered downturn in 2020 would be nearly a full percentage point less severe than expected.

It said multiple vaccine approvals and the launch of vaccinations in some countries in December had boosted hopes of an eventual end to the pandemic that has now infected nearly 100 million people and claimed the lives of over 2.1 million globally.

But it warned that the world economy continued to face “exceptional uncertainty” and new waves of COVID-19 infections and variants posed risks, and global activity would remain well below pre-COVID projections made one year ago.

Close to 90 million people are likely to fall below the extreme poverty threshold during 2020-2021, with the pandemic wiping out progress made in reducing poverty over the past two decades. Large numbers of people remained unemployed and underemployed in many countries, including the United States.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF forecast a 2020 global contraction of 3.5%, an improvement of 0.9 percentage points from the 4.4% slump predicted in October, reflecting stronger-than-expected momentum in the second half of 2020.

It predicted global growth of 5.5% in 2021, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the October forecast, citing expectations of a vaccine-powered uptick later in the year and added policy support in the United States, Japan and a few other large economies.

It said the U.S. economy – the largest in the world – was expected to grow by 5.1% in 2021, an upward revision of 2 percentage points attributed to carryover from strong momentum in the second half of 2020 and the benefit accruing from $900 billion in additional fiscal support approved in December.

The forecast would likely rise further if the U.S. Congress passes a $1.9 trillion relief package proposed by newly inaugurated President Joe Biden, economists say.

China’s economy is expected to expand by 8.1% in 2021 and 5.6% in 2022, compared with its October forecasts of 8.2% and 5.8%, respectively, while India’s economy is seen growing 11.5% in 2021, up 2.7 percentage points from the October forecast after a stronger-than-expected recovering in 2020.

The Fund said countries should continue to support their economies until activity normalized to limit persistent damage from the deep recession of the past year.

Low-income countries would need continued support through grants, low-interest loans and debt relief, and some countries may require debt restructuring, the IMF said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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Leon Black step downs as Apollo CEO after review of Epstein ties

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Leon Black step downs as Apollo CEO after review of Epstein ties 2

By Mike Spector and Chibuike Oguh

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Leon Black said on Monday he would step down as chief executive at Apollo Global Management Inc, following an independent review of his ties to the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

While Black, whose net worth is pegged by Forbes at $8.2 billion, will remain Apollo’s chairman, his decision to step down illustrates how doing business with Epstein weighed on the reputation of one of Wall Street’s most prominent investment firms. Black co-founded Apollo 31 years ago.

Apollo said it plans to change its corporate governance structure, doing away with shares with special voting rights that currently give Black and other co-founders effective control of the firm.

The independent review, conducted by law firm Dechert LLP, found Black was not involved in any way with Epstein’s criminal activities. Black paid Epstein $158 million for advice on tax and estate planning and related services between 2012 and 2017, according to the review.

Black, 69, said that although the review confirmed he did not engage in any wrongdoing, he “deeply” regretted his involvement with Epstein.

“I hope that the results of the review, and related enhancements … will reaffirm to you that Apollo is dedicated to the highest levels of transparency and governance,” Black wrote in a note to Apollo fund investors. He will step down as CEO no later than July 31.

Apollo co-founder Marc Rowan, 58, will take over as CEO.

Rowan has often kept a low-key profile compared with Apollo’s other co-founder, Joshua Harris, 56, and spearheaded many initiatives that turned Apollo into a credit investment giant, including the permanent capital base the firm enjoys through its ties to reinsurer Athene Holding Ltd.

The revelations of Black’s ties to Epstein took a toll on Apollo, which Black turned into one of the world’s largest private equity groups. Apollo executives had warned in October that some investors had paused their commitments to the buyout firm’s funds as they awaited the review’s findings.

Apollo shares are down 1% since the New York Times reported on Oct. 12 that Black paid at least $50 million to Epstein for advice and services, when most of his clients had deserted him.

Over the same period, shares of peers Blackstone Group Inc, KKR & Co Inc and Carlyle Group Inc are up 19%, 10% and 23%, respectively.

“We think a large number of (Apollo fund investors) took a ‘pause’, and we believe the outcome (of the review) and changes today will cause most of them to return to allocating to future Apollo funds,” Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a research note.

Apollo shares jumped 4% to $47.65 in after-hours trading on Monday.

“We continue to follow these events closely and will evaluate how Apollo addresses its issues,” the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, one of the largest U.S. public pension funds and an Apollo investor, said in a statement.

Epstein was found dead at age 66 in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges for allegedly abusing dozens of underage girls in Manhattan and Florida from 2002 to 2005. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was suicide by hanging.

FALLING OUT

Black previously said he had paid millions of dollars to Epstein, but the exact size of his payments was revealed for the first time on Monday. Beyond the $158 million in payments, Black made two loans to Epstein totaling $30.5 million in early 2017.

Dechert said in its report that Black’s social ties with Epstein, who built his fortune by endearing himself to powerful figures in high society, went back to the mid-1990s.

Epstein won Black’s trust by resolving an estate tax issue for him in 2012 potentially worth at least $500 million, the report said. He ended up advising Black on various aspects of his personal financial affairs, from his family office and airplane to his yacht and artwork.

Black believed that Epstein provided advice over the years that conferred between $1 billion and $2 billion in value to him, according to the Dechert report. Black said in his note to investors that he had paid Epstein a fee equivalent to 5% of the value he generated on an after-tax basis, and not tied to hourly rates.

Black and Epstein’s relationship deteriorated after Epstein failed to repay $20 million of the loans and Black refused to pay tens of millions of dollars in fees that Epstein demanded, according to the Dechert report.

They severed ties in October 2018, according to the report. Black knew Epstein had been convicted in Florida a decade earlier for soliciting prostitution from a minor, the Dechert report said, but there was no evidence suggesting Black had knowledge of the other alleged crimes before they were publicly reported in late 2018, culminating in Epstein’s July 2019 arrest.

On Monday, Black pledged $200 million toward “initiatives that seek to achieve gender equality and protect and empower women,” as well as helping survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

Apollo said it would pursue a “one share, one vote” corporate governance structure that would do away with shares with special voting rights. It said the move could qualify it for listing on the S&P Global indices.

Apollo also said it would seek to give its board more authority to oversee its business, eroding the power of its executive committee led by Black.

The board will be expanded to include four new independent directors, including Avid Partners founder Pamela Joyner and physician and scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee, Apollo said. Apollo co-Presidents Scott Kleinman and James Zelter will join the board and take on increased responsibility running day-to-day operations.

Apollo had about $433 billion in assets under management as of the end of September.

(Reporting by Mike Spector and Chibuike Oguh; Additional reporting by Lawrence Delevigne and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Leslie Adler and Kim Coghill)

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EU sees no cliff-edge ending for COVID fiscal stimulus

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EU sees no cliff-edge ending for COVID fiscal stimulus 3

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European governments will not need to abruptly end fiscal support for their economies after the pandemic, top officials said on Monday, noting that any withdrawal of stimulus would be carried out gradually and only once the economy has recovered.

Euro zone public debt rose sharply during 2020 and is likely to exceed 100% of GDP this year as governments borrow to help individuals and businesses survive lockdowns.

The higher debt raises concern about how to deal with it down the road and when to start cutting it again, since the EU last year suspended its rules limiting budget deficits and debt, known as the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP).

EU finance ministers are to discuss when to reintroduce any borrowing limits in the second quarter of this year.

“I believe it important that finance ministers debate and reach a common understanding on the appropriate fiscal stance by the summer. This can then serve as guidance for the preparation of their draft budgetary plans for 2022,” the chairman of the euro zone’s group of finance ministers, Paschal Donohoe, said on Monday.

“To avoid any misunderstanding, let me stress that this is not about an imminent withdrawal of fiscal stimulus,” he told the economic committee of the European Parliament.

“We all agree that our immediate priority is to shield our citizens, in particular younger cohorts and those most exposed to the crisis. There must be no cliff-edges,” he said.

Joao Leao, the finance minister of Portugal which holds the rotating presidency of the EU and therefore sets the agenda for EU finance ministers’ work until June, was equally cautious.

“We should not withdraw stimulus too early. We need to make sure the suspension clause for the SGP remains in force at least until we return to pre-crisis economic figures,” he told the committee. “We need to make sure jobs are maintained as well as the production capacity of companies.”

He said first cash from the EU’s 750 billion euro post-COVID economic recovery programme should reach the economy in the first half of the year.

“Real funding should be getting to the economy before the summer or in early part of the summer,” he said.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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