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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Most Of What We Need For Smart Cities Already Exists
The compelling thing about the emerging Internet of Things, says technologist Tom Armitage, is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel — or the water and sewage systems, or the electrical and transportation grids. To a large degree, you can create massive connectivity by simple (well, relatively simple) augmentation. “By overlaying existing infrastructure with intelligent software and sensors, you can turn it into something else and connect it to a larger system,” says Armitage.

Mideast Media Study: Facebook Rules; Censoring Entertainment OK
PBS Media Shift
A new study by Northwestern University in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute reveals that Middle Eastern citizens are quite active online, with many spending time on the web daily to watch news and entertainment video, access social media and stream music, film and TV. “Entertainment Media Use In the Middle East” is a six-nation survey detailing the media habits of those in Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. The results of the survey, which involved 6,000 in-person interviews, are, in part, a reflection of how the Internet has transformed Arab nations since the Arab Spring. More than ever, consumers in the Middle East/North Africa (MERA) region are using technology to pass along vital information, incite social and political change, become citizen journalists and be entertained.

Global Information Technology Report 2014
World Economic Forum
The Global Information Technology Report 2014 features the latest results of the NRI, offering an overview of the current state of ICT readiness in the world. This year’s coverage includes a record number of 148 economies, accounting for over 98 percent of global GDP. The 13th edition of The Global Information Technology Report is released at a time when economies need to solidify the recovery of the past year and leave the worst financial and economic crisis of the past 80 years behind. Developed economies need to sustain their incipient economic recovery and find new areas of growth and employment creation; emerging and developing economies need to build their resilience against turbulence in the markets and foster their innovation potential in order to sustain the rapid economic growth they experienced in the past decade.

Africa Focuses on Building Resilient Cities
All Africa
Developing viable, livable and resilient cities is increasingly seen as being of critical importance to giving opportunities to Africans to improve their lives. While rural development has long been a priority for governments and development agencies – with particular emphasis placed in recent years on Africa growing enough food to feed all her people – recent research is making a case for more attention to be given to urban areas. Already, more than half the world's people live in cities – as opposed to a tenth a century ago – according to United Nations statistics quoted by The Rockefeller Foundation's "resilient cities" initiative. And UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs figures quoted by Hannah Gibson of the Africa Research Institute in London suggest that Africa will be 50 per cent urban by the early 2030s and 60 per cent urban by 2050.

What Do New Price Data Mean for the Goal of Ending Extreme Poverty?
Every country in the world has a poverty line—a standard of living below which its citizens are considered poor. Typically, the richer the country, the higher the poverty line is set. The average poverty line of the poorest 15 countries in the world is used to define the global extreme poverty line—a minimum standard of living that everyone should be able to surpass. In 2005, this global poverty line was set at $1.25 per person per day. The Millennium Development Goals set out to halve the share of people living below this global minimum by 2015, and the successor agreement on sustainable development goals promises to finish the job and end extreme poverty everywhere by 2030.  How feasible is the goal of ending extreme poverty, and where is poverty concentrated?

'Cow will make your baby fat': breaking food taboos in west Africa
The Guardian
"A pregnant woman should not eat cow. The child will be fat," said one respondent during research carried out on nutritional taboos among the Fulla people in the Upper River region of the Gambia. In comparison to the rest of western Africa, WHO classifies the Gambia's malnutrition rates as moderate. Nevertheless, the World Food Programme (WFP) is currently providing assistance to 12,500 pregnant and nursing mothers and 50,500 children in the Upper River region by distributing cereal (rice and millet) each month. Nutritional taboos can hamper NGOs' hunger and malnutrition relief efforts. The issue is even more of a concern during humanitarian crises, when food supplies are at a critically low level and people are likely to lack nutrients and be more susceptible to disease.

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