World Bank Approves Financing to Strengthen Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Economic Resilience and Disaster Preparedness

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved yesterday US$40 million for the Second Fiscal Reform and Resilience Development Policy Credit with Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO) for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The quick-disbursing operation supports the country’s program to strengthen fiscal sustainability and enhance climate and disaster resilience to future shocks. It also supports Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A $20 million Cat DDO component provides a contingent line of financing in case of future natural or health-related disasters.

“This operation supports the efforts of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to maintain fiscal resilience and protect lives and livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to severe socio-economic impacts.”

“The contingent financing component protects people against the effects of a natural disaster and helps the country become more disaster-resilient,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has been affected by loss of economic activity due to the COVID-19 prevention measures. The country is also at high risk of natural hazards, especially hurricanes. This new financing supports reforms that strengthen the legal and institutional frameworks for disaster risk management, protect jobs and livelihoods, and enhance fiscal resilience. The operation also supports reforms to protect the country’s coastal and marine assets by supporting sustainable use of natural resources.

This is the second in a series of two fiscal resilience development policy credits for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The financing, which is from the International Development Association (IDA), is interest-free with a maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years. The Cat DDO funds will be available to be partially or fully drawn down after a declared emergency within the next three years and it can be renewed for an additional three years.

World Bank Group COVID-19 Response

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. “We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms,” the institution said.

But when things were at their lowest point, the World Bank stepped in to help developing countries and those most in need of financial aid. Between March and June, the World Bank mobilized around $1.5 billion to support countries during this difficult time – providing rapid response support through project financing, technical assistance, and policy advice. This support is designed to help countries boost health care systems, deliver support to small businesses, protect jobs and provide social protection for the most vulnerable, including the large aging population in the region.

Using the World Bank’s emergency funding, countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are rolling out safety-nets programs and other measures to support the livelihoods of those who hit hardest.

The World Bank is leveraging countries’ existing social protection systems to help families and businesses restore income, preserve livelihoods, and compensate for increasing prices and unexpected medical expenses. The emergency funds are helping governments provide temporary cash transfers, health care subsidies, targeted social payments and one-off unemployment benefits.

The breadth and scope of the health and social challenges brought on by the pandemic are devastating – threatening the health and safety of every person living in Europe and Central Asia. And the economic consequences are just as bad.

Over the past three months, the World Bank Group has mounted the fastest crisis response in its history. While this fight is challenging, we are committed to support countries in Europe and Central Asia to ensure that people like Alisher have the chance to withstand the crisis and get back on their feet – the sooner the better.

COVID-19 Testing – The U.S. is STILL in the Middle of the Pack By Randall Bolten

COVID-19 cases have surged tremendously in the U.S. in the last couple of weeks.  The latest excuse cited by some federal and state government officials is that the increase is the result of more testing.  This note challenges those assertions as flatly dishonest.

Below is a graph comparing the total testing done by about 40 countries over the last ten weeks.  These countries include most of Europe, plus relatively affluent countries in the rest of the world – it would be unreasonable to include poor and developing nations in this comparison.  The metric used is Strategic Tests (see note below for further detail), which measures the extent to which a country is testing proactively in its effort to control the spread of the pandemic.

Strategic testing has improved significantly in the U.S., from being virtually nonexistent ten weeks ago.  But most of the other countries shown have made similar increases.  Of the 41 countries shown, as of yesterday (6/25) the U.S. ranks 24th in number of Strategic Tests per 1MM population.  Most of the countries included in the above graph have seen significant declines in the number of new cases reported over the last ten weeks, which is not true in the U.S.  If the increase in reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is due to increased testing, why has the number of new cases continued to decline in those countries, but not the U.S.?

To answer that question, we need to look at how each country – and in the U.S., each state – is managing the pandemic and the economic paralysis and how they trade off additional COVID-19 cases and the resulting deaths against the economic benefit of opening up the economy.  Only an honest assessment of the pandemic’s consequences can help us do that.  A good comparison would be with the four Scandinavian countries – Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland – and how they give the rest of us a great opportunity to make that assessment.

These four countries are geographically close to each other and have cultural and social characteristics in common, but are following very different policies toward the pandemic.  Sweden has taken a relatively laissez-faire approach, including keeping schools open as well as most businesses.  The other three countries – let’s call them the “Nordic Combined” – have taken the much stricter approach common to many countries, especially in the wealthy west.

The differences are striking. Compared to the “Nordic Combined,” Sweden has reported well over double the number of COVID-19 cases and more than six times the number of deaths per capita.  In a country the size of the U.S., with 331MM people, that difference in mortality equates to more than 120,000 lives – more than double the current U.S. toll of just over 100,000 lives.  Moreover, it’s a virtual certainty that the differences between Sweden and the other three countries will widen even more over the next several weeks – you can tell from the gaps between the weekly markers, which are shrinking significantly for the Norway, Denmark, and Finland curves, but not for Sweden.

Norway, Denmark, and Finland combined have done almost 60,000 tests/MM – more than two-and-one-half times the testing rate in Sweden.  If testing slows the spread of the disease by identifying asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID-19, that difference in testing would contribute to the large difference in deaths.

Some point with alarm to the higher death rates in countries like Sweden. Others argue that all we’re doing is slowing the rate of a pandemic that will ultimately affect everyone, and that’s not worth the economic damage.  The debate rages, even in Sweden. A look at Scandinavia gives us a clear, quantitative look at the illnesses and the deaths involved. So as we start to reopen the economy in the U.S., let’s be honest about the numbers and understand the consequences of our decisions and our actions.

About Randall Bolten

Randall Bolten is an author and finance executive. Randall Bolten has 30 years’ experience at high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, including 20 years as CFO, for both public companies and venture-backed private companies, including IPO and several other public transactions. He was recently the starring guest of Dinis Guarda’s interview series.

Randall Bolten is the author of “Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You” and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You, published in 2012. Randall speaks frequently, and provides workshops and training to Fortune 100 companies in the area of presenting complex numerical information clearly and effectively.

Data Science To Assist with COVID-19 Re-opening

The 2020 COVID-19 Computational Challenge has resulted in significant data-driven solutions to assist with the transition to re-open Los Angeles. Team ANRG from University of Southern California with other 5 winner teams produced the COVID-19 infection risk score visuals in different communities within the L. A. County and recommendations on risk mitigation. And data science and tech was an important part of it.

Co-hosted by the City of Los Angeles and Global Association for Research Methods and Data Science (RMDS Lab),  the COVID-19 Computational Challenge created innovative solutions to determine the risk of exposure in and around the City of Los Angeles. As Jeanne Holm, Chief Data Officer from the City of L. A., addressed at the opening announcement, “We want to provide this information to the public, so we will not only analyze the data but interpreting it. The result should be actionable and communicable.”

The Challenge attracted 405 contestants of 66 data science teams from universities and research organization all over the world, including Columbia University, Harvard University, University of Michigan, Zhejiang University, Institut National D’Etudes Demographiques, and many more. Throughout the two-week process, competitors received training and mentorship from RMDS Lab, UCLA Computational Medicine, SafeGraph, Snowflake, Esri, Gartner, and LA County Department of Public Health on open data sources, public health policies, data ethics, as well as the case studies for business.

The results were reviewed by a panel of judges from the RMDS Lab, the City of LA, LA County Department of Public Health, Chamber of Commerce, and academia. The winning teams won cash prizes of over $8,000 provided by sponsors who internship opportunities at the City of Los Angeles and UCLA Computational Medicine and the invitation to present at IM Data 2020.

“We are pleased to have this great opportunity to contribute back to our Los Angeles communities and to be a part of a potential powerful solution of assisting the reopening of Los Angeles, as our mission is to utilize data and AI to produce positive social impacts,” says Dr. Alex Liu, the founder of RMDS Lab.

What is Data Science

According to the Berkely University, in the past decade, data scientists have become necessary assets and are present in almost all organizations. These professionals are well-rounded, data-driven individuals with high-level technical skills who are capable of building complex quantitative algorithms to organize and synthesize large amounts of information used to answer questions and drive strategy in their organization. This is coupled with the experience in communication and leadership needed to deliver tangible results to various stakeholders across an organization or business.

Data scientists need to be curious and result-oriented, with exceptional industry-specific knowledge and communication skills that allow them to explain highly technical results to their non-technical counterparts. They possess a strong quantitative background in statistics and linear algebra as well as programming knowledge with focuses in data warehousing, mining, and modeling to build and analyze algorithms.

Data science continues to evolve as one of the most promising and in-demand career paths for skilled professionals. Today, successful data professionals understand that they must advance past the traditional skills of analyzing large amounts of data, data mining, and programming skills. In order to uncover useful intelligence for their organizations, data scientists must master the full spectrum of the data science life cycle and possess a level of flexibility and understanding to maximize returns at each phase of the process.

Interview with Rajat Prakash, MD at Athena Legal On the Future of Law / Legaltech in India

Dinis Guarda interviews Rajat Prakash, an experienced lawyer in India, MD at Athena Legal about the Future of Law / Legaltech

Rajat Prakash is an experienced Lawyer with a demonstrated history of working in the law practice industry. Rajat Prakash is a MD at Athena Legal, with a network of 200 lawyers in India. Rajat is a Skilled in Negotiation, Contract Negotiation, Leadership, Public Speaking, and Litigation. Strong business development professional graduated from Cardiff University and The Scindia School, Gwalior.

Rajat Prakash Interview focus

1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…
2. Career highlights
3. Your company / companies, organisations and focus?
4. Legal framework in India
5. Business in India
6. Innovation in the legal world
7. How do you see Society 5.04IR and all areas of digital transformation?
8. What are your views on our society, technology and digital transformations?
9. What are your goals and how do you see the future of work and the main trends in tech and society?
10. With Covid-19 what ways do you envision to redesign our society with technology and social impact?
11. What are your visions for the present and future?

Rajat Prakash Interview Quotes and Highlights

· I come from a very humble background. My parents have always pushed me to become better and gave me everything they could, including the best education in one of the best schools in India. When I finished school I moved to Cardiff (UK) to study law and this gave me an incredible opportunity to understand and learn how law works in different countries and cultures, including visiting trips in Washington DC and Brussels. After that I moved back to India and I was a bit confused, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to my father for advice and after a meaningful chat, I decided to start my own business focusing on providing legal services.

· Law works very differently from one country to another, the roles are different, the way solicitors present their cases, etc.

· And the work culture is also different. When I was working in the US they wouldn’t let me stay longer in the office but in India, the first day at work I stayed until really late at night.

· Doing business in India used to be quite hard not long ago. And not only for foreign businesses but also for Indian citizens. Just an example, before it would take more than a month to open a business in India, while now it takes no more than 3 days. For foreign businesses, I understand that there still are many barriers to entry in the Indian market. But again, the government is acting quickly. They understand that to move India to the forefront on the global landscape, these barriers need to be removed and welcome investment and business coming from abroad.

· Digital transformation in law. There has been a digital revolution in India. India was one of the first countries that started promoting digital currencies. If we talk about the legal industry and boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, court processes are being changed to adapt to this new reality without losing performance. The government is promoting digital documentation and online court hearings.

· Data protection frameworks. Data protection is in early stages in India. The government is trying to catch up. This is a constant in technology innovation, when a technology breaks through it creates a new space that needs to be regulated, but political action is slower. And data protection in India is going through that process. Current legal work goes in a EU-like GDPR framework. As of now, the lack of data protection and data privacy is a major issue in India as users aren’t protected at all.

· Overall, the legal industry is not a digitized sector. There are many potentials there, like smart contracts and blockchain, but it is a very traditional, highly restricted industry. However, technology can help, especially the business side of law. In my law firm, for example, we are now doing meetings with clients and partners online and that is a trend we think we are going to keep doing after the pandemic.

· One of the suggestions I would give to any person, company that wants to come to India and do business here is to partner or collaborate with someone that is already settled in India because it will provide a more accurate market research and insights about how things work there. The second is about partnering with law firms and experts that know the legal framework in India, especially because law changes from every state to another.

· My advice in every dispute in India is that you are going to be much better off if things are really clear before starting a dispute. In business, for example, for every startup they need to be very diligent in protecting their trademarks in place to avoid problems and conflicts in the future. And they need to do that in a global manner because when a startup grows and wants to expand they may find that their idea, product is already taken in other jurisdictions.

More Interviews

Interview with Daniel Sloan, co-founder Future Tech, ‘RebuildTheChain’ – Building Blockchain and AI solutions

Video Interview with Dr Jamal Ouenniche, Professor & Chair in Business Analytics, University of Edinburgh – Business Analytics, AI Data Road Maps

Interview with Ben Goertzel Founder SingularityNet, OpenCog – Benevolent And Open AI, What Kind Of Evolutionary Mind Can We Engineer?

Interview With Anish Mohammed, Blockchain Researcher. Head of Research – IIS , SRH Berlin – Building Blockchain and AI Foundations and Ethics

Rajat Prakash views on data, privacy and law

In a recent article published on Business World, Rajat Prakash stated that: “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (“Bill”) is significant legislation which seeks to regulate how personal data is treated by the entities collecting such data and establishes a statutory authority to regulate and enforce the data protection regime in India. The Bill governs the processing of personal data by the government; entities incorporated in India, and foreign companies collecting personal data of individuals in India. The Bill terms personal data as any data which includes characteristics or traits about an individual which can be used to identify such individual. Such data includes financial data, biometric data, caste, religious or political beliefs, or any other category of data specified by the government. Under the Bill term Data Fiduciary means anyone who collects the above mentioned personal data, which makes social media platforms, banks or even the local RTO offices, a Data Fiduciary. Data Principal is any person to whom the said personal data relates to.”

Likewise, the expert added that according to that bill, it mandates that explicit consent from the Data Principal must be taken in respect of the data to be processed. The consent is only considered adequate under the Bill if it is free of coercion, with due information, specific to the purpose, clear in wording and fully capable of being withdrawn at all times. Further, the Data Fiduciary is supposed to maintain the data in the most accurate and up to date form and in case any discrepancy is found, the same is to be reported to the data principal for amendment or correction. The Bill also mandates that if the purpose has been achieved, the data should be immediately deleted unless the same is required to be maintained by any law or judicial orders.

“The Bill seeks to enforce the above by way of heavy penalties like fine of five crore rupees or 2% of total worldwide turnover, whichever is higher in case of failure to fulfil the obligations and fine of 15 crore rupees or 4% of total worldwide turnover, whichever is higher in case of processing or transferring personal data in violation of the bill,” he added.

Sources / links

Coronavirus Crisis: UK Communities United Behind Their Councils To Provide Additional £2.5bn

Following fears that nearly 150 local authorities have forecast a combined budget shortfall of at least £3.2bn, research has shown in a new study that communities across the UK are united behind their councils, and are willing to support an additional £2.5bn, through council tax increases.

Roadmender Asphalt, a Sheffield-based bitumen technology company has commissioned nationally representative research that explores the British sentiments towards financing local governance. The research revealed that 19% of Brits in the study said that they would be happy for their council tax bill to increase by 10% in order to provide the financial assistance local authorities need to continue maintaining local road networks. This move could raise a potential further £2.5 billion for highways maintenance in England alone.

One of the key services and provisions provided by councils is the maintenance of road networks, ensuring the safety for millions of daily road users. Such is the gravity of people wishing to see healthy road networks, the government announced a £2.5bn fund to tackle the pothole repairs during the latest Budget. In addition to this, councils have used the lockdown period in the UK to ramp up their pothole filling activities, with a magnitude of success. County councils such as Shropshire for example have increased their output by over 100%.

The Department for Transport has announced that cycling will play a significant role in how Government envision the future of commuting. The study has shown that 69% of Brits would rather cycle or drive in to work now than take public transport due to the COVID-19 risk, amounting to 24,261,000 people.

In light of a new influx of road users each morning, hoping to avoid public transport, it is more important than ever that councils expand on their brilliant work they do to ensure potholes and road defects are addressed quickly, maintaining safety on the roads.

The study has highlighted that 32% of Brits have cited that driving is the most stressful part of their day due to the quality of roads. Further financial injections to assist the respective councils will therefore help a great deal to entice commuters to use the road networks in light of Coronavirus and beyond.

To aid the provision of pothole repairs in the UK, Roadmender Asphalt,  have recently come up with a novel approach to pothole repairs designed around a new material specifically designed for the job. Elastomac, as the innovation is known, is a novel repair material, made from predominantly recycled materials, that include seven end of life tyres recycled into every tonne.

Harry Pearl, CEO of Roadmender Asphalt, sheds a light on the importance of innovative thinking led by councils that has helping to transform the efficiency of road repairs.

“After a decade of austerity, councils have naturally gravitated towards innovation and have helped launch R&D hubs, working with innovative SMEs . Together, SMEs and councils have started to ask why are pothole repairs filled with the same materials made to build roads, when they can fill potholes with materials made specifically for the job, that may prove to be significantly more efficient and cost-effective.

Experienced by councils up and down the land, the problem with pothole repairs is they are carried out using a process built around materials designed for building roads rather than fixing them. As a result the process is more costly, inefficient and ineffective than it needs to be, rather like playing squash with a tennis racquet. You can do it but it’s far from ideal.

Here at Roadmender Asphalt we are developing new products that will continue to be trialled with councils post-lockdown. Rather than having to spend time square cutting and excavating potholes before filling them with glue covered aggregate that takes hours to collect, has a 5 hour shelf life and then requires vibratory compaction; potholes can now be filled with a purpose designed flowable repair material that’s made from sustainable recycled materials, is heated on site, welds itself to the existing road and delivers a totally waterproof permanent repair. By avoiding excavating the patch the process requires on average 80% less material with no waste to carry away meaning contractors are able to complete 5 times more patches per day at significantly reduced cost.”

Healthcare: US Medicaid Costs Will Hit $1trn By 2027

As millions of Americans file for unemployment insurance and joblessness in danger of approaching 1930’s levels amid coronavirus outbreak, the skyrocketing costs of the US health care become even more troubling.

Ever growing health care expenses were a massive burden for states even before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the US unemployment rate currently at 13.3% the cost of the two big government programs, Medicaid for lower-income people and Medicare for the elderly, are also set to reach record highs.

Total Medicaid expenditure is set to jump 30%, reaching $1trn value by 2027, according to data gathered by LearnBonds.

Medicaid Costs Have Jumped $270.5bn Since 2010

US health care costs have surged in recent years, with medical bills becoming a burden for millions of Americans already dealing with mortgages or credit card debt. Rising prices among hospitals and other health care providers, along with an increasing number of people on a low-income, has caused Medicaid spending to lift as well.

In 2010, the combined cost of the Medicaid program amounted to $401.5bn, revealed Statista data and the United States Department of Health & Human Services report. By the end of 2015, this figure rose to $549.1bn. The rising trend continued in the following years, with the Medicaid expenditure reaching almost $640bn value in 2019, the highest point in US history.

Statistics show the total cost of the US public health insurance program that aims to provide affordable health care options to low-income residents and people with disabilities is expected to touch $672bn in 2020, a $270.5 increase over the last decade.

Medicaid federal expenditure represents the majority of that figure, or $418.7bn, while state costs amount to $254bn in 2020. Over the next seven years, these figures are set to hit $624.8bn and $383bn, respectively.

Analyzed by geography, California has the highest Medicaid cost among all US states. Statistics show this figure touched $83.87bn in 2018. The state of New York ranked second with $74.8bn worth Medicaid expenses the same year. Texas and Pennsylvania followed with $38.2bn and $30bn, respectively.

US Medicaid Enrollment to Hit 82 Million by 2027

A growing number of people use Medicaid in the United States. Statistics show total enrollment reached 73.9 million in 2018, with an increasing trend forecast to continue in the following years.

The United States Department of Health & Human Services report revealed the total number of Medicaid enrollees is expected to grow 1.1 percent year-on-year, covering 82 million people by 2027.

Statistics show that the Medicaid program represents the third-largest healthcare cost in the United States, covering 16.4% of total health spending in 2018. By comparison, private health insurance and the Medicare program had a 34.1% and 20.6% share of overall health care costs that year.

6 reasons for the high cost of healthcare in the U.S.

Here are the six underlying reasons why the healthcare system in the US is so inefficient according to Investopedia:

1. “Administrative” Costs

The U.S. healthcare system is extremely complex, with separate rules, funding, enrollment dates, and out-of-pocket costs for employer-based insurance, private insurance from, Medicaid, and Medicare, in all its many pieces. “Administrative” costs are frequently cited as a cause for excess medical spending. The U.S. spends about 8% of its healthcare dollar on administrative costs, compared to 1% to 3% in the 10 other countries the JAMA study looked at.

2. Drug Costs Are Rising

On average, Americans shell out almost four times as much for pharmaceutical drugs as citizens of other industrialized countries pay. High drug prices are the single biggest area of overspending in the U.S. compared to Europe, where drug prices are government regulated, often based on the clinical benefit of the medication.

3. Doctors (and Nurses) Are Paid More

The average U.S. family doctor earns $218,173 a year, and specialists make $316,000—way above the the average in other industrialized countries. American nurses make considerably more than elsewhere, too. The average salary for a U.S. nurse is about $74,250, compared to $58,041 in Switzerland and $60,253 in the Netherlands.

4. Hospitals Are Profit Centers

Hospital care accounts for 33% of the nation’s healthcare costs. Between 2007 and 2014, prices for inpatient and outpatient hospital care rose much faster than physician prices, according to a 2019 study in Health Affairs. U.S. prices for surgical procedures in hospitals greatly exceed those of other countries. A typical angioplasty to open a blocked blood vessel, for example, costs $6,390 in the Netherlands, $7,370 in Switzerland, and $32,230 in the United States. Similarly, a heart bypass operation in the U.S. costs $78,100 compared to $32,010 in Switzerland.

5. U.S. Healthcare Practices Defensive Medicine

Both physicians and hospitals have an interest in preventing lawsuits, so “just in case” tests and scans may be ordered. And these tests can be costly! While a CT scan costs just $97 in Canada and $500 in Australia, the average cost is $896 in the U.S. A typical MRI scan costs $1,420 in the United States, but around $450 in Britain. Researchers have concluded that it’s not the sheer number of tests and procedures but their high price that explains why it’s so expensive to be sick in the U.S.

6. U.S. Prices Vary Wildly

Because of the complexity of the system and the lack of any set prices for medical services, providers are free to charge what the market will bear. The amount paid for the same healthcare service can vary significantly depending on the payer (i.e. private insurance or government programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid) and geographical area. For COVID-19, for example, the cost of an urgent care visit and lab tests averages $1,696, but can range from a low of $241 to a high of $4,510 depending on the provider.

Interview with Joao Bocas, The Wearables Expert, Influencer Marketing – Healthtech & Lifestyle

Dinis Guarda interviews Joao Bocas, The Wearables Expert, Influencer Marketing about Healthtech, Lifestyle and Wearables

Joao Bocas is a World’s #1 Wearables recognised Thought Leader, Global Keynote Speaker, #B2B Digital Influencer, Influencer Marketing, CEO at Digital Salutem. Joao Bocas’s global expertise, global networks and experience combined +25 years of business acumen.

Joao Bocas is an expert and keynote speaker in wearable technology and is a globally recognized business thought leader, mentor, advisor, and entrepreneur. His passion lies in helping others, sharing experiences, transferring knowledge, working collaboratively, and helping businesses adopt the latest digital trends and innovations.

As a thought leader in wearable technologies, digital health, IoT and healthcare innovation, including AI (artificial intelligence), robotics and ML (machine learning), João explores the intersection of technology and business. This includes examining how new technologies continuously shape consumer behaviour, influence business models, and help brands amplify their message. He also analyses the impact of disruptive innovations and shares future trends in the marketplace.

Joao Bocas Interview focus

1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…

2. Career highlights

3. Your company / companies, organisations and focus?

4. How do you see Society 5.04IR and all areas of digital transformation?

5. What are your views on our society, technology and digital transformations?

6. What are your goals and how do you see the future of work and the main trends in tech and society?

7. With Covid-19 what ways do you envision to redesign our society with technology and social impact?

8. What are your visions for the present and future?

Joao Bocas Interview Quotes and Highlights

· I was born in Lisbon, Portugal and I consider myself a citizen of the world. I worked in sales in Portugal before coming to the UK. I always was interested in sports and technology and I started to work in the sport industry. In 2015 I became involved in technology and health and how the former can help with people’s lifestyle. There is when I got involved in wearables, my specialty.

· There was a revolution in the use of technology in sports. Especially in the last few years. I can divide technology in sports in two areas: lifestyle and improving the wellbeing and overall health of people and technology towards professional sports. In this latter part, it now provides invaluable data and information about monitoring, tracking and creating analytics that helps and improve athletes’ performance.

· There are different conflicts of interests when using technology in sports. The main problem is about privacy and giving away personal information. On a personal level, I don’t think there is any conflict in giving away data that also helps us. There are commercial concerns of course. But on a professional level these concerns become problematic. Employees being tracked might cross a line in privacy and the right to disconnect. There are ethical standpoints that need to be further discussed and find solutions.

· Healthcare and technology. In professional sports, performance has been heavily tracked in the last years. They measure intensity, speed, agility, resistance, etc according to athletes’ own body characteristics in order to improve and get the best results. In lifestyle and wellbeing, wearables are just a tool, a vehicle that can help people make the right changes to improve their health. The ones that ultimately need to make that change happen is the people. Wearables have these gaps when providing important information for people as they measure a lot of things but I am not sure that all of them are really important or are well explained.

· In healthcare, relying in data is also sensitive. People can forget to use their devices to keep track of their health, the healthcare systems use different technologies within the system. And we need to solve these infrastructure problems before going all out with wearable devices for healthcare.

· In healthcare, the challenges with wearable devices are related to standardization. There are regulations but there are little standards that healthcare professionals and companies can follow. Also there are challenges too with how data is gathered and what data should be relevant. As usual, technology goes faster than decisions.

· Some of the latest breakthroughs are for example contact lenses that can “read” the sugar levels of the user, an app that can predict if someone is prone to have cancer or not depending on their skin type, etc.

· It is an interesting time for tech influencer marketing because everything is done digital. And actually influencer marketing is doing a great job to help companies. They amplify reach and ultimately sales, it promotes engagement, building community, etc.

· Trends in wearable devices. Only 6% of adults wear wearables and I think things aren’t unified and very fragmented. Accessibility is mainstream but most wearable devices for consumer use provide limited services. Tracking data is fun, sure, but they don’t add extra value to users because that data is raw, there is no interaction or communication between the data and how it can be useful to the users. There is a lack of support behind them.

· However, the potential is there and, obviously, the idea is to keep moving forward. For example now with the COVID-19, wearable devices can help tracking people that are infected, the places and people they have been contacted with, even helping with early diagnosing.

More Interviews

Interview with Daniel Sloan, co-founder Future Tech, ‘RebuildTheChain’ – Building Blockchain and AI solutions

Video Interview with Dr Jamal Ouenniche, Professor & Chair in Business Analytics, University of Edinburgh – Business Analytics, AI Data Road Maps

Interview with Ben Goertzel Founder SingularityNet, OpenCog – Benevolent And Open AI, What Kind Of Evolutionary Mind Can We Engineer?

Interview With Anish Mohammed, Blockchain Researcher. Head of Research – IIS , SRH Berlin – Building Blockchain and AI Foundations and Ethics

Joao Bocas Biography

Joao Bocas is an expert and keynote speaker in wearable and healthtech technology and is a globally recognized business thought leader, mentor, advisor, and entrepreneur. His passion lies in helping others, sharing experiences, transferring knowledge, working collaboratively, and helping businesses adopt the latest digital trends and innovations.

As a thought leader in wearable technologies, digital health, IoT and healthcare innovation, including AI (artificial intelligence), robotics and ML (machine learning), Joao explores the intersection of technology and business. This includes examining how new technologies continuously shape consumer behaviour, influence business models, and help brands amplify their message. He also analyses the impact of disruptive innovations and shares future trends in the marketplace.

With over 25 years of hands-on experience in Professional Sport and Corporate environments working with senior management, Boards and executive teams, Joao Bocas has worked across Healthcare, Financial Services, Media, Sporting, and Third and Public Sector organisations. He has also amassed an admirable array of 17 formal professional qualifications while studying sport for 8 years.

He was a Finalist in the Great British Entrepreneurs Awards 2015, a Top 100 Global Digital Health Influencer, and is a global advisor and board member of several tech companies.

Joao Bocas is part of the editorial board of ICT&health International The official international healthcare platform for smart technologies and innovations. And the The Book – Wearables Combined with AI will be the game changer in Healthcare. He is also the Co-Author of XPOMET – 360° Next Generation Healthcare.

Keynote Speaking

– XPOMET – Innovation in High Tech and Medicine – Leipzig, Germany – March 2018

– IDTechEX Show 2018 – Berlin – Germany – April 2018

– DIGI-TECH PHARMA 2018 – London – UK – May 2018

– Future Health Summit 2018 – Dublin – Ireland – May 2018

– IMPACCT mHEALTH 2018 – Boston – USA – July 2018

– INCmty – Health and Wellness Summit – México – November 2018

– HSBC – Private Banking -Technology in Healthcare – Nov. 2018

– IQVIA 2019 UK Technology Event – London – June 2019

– Novartis – Berlin – Germany – June 2019

– VMworld ( VMWare ) Europe 2019 ( November ) Barcelona

– #TrustInTech Symposium 2019 – Huawei – London ( Influencer )

– Animal Health Investment Europe – London – February 2020

– European Patient experience & Innovation Congress – Dubrovnik – Croatia – March 2020

– Webit Festival Europe 2020 – Valencia – Spain – June 2020

Sources and links

Interview Koji Murata, CEO New Era India, Director Future Focus Infotech, Future of Work & Recruitment Industry

Dinis Guarda interviews Koji Murata, CEO New Era India, Director Future Focus Infotech about the Future of Work & Recruitment Industry

Koji Murata is the Country Head at en world India, CEO at New Era India, Director at Future Focus Infotech, CxO Search, RPO, Tech Staffing. With more than a decade of association with en-japan inc., Mr. Koji Murata has worked on HR tech business, Job Board, Executive Search and New products for Senior Level candidates across Asia Pacific region. Mr. Murata is passionate to explore different aspects for Human Resource as he intends to make a better world for next generations.

Koji Murata Interview focus

1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…
2. Japanese Background
3. Career highlights
4. Your company / companies, organisations and focus?
5. How do you see Society 5.04IR and all areas of digital transformation?
6. What are your views on our society, technology and digital transformations?
7. What are your goals and how do you see the future of work and the main trends in tech and society?
8. With Covid-19 what ways do you envision to redesign our society with technology and social impact?
9. What are your visions for the present and future?

Koji Murata Interview Quotes and Highlights

· I grew up in Kobe, a city in Japan and went to the university there. I did a few years of university in the UK, in the university of Leeds. I then started to work in a Japanese company. I have been working in the same company since I started my career and I have grown and moved up in the company ladder to top management positions. My company acquired two new companies in the technology space in Asia which I manage right now. At the moment, I am settled in India.

· As a Japanese, I feel like the decision-making process in Japan is very slow, it is a society based on trust and you need to nurture trust over time. In fact, Japan is very different from other Asian countries. For example, Vietnam, where I worked for a few years, is growing very fast and I think it is because of their positive approach to problem solving and hard-working habits. Japan is a very structured and very money driven economy. People there usually work in only one company during their entire career.

· However, things are changing now with young people more willing to experience and open their minds when it comes to their careers.

· India is the true meaning of diversity. You can see diversity everywhere, different cultures, traditions, religions, languages, people, even laws. When I came here the first time I went to Delhi and people there were a bit aggressive in the way they do business but I had some friends and they were really close and charming too.

· About technology and data. What I see where more people struggle is understanding how important and critical data is in today’s world. And that is something that can be found anywhere in the world. With our company, New Era India,

· We train people to become digital savvy and provide them with the right tools to understand technology in a deeper manner.

· About recruitment. I think recruiters must use valuable data but they need to be humans because what companies need to hire are humans, not mere assets. In fact, like Amazon did before, AI and computing algorithms only see the numbers, they can’t measure certain important aspects in the recruitment process.

· With our company we try to research and understand the market we are in and what are the needs of these companies and the type of people they are looking for. Data is really important for us to find the best candidates for companies. We also started assessment solutions to do that. This way we can look at social media and other data points, which is critical for companies who are hiring specific candidates. Right now, we are working towards creating an automation system for recruitment through data points.

· Trends in the recruitment market. Automation is a really big trend in the market. Healthcare at the moment is a hotspot and they are trying to find the best candidates, really fast. Another trend is voice communication solutions to perform interviews online. Regarding what companies are looking for, technology experts are the most sought after.

· How to hire the best candidate? For startups and small companies it is really important to find the best candidate but it is hard to do so. That is why we need systems that help with the process. Sometimes the important thing is someone with very strong technical skills while in other situations someone with social skills is more important. That is why we are creating a platform that can speed up the process and find the perfect balance and the perfect candidate for the company.

· COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted the whole world, but some countries are managing better than others. In India, and from our industry, recruitment has gone to lowest levels in years, there is basically no market movement. Lack of information and uncertainty doesn’t help either, companies don’t know what’s going to happen in the future so they are holding all their recruitment activities.

· About the future of work. People best positioned to get better jobs in the future are those who can really bring extra value to the company, people that can do different things and have different skill sets.

More Interviews

Interview with Daniel Sloan, co-founder Future Tech, ‘RebuildTheChain’ – Building Blockchain and AI solutions

Video Interview with Dr Jamal Ouenniche, Professor & Chair in Business Analytics, University of Edinburgh – Business Analytics, AI Data Road Maps

Interview with Ben Goertzel Founder SingularityNet, OpenCog – Benevolent And Open AI, What Kind Of Evolutionary Mind Can We Engineer?

Interview With Anish Mohammed, Blockchain Researcher. Head of Research – IIS , SRH Berlin – Building Blockchain and AI Foundations and Ethics

Koji Murata Biography

Mr. Murata is heading Indian operations at New Era India from January 2017 where through his strategic foresight, drive and determination, Mr. Murata is driving India business to new heights. Aligning en world core competence ‘Success after Joining’ in a dynamic market like India, not only has he brought a pyramid shift in Indian recruitment market with competitive value add service and with a Data driven approach, his Indian team is leveraging en world global learning while maintaining local competency in the market.

Founded in 1993, New Era India Consultancy is one of the leading Executive Search, Contingency Search, Talent Management, Employer Branding, HR Consulting & RPO solution providers with multi-domain expertise across India and Asia Pacific. Setting strategy and direction. Modeling and setting the company’s culture, values, and behavior. Building and leading the senior executive team. Allocating capital to the company’s priorities.

Koji Murata Links and sources–keeping-local-advantage-cid-5115.html

Electric Vehicle Charging Points Expected To Become Household ‘Necessity’

With the number of public electric car charging points growing in 2019 by 60%, it’s clear that electric cars are on the rise and here to stay. But can adding a charging point to your home actually make you money?

A study by Co-op Insurance revealed that nearly a third of respondents believed properties without a facility to charge an electric car will less valuable in the future. In light of this new research, Drewlec, part of the Bournemouth-based Drewitt Group, is preparing for the growth of its electric vehicle charging point installation service.

The news comes as the automotive industry faces economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the electric vehicle market is expected to weather the storm in the coming months and continue to grow.

Drewlec launched its new service in 2019 and has recently been approved as an authorised installer of electric vehicle charging points by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Richard Drewitt, managing director of Drewlec commented: “The UK government continues to invest in its efforts to create a zero-emission future. It’s not surprising, but still great to see, that electric vehicles are becoming an even more popular choice for people looking to buy a new car.

“We appreciate that the move from traditional petrol or diesel vehicles can be daunting and therefore our teams are dedicated to helping clients through this decision and the installation process. We’ve already worked with a number of local clients to install electric vehicle charging points at home, as well as guiding several business clients in installing sockets at their premises. As an OLEV approved installer, we are also able to apply for government grants for the charging points on behalf of clients.”

Research released by Co-op Insurance noted that the technology was quickly becoming a “must have” for house buyers and, as the property market enters a period of uncertainty, Drewlec recommends the installation of electric vehicle charging points to futureproof a property’s value.

Richard said: “There are many varieties of electric vehicle charging points and choosing the right charging point for your driving needs is important in ensuring your day to day requirements are met. However, it is also worth considering that the electric vehicle charging point will be likely to add value to your home in years to come and therefore selecting a unit that suits the property should also be kept in mind.”

The increasing demand in home installations matches that seen in businesses. Richard commented: “Business owners are beginning to invest in electric vehicle charging points to not only retain value in their owned premises but also to ensure parking facilities meet the growing requirements from staff and visitors.  

“In a fast-developing market, Drewlec can give impartial advice on all options available and provide the right solution for you without being tied to one manufacturer.”

Drewlec has launched a dedicated webpage for the installation of electric vehicle charging points to funnel demand and provide customers with the correct information they require.

A Growing Market

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal more than 120,000 ‘alternatively fueled vehicles’ have been registered in the UK in the last year– a 22 per cent increase on the same period last year.

As the number of electric cars on UK roads increases, the charging infrastructure needs to improve quickly to support them and the partnership between Volkswagen and Tesco will see the number of public charging bays increase by 14 per cent.

The initiative, which allows the majority of electric car owners – not just Volkswagen drivers – to charge their cars for free, has been welcomed by both the government and the WWF.

Jesse Norman, the Minister for EVs at the Department for Transport, said: “The government is committed to making the UK the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle. For that we need high quality infrastructure in place to support ultra-low emission vehicles around the country. The government set out plans in its Road to Zero strategy to deliver a significant increase in this infrastructure and we welcome Tesco’s pledge to roll out over 2,400 new charge bays across their stores.”

Gareth Redmond King, Head of Climate Change, Environmental Policy & Advocacy, at WWF, added: “Businesses need to decide if they are preparing for a ‘net zero’ world or for climate breakdown. Tesco has clearly made its decision and is going full throttle in its commitment to transition to a low carbon future. It’s this ambition and determination that makes us excited to partner with Tesco as we work together to make sustainable choices easier for all. One of the big challenges to EVs is that people worry about where they’re going to charge their cars – this roll-out goes a long way to tackling that issue. It will make it easier for everyone to reduce their impact on the planet and we hope that others will follow where they lead.”

Germany’s Response to COVID-19: What Lessons Can the UK Learn?

  • Germany ranks fifth in the OECD for salaries paid to healthcare workers.
  • The UK ranks 13th. GPs in Germany earn almost £20,000 more annually than those in the UK.
  • Germany invests 11.2% of its overall GDP in its healthcare system, compared to 9.8% in the UK.

A comparison of frontline salaries reveals huge failures in NHS investment. This study ranks 36 countries in the OECD according to how much they pay their frontline healthcare workers, with Germany far outperforming the UK.

A study has been released by the digital health platform, Qunomedical, that ranks the average salaries of healthcare workers across the OECD. While praise of workers tackling COVID-19 from the frontline is encouraging –  it is not a substitute for fair pay. These findings reveal huge disparities in healthcare investment between some of the world’s richest countries.

The study identified three types of medical professionals on the frontline of the COVID – 19 crisis: general practitioners (GP), nurses, and emergency physicians, and uncovered their salaries across the 36 countries in the OECD. These salaries were then converted to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) to allow for comparison between countries. The UK ranks 18th in the OECD for expenditure on healthcare, which stands at £3,357 per capita.  In comparison, Germany ranks fourth, with healthcare spending at £4,791 per capita. This huge disparity indicates the amount of investment needed to execute a prepared and proactive response to the current pandemic, and how far the UK falls short.

Hospital nurses in Germany earn £4,663 more annually than nurses in the UK, and emergency physicians earn  £1,228 more – but this doesn’t take overtime hours into account. In 2019, 3.5% of NHS staff reported more than 11 hours of unpaid weekly overtime, and a staggering 43% reported up to 5 hours. COVID -19 has no doubt led to a surge in these figures this year. The UK is currently the fifth-largest economy in the world. It’s ranking in this index raises vital questions about the value it places on its most crucial form of labour and the workers that sustain it.

Table 1: The salaries of healthcare workers in the UK and Germany. All salaries have been converted to Purchasing Power Parity:

Table 2: The salaries of the 10 countries in the OECD with the highest-paid healthcare workers. All salaries have been converted to Purchasing Power Parity:

 The full list of all 36 countries is available at

How the UK compares to other countries

Luxembourg ranks first in the OECD. Hospital nurses in Luxembourg receive an average salary of £73,300, compared to £40,200 in the UK.

Likewise, the study also found that Germany ranks fifth overall, behind Luxembourg, Turkey, Norway and Australia. Neighbour country Austria ranks behind Germany, but ahead of the United Kingdom. Hospital nurses and emergency physicians earn more in Austria than they do in the UK.

The United States ranks eighth overall, ahead of the UK. However, when ranked for the average salary of emergency physicians the US drops to 24th place.

Frontline healthcare workers in the UK earn more than those in France. In fact, France ranks behind the UK in 22nd place overall. Hospital nurses are paid 21% less in France than they are in the UK.

In the south of Europe, Spain ranks 29th overall, behind the UK and far behind Germany. General practitioners in Spain earn an average salary of £63,591, less than half the average annual salary of GPs in the UK and 2.3 times less than those in Germany.

Lithuania ranks last in the OECD for the average salaries of healthcare professionals. GPs in the UK are paid over fifteen times more than GPs in Lithuania.