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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016

Donald Trump at a rally in VirginiaImage copyrightAFP

Image caption"You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days," says Mr Trump, but is he right?

Road to the White House

To the outrage of Donald Trump and his supporters, the FBI says it has found no evidence of criminality in a newly-discovered trove of emails linked to Hillary Clinton.

With election day in touching distance, late last month FBI director James Comey said the bureau was investigating new emails potentially connected to its investigation into Mrs Clinton's private email server.

He has since faced a backlash from leading Democrats, with President Obama saying investigations should not operate on "innuendo" and the party's leader in the US Senate, Harry Reid, even suggesting Mr Comey may have broken the law.

There was little sign that US voters would see a conclusion before the final vote.

But now, in another letter, Mr Comey has effectively concluded they have found nothing new. And Mr Trump has made his displeasure clear.

"You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days," Mr Trump told a rally in Michigan.

"Hillary Clinton is guilty, she knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know it and now it's up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on 8 November."

A tweet reads: Image copyright@GENFLYNN

Several computing experts, though, say otherwise.

"That's taking a rather naive view of it," the University of Surrey's Alan Woodward said of Mr Trump's claim. "The investigators don't go through each email manually."

The emails themselves were found on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Mr Weiner, a former congressman, is subject to a separate FBI investigation.

Details about the fresh FBI inquiry remain scant. Several reports say that the emails discovered were simply duplicates of ones already examined.

In the latest letter, Mr Comey said investigators had "reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State", leaving open the possibility they were still looking into some of the emails.

An email reads: Image copyright@KHANOISSEUR

For Steven Murdoch, a research fellow at the University of London, the key word is "review".

"It doesn't mean they have been read," he said, adding that privacy considerations and the sheer volume of data would have been prohibitive.

Despite the seemingly intimidating size of the email cache, there are several ways they could have been narrowed down, experts say, such as using the to and fromfield to determine which messages came from Mrs Clinton, filtering out duplicate emails, or using search parameters.

Dr Murdoch compared the process to how officials might root through vast amounts of court documents.

Using these techniques, it is unlikely there would have been many emails investigators would have to read with their own eyes.

"Very quickly you would find that the haystack becomes the needle," as Prof Woodward said.

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden offered a few more tips to the authorities on how they might go about their search.

A tweet reads: Image copyrightTWITTER

Mr Snowden suggested they may have used hashing, which would involve coding the two sets of emails into a shorter expression of that data for quick comparison - something the authorities presumably had a head start on given the months of investigation into Mrs Clinton's email use.

Speaking anonymously, one former FBI expert told Wired he had processed much larger sets faster.

"We'd routinely collect terabytes of data in a search," he said. "I'd know what was important before I left the guy's house."

For the Errata Security blog, "the question isn't whether the FBI could review all those emails in eight days, but why the FBI couldn't have reviewed them all in one or two days. Or even why they couldn't have reviewed them before Comey made that horrendous announcement that they were reviewing the emails."

A tweet reads: Image copyright@DITZKOFF


Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016


3 year old girl buildingImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionDawn Bonfield found this kind of early enthusiasm had disappeared by the age of eight or nine

When Dawn Bonfield, the former chief executive of the Women's Engineering Society, ran a stand recently at a big military airshow, she was in for a shock.

There were around 900 Brownies amongst the crowd and Ms Bonfield recounts, "I'm saying to all these girls, 'Do you know about engineering, would you like to be an engineer, have you thought about engineering?'

"And in the whole day... probably five or six of them said yes. Every other one said no, just straight out no."

What surprised her most, she says, is that it wasn't that these eight and nine-year-old girls didn't know what engineering was. Simply that they had already switched off.

"So how much work does it take to change that?" asks Ms Bonfield. "I mean it's huge."

Numbers game

There's no shortage of data to back up her estimation of the scale of work required. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that women make up around just 8% of engineers in the UK.

And this is at a time when the UK needs to produce thousands more engineers, so much so that the inventor, Sir James Dyson, is planning to open his own institute to address the skills shortage.

Further back in the chain that links school, university and then employment, other data show that 49% of state schools send no girls to study A-level physics. And of those students who are taking an A-level in the subject, only a fifth are girls - despite getting similar grades at GCSE as boys.

Engineering students past and present at John Warner school

Image captionFuture problem solvers? Past and present engineering students at the John Warner School. Jamie (front, centre) is now an engineering apprentice

At the John Warner School in Hertfordshire, where you can take a GCSE in engineering, Dawn Bonfield's discoveries would come as no surprise to the girls in the GCSE and A-level groups. They are well aware of the stigma surrounding women and engineering. It seems even in the 21st Century it is still thought of as a job for a man.

"It starts at a young age... and that's just what we've grown up with," says Sophie, who did an engineering GCSE, but isn't continuing it to A-level, because of a timetable clash.

She puts it down partly to the fact that "girls are just put in the corner with a doll" - while boys play with trucks and cars - and partly down to the idea that manual labour is the preserve of men.

"It's only when you get to GCSE age that that option's offered to you, so a lot of people might still at that age be thinking, 'Oh well, I shouldn't be doing building or coding,' and stuff like that."

The girls at the John Warner School seem to defy some of these perceptions - 11 out of 13 of them said they would consider a career as an engineer. Nevertheless all of them are vastly outnumbered by boys in their different GCSE and A-level classes in engineering. And they're in the minority in physics and maths classes too.

Mum and dad matter

Sexual stereotyping and not enough female role models are well documented as reasons why girls don't choose engineering. As are misconceptions about the job itself, which isn't always about getting your hands dirty.

Campaigns such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology's "#9PercentIsNotEnough" are trying to address this.

Hannah Huggins

Image captionHannah's mother was dubious at first but then backed her daughter's enthusiasm for engineering

In addition, in one of the many recent reports concerned with the dearth of girls pursuing science, technology and engineering (Stem) subjects, the attitude of parents was also cited as an important factor in career choices. For girls, perhaps unsurprisingly, mothers were particularly influential.

"My mum was a bit iffy about it at first cos she was more like, 'Girls should do this and that and the other,' more like 'keep your posture up and be ladylike'," says GCSE student Hannah.

"But my dad used to build a lot of stuff and he got me into that. So after my mum saw how me and my dad interacted she said, 'Yeah, go for it' and she's kind of the one who supported me with this."

Educating parents, as well as the girls themselves and their teachers, is key believes Helen Macadam, a civil engineer who works on railway projects for the construction company Skanska.

Helen Macadam on Crossrail project for SkanskaImage copyrightSKANSKA

Image captionHelen Macadam has a novel solution to the engineering problem

"For me it's all about being more open and being more transparent and showing people, because what is [an] engineer? It covers so many different jobs, you can't even begin to describe it. And that's probably why it's so difficult to promote it," she says. "It's almost whatever job you want."

'No silver bullet'

The UK has a particularly low percentage of female engineers, other European countries put the figure at around 20%. In the US it's 14%, according to a recent congressional estimate, but the same question preoccupies the profession on the other side of the Atlantic too.

"There's no silver bullet," says Lina Nilsson, a biomedical engineer who works for a medical equipment company. She, however, believes she might have found one answer. When she was the innovation director in the Blum Center for developing economies at the University of California, Berkeley, the department started offering a postgraduate course on solutions for low-income communities.

Half the students who enrolled in the first classes in the autumn of 2014 were women.

Ms Nilsson thinks it was the obvious, practical good that designing an affordable solution for clean drinking water, or medical diagnostic equipment for tropical diseases, would do, that drew women to the course.

"The rationale of why to do it, not how, is really powerful," she says. "It's engineering with a social impact. On traditional courses it becomes hidden, or assumed that young students know what the purpose of engineering is. In fact we only have a vague idea of what it is."

john warner Year 11 girls with robot

Image captionJohn Warner GCSE students Lizzie, Clare and Kaitlyn with the robot they created in the school's robotics club

The UK is following suit. Several universities and colleges are finding new ways of teaching engineering that are aimed at pulling in a more diverse group of students.

Some courses are experimenting with dropping physics and maths A-level as a prerequisite for engineering. Others are offering courses, such as humanitarian engineering, which are popular with women.

As if to prove Ms Nilsson's point, Helen Macadam says she was attracted to the rail industry because it is a "useful and important part of our community".

But she has another solution to the engineering problem. "Maybe, if we didn't call it engineering, if we didn't say, 'Do you want to be an engineer?'" she suggests.

"If you just completely rebranded it and said, 'How would you feel about a career being a problem solver?' That immediately just sounds like something that you can apply to anything, that you could do in whatever context interests you."

The A-level students at the John Warner School would probably agree with her. They are aware that women are not stereotypically seen as problem solvers, but that's not their view.

"Women are good at fixing problems," Alice, Georgia and Cerys tell me. "Men are expected to do it and praised when they do do it, but women kind of do it naturally and it doesn't get really noticed."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016


President ObamaPresident Obama speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton at the University of Michigan on November 7.Associated Press

Even President Obama has had enough of fake news on Facebook.

Obama criticized how "crazy conspiracy theorizing" is spread on social networks like Facebook while speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton at the University of Michigan on Monday.

"And people, if they just repeat attacks enough, and outright lies over and over again, as long as it's on Facebook and people can see it, as long as its on social media, people start believing it," he said. "And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense."

A recent BuzzFeed investigationfound that 38% of posts shared from three large right-wing politics pages on Facebook included "false or misleading information," and that three large left-wing pages did the same nearly 20% of the time. A follow-up investigation by BuzzFeed revealed how teenagers in Macedonia create fake, pro-Trump news stories that go viral on Facebook.

Reports of fake news stories surfacing on Facebook spiked after the social network fired the human editors who ran its Trending news section. Facebook has said it's working to better filter out false and misleading stories from the News Feed but has yet to introduce any major changes.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Nov 2016


RISING Ruins app visual

RISING Ruins is an exciting new augmented reality app that allows people to step inside the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and see the building as it was before the blitz.

The app uses Google Tango technology to show users a digital reconstruction of the 14th-century building based on their position on a smartphone or a tablet.

Recreated features of the bombed building include the vast medieval stained glass windows, stone pillars, wooden vaulted ceiling and wooden pews.

RISING 16 marks the launch of the innovative new app. Delegates and members of the public will have the opportunity to experience the ruins of the cathedral in a way like never before.

RISING Ruins uses the latest technology to tell an old and familiar story in a new, vivid way.

Coventry Cathedral was bombed during the second world war. On 14 November 1940 a ten-hour air raid devastated the city, leaving two thirds of its buildings damaged or destroyed. Only the cathedral tower, spire, outer wall and the tomb of its first bishop survived.

The RISING Ruins app has been created by the RISING Global Peace Forum, funded by Coventry University and in collaboration with Coventry Cathedral.

For details of the launch and how you can enjoy this exciting new experience, please sign up to our mailing list

Source: rising.org
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Nov 2016

Site will open in 2017 and there are no fees to attend

Dyson offers hands-on training and university education

UK inventor Sir James Dyson has announced the creation of a new technology institute in an effort to provide the nation with enough skilled technology and engineering graduates for the future.

The Dyson Institute of Technology will be based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, and will open in the autumn of 2017. The courses offer a mix of hands-on engineering with degree-level teaching provided on site by the University of Warwick.

"In your first two years, you'll study general engineering modules. Assessment will be through exams and live Dyson projects," the site stated.


"Across years three and four, you will have the option to specialise in Mechanical Engineering, Electronics or a combination of Mechanical Engineering and Electronics."

The first intake of students will be only 25 strong, but Dyson hopes to grow the institute to become a fully-fledged university with the ability to issue its own degrees.

The website also lists several potential areas in which students will work if they are chosen as one of the first 25.

"With Dyson’s expertise across motors, fluid dynamics, separation systems, energy storage, robotics, software, aerodynamics and hair science, you’ll have the chance to work in a number of technical disciplines," it said.

Perhaps even more useful for those interested in attending is that there are no fees and students will be paid for their time working at the institute.

However, entry won't be easy. Applicants need at least AAB at A Level or equivalent "including an A grade in Mathematics and at least one other science, technology or engineering-related subject".

Dyson explained that the mix of experiences will ensure that students are better prepared for the real world when they graduate.

“The new degree course offers academic theory, a real-world job and salary and access to experts in their field," he told the BBC.

Universities minister Jo Johnson added that the institute will play a vital role in producing talented engineers for the future.

"The Dyson Institute of Technology will not only offer students the chance to study on cutting-edge degree level programmes, it will play a vital role in educating the next generation of much needed engineers," he said.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Nov 2016

Firm says charges based on wrong view of online shopping market

Google campus

Google hits back over Shopping charges from EU

Google has formally rejected Europe's antitrust charges related to the Google Shopping service, arguing that it doesn't harm online competition and that the charges don't reflect how consumers shop online. 

Europe's investigation into Google Shopping has dragged on for some six years, although the European Commission (EC) only issued a formal Statement of Objections in April 2015, extending that in July this year with further objections related to Google’s AdSense service.

The EC argues that Google promotes its own services at the expense of rivals' to the "detriment of consumers", and that this "stifles innovation" in the online shopping market.

Google has dismissed the charges entirely, claiming that the EC's arguments lack factual and legal basis and that the EC has a skewed vision of how people shop online. 

Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said in a blog post: "We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we displayed. On the contrary, we improved it. That isn't 'favouring' - that's listening to our customers," he said.

Walker also noted that the EC has not considered the likes of eBay, social media websites and Amazon, which he described as "by far the largest player on the field". 

"Our response demonstrated that online shopping is robustly competitive, with lots of evidence supporting the common sense conclusion that Google and many other websites are chasing Amazon," he said.

The EC had previously argued that Amazon couldn't be considered a rival because it sometimes paid shopping comparison sites for referral traffic.

"Consumers don’t just look for products on a search engine, then click on a price comparison site, and then click again to visit merchant sites," Walker said.

“They reach merchant websites in many different ways: via general search engines, specialist search services, merchant platforms, social media sites and online ads served by various companies.”

Google also pointed to the rising use of retailers' dedicated apps as bolstering its case that consumers have changed how they shop online. 

"Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites," Walker concluded. 

"But we remain committed to working with the EC in hopes of resolving the issues raised, and we look forward to continuing our discussions."

EC spokesperson Ricardo Cardoso said: "In each case, we will carefully consider Google's response before taking any decision on how to proceed and cannot at this stage prejudge the final outcome of the investigation."

Google also submitted a response to the Statement of Objections related to its AdSense programme and has until 11 November to respond to the third antitrust complaint regarding preferential Android software development.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Nov 2016

Fibre optic cable being pulled from the sea

Image captionNet access in Liberia comes via a single cable that is shared with 20 other nations

Liberia has been repeatedly cut off from the internet by hackers targeting its only link to the global network.

Recurrent attacks up to 3 November flooded the cable link with data, making net access intermittent.

Researchers said the attacks showed hackers trying different ways to use massive networks of hijacked machines to overwhelm high-value targets.

Experts said Liberia was attacked by the same group that caused web-wide disruption on 21 October.

Those attacks were among the biggest ever seen and made it hard to reach big web firms such as Twitter, Spotify and Reddit.

Short bursts

The attacks were the first to send overwhelming amounts of data from weakly protected devices, such as webcams and digital video recorders, that had been enrolled into what is known as a botnet.

A botnet variant called Mirai was identified by security firms as being the tool used to find and compromise the insecure devices.

The source code for Mirai has been widely shared and many malicious hacker groups have used it to seek out vulnerable devices they can take over and use to mount what are known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

"There're multiple different botnets, each with a different owner," security researcher Kevin Beaumont told the BBC. "Many are very low-skilled. Some are much better."

'This feels serious' - BBC Africa's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Liberia

For more than two weeks, my internet has not been working properly. At first I thought it was a problem with my internet provider, which often suffers from slow speeds. But this feels more serious.

Even when you do get online, the connection repeatedly cuts out. I've spent the past week trying to upload some photos and audio to send to London, without success.

A woman who runs a computer club for young people in the capital, Monrovia, tells me that they have been having trouble getting on to Facebook and that their connection has slowed in recent weeks.

The hotel I am staying at in the north-eastern town of Ganta is right next to the network tower of a company that provides my internet service, but the connection is still coming in and out.

The hackers behind the "huge" network that attacked Liberia, dubbed botnet#14, were "much more skilled", Mr Beaumont said.

"The attacks are extremely worrying because they suggest a Mirai operator who has enough capacity to seriously impact systems in a nation state," he wrote in a blogpost.

Network firm Level 3 confirmed to tech news site ZDNet that it had seen attacks on telecoms firms in Liberia making access to the web spotty. Other reports suggested mobile net access was affected too.

The attacks varied in length with some lasting only 30 seconds and the longest being sustained for a few minutes. At times the amount of data being funnelled towards Liberia exceeded 600 gigabits per second.

Net access in Liberia comes via an undersea cable whose capacity is shared with many other nations in West Africa.

"They're trying a number of different techniques for short bursts, against the companies who own the submarine cable to Liberia," said Mr Beaumont, adding that commands to botnet#14 seemed to originate in the Ukraine.

Mr Beaumont said the controllers of botnet#14 were refining their control of the attack system but it was not yet clear who it would be turned against next.

A Twitter account, called #Miraiattacks has been set up by a security company to monitor the many different attack targets hit by Mirai botnets. Earlier targets included computer security firms, schools, food-ordering services and gaming sites.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Nov 2016

Apple MacbookImage copyrightAPPLE

Image captionApple Macbook

tweet posted shortly after Apple’s recent Macbook launch event underlined the absurdity: Apple now sells 17 different types of dongle.

In its ever-escalating war against connectivity ports, Apple’s latest computers do away with the SD card port, a full-size USB port, and the HDMI port.

Instead, you’ll need a dongle to convert those “legacy” connectors, as Apple put it on Friday, into the new, smaller USB-C port.

"We recognize that many users, especially pros, rely on legacy connectors to get work done today and they face a transition,” the company said in a statement, without acknowledging that Apple’s newest iPhone, released just last month, is one such “legacy” device - without a dongle (or a different cable, sold separately), you can’t connect Apple’s new smartphone to Apple’s new laptop.

“We want to help them move to the latest technology and peripherals, as well as accelerate the growth of this new ecosystem."

That help will be a decent discount on the price of the dongles - it calls them adapters - until the end of this year.

The most popular one is likely to be the USB to USB-C adapter - which will be $9, down from $19. For connecting iPhones (both new and old), you’ll need a $19 Lightning to USB dongle - although you could use an old Lightning to USB cable if you bought the USB to USB-C adapter. Keeping up?

Dongle spaghetti

It’s an acknowledgement that Apple’s pro users aren’t exactly thrilled with the latest offering from the company considered to offer the gold standard in laptops.

The bigger issue here, and one that was expertly discussed in a Medium post by technology journalist Owen Williams, is what many see as a muddle at the heart of Apple’s newest products.

For a company that rightly prides itself on creating products that “just work”, it’s literally descended into something of a tangled mess.

Apple has, Mr Williams argued, created computers that lack a core selling point. For pro users, the types that use their Macs for graphic design and video editing, the new range only serves to take away functionality existing Macbooks provide.

A cable to connect the iPhone to the new MacbookImage copyrightAPPLE

Image captionA cable to connect the iPhone to the new Macbook

If you’re not a pro user, that’s fine. But along with Apple’s announcement of new hardware came the news that the prices were going up. Dramatically so, if you’re living in Brexit Britain. (Though Apple certainly isn’t alone there. Marmite, anyone?)

Those factors combined mean the dongle issue, one Apple might have got away with in the past, has caused added frustration to the faithful who had been waiting for a serious Macbook upgrade for some time.

Dongles get lost, forgotten and broken. They’re an added source of vulnerability when it comes to things accidentally being pulled out when uploading some data, corrupting the lot.

The Macbook future, at least for a short while, is a rag-tag spaghetti junction of dongles strewn across a desk or stuffed into a bag. In offices around the world, inboxes will fill with passive aggressive requests for “whoever took my iPhone dongle” to “please put it back where you found it, no questions asked”.

And when something doesn’t work, you’ll now need to ascertain: is it the device that’s broken? Or the cable? Or the port? Or the dongle?

Competitors moving in

But hold up. Apple has form here, and history mostly proves them right. Where Apple goes, others normally follow.

Earlier Macbook models already did away with ethernet ports and the CD/DVD drive - a move which seemed absurd at the time, but I’d argue Apple was ultimately exonerated. When was the last time you put a CD into your computer?

So in time, the accessories we use every day will become USB-C as standard, no question about that, and the dongles will no longer be needed.

But in the short term, Apple is left with a product that that no longer caters to either end of the market. Data suggests schools, parents and bosses are looking to Google’s cheaper Chromebooks, which this year began outselling MacBooks.

And if we’re looking at MacBooks as being as part of the bigger Apple planet, we’re left with a company that appears to be behind in many areas. Its iPhone is still king, but sales have been in decline.

Apple doesn’t have any virtual reality hardware. It doesn’t have any augmented reality hardware. Or a car - autonomous, electric or otherwise. In artificial intelligence, Apple's Siri is considered to be the least smart of the mainstream smart assistants, and unlike Google and Amazon, it can’t yet be found in a family-friendly home device.

Tim Cook appears to be throwing money at the problem(s). Spending on research and development has ballooned in the past three years, though Mr Cook is staying typically mum about what exactly the company is working on - only to tell worried investors that his company has the "strongest pipeline that we've ever had and we're really confident about the things in it”.

Only an idiot would write off Apple and its future. I don’t intend to be that idiot. Apple wasn’t the first to market with the smartphone, not even close, but it went on to define the industry and produce the most profitable piece of technology ever made. It could do that again and again in these new areas.

As the world’s richest company, it has time and resources on its side. But with that in mind, couldn’t it afford to pop a dongle or two in the box to make its present-day customers a little happier?

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 2nd Nov 2016


Prince William NecktiePrince William. Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Prince William is considering a flight to California to meet Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to a report from The Sunday Times.

The Duke of Cambridge launched a taskforce earlier this year to tackle online bullying — a move that he said was motivated after he became a father to Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The taskforce's founding members include the British and European bosses of Google, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook, in addition to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who founded the worldwide web.

The duke has asked the taskforce to make the internet a safer place for children and devise new techniques that can help them and their parents to get help more easily if they experience trolling.

A source told the newspaper: "The taskforce will complete its work in May 2017 and will come up with recommendations for the tech industry. The duke wants to take those recommendations to America and go to the tech companies and say, 'This is our blueprint in the UK. This is what you need to do.'"

A royal aide cited by The Sunday Times added: "The taskforce has received lots of interest from the US and the global leadership of these major companies who have expressed interest in being involved in the process. The next big push will be in the summer."

Baroness Joanna Shields, the UK Minister for internet safety and security, told Business Insider that the trip is a "brilliant idea."

She added: "In creating The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, the Duke of Cambridge has become a powerful advocate for vulnerable young people everywhere who are victims of abuse online.

"By visiting the Valley, he gives them a voice on how products and platforms deal with this urgent issue. Last December, as part of the UK Child Council Internet Safety (UKCCIS, which I chair), tech leaders developed a "safety by design" guide for engineers and product development professionals. This effort was supported by all of the leading platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft)."

It's currently unclear whether the prince would make the trip alone or with the rest of his family.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 1st Nov 2016

Lorry crash in LambethImage copyrightNETWORK RAIL

Image captionLorry drivers sometimes ignore large warning signs

A multi-million pound sat-nav project aims to stop lorries and other vehicles getting stuck in narrow lanes and under low-lying bridges on UK routes.

Ordnance Survey is creating a database that will contain information about 200,000 miles (321,869km) of roadways to prevent such accidents.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said the digital facility would launch before the end of the year.

But sat-nav makers will need to pay to get access to the full data.

"The new database will provide the sat-nav manufacturers with the ability to make journeys for HGV [heavy goods vehicle] drivers safer and more cost-efficient and that's a big issue for us," Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, told the BBC.

Stuck lorry

Image captionThis lorry caused three-mile tailbacks when it became wedged against a house in Marlborough in June

"However, the new technology can only be considered a real success if each of the sat-nav providers sign up to the new system."

Details of the effort were first reported by The Times.

Commercial product

The National Digital Road Map database will include information about:

  • Road widths
  • Weight restrictions
  • Bridge heights
  • Restrictions on left or right turns at junctions

Stuck fuel tankerImage copyrightWILTSHIRE POLICE

Image captionA fuel tanker was stuck for three days in Wiltshire in 2014 after getting stuck in a narrow country lane

It will be offered as a commercial product by Ordnance Survey to cover its running costs. There will also be a free-to-use version, but it will strip out the information that might prevent lorry accidents.

Ordnance Survey says about 80% of sat-nav makers, including Garmin, already subscribe to some of its other data, for which it charges less than 1p per device.

The Department for Transport has also contributed £3m of taxpayers' money to the effort.

Police tweetImage copyrightHERTFORD AND WARE POLICE

Image captionPolice have voiced their frustration at drivers' overreliance on sat-navs

"The definitive data, which also includes information on speed limits and planned road maintenance, delivers a product which will enable more efficient routing for all road users, including HGVs [heavy goods vehicles]," Robert Andrews, a spokesman for Ordnance Survey, told the BBC.

"[It] will result in high-quality data being supplied to satellite navigation companies.

"We are confident that the product will deliver customer data needs in one central location, allowing more informed and confident decision-making."

He added that the plan was to start offering access to the database from 16 November, to coincide with a Highways UK event in Birmingham.

"We welcome this move [and] hopefully this will lay the foundations for potential future advancements in vehicle technology," commented Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Lorry crashImage copyrightNORTHHANTS POLICE

Image captionThis railway bridge crash disrupted both train passengers' and motorists' journeys

Ignored warnings

Road signs already warn motorists about potential problems.

But the widespread use of sat-nav screens and smartphone map apps has meant they are often ignored.

Many lorries on UK roads are also driven by overseas-based drivers who may misinterpret the signs.

The scheme will rely on local authorities to help keep the database up-to-date.

The Local Government Association welcomed the development but called for additional action.

"Councils are keen to play their part but need the powers to fine lorry drivers who ignore weight restrictions and blight rural communities," said a spokesman.

Argos lorry stuckImage copyrightALAMY

Image captionThis Argos lorry became stuck in Colchester, Essex after following sat-nav directions

Recent examples of the problem include:

  • Train delays and a back-up of traffic when a lorry became trapped under a railway bridge over the A428 highway in Northamptonshire in May
  • A lorry causing long tailbacks in Marlborough, Wiltshire when it got wedged against a house on a road leading into the market town in June
  • The closure of the M20 motorway in Kent after a footbridge collapsed after being hit by a lorry carrying a digger in August
Source: bbc.co.uk
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