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Opinion

Can Blockchain Help Art Underwriters?

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Authored by Sylvie Gleises, Head of Distribution Marketing Communications & CEO Continental Europe at AXA ART

We all know the importance of giving and receiving flowers. More than two million roses are produced each year for Valentine’s Day alone. Last year, however, a group of art investors were involved in a slightly more unusual exchange of roses when they bought what is believed to be the world’s most valuable crypto-artwork.

Conceptual artist Kevin Abosch created a digital work, Forever Rose, which he sold to a collective of ten investors for cryptocurrency valued at $1 million. Every buyer received one tenth of the virtual rose as a token on a blockchain. The token is theirs to keep, sell, or give as a gift.

Kevin Abosch is one of a number of conceptual artists who are exploring the potential of blockchain in the art world. He previously created a physical and virtual work, IAMA Coin, which involved him having some of his blood imprinted as a blockchain address, effectively turning his blood into a crypto-currency.

This may be a glimpse into the future of art. There is clearly huge potential for blockchain to change the way art is sold, paid for and stored. For digital artists in particular, whose work is potentially more easily forged or replicated, blockchain could reduce fraud, establish proof of ownership and facilitate a secondary market.

But what does blockchain mean for physical artworks that were created decades or centuries ago?

For buyers and sellers of art, a secure blockchain registry can give greater transparency and an immutable record of the provenance and ownership history of a work of art. But, as the saying goes – garbage in, garbage out. The blockchain is only as robust as the data that is entered into it.

This means that for blockchain to truly gain traction in the art world, the records need to be expanded and for more dealers, auction houses and art data providers to become involved. The potential for an immutable trail of a work’s provenance provides a massive opportunity to get greater clarity during the claims process if a work is stolen or damaged.

But it isn’t just on the claims side that blockchain could revolutionise art insurance.

It’s important to remember that each piece of art is unique, and we, as underwriters, use various experts to help us to understand the many facets that add into a work’s value.

Art underwriters need to be sure that the piece of work they are presented with is authentic – not a fake – and that its provenance can be trusted. Once the underwriter is comfortable that a work is genuine and has not been stolen, then he or she – using expert advice on the work’s value – underwrites the piece of art.

Once we set a premium, we essentially are saying that we believe the work to be genuine. And – as a regulated industry – insurers also need comfort about the ownership of the piece. We need to know that a work of art is not being bought or sold as part of a money laundering scheme or to fund illegal activities, for example.

If blockchain can give greater clarity and certainty about the provenance of an artwork, then that surely must be something underwriters can harness to help them price a risk.

It isn’t quite so simple as it sounds, however. If the work is created by a living artist who uses smart contracts and sells their work via a blockchain, then there can be a degree of certainty as to whether the work is genuine and of its provenance. But certification could be trickier for older works.

Sometimes, even the world’s pre-eminent scholars cannot agree on whether a work is genuine or not.

The recent dispute around the authenticity of the Salvator Mundi painting of Christ in Renaissance dress, currently owned by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, is a great example of this. The work, long thought to be a copy, was authenticated as a Leonardo da Vinci by the National Gallery in London in 2011 and the Dallas Museum of Art in 2012.

The work had been heavily overpainted, which led many experts to believe it was a copy for many years. But now, while there is a degree of consensus that the work is genuine, some scholars continue to believe that Leonardo himself painted just a fraction of the work- if any – with the rest likely completed by a studio assistant.

Even when the authenticity of a work is fairly certain, it is not a simple matter to create a link between the blockchain and a piece of art created before blockchain was invented.

For blockchain to take of in the art world, there needs to be a way to create a link between the physical asset and its certificate of authenticity in order to use blockchain to validate works and help underwrite them.

There is a great deal of buzz currently surrounding art and blockchain. And art insurers and other professionals are engaged in many conversations with start-ups working to find ways to put blockchain to use in both the claims and the underwriting side of our business.

This is not a commoditised off-the-shelf industry, so it will perhaps take time to devise a way to make this work. In the meantime, we are open to discussion and excited about what the future might bring.

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Opinion

Dynamic Caching- Emerging Trend, Need of Tomorrow

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Authored by Amit Singh, Managing Director, Zenlayer India

Dynamic content caching is a term that’s synonymously trending with discussions around Content Delivery Network (CDN) industry. In fact, with the growing popularity around CDN Dynamic Content Caching is often the claim you will hear from most CDN players. Let me simplify for you how the modern technology makes caching of dynamic content possible.

Most content on the website is collection of both static and dynamic content pages. The word ‘static’ we know is something that remains constant. In computing, static content is any file that is stored in a server and is the same every time it is delivered to users like in the case of eBook, whitepaper, homepage of a website. On the other hand, dynamic content refers to any digital content that keeps changing based on factors specific to the user such as time of visit, location, and device. Text, audio and video formats are examples of dynamic content. This type of web content adjusts dynamically or in real-time allowing websites to individually adapt to different site visitors. Customised newsletters, emails are the most basic forms of dynamic content. Other examples include landing pages on website, forms and purchases, product pages with bounce offers like sales and coupons, targeted website advertisements, voice assistants, etc. 

Dynamic content furnishes different information based on who the viewer is. Online store experience is a lot different for a frequent shopper than a first-time user. Online news website that displays latest news and articles on its web pages, also has dynamic content that keeps getting updated. Your blog feed, social media feed, personalized emails, are other examples of dynamic content that look entirely different for every user. Even interactive content that engages the users allowing them to interact with the content in order to change it are mostly dynamic in nature, like the comment area of your blog, social media sharing buttons, call-to-action buttons on a website and the popular ‘facetime’ or video chat via smart devices. But how is this constantly changing dynamic content being displayed on webpages, tv or smart devices in real-time? This is where CDN industry services and dynamic caching jointly play their roles.

CDNs and Dynamic Caching

‘Caching’ in computing, refers to the process of storing data or copies of files in a temporary storage area called cache. A cache’s primary purpose is to increase data retrieval performance by reducing the need to access the underlying slower storage layer. Caching enables quick access to the stored or cached content. Dynamic content is mostly event-driven for each user implying that the same cannot be served to multiple users and hence is difficult to cache. However, caching dynamic content is now viable with advanced CDNs the right technology mechanisms in place.

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) which today is a vital component of almost any modern web application, is a network of powerful computers located in geographically distinct places. It is designed to serve web content to visitors with great performance and efficiency. Ecommerce or media sites utilize the power of CDNs to frequently update content such as latest prices, news, weather forecasts, articles, featured products, breaking news, video etc on their web pages. Majority of content delivery networks frequently manage caching for sites through a global server network. CDNs can be configured to retrieve data from the origin servers and deliver dynamic content that is unique to the requestor. Intelligent caches and CDNs are able to quickly inspect requests and modify the behaviour of the caching logic as per requirements.

How dynamic caching works?

The HTML document is the backbone of the any webpage and is the first connection point between website origin server and the browser. With a large number of visitors, there is stress on the origin servers. But when the HTML document is cached, the caching server is the only one making a request to the origin server irrespective of the number of visitors. Thus, the website servers are freed up for critical transactions. 

When a user visits a website using a CDN, and web traffic is geo-dispersed, it’s not always feasible and certainly not cost effective to replicate entire infrastructure across the globe.  The traffic routes through the server that is closest to the user and serves up cached or stored versions of the site resources. This allows the site to load faster and eliminate requests back to the origin server. For caching, CDN reduces load on application origin and delivers a local copy of the content from a nearby cache server. 

Role of cache servers

Proxy cache servers are the basic elements of a CDN’s network data centres, which are strategically situated around the world. Based on traffic patterns of individual regions, these points of presence (PoP) are chosen. Active locations with many users may have several data centres and remote locations with few users may have only one PoP to cover large geographic region. Cache servers act as a repository for website content, providing local users with quicker access to stored files. The cache server closest to the end user is chosen to reduce the connection time needed for transmission of website data.

Dynamic content is generated by running scripts in a CDN cache instead of a distant server thus reducing the response time to client requests and speeding up loading of dynamic web pages. It is served to client devices based on parameters like device type, time of day, user location, or data from third party APIs. Often, most content on a dynamic webpage is same for all users, and only few elements are dynamic. The dynamic content acceleration service leverages the high-quality connectivity between the network PoPs to improve response time. This service mainly takes advantage of the private back bone Software Defined Network (SDN) and achieves better ‘back-to-parent/origin’ network connectivity. 

Advantages of Dynamic Caching 

  • Improved data retrieval and application performance 
  • Reduced hosting and server costs
  • Reduced latency and improved IOPS for Q&A portals, gaming, media sharing, and social networking
  • Dedicated caching layer enables systems and applications to run independently 
  • Data can span multiple cache servers and can be stored in a central location 
  • Controls like TTLs (Time to live) for successful cache and cache miss
  • Decreased load on origin server
  • Faster loading of sites
  • Reduced bandwidth costs 
  • Improved access speed and user experience
  • Reliable content delivery
  • Highly resilient, secure and stable CDN cache servers 

Uses of Dynamic Caching

  • Website owners can gather visitor data like frequency of visits, pages visited etc and deliver personalized, dynamic web content at no additional cost 
  • Better interactive and personalised user experience
  • Reduced load on the backend database and reduced time to load site
  • Increased visitor time on site due to browser history insights and display of relevant content 
  • Increased conversion rates, bounce rates, and return visits
  • High performance and no page layout break on multiple devices
  • Easy maintenance
  • Predictable Performance during peak traffic events like IPL or festivals
  • Eliminate Database Hotspots
  • Increase Read Throughput (IOPS)- In addition to lower latency, in-memory systems also offer much higher request rates (IOPS)

With 5G reaching India soon, and some parts of the world heading towards 7G, we can soon expect video replacing voice, text, and everything in between. Dynamic Caching could become the panacea to avoid overloading of data.

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Opinion

Voice Messaging – A Mastered Path to Rural India

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Authored by Mr. Rajdipkumar Gupta, MD & Group CEO, Route Mobile Limited

Out of a population of 133.2 crores in India, a total of 101 crores of people are estimated to own active mobile connections as per TRAI in April 2018. With an exponential rise in the number of mobile phone users across the globe, the world is gradually progressing towards a technologically smarter era. Having said that, an estimated figure of over 74 crores is still using a basic feature phone. Considering India which majorly is segmented into two categories:

• Urban population and • Rural population

As per the report of census 2017, India constitutes a total of 66% of the population to rural area. While the smartphone penetration in these areas is just about 20.26%, there still is a deficit in reach of over 61.5 crores mobile phone users which are not smartphones out of 74 crores basic feature phone users. Taking under consideration that most of these people use basic phones which would not allow them to use the latest high-end features, reaching out to the mass population located in rural areas using a technology that requires minimum technology intervention becomes paramount.

While people even in the remotest locations are carving their path to synchronize well with digitization, it would be fair to join the hands of these technological advancements with our traditional systems in order to enhance the effectiveness of all the activities undertaken. More so, people are getting engaged and connected with a palm-sized technology which enables them to reach out to the world with nothing more than just a simple touch on their screens. Although 36% of the Indian population has been using smartphones, a huge chunk of 64% living in urban as well as rural India is still distant from getting a cutting edge technology mobile phones.

What if we bring together the power of voice broadcast with brand campaigns?

With an active base of 1.012 billion mobile phone users, employing voice campaigns will help reach the message of the brands across the country. Versatile by nature, voice broadcasting can be used to promote events, deliver poll surveys, deliver general announcements, and many such activities.

A panoramic view on traditional means of brand campaigns:

A typical campaign carried by a brand involves people, resources, and predominantly a need for people to be physically present. Along with that, some of the most commonly encountered obstacles are as follows:

  • Need of human intervention
  • Uncertainty in reachability
  • High budget requirement
  • Language Barrier
  • Dependency on external factors

As various brands majorly look out for expansion and recognition, a physical campaign requires physical presence of people. Adding on to that, the success of these events is considerably dependent on the availability of space, equipment, and favourable climatic conditions. The entire event might go for a toss in case of unfavourable climatic conditions, or other factors.

Conducting campaigns with voice broadcasting will not just allow one to increase the reach but at the same time will proffer with a range of other features.

Personalization

Adding a tinge of personal touch has always been beneficial. With Voice Broadcasting, one can customize their campaigns based on their needs, and the demand of their target audience. You can also alter the campaign to a degree that suits the expectation of your upcoming campaigns. Additionally, brands will have the freedom to speak in a dialect that works for the masses. Also, these speeches can be then translated in the choice of the language required in the future in order to make it understandable yet effective.

High-level of Flexibility

It lets you take charge of your own campaigns. Developed to be able to use with a high level of ease, you can modify the campaigns without affecting the other attributes of your campaign. A simple and easy to use format lets you decide the nature of your voice messages.

Elimination of one way communication

Moving a level further, with an Interactive Voice Response, you can also gather, and collate the responses from your audience. This sort of interactivity brings depth to your campaigns, making it way more effective.

Amplified Reachability

In an era of mobile phones, there might be less than a handful of people who don’t own a mobile phone. Using voice broadcasting completely eliminates the need for a person to be physically present for that particular event. A simple, traditional call allows you to reach and address the mob with greater efficiency.

Elimination of hefty budget

Replacing a physical event into voice broadcasting cuts down on the cost exponentially. Rather than investing a lot of money on different factors that involves uncertainty in the performance of the event, investing in Voice Broadcasting proves to be favourable in terms of the cost incurred and also in terms of the productivity of an event.

Cut down on the time involved

While a conventional event demands a lot of time and human involvement which thereby calls for much more investment of time. Voice Broadcasting can be considered as a simple one-click process.

The Process

Voice Broadcasting, when it comes to its mechanism, is one of the simplest techniques to reach out to a large number of people. Owing to its simplicity, security, flexibility, and scalability, it has by far been a vital asset to many political campaigns. Suitable for an array of events ranging from promotional events, polling surveys, personalised messages to general announcements, and many more.

A simple six-step process is what it takes to incorporate Voice Broadcasting into your existing system.

Step 1: Record a voice message.
Step 2: Upload a file of mobile numbers that you wish should receive a call.
Step 3: Add the details of your campaign.
Step 4: Schedule your campaign.
Step 5: Make your campaign live.
Step 6: Access reports at the click of a button to understand the effectiveness of the campaign that can be sorted circle-wise or state-wise.

With a literacy rate of 71% in rural India, one of the most challenging problems is to be able to deliver messages that are understandable. As the major issue faced by the people living in remote/rural areas is the language barrier, implementing voice messaging will eliminate most of the shortcomings of the illiterates. Keeping this as a line of reference, creating a campaign that would keep the majority of the crowd to understand the message becomes crucial.

Voice broadcasting is extremely flexible that lets us run campaigns that would cater to the needs of the mob. Reaching out to a huge mob using a simple, lucid, and a dependable technology would bring success to most of the campaigns. Also, integrating a voice broadcast is as easy as any other physical campaigns.

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Health & Fitness

Smartlink Offered Its Goa Manufacturing Facility for COVID-19 CARE CENTRE

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In a bid to control the rapid increase in the number of cases of the Coronavirus in Goa, Mr. K. R. Naik, Executive chairman, Smartlink Holdings Ltd & Founder of Digisol Systems offered his newly purchased factory free of cost to the Verna Industries Association for turning it into a COVID CARE CENTRE for Asymptomatic COVID patients.

Inaugurated on 13th August, this COVID CARE CENTRE is solely managed by Verna Industries Association. The care center is equipped with 140+ Bed Hospice to house only Asymptomatic Positive Patients from Verna Industrial Estate.

This newly converted facility will provide the physical infrastructure, medical furniture, equipment along with Doctors and paramedical staff that will be stationed at the facility round-the-clock.

Mr. Pradip Da’Costa, President, Verna Industries Association and Mr. Damodar Kochkar, President, Goa State Industries Association thanked Mr. K. R. Naik for his exceptional support for this social cause during the pandemic time.

Commenting on this, Mr. K.R. Naik, Executive Chairman, Smartlink Holdings said, “The Coronavirus Cases are rising every day all around us, and it has become important to use every bit of resources we have to fight against it. We at Smartlink are committed to work together and support our country’s efforts to deal with this pandemic. We will continue to utilize our resources to address the urgent needs of those working to combat the threat and impact of COVID-19.”

Smartlink has been always believed in working together and empower every Indian with its offerings. It is one of the few IT networking companies that has been supporting Vocal for Local since its inception. Even during this time of unprecedented uncertainty, the company has taken on the responsibility to help ease the COVID-19 related stress through this initiative and hopes this will help to overcome crisis.

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