Cities of opportunity – what makes a city ‘great’?

What makes a city great?  How can cities thrive economically and yet remain liveable?

PwC and the Partnership for New York City have published the latest edition of Cities of Opportunity, a report which analyses the performance of 27 of the world’s cities against ten broad social, economic and technological indicators.  As well as analysing the current situation, the report also looks forward to 2025 to consider future scenarios and key success factors.

The cities analysed in the report currently account for 8% of world GDP but are home to only 2.5% of the world population.

Healthy growth in a city relies on a combination of ‘quality of life’ factors (good education opportunities; healthcare; safety and housing) combined with strong business and solid infrastructure.

The ten indicators used by PwC:

  • City gateway
  • Cost
  • Demographics and liveability
  • Economic clout
  • Ease of doing business
  • Health, safety and security
  • Intellectual capital and innovation
  • Sustainability and the natural environment
  • Technology readiness
  • Transportation and infrastructure

Intellectual capital and innovation

Innovation generates both social and economic growth.  In order to measure each city’s performance a number of factors are considered and scored to create a league table.  These factors include average class size, maths, science skills attainment, literacy rates and percentage of population who receive a higher education.

Also included are:

  • Intellectual property protection (Singapore scores top points)
  • Research performance at top universities (London rates highest – and three Asian cities appear in the top ten)
  • Libraries with public access (Stockholm scores highest)

The key measures of ‘Technology readiness’ include:

  • Internet access in schools and Digital economy score (Stockholm is top in both of these)
  • Broadband quality
  • Software development

The report features case studies on a number of cities and is available for download here.

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Is Higher Education value for money?

The UK’s Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the consumer organisation Which? has published the 2013 survey of the student academic experience at English universities.

The first survey, in 2006, coincided with the introduction of HE fees and the surveys aim to discover whether students are getting a ‘better’ academic experience in the light of increased fees.  The report concludes that there is “no apparent relationship between the fees students are being charged and what they receive”.

Background

  • Although students are paying more, universities themselves are not receiving additional money – student fees are simply filling the gap left by reduced centralised government funding.
  • Student fees trebled in 2012.  The average fee charged is now £8500+
  • Contact with academic staff has hardly increased, despite higher fees
  • Diverse student experience in terms of teaching format and contact hours and the perceived gap in helpful upfront information to help students choose the appropriate course

Key findings – choosing the right university

  • 32% of students might have chosen a different course if they had known what they know now
  • 21% of students thought information provided by their institutions was ‘vague’; 9% thought it was ‘misleading’
  • 29% of first year students think their course is ‘poor value for money’

Student workload

  • The average weekly workload is 30 hours per week
  • Women and mature students study more than men
  • 14% of the 10,000 students who said their course was worse than they expected said the course had not been challenging enough

Contact time

  • No significant change in the amount of contact time or proportion of small group teaching
  • Students paying less than £8000 received same amount of contact time as those paying more
  • Other factors important to students include their satisfaction with the quality of teaching as well as they amount of face-to-face time
  • Significant differences in contact time between subject areas and institutions
  • Students recognise the importance of small group teaching and the amount they receive contributes to their satisfaction levels
  • Contact time has risen by just 20 minutes per week since 2006

The report is available for free download from the HEPI website.

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Children and apps

Apps for and used by children have been in the news recently.

In the UK a five year old managed to run up a bill of £1,710.43 in paid for add-ons for a game which he had downloaded free from Apple’s app store.  He was using his parent’s iPad (with permission) to download and play Zombie v Ninja.  The UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate the ‘free app/paid for features’ marketplace.

More than two thirds of children and teenagers in the UK own a smart device.  According to a survey conducted in the UK by OnePoll, 36% of children aged 11-16 download mobile apps without their parents’ permission.  40% of boys admitted to having done this, compared with 31% of girls.

The survey also found that youngsters can increase their families’ monthly charge by an average of £34.  The highest bills were generated by eight-year olds!  The researchers estimate that parents are incurring approximately £30 million in ‘unauthorised’ purchases.

In Australia the Cartoon Network researched the media habits of 1800 children and discovered that game playing and video watching  (rather than social media) are their main internet pastimes.  They research also found that:

  • 48% of Australian homes have a tablet device
  • 30% of children use tablets to access the internet
  • 69% of children aged 4-14 use apps , and use an average of 7 per month
  • 32% drop in game console usage since previous survey in 2011

(These findings are echoed by a recent report from the US showing how teenagers are leaving ‘traditional’ social media sites in favour of alternatives.)

Developing apps for children – “tappable apps”

At a recent conference for developers of educational apps for children, three key challenges were identified:

  • Working within appropriate privacy guidelines
  • The challenge of obtaining feedback from ‘non-verbal’ young children
  • The challenge of identifying compelling content for young people

The conclusion – make the apps as “tappable, responsive, and interruptive” as possible.

Best content for children in Europe

The EC has just launched the second European Award for Best Content for Kids,  looking for ‘positive content initiatives’ across the region.

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Tools for competitive intelligence

Miniera, the Spanish consulting company, has surveyed 149 competitive intelligence (CI) practitioners in Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean to discover what software tools they use to support their work; how they are using open and paid for sources and what devices they are using to access this information.

The survey found that CI practitioners are using a variety of software tools including cloud-based software, content management, databases, office packages and visualisation tools.

Key findings

  • 67% are using free tools; 53% use commercial tools; 26% use a mixture
  • Searching dominates CI practice, with 48% saying they are searching ‘constantly’ as part of the information gathering process
  • 32% say they are ‘constantly’ using the tools to filter and receive alerts
  • PCs are the most used devices (78%);mobile and tablets lag behind (the report is unclear on the reasons for this but suggests this may be due to a lack of appropriate apps)

Commercial or free?

The most frequently used commercial tools named include: LexisNexis, SharePoint, Salesforce, Intelligence Suite, Excel, Bloomberg, Factiva and Yammer.  Those that are using commercial software tools are looking for features that can support several steps in the intelligence circle.  These people are much more likely to be senior level/CI Directors.  The report features a wordcloud showing the most popular commercial tools.

Of the 67% using only free tools, the most frequently used include Google, Google Alerts, Google Reader, RSS, LinkedIn, Twitter and Dropbox.  Europeans are much more likely to only use free tools (48%) than North Americans (25%). Analysts are much more likely to rely on free tools than senior level analysts.

The report is available in English and Spanish.

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The future of TV

Variety has published a story about a new reality show called @SummerBreak.  That might not sound too interesting, but what makes this show stand out is that it will unfold over four social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube) and completely bypass television.

The ways in which people view and interact with television are being completely transformed.

A number of providers are broadcasting ‘online’ only programmes and YouTube and Amazon have been investing in original programming.   The CEO of Netflix, purveyor of on demand programming, has published an opinion piece which outlines a vision for the future of television.   Netflix has seen a sharp rise in its share price and has added three million new viewers so far in 2013.

The document explores the drivers for a move away from so-called ‘linear’ TV towards ‘internet TV and apps’.  Although linear TV remains popular, the steady growth of such services as BBC i-player, HBO-GO and Watch ESPN demonstrates how TV viewing habits will continue to change.   Drivers for change in television viewing include:

  • Increased internet speeds and reliability
  • Increased sales of smart TVs – eventually all TVs will have Wi-Fi and apps
  • Mobile viewing will increase
  • Internet video advertising will become personalised
  • Innovative new entrants
  • Internet TV apps will improve rapidly, just as mobile phones have done over the last 20 years

Viewers are changing

While the technology is moving forward, consumers’ behaviours are also changing.  New research from the US shows that mobile app usage reaches its daily peak between 7pm and 9pm – traditionally TV prime time.  As app usage between these times increases (rising to 50 million during these two hours) viewing figures for almost all prime time TV shows are declining.  The only shows not losing out are those with older viewers.

TV is not simply losing out to apps of course.  Alternative providers (including HBO and Netflix) continue to grow their market share.  What is known as ‘long form video’ is the fastest growing content segment for tablets.    On demand/ internet TV services facilitate what is known as ‘binge viewing’ – where viewers may watch several episodes or indeed entire series of programmes in one go.

To quote the CEO of Netflix on the future of TV…  TV, as we know it is coming to an end.

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Mobile search: creating moments that matter

The majority of people who use mobile search to find information on consumer items and services have every intention of making a purchase.  In a study (by Nielsen and Google) researchers found that three out of every four searches trigger some sort of follow up action, including further research or a purchasing decision.

Over 400 participants logged their mobile searches over a two week period in Q4 of 2012 and were asked follow up questions by the researchers.

Key findings

  • 73% of mobile searches trigger additional actions
  • 17% of mobile searches occur ‘on the move’; 2% occur in-store
  • 81% of mobile searches are driven by speed and convenience, even when people are at home with access to other devices

Next steps after mobile search

On average each mobile search triggers 1.89 additional actions.  Of the 73% of mobile searchers who carry out follow up activities:

  • 36% went on to perform additional research
  • 25% visited a retailers website
  • 18% shared the information
  • 17% made a purchase

The research also discovered that when people use mobile search they are:

  • 57% more likely to visit a store
  • 51% more likely to make a purchase
  • 39% more likely to call a business
  • 30% more likely to visit a website

Mobile search triggers rapid activity

One of the most striking findings in the research is the speed of follow up activity.

  • 55% of conversions occur within one hour of the original mobile search
  • 85% of all follow up actions occur within five hours of the original search

The report can be accessed here: Mobile search: creating moments that matter.

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Cyber security in the UK

Effective cyber security is good for business, according to the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which has published its 2013 Information Security Breaches Survey.  The report presents the findings from over 1000 respondents across small, medium and large firms in a range of sectors.  The figures show that companies in the UK have experienced the highest ever number of reported security breaches and the costs to firms are also at an all-time high.  The average cost to a large firm of its worst security breach is reported to be between £450k and £850k.  For small firms, the figure ranges between £35k and £65k.

The increased use of cloud computing, mobile devices and social networks can increase risk (14% of large organisations reported a security breach via a social network).  Ongoing changes in the business environment can also lead to uncertainty about who is responsible for information and data ‘ownership’.  This is particularly true in large organisations where 33% of respondents reported that such responsibilities were ‘unclear’.

Most of the respondents reported that they have written information security policies, yet 34% report that employee understanding is poor.  Training levels remain low, despite evidence that training and awareness can significantly reduce the impact of security breaches.

Threats from outside – and within

The BIS states that cyber-attacks have grown ‘in frequency and intensity’ over the last year.  These include hacktivism attacks, phishing, identity fraud and denial of service attacks.  Companies are not just subject to external threats.  Staff related breaches may be both deliberate and inadvertent and can range from accidentally sending emails to the wrong recipients or disgruntled employees taking business critical data with them when they leave the company.

Key findings

  • 87% of small firms experienced a security breach last year
  • 93% of large companies experienced a security breach
  • 36% of the worst security breaches were caused by inadvertent human error
  • 10% of the worst security breaches were caused by deliberate misuse of systems by staff
  • 23% of respondents haven’t carried out any form of security risk assessment
  • 9% of large organisations had a security or data breach in the last year involving smartphones or tablets
  • 4% of respondents had a security or data breach in the last year relating to one of their cloud computing services
  • 92% of respondents expect to spend at least the same on security next year (and 47% expect to spend more)

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Multi-screen trends

We are living in an increasingly connected and mobile world.  It is critical that we understand how our customers and potential customers are using multiple devices so that we can ensure they are receiving the right content where and when it is most relevant.

Microsoft Advertising surveyed global consumers and identified four types of multi-screen behaviour:

  • Content grazing – the most common multi-screen behaviour, with 68% of those surveyed reporting that they view two screens of unrelated content simultaneously (e.g. reading emails while watching television)
  • Investigative spider-webbing - 57% reported that they view related content on two screens simultaneously
  • Quantum journeys – 46% of consumers report beginning their content journeys on one device and continuing on another
  • Social spider-webbing – 39% of people reported they share and connect with two or more devices – for example watching a TV show and using a second device to tweet, comment or update their status

In the UK Fast Web Media has looked at the TV adverts of 50 brands to explore how many are encouraging multi-screening.  Econsultancy.com summarises the key findings:

  • 48% of the brands included URLs in their adverts
  • 20% mentioned Twitter or hashtags
  • 16% mentioned Facebook ‘likes’
  • 6% sought follow up on YouTube

Extending engagement

Google undertook research exploring the ways in which UK consumers were multi-screening the London Olympics.  They found that 33% of people in the UK were following the Olympics on more than one screen. Those that were using more than one device were averaging many more minutes per day of viewing than single screen viewers – they were watching while they were out of the home and on the move.

The research also found that the Olympics was a stimulus for many consumers to try something new on their smart devices, including live streaming and joining social networks to ‘talk’ about events.  Almost one in three people who attended Olympic events were looking at online content while they were there.  They conclude that stadiums and venues are becoming as ‘porous’ as retail outlets with people sourcing relevant information to enhance their experience.

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Connected Europe – the latest consumer figures

Forrester has released a European edition of its US consumers and technology benchmark report.  The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2012, Europe explores changes in consumer behaviour in the EU5 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).

Key findings

  • Almost 75% of European adults go online at least once a month
  • Over half of them own two or more connected devices
  • 22% report they are online when they are outdoors
  • 14% are online in their cars
  • 58% of online Europeans have a Facebook account

National differences

Of the five countries studied, the UK has the highest percentage (83%) of consumers going online regularly and also has the highest average online shopping spend (10% have used a shopping app in the last month).  52% own a smartphone and 12% own a tablet device and 18% of them have a Twitter account

Germany has the largest online audience in Europe (over 46 million online consumer), with just under three-quarters ordering services or products online in the last three months.  Only 5% have a Twitter account

In France consumers are the least likely to own multiple connected devices and the least likely to own a tablet (7%), smartphone (42%) or other connected device.  7% have a Twitter account

In Italy 58% of adults go online each month.

In Spain 69% of adults go online monthly

Although the online populations are smaller in Italy and Spain, they are relatively active.  Two thirds of online consumers in each country have a Facebook account and they are more likely to be ‘creators’ or ‘critics’ of content rather than passive participants.

The full report is available from Forrester.

Behaving badly on social media

This week the UK’s first ever ‘youth police and crime commissioner’ resigned after less than a week in the post.

Paris Brown, who is 17, had published a number of tweets which critics condemned as racist and homophobic.  She had also alluded to underage drinking and drug taking. The tweets were at least two years old.

This is a high profile example proving that we should all (not just young people) think carefully about what we share on social media. Irresponsible use can have a serious impact on employability. Following her resignation, Brown made the following statement:

I have fallen into the trap of behaving with bravado on social networking sites. I hope this may stand as a learning experience for many other young people.

An interesting aspect of this case is that Brown’s employer, Kent Police, failed to vet a potential employee’s social media profile and history.  A recent report suggests that 47% of employers check social media profiles of applicants immediately after they received their applications.   Kent Police’s spokesperson said:

We used Kent police’s vetting procedures, which do not normally involve scrutiny of social networks for this grade of post.

Perhaps these procedures will be reviewed now.

Instagram arrests in Sweden

Meanwhile in Sweden two teenage girls are to be charged in relation to a riot last year.    The girls are alleged to have used Instagram to shame other teenagers by publishing photographs and posting insults and comments about their sexual activities.  Hundreds of school pupils had gathered at a high school in an attempt to identify the Instagram account owner and a riot ensued.