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11 Oct
2019

Thousands of Sri Lankan farmers to benefit from UNfunded antipoverty scheme

The $25 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will enable the country’s National Agribusiness Development Programme to help small producers, women, landless households and young people in rural areas.Among the programme’s goals is to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers by 20 to 30 per cent, and help farmers become directly involved in processing and marketing their products such as fruits, vegetables, spices, cereal, milk and dry fish.“The programme will provide business expertise so that farmers can take part in joint ventures as equal partners with the private sector,” IFAD stated in a news release. “They will have access to financial resources so that they can take advantage of emerging opportunities, building their own processing capacity and having better access to markets. Increased on-farm productivity will lead to better farm-gate prices for their produce,” the Rome-based agency noted.Sri Lanka was the very first recipient of an IFAD loan, in April 1978, and since then the agency has funded 15 projects in the South Asian nation for a total investment of more than $217 million. 23 February 2010Nearly 58,000 farming households in Sri Lanka are expected to benefit from a United Nations-funded programme designed to improve their livelihoods, boost their incomes and enhance their participation in the marketing and selling of their products. read more

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11 Oct
2019

UNled campaign to provide affordable health care for Indian women

Tens of thousands of Indian women and their families will have access to quality maternal and child health-care services thanks to a partnership announced today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a chain of small hospitals in India for low-income clients.LifeSpring Hospitals has signed up to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a UNDP supported global initiative challenging companies to apply their business expertise, technology and innovative spirit to tackling poverty and accelerating progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight targets designed to reduce poverty, hunger, disease, maternal and child deaths and other problems, all by 2015. Today’s announcement makes LifeSpring Hospitals the first health-care chain to join the BCtA, and means an estimated 82,000 women and their families will have access to better care.“Meeting the health needs of women and children is especially important as the MDG to improve maternal health has made the least progress so far,” said Natalie Africa, Programme Manager for the Business Call to Action. “Innovative business models such as LifeSpring Hospitals are helping to make real, sustainable progress by providing women with quality, low-cost health care,” she added.Each LifeSpring Hospital accommodates 20 to 25 beds, and can provide lower-income mothers with healthcare and delivery services at 30 to 50 per cent of market rates, as well as pediatric care and immunizations.More than 100,000 pregnancy-related deaths occur each year in India, according to UNDP. Another 100,000 women annually suffer from infections due to pregnancy.Most of these deaths and complications could be averted by providing a standardized level of care, but according to a press release issued by UNDP, quality health care in much of India is associated with high prices and is out of reach for many of the country’s poorer citizens.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for greater action to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. He will host a special thematic debate during the General Assembly high-level debate in September in New York. 8 April 2010Tens of thousands of Indian women and their families will have access to quality maternal and child health-care services thanks to a partnership announced today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a chain of small hospitals in India for low-income clients. read more

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11 Oct
2019

Afghans can count on sustained support from UN top envoy pledges

11 June 2010The Government and people of Afghanistan can count on the sustained support of the United Nations and the rest of the international community as they continue to strive for peace and development, the world body’s representative in the country reaffirmed today. “We will be by your side for as long as we are welcome, but the future lies in the hands of Afghans,” Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, told reporters during a visit to the western province of Herat.“There are difficult months ahead for Afghanistan, but the solution is real internal dialogue amongst Afghans. We will be with you through this process,” he pledged.At the London Conference in January, the Government and its international partners jointly endorsed a strategy of transition to greater Afghan responsibility for the affairs of the country. A follow-up meeting will be held in Kabul next month.The country is also preparing for the holding of parliamentary elections, scheduled for September.During his visit to Herat, Mr. de Mistura, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), saw for himself an area of the country that has displayed great potential and made significant strides in development over recent years.He said he looked forward to seeing the Government increasingly expand its capacity and reach to meet the demands of its people and helping them improve their daily lives and assume ownership of their own future.Mr. de Mistura met with the Governor, Dr. Nooristani, the Provincial Council, the provincial reconstruction team and members of the diplomatic community, as well as with the Prosecutor-General, Maria Bashir. The Special Representative also toured the regional hospital and a regional prison and female correctional facility. In addition, he visited the Citadel and blue mosque in the centre of Herat, both symbols of Islamic culture that were reconstructed with the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. read more

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11 Oct
2019

Urgent funds needed as winter polio compound Pakistan flood emergency – UN

“This crisis is far from over. It has just evolved in very different ways from one part of Pakistan to the next and the humanitarian effort has had to adapt swiftly to reach children and women most in need as their needs change,” said Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia.A fifth of Pakistan’s territory was ravaged by the monsoon floods that affected 20 million people. Some 10,000 schools and rural health centres were damaged and important infrastructure was destroyed or badly damaged, including water and sanitation systems, bridges and roads.“Although most people have returned to their home areas, many have returned to near total destruction – with no homes, no crops, no food and no cash,” Mr. Toole said.UNICEF says it requires over $82 million to continue with its life-saving and recovery programmes in Pakistan.“In the north, snow has fallen and we are delivering winter clothes and supplies to help families prepare for a harsh winter, while in the south very slow receding waters have meant over a million lives are still on hold. The coming cold months will sharply increase the numbers of respiratory infections and malnutrition, two of the biggest killers of Pakistani children,” Mr. Toole added.A polio outbreak has spread quickly with 126 cases this year compared to 89 in 2009 – a major cause for concern because Pakistan had made significant progress towards eradicating polio. The country is one of the four polio endemic countries in the world and low vaccination coverage in areas experiencing insecurity in the north, overcrowding and poor sanitation as a result of the floods have exacerbated the threat for children.Since the early stages of the floods, UNICEF has been providing clean water to 2.8 million people daily, and sanitation facilities to more than 1.5 million people.UNICEF has partnered with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Pakistan to immunize more than 9 million children against measles and polio. Nutritional supplements have reached nearly 300,000 pregnant women and mothers with young babies as well as malnourished children.Education, through Temporary Learning Centres has been restored for 106,500 children and another 104,400 women and children through Child-Friendly Spaces which aim to protect them from risks of abuse, neglect and exploitation after the floods. In preparation for winter, UNICEF has started to distribute warm children’s clothing and blankets. 7 December 2010The humanitarian situation in Pakistan remains precarious four months after the devastating floods and could worsen this winter with more children at risk of acute respiratory infections and malnutrition, even as polio cases increase, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today. read more

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11 Oct
2019

Darfur UNAfrican peacekeepers to set up quick reaction force to protect civilians

16 February 2011The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has significantly stepped up its patrols in the strife-torn region of Sudan where there was a recent resurgence of violence and is setting up a quick reaction force to help protect civilians. “I am deeply concerned about these renewed clashes and have since made strong appeals to the parties to cease further hostilities in the interest of ongoing peace efforts and the safety of the people of Darfur,” UN-AU Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari told a news conference in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.Renewed fighting in January has driven some 43,000 people from their homes, according to UNAMID, the more than 20,000-strong uniformed force set up in 2008 to help end a war between the Government, backed by its militia allies, and various rebel groups, which has killed at least 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million others since it erupted in 2003.“UNAMID patrols have increased from 90 to 130 military and police patrols daily with additional surge capacity when required,” Mr. Gambari said, noting that between 1 January and 10 February over 6,000 patrols were conducted, mostly to deter armed violence against civilians.UNAMID is also expanding and upgrading Teams Sites to extend its protection cover to larger parts of Darfur. “Because we cannot be everywhere every time, I have instructed the Joint Operations Centre in UNAMID to set up a quick reaction force in order to assist civilians who are under imminent threat.”In recent months, particularly November and December, the security situation in parts of Darfur deteriorated, due largely to clashes between the Sudanese armed forces and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which have taken part in a peace process launched in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Relations also deteriorated between the Government and another rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army/ Minni Minnawi movement (SLA/MM), leading to heavy military confrontations.A considerable number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) sought refuge in UNAMID Team Sites where military and police personnel provided security, health services, food and other basic needs. “Although the situation in these conflict-affected areas has improved and UNAMID has stepped up confidence-building patrols in order to encourage gradual returns, several IDPs remain clustered around our Team Sites,” Mr. Gambari said.On the positive side, he noted that the Government has shown “a commendable willingness” to cooperate with UNAMID in ensuring that the mission has the required access and freedom of movement to implement its mandate, which includes helping to restore security and protect civilians. read more

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8 Oct
2019

CPC shuts refinery for two weeks

Ceylon Petroleum Corp (Ceypetco) will shut Sri Lanka’s sole 50,000 barrels-per-day oil (bpd) refinery for two weeks on Friday after exhausting its supply of mainly Iranian crude oil, a company official said.The company has enough crude to last until Friday and will receive its next crude oil shipment from Dubai on Nov. 8 or Nov. 9 when the refinery will restart, Ceypetco general manager Susantha Silva told Reuters. “This does not mean we are going to close down the refinery permanently. This will be a temporary closure,” said Silva. The refinery will also undergo maintenance during the shutdown, he added.The refinery is configured to run on Iranian crude and has been scrambling to fill a shortfall after it was unable to bring in Iranian crude because of Western sanctions. “We are getting one crude parcel from Dubai on Nov. 8 or 9 and one from Saudi Arabia on Nov. 13. Another one scheduled (from Abu Dhabi) in December. So we have lined up crude for refining.”Exports from Iran, which is grappling with tough Western sanctions targeting its energy and petrochemical sectors, have fallen sharply as consumers struggle both to pay for the oil and to secure insurance cover for tankers to ship the crude. Ceypetco has been having problems running the refinery at full capacity as alternative crudes like Arabian light are not able to give the refinery the proper yield, Silva said earlier.Sri Lanka, which is dependent on Iranian crude oil, has reduced its Iranian crude imports by 20 percent this year, but disagrees with Western sanctions that are punishing countries that depend on its oil, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris said earlier this week.The country is now in talks with Iran to find suitable payment method for its crude, as banks dealing with Iran have also been targeted by western sanctions. Iran has not offered any discounts on its crude, Peiris said.  (Reuters) read more

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8 Oct
2019

Galle Bishop warns of Buddhist Taliban

For this reason he has decided to re-launch the promotion of dialogue and religious harmony through the Commission “Justice, Peace and Human Development.” The Bishop of Galle has warned of threats posed to religious minorities by some groups including the Bodu Bala Sena which he has termed as a “Buddhist Taliban” operating in Sri Lanka.The Fides Agency reported that Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe, the Bishop of Galle, had raised the concerns in a message sent to the agency. According to information sent to Fides, in 2012 the Christian communities in Sri Lanka, of different denominations, registered about 50 cases of attacks by Buddhist monks.In December, one thousand people in the grip of a religious fervor, including many Buddhist monks, attacked and wounded a pastor in Weeraketiya.  (Colombo Gazette)UPDATE: Galle Bishop denies making the statement On March 17, a mob led by Buddhist monks broke into a church in Agalawatte, stopping the worship. Similar threats were reported at a meeting of the Pentecostal Church in Kottawa and in Galle. The agency claimed that recently, two churches were attacked and two others forced to close because of the pressure of the fanatics.Among the incidents reported to Fides, on March 9 in Batticaloa, members of the Bodu Bala Sena set fire to a church at night.Buddhist monks accused the pastor of the “Fellowship Church” in the town of Polonnaruwa of “proselytizing”, warning him to stop his ministry. Bishop Wickramasinghe fears that – a few years after the end of the civil war – a new violence can tear apart society. The Church has the task to “play a prophetic role,” he remarked, although this could be misunderstood, the agency reported.“It should be noted that large traditional Buddhist organizations, entirely peaceful, disapprove the radical and violent approach, that sow the virus of hatred and religious fundamentalism in the Sri Lankan society,” The Fides Agency reported. read more

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8 Oct
2019

Media in Sri Lanka not free

Media freedom remained restricted in Sri Lanka in 2012, with journalists subject to myriad forms of legal harassment and physical intimidation, Freedom House,  an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world said in a report.The report said that although the government included several items related to media freedom in its July 2012 National Action Plan on national reconciliation—including the passage of freedom of information legislation, enhanced efforts to investigate and prosecute past cases of attacks on journalists, and increased physical access for reporters to the north and east of the country—little progress was made on any of these recommendations by year’s end. “There is no enforceable right to information in the constitution or separate legislation. In fact, the Establishments Code, the formal administrative code governing civil servants, actively discourages access to information even on public-interest grounds. An attempt by the opposition to introduce a right to information bill in Parliament in 2011 was defeated by the governing majority, in violation of its previous campaign promises, and an additional attempt in May 2012 was also stymied by the speaker of Parliament,” the report said.The report said that journalists throughout Sri Lanka, particularly those who cover human rights or military issues, face regular intimidation and pressure from government officials at all levels. (Colombo Gazette) The 1973 Press Council Act, which prohibits disclosure of certain fiscal, defense, and security information, was revived in 2009, having not been enforced in more than a decade. The government nominates all seven council members under the act, and violations of its provisions can draw prison terms and other punitive measures. In July 2012, the government announced its intention to extend the act’s application to electronic and web-based media, and to introduce registration fees of 100,000 rupees ($780), with annual renewal fees of 50,000 rupees for websites. These figures were revised downward in August to 25,000 rupees and 10,000 rupees respectively. In 2006, unofficial prepublication censorship on issues of “national security and defense” was imposed by a new Media Center for National Security (MCNS), which assumed the authority to disseminate all information related to these issues to the media and the public. In March 2012, the MCNS issued a directive extending this provision to news services distributed via mobile-telephone text messaging. The constitution provides for freedom of expression, but it and other laws and regulations place significant limits on the exercise of this right. The 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act contains extremely broad restrictions, such as a prohibition on bringing the government into contempt. The decades-old Official Secrets Act bans reporting on classified information, and those convicted of gathering secret information can be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. Although no journalists have ever been charged under the law, it is used as a threat. Journalists are also occasionally threatened with contempt-of-court charges or questioned regarding their sources. read more

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8 Oct
2019

Government assures law and order after protest

The Government says it has taken all measures to maintain law and order and that there would not be any room for unruly elements to create any sort of disturbances in the country.Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that unruly protests will not be allowed in the North or any other part of the country over the kidnapping, rape and killing of an 18-year-old schoolgirl in Kayts, Jaffna. He said that Police have so far arrested nine suspects over the rape and killing of the schoolgirl. The situation was brought under control with the help of the riot police and security forces after firing tear gas to quell the emotionally agitated mob, the Minister said. (Colombo Gazette) He pointed out that 130 suspects were arrested for pelting stones at the Jaffna Police Station and the Magistrate Court on May 20. According to the Minister, the violent protesters attempted to harm the eight suspects arrested earlier for the gruesome murder. The Kayts police, after arresting the suspects, transferred them to the Jaffna police.Then the protesters gathered in front of the Magistrate Court and the Police Station in Jaffna and started hurling stones and attacking police personnel who tried to save suspects from being assaulted and the court and the police station being damaged. read more

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8 Oct
2019

Space object WT1190F not sighted near Lanka

The space object WT1190F which was to crash near Sri Lankan waters this morning, was not sighted and is believed to have burnt while entering the earth’s atmosphere.Scientists had earlier said that the manmade junk, officially designated WT1190F but nicknamed WTF, will fall this morning in the sea near Sri Lanka. An international team of astronomers were using it to test emergency plans for dealing with potentially apocalyptic space objects. (Colombo Gazette) Much of the hollow object, which may be a spent rocket stage or panelling shed by a recent Moon mission, was expected to burn up in the atmosphere while a small piece was to crash near Sri Lanka.

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8 Oct
2019

Indian fishermen at Jaffna prison stage fast

The 51 Indian fishermen had been arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters.The fishermen are now demanding that they be freed to mark Christmas day. (Colombo Gazette) Indian fishermen held at the Jaffna prison staged a fast today in protest over their detention, the Jaffna media reported.At least 51 Indian fishermen launched the fast this morning demanding that they be released immediately.

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8 Oct
2019

US says MCC decision shows significant progress in Sri Lanka

The MCC Board of Directors at its quarterly meeting on December 13, 2016 selected Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso and Tunisia for new MCC compacts – five-year grants – to encourage economic growth and reduce poverty. “MCC’s considerable support is a major boost to our six decades of development partnership with the people of Sri Lanka,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap. Sri Lanka, which was selected in December 2015 for a threshold program, will now transition into the compact program after showing continued improvement on its scorecard, including demonstrated progress on democratic rights. Tunisia is also new compact partner for MCC, while Burkina Faso successfully completed its first MCC compact in July 2014 and has demonstrated clear policy improvement on its scorecard since the election of its new government in 2015.In both Sri Lanka and Burkina Faso, the Board recommended that MCC explore investments that address obstacles to economic growth – both domestic and regional – while recognizing the need for statutory authority to optimize regional impact. (Colombo Gazette) For a country to be selected as eligible for MCC assistance, it must demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people, and economic freedom, as measured by third-party policy indicators on MCC’s annual scorecard.“By partnering with developing countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting the rights of women and the rule of law, we are maximizing our ability to fight poverty and transform people’s lives,” MCC Chief Executive Officer Dana J. Hyde said. The United States says the decision taken by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors to select Sri Lanka for new MCC compacts, shows the significant progress made in Sri Lanka.US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal, in a tweet, congratulated Sri Lanka on its transition into the MCC compact program. read more

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8 Oct
2019

Wigneswaran mulls NPC war crimes accountability mechanism

Thavarajah said that going by the lack of interest in pursuing cases such as the Vattakandaal school massacre case, there is little or no hope that an impartial accountability mechanism will be set up. Hence the demand for a Provincial Council initiative, he said.Thavarajah said that he wanted to hold the memorial function on January 30, 2015 after the hawkish President Mahinda Rajapaksa was replaced by the more moderate Maithripala Sirisena in the January 8, 2015 Presidential election. But he could not. The plan to hold it in 2016 also had to be abandoned, this time  because of his mother’s demise. (Colombo Gazette) The Chief Minister of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran has suggested that the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) explore the legal possibility of instituting its own independent war crimes accountability mechanism in the absence of an international judicial mechanism recommended by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September 2015.Wigneswaran said this while speaking at a function in Vattakandaal Tamil Mixed School in Mannar district, where 60 to 70 people including Principal V.Sundaramoorthy and teachers T.Mahendiran and S.Ratnadurai were gunned down by the Sri Lanka Army on January 30, 1985. Explaining the circumstances under which the Chief Minister made the suggestion, Thavarajah said it has been 32 years since the Vattakandaal massacre had taken place, but till date there is no inquiry and punishment for the army troops who had perpetrated the atrocity.It has been two years since the UNHRC passed a resolution with Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship, recommending a judicial war crimes accountability mechanism with the participation of international judges, prosecutors and investigators, but  the Sri Lankan government has repeatedly ruled out international participation. The Chief Minister asked the Leader of the Opposition in the NPC, Sinnadurai Thavarajah, who is also a lawyer, to look into the legal aspect of his proposal and report. The memorial function was organized by Thavarajah as his sister’s husband was among those massacred in the school. Thavarajah told Express later that he would look into the Chief Minister’s proposal  before making his recommendation. read more

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8 Oct
2019

EU provides €300 000 to support aid delivery to flood victims

The EU funding is being made available via the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) through its Small Scale Response mechanism. The EU-funded assistance will focus on the most pressing needs of the affected families in the immediate aftermath of the floods, including access to clean water and sanitation facilities, the provision of essential household items, as well as emergency shelter. The European Commission is allocating €300 000 (LKR 51 million approx.) in humanitarian funding to Sri Lanka to bring emergency assistance to communities affected by the recent floods.“This contribution from the EU will allow our partners on the ground to provide relief to the most-impacted families. This is an expression of solidarity from the European people to the people of Sri Lanka”, said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. Additionally, the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre has activated its Copernicus mapping service upon request from the World Food Programme. The Copernicus maps will focus on the Southern and Western areas of Sri Lanka that have been affected by the rains. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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8 Oct
2019

Chinese assistance obtained to develop 13 hospitals in Sri Lanka

Chinese financial assistance has been obtained to develop 13 hospitals in Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Health said today.The Health Ministry said that a sum of US$ 85 million will be utilized for this purpose. China has already funded the construction of a 200 bed kidney hospital in Polonnaruwa.China funded the construction of the specialised hospital to treat patients with kidney disease which affected rice farmers in Sri Lanka’s north central region last year. (Colombo Gazette) These hospitals will be developed to include outpatient clinics, clinical complexes, wards, maternity units, pharmacies, non-infectious diseases units, blood transfusion centers, laboratories, operating theaters, emergency treatment units and many other service centers.The Health Ministry said that steps have also been taken to provide medical equipment worth US$ 30 million to the hospitals which will be developed. The Health Ministry said that Chinese financial assistance will be utilised to develop the Dharga Town Regional Hospital, Aluthgama Regional Hospital, Mirigama Base Hospital, Sammanthurai Base Hospital, Eravur Base Hospital, Pottuvil Baser Hospital, Kalpitiya Regional Hospital, Rakillagaskada Base Hospital, Medirigiriya Base Hospital, Padaviya Base Hospital, Walasmulla Base Hospital, Kalawana Base Hospital and the Mahiyangana Base Hospital. The Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne will lay the foundation for the construction of a ward complex, Pharmacy, Health Education Unit and Non Communicable Diseases Unit at the Aluthgama Regional Hospital on Friday as part of this project. read more

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7 Oct
2019

Ciscos Amy Chang on the Future of Collaboration

As one example, she noted that she is working to reduce the time for order processing by an order of magnitude. “I just want to keep shrinking and shrinking and shrinking [the number of days it takes partners and customers to get stuff in their hands] down so that we’re extremely responsive,” she added. Amy Chang made her entrance into the collaboration industry last May, when Cisco acquired Accompany, the “relationship intelligence” company she founded and led as CEO. With the acquisition, Chang, who had been on the Cisco board, became SVP of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, taking over the reigns over from Rowan Trollope, who left the company to become CEO of cloud contact center provider Five9. While collaboration hadn’t been in Chang’s wheelhouse, artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics – so central to optimizing employee and customer engagement today – has been. Prior to founding Accompany, Chang worked at Google, leading teams responsible for Google Analytics and Website Optimizer, among other products. Before joining Google, Chang worked at eBay in paid search; as a McKinsey consultant for the semiconductor and software industries; and in hardware at Intel, AMD, and Motorola. Over the years she has served on the Cisco, Splunk, Informatica, and Procter & Gamble boards, and today retains her position at the latter. Justifying Workspace Applications: Time to Up the Game Marty Parker September 10, 2019 Communication technology vendors and their value-adding partners must take the lead in defining business justifications for their collaboration and workspace applications. Continued on next page: Chang on Cisco’s executive leadership and on the role for AI in collaborationTags:News & ViewsCiscoAmy Changcognitive collaborationUnified Communications & CollaborationAI & AutomationAI & Speech TechnologiesCloud CommunicationsFuture of WorkQ&AVendor PerspectiveVendor Strategy12nextlast Articles You Might Like These efforts to make doing business with the group easier are reflected in Cisco Collaboration’s earnings, Chang said. A year ago, before Chang had started, Cisco’s Applications group (within which Collaboration sits) had low single-digit growth. Now, as of the November earnings report, the Applications group is seeing 18% year-over-year growth, and Collaboration is “a very significant portion of that,” she said. “We have a long way to go, but you’ll see [more] progress throughout the year.” I had the opportunity to sit down and get to know the “mysterious” Amy Chang in a recent No Jitter interview. Having had spoken with various members of her executive team, I had heard about her energetic personality and striking intelligence but knew little of how she planned on leading the Collaboration group forward. In our chat, Chang shared her thoughts on everything from that to her transition into Cisco leadership, the place for AI in collaboration, and Cisco’s recent executive leadership changes. Chang_Amy_774.png Chang has been fairly quiet since joining Cisco. But she broke the silence in November, speaking publicly for the first time at Cisco’s Partner Summit, and is set to take to the mainstage at Enterprise Connect 2019 – one of five keynoters in a lineup that includes Lori Wright, GM of Microsoft 365; Pasquale DeMaio, GM of Amazon Connect; Rany Ng, director of product management at Google; and, as announced today, Joe Park, chief digital architect and VP of associate digital experience at Walmart. A final piece of the puzzle is continuing to serve premises-based customers. “We’re cloud-first, but not cloud-only,” she said. Cisco still has more than 30 million users on Jabber, many still active on premises-based solutions, Chang said. “These customers are going to be on those for a decade or two to come, and we’re not abandoning those products,” she added, noting a departure from the company’s previous stance. On Product Strategy…At a high level, Chang said she thinks about the business through the lens of what collaboration does for people. “Collaboration touches 300 million human beings on a regular basis for Cisco,” she said. “And we’re on the front lines of crafting that meaningful experience.” It’s about building bridges, not islands, she added. See All in Unified Communications & Collaboration » On Jumping in Feet First…Once at Cisco, Chang said she began to identify areas that could be improved, and found a lot of low-hanging fruit. “We’re talking like watermelon-sized fruit on the ground that you can pick up,” she said. Tick, Tock, the Clock Is Running for Avaya Zeus Kerravala September 06, 2019 Lots of speculation surrounds Avaya’s future, but mum’s still the word on a final decision. Avaya Continues Mulling Next-Step Options Beth Schultz September 12, 2019 In a brief update, company said strategic alternative review process continues, gave no indication of new expectations for wrapping it up. It’s all about simplification, she said, and about having a single product portfolio. Enterprise IT shouldn’t need to be aware of Cisco’s internal structure, Chang said. “Our org chart should be opaque to you because the products should work as one portfolio,” she emphasized, noting that toward this end Cisco will be delivering “something that customers have been asking for, for a long time — a unified client, where calling, messaging, and meetings are all together … in one simple experience.” Chang gave a nod to the redesigned Webex platform as an example of how Cisco intends to create cohesion in the collaboration experience. “The [Webex] experience has gone from being the best that the 2000s had to offer to really being in the year 2019,” she said. For customers, the benefit of having a single platform is “multiplicative, not just additive,” she said. Think of Cisco Collaboration as a solution, not a bunch of point products, she added. Mitel, Avaya Merger on Tap? Beth Schultz August 20, 2019 On the heels of word that Avaya is close to reaching acquisition deal, the focus turns to Mitel and a reported bid of $20 per share. Chang’s strategy also revolves around interoperability, as well as around weaving intelligence through the portfolio. On the former, she pointed to its integrations of Webex with the Microsoft Office suite as evidence of the direction Cisco is moving in — “where it all just works together.” Avaya Still on the Block, Resolution May Come Soon Beth Schultz August 14, 2019 As the company plugs away on cloud sales, CEO Jim Chirico looks to wrap up its review of strategic alternatives in the next 30 days. Log in or register to post comments read more

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7 Oct
2019

Dont Fall into the Text Analytics Trap

CallMinerSP_Words_774.png Text analytics resources, such as what is frequently available from many CX platforms, have been trained on text data. As such, they were exclusively built with the structure of that data in mind (punctuation, single speaker, third-person formal, spell-checked text). The issue is that voice communication is dramatically different from text-based communication. If you go down the voice transcript to text analytics route, your results will be less than adequate. The primary reason is that it’s not simply about what was spoken. Rather, it’s how you say it, when you speak it. Even what you might not be saying within a dialogue will influence intent and sentiment within voice communication! The bottom line is that applying a voice transcription to text analytics workflow to accurately capture the voice of your customer and voice of your agents will not work well for CX pros. Results will be far less contextually relevant, making it difficult to gauge loyalty or sentiment meaning. A more insidious concern is sending your root cause analysis in the wrong direction by completely missing a key element of unsolicited feedback or being mis-directed by a false positive. What AI Really Changes in the Contact Center Eric Krapf April 08, 2019 It’s all about making the whole process work better, faster, and cheaper. Search parameters allow for the concept of time, which is not available in text-based communication. And classifications extend substantially beyond keyword spotting, taking into account the myriad ways that concepts, such as escalations or dissatisfaction, are expressed in speech. Customer experience (CX) professionals need to be vigilant when they hear promises like “your call center call recordings can be transcribed in real time and processed through text analytics to derive insights.” This refrain tends to be emphasized by CX platform vendors that rely exclusively on text analytics to process feedback from customers. Sounds reasonable, right? Tags:News & Viewsspeech analyticstext analyticsvoicetextCallMinerSpeech TechnologiesAI & AutomationAI & Speech Technologies Articles You Might Like Speech analytics, on the other hand, has been trained on data derived from the different part of the brain, as noted above, to consider spoken dialogue. Speech analytics is tuned for the unstructured nature of voice communication. In addition, acoustics add another dimension to provide contextual accuracy with meaning emphasis. CallMiner_Table_take2_640px.png Speech analytics solutions are designed to handle the nuances of voice-based conversations. This has an enormous impact on the ability to surface insight that matters from this unstructured data. For example, predefined or user configured searches and classifications can more accurately identify topics, behaviors, procedures, and other events in spoken conversations. Different styles, connector words, fillers/silence, and disjointed flow are “meaning influencers” that text analytics systems relying on structure would likely miss. See All in Speech Technologies » Speech Analytics on Your Horizon Gary Audin March 22, 2019 If you haven’t studied speech analytics for your business, you need to start now — or be left behind. The following will educate CX pros with the information needed to understand why voice is fundamentally different from text. This awareness will enable you to effectively take advantage of the voices of your customers and agents to drive CX enhancements. Learn more in our May 16 webinar, Text and Speech Analytics Are Not Created Equal, featuring our team of data science experts. We Don’t Talk and Write the Same WayIn 2015, cognitive scientists at Johns Hopkins University discovered that writing and speaking are supported by different parts of the brain. This impacts not just the motor control for writing and how you form words when you speak, but also word and phrase construction. Some examples of the differences include: Log in or register to post comments read more

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7 Oct
2019

Slack Fights Channel Admin Fatigue

laptop-3190194_1920.jpg While a launch date for the APIs wasn’t announced, the company stated that they “are coming soon” and more information can be found on Slack’s website. Tags:News & ViewsDigital WorkplaceSlackcustomizationworkspace collaborationDigital WorkplaceDigital TransformationDigital WorkplaceOrganization & ManagementVendor News Articles You Might Like The one-size-fits-all approach to enterprise communication is a thing of the past. Now, everybody wants the ability to customize their workspaces, adding functionality and permissions as they see fit – an administrative nightmare. Slack aims to address this with a pair of announcements aimed at streamlining the work of admins for large organizations. With these new APIs, admins can create new workspaces and assign name domains and descriptions to them. They’ll be able to assign members to a workspace, rather than having to join each individual member themselves. For guest accounts, they’ll be able to issue invites to specific channels (including private ones), set guest expiration dates, and customize welcome messages. Additionally, admins will be able to delegate specific members with admin responsibilities. To ensure that the “right” users are commenting and posting on a channel, Slack has given admins and other key stakeholders the ability to customize posting permissions for any channel, as discussed in a company blog posted today. These expanded posting permissions are available for companies using Slack’s Plus or Enterprise Grid plans. Through these channels and customization options, Slack hopes enterprises will be able to reduce unnecessary chatter and keep channels clear for only important updates. When the APIs roll out, admins will be able to script the creation of new workspaces, which will automatically configure with desired settings, apps, content, and more. Admins will be able to define criteria that can be used to automate app approvals and rejections across all workspaces in an Enterprise Grid organization. For example, if an organization uses Box for storage, admins might whitelist the app, eliminating the manual approval needed for the workspace, Slack noted. Similarly, admins can set a rule to reject requests for specific apps or app scopes automatically. Workforce Optimization, Looking Ahead Nicolas De Kouchkovsky August 27, 2019 Combining performance, quality, and workforce management, workforce optimization is providing a 360-degree view of agents and their responsibilities. Automating, Streamlining WorkflowsIn the second announcement, Slack is giving admins more control to create and customize workspaces through a new suite of APIs. Announcement_Channels-v2.1-DC.gif Keeping Channels ClearSometimes the easiest way to make an announcement across an enterprise is by broadcasting it through a channel. However, user comments or side conversations can quickly bog down these announcements. Smarter Not Harder: Communications in the Next-Gen Workplace Scott McMaster August 09, 2019 Agile and collaborative businesses are increasingly leveraging communication tools to grow their businesses. Oregon State University College of Engineering (OSU COE) has benefited from the streamlined workflows enabled by the APIs, as Slack discussed in its blog post. In the past, Slack described, OSU COE’s admin team would be backlogged due to the manual creation of workspaces, resulting in delays for professors trying to set up class-specific workspaces. To address this, OSU COE admins leveraged the new admin APIs to set up workspaces instantly when professors submit request forms. Is Cognitive Collaboration in UCC’s Cards? Tom Nolle August 29, 2019 Cisco’s new cognitive collaboration story might be the next evolution of computer-assisted cooperative work. Highlighting the Importance of Work Management Zeus Kerravala May 10, 2019 Work management provider Workfront wants to help users understand the state of projects and processes “at the seams” between business tools. Understanding the Changing Role of Collaboration in IT Irwin Lazar May 30, 2019 As collaboration gets integrated into workflows, IT leaders must rethink how they deliver these services and measure success. See All in Digital Workplace » Log in or register to post comments read more

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7 Oct
2019

Grad student research recognized with Jack M Miller awards

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of the Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Awards.The awards have a proud history. They were established as the Excellence in Research Awards by the late Jack Miller when he served as Vice-President Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, from 1999 to 2004.As a tribute to Miller, the FGS renamed the awards in his honour in 2013 and, at the same time, increased the number of awards available and the value of each award.Since then, as many as 11 graduates students, in research-based programs, are selected annually from within the six academic faculties to receive between $1,000 to $1,500 to support their research and scholarship.Award criteria include the originality, significance, and depth of research projects as well as the student’s record of publications and presentations.“It’s a highly prestigious honour to be selected from within individual academic Faculties to receive a Miller award,” says Mike Plyley, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies.“Our 2016 recipients stand apart for pursuing exciting and bold directions of research. They are passionate and committed about learning the craft of research as they address questions that are pertinent to today’s society. Their graduate student career is marked by strong records of publications and conference presentations through which they eagerly share what they know and why their work matters.”Over the next week, The Brock News will post a series of profiles about this year’s recipients. The first set of profiles features the winners from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences.2016 Jack Miller Excellence in Research Awards for the Faculty of Applied Health SciencesKirsten Bott – MSc Applied Health Sciences; Supervisor Dr. Sandra PetersKirsten Bott is an emerging expert in both bone and muscle research, says her supervisor Dr. Sandra Peters.“While researchers have studied bone and muscle separately for some time, it is becoming increasingly clear that this approach is outdated, since the function/strength and metabolism of these two tissues are intimately linked. However, rarely are experts in one tissue even familiar with the other. Kirsten has successfully bridged this gap,” says Peters.“Kirsten has always had a clear direction of where she wants to go and how she is going to get there. This is a new direction for my lab, and I’m excited that a master’s student could be so instrumental in expanding my horizons.”Bott will continue doctoral studies at Brock under the supervision of Peters and Professor Wendy Ward. Her doctoral thesis will focus on investigating the effects of nutrition on muscle and bone health.“Studying the effects of these two major lifestyle factors together is of high importance given the increasingly aging population in Canada as a whole,” Bott says.“My goal is to begin a career in research and academia and this award assists me in continuing my studies to achieve that goal.”Bott’s research has been recognized with external funding support that includes OGS and QEII-OGSST scholarships. She has published a peer-reviewed paper as first author and has presented her research at local, national and international conferences and meetings.Bott is contributing to the University in many other ways. She is a member of the Biosciences Research Ethics Boards and the Brock Exercise and Medicine Committee, and was an assistant with the Leave the Pack behind project. Most recently, Bott began a second straight one-year term as the VP Communications for the Graduate Students’ Association. Lindsay Cline — PhD candidate Applied Health Sciences (Behavioural and Population Health); Supervisor Kim GammageLindsay Cline will put her award to good use very quickly.The monetary value of the award will help Cline cover registration fees to present her PhD research at the 2016 Canadian Positive Psychology Association conference this June.Cline’s research focuses on helping women develop more positive body image.“I am particularly interested in promoting body appreciation, a characteristic of positive body image, as a way of helping women to develop a protective filter against negative weight stigma often experienced by women who are overweight,” Cline explains.Cline is at the forefront of body image literature in three significant ways, says her supervisor Professor Kim Gammage.Lindsay Cline“Lindsay’s dissertation is among the first to investigate body image from a positive perspective,” Gammage says. “She has also taken a unique approach to understanding appearance commentary-feedback such as teasing and compliments.“Finally she has also taken a novel approach to investigating the impact of body weight on body image.”In May, Cline also presented her study at the 2016 Qualitative Methods Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.She has a growing record of publications with four published-papers and in-press-papers along with two more in submission.Cline’s research, both as a master’s and doctoral student, has been recognized with prestigious funding support from SSHRC, CGS and OGS.She is a recipient of several Brock awards that highlight both qualities of academic excellence and leadership contributions. These awards include the Spirit of Brock Award, the President’s Surgite Award, the Brock University Distinguished Graduate Student Award, and the Barb Daly Excellence & Student Leadership Award.“Lindsay is a leader by example in my lab — influencing students from the high school mentorship program, to undergraduates completing independent studies and theses, to master’s students’ research projects,” Gammage says.This year’s other recipients are:Master’s students:Jesse Abbott, HistoryKirsten Bott, Applied Health SciencesMegan Earle, PsychologyZahid Rahman, ManagementXiaolong Yang, ChemistryDoctoral students:Terry Chu, ChemistryLindsay Cline, Applied Health SciencesShawn Geniole, PsychologyJulia Polyck-O’Neill, Interdisciplinary Humanities read more

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