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It is time for newsrooms to cover technology extensively, across desks, acting as watchdogs rather than cheerleaders (James Ball/Columbia Journalism…

James Ball / Columbia Journalism Review : It is time for newsrooms to cover technology extensively, across desks, acting as watchdogs rather than cheerleaders   —  A lowly tech employee was trying to do some simple task online and found out it was really hard.  Inspired by that difficulty, he—and it was almost always a he …

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Volta’s ad-supported electric vehicle charging service raises $35 million

As increasing numbers of electric vehicles are expected to hit the streets, thanks to new models from big automakers soon hitting the market, charging networks like  Volta Charging  are raising new cash to meet the expected demand.  The company today said it raised $35 million from investors led by the Invenergy Future Fund , the technology investment arm of renewable energy project developer Invenergy and Activate Capital  (a relatively new $200 million investment fund raised by clean tech veterans including Raj Atluru, Michael DeRosa, Anup Jacob, and David Lincoln).  The San Francisco-based company combines outdoor digital advertising with charging stations to give electric vehicle owners free power. It has already rolled out a network of 1,000 charging stations that are open for sponsorship, and hopes to reach 2,000 by the end of 2018, according to a statement from the company. There’s probably nothing more 2018 than ad-supported electric vehicle charging, but Volta may be sitting at the intersection of a few trends that could give the company a charge. Outdoor advertising is one of the only growth markets in the ad-business that’s not online, and it’s one that investors are beginning to sink dollars into (I wrote about AdQuick, which is another startup looking to take advantage of the newfound interest). Meanwhile, a study published jointly by the International Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Ministerial and the Electric Vehicles Initiative predicts that the number of electric light-duty vehicles on the road will reach at least 125 million by 2030. More optimistic figures could boost those numbers to 220 million, the study says. That’s a lot of cars that are going to need a lot of charging stations. Volta rolled out its initial charging stations in Hawaii, but now has expanded its network to include the top 10 media markets in the U.S. (valuable real estate for any would-be advertiser). So far the company’s sponsored charging stations have given away 22 million miles worth of juice, or the equivalent of 9 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. “Volta distills the surrounding complexity and accelerates the market by executing on consumer preferences that won’t change: free charging in premier convenient locations,” said John Tough, a partner at the Invenergy Future Fund in a statement. That sentiment was echoed across the company’s investor base, which has grown with the $35 million Series C round to include a slew of new investors including:  GE Ventures , Orsted Venture , Nautilus Venture Partners , and Idinvest all join as new investors.   Initial investors  Virgo Investment Group and Autotech Ventures , also returned to put capital into the company

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Drone development should focus on social good first, says UK report

A UK government backed drone innovation project that’s exploring how unmanned aerial vehicles could benefit cities — including for use-cases such as medical delivery, traffic incident response, fire response and construction and regeneration — has reported early learnings from the first phase of the project. Five city regions are being used as drone test-beds as part of Nesta’s Flying High Challenge  — namely London, the West Midlands, Southampton, Preston and Bradford. While five socially beneficial use-cases for drone technology have been analyzed as part of the project so far, including considering technical, social and economic implications of the tech. The project has been ongoing since December. Nesta, the innovation-focused charity behind the project and the report, wants the UK to become a global leader in shaping drone systems that place people’s needs first, and writes in the report that: “Cities must shape the future of drones: Drones must not shape the future of cities.” In the report it outlines some of the challenges facing urban implementations of drone technology and also makes some policy recommendations. It also says that socially beneficial use-cases have come out as an early winner over of cities to the potential of the tech — over and above “commercial or speculative” applications such as drone delivery or for carrying people in flying taxis. The five use-cases explored thus far via the project are: Medical delivery within London  — a drone delivery network for carrying urgent medical products between NHS facilities, which would routinely carry products such as pathology samples, blood products and equipment over relatively short distances between hospitals in a network Traffic incident response in the West Midlands — responding to traffic incidents in the West Midlands to support the emergency services prior to their arrival and while they are on-site, allowing them to allocate the right resources and respond more effectively Fire response in Bradford  — emergency response drones for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service. Drones would provide high-quality information to support emergency call handlers and fire ground commanders, arriving on the scene faster than is currently possible and helping staff plan an appropriate response for the seriousness of the incident Construction and regeneration in Preston  — drone services supporting construction work for urban projects. This would involve routine use of drones prior to and during construction, in order to survey sites and gather real-time information on the progress of works Medical delivery across the Solent  — linking Southampton across the Solent to the Isle of Wight using a delivery drone. Drones could carry light payloads of up to a few kilos over distances of around 20 miles, with medical deliveries of products being a key benefit Flagging up technical and regulatory challenges to scaling the use of drones beyond a few interesting experiments, Nest writes: “In complex environments, flight beyond the operator’s visual line of sight, autonomy and precision flight are key, as is the development of an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system to safely manage airspace.

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Qualcomm unveils first mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz antenna modules for 5G smartphones and mobile hotspots in 2019 (Shara Tibken/CNET)

Shara Tibken / CNET : Qualcomm unveils first mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz antenna modules for 5G smartphones and mobile hotspots in 2019   —  Qualcomm has solved a big problem for a certain variation of 5G: getting the chips small enough to fit in handheld devices.  —  On Monday, Qualcomm unveiled its new QTM052 millimeter wave …

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Uber’s Indian rival Ola is aiming for an IPO in 3-4 years

Ola, Uber’s chief rival in India, is planning to go public potentially as soon as in three years time, according to its CEO. Co-founder and chief executive officer Bhavish Aggarwal told the audience at an event in Bengaluru last week that seven-year-old Ola is poised to become a cash flow positive business — having recently hit operational profitability — and that’s a key driver towards a listing. That’s despite intense rumors of a tie-up with Uber following a spree of global exits from the U.S. firm, most recently  in Southeast Asia where it struck a deal with local player Grab . “The ambition for both me and fellow co-founder Ankiti Bhati has always been to build a sustainable, long-term independent institution,” Aggarwal said at India Business Summit – Leaders Speak, a Bengaluru event from ICICI Bank and CNBC-TV18. “In that direction, we are definitely going to IPO. Our goal is to aim for an IPO in about three to four years. We are on that path, our focus on building a sustainable business model and a profitable business builds into that ambition.” Notably, he didn’t specify where a listing might take place for Ola, which was most recently valued at $7 billion following an investment last year. Doubling down on his belief in building a sustainable and independent business, Aggarwal made a sly dig at Uber in suggesting that the U.S. company is preoccupied with short-term strategies in India. “The Indian market, which I believe many internet companies don’t fully appreciate, especially the ones who are not Indian, if you give consumers a lot of free things they’ll take it. But the focus has to be to build a long-term sustainable business model… consumers are not price-conscience in India, consumers are value-conscious,” he said. Despite that, he did acknowledge the role of a strong rival in building Ola’s business over the years

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The tech investment wave has reached Latin America

Gonzalo Costa Contributor Share on Twitter Gonzalo Costa is co-founder and managing partner at NXTP Labs , an early-stage fund for tech companies in Latin America. More posts by this contributor What startups are saying about raising cash in Latin America Latin America faces a unique opportunity to develop the next generation of tech startup stars. Market conditions such as Internet and mobile Internet user growth outpace the US. And a GDP of 9.5T is bigger than India and almost the same as China. Also, banks and industrial complexes still dominate the market, leaving plenty of space to conquer the future. We could argue that these are obvious assumptions and that not much has changed. But something has changed. VC funding records in the region We’re currently going through the maturity phase of the Internet technological revolution. According to  Carlota Perez’ work,  this is the moment when core markets become saturated and the set of technologies and financial capital moves towards the periphery: towards the less advanced countries. And recent changes in the regional investment landscape suggest this is happening. In 2017,  VC tech investment in the region had an all time high of $1.1B . A major breakthrough when we compare it to the five previous years, which had remained steady at around $500M. This trend continues today, with over $600M invested only during the first quarter of 2018. Mega rounds are real The funding record can be partially explained by the appearance of mega rounds in the region.

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