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07/08/2015

Uber launches UberX service in Germany as Europe cools on restrictions, Its drivers, whom Uber Berlin general manager and Uber Germany spokesman Fabien Nestmann says have “been through the struggles,”

Uber launches UberX service in Germany as Europe cools on restrictions

Uber

Uber has launched its UberX platform in Germany, as the company persists with what has become one of its most difficult markets. From today, UberX is available in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Munich, with the service set to roll out in capital city Berlin in a few weeks.

To counter previous blocks by authorities, all drivers on the UberX platform have a concession from the Passenger Transport Act; are registered as private hire cars; and are covered by a commercial transport insurer. Mediated UberX partners are self-employed, and have several vehicles and drivers on their books. Under the new platform Uber acts solely as the provider of the technology and brand name.

It will, the company says, be cheaper than rivaling car hire services in the city. However, the price will not be as low as Uber POP, the peer-to-peer service the company retained in Germany following its last round of legal sparring. Uber POP circumvented regulations by offering rides at the minimum operating cost, which left a sparse, yet visible, presence in the country.

Its drivers, whom Uber Berlin general manager and Uber Germany spokesman Fabien Nestmann says have “been through the struggles,” will be assisted in gaining the relevant paperwork to drive under UberX, while “it is fairly likely” that Uber POP will be discontinued.

As of January this year, Uber had 1,600 drivers in Germany, and 50,000 active users. Despite some experts suggesting the company may skip the country altogether, Nestmann told Red Herring that it remains a vital market.

“Germany is the important economy right now in Europe – that is clear,” he said. “Germany has 80 million people, so it’s the biggest country in Europe. What we’ve seen is that there is an interest in Uber in Germany: we’ve seen it from the client side, we’ve seen it from the driver side.”

In more good news for the Silicon Valley firm, Belgian capital Brussels u-turned on its opposition to Uber, drafting legislation for January 2016 that would turn its 700 drivers in the city into independent, tax-paying contractors. It reverses a ban last year that coincided with large-scale protests in London, Paris, Madrid and Berlin.

Red Herring reported on Uber’s difficulties in the latter last November, after the company’s drivers were deemed a safety hazard by local authorities, and banned. The ban was later lifted amid outrage from then-European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who said: “Slamming the door in Uber’s face doesn’t solve anything.”

“Brussels is very encouraging and there are other examples,” said Nestmann. “At the end of the day, legislation in most countries right now is national regulation or local regulation. But certainly, any city in Europe that takes an approach of looking into the future, seeing what is possible, is acting as a lighthouse that we can take heart from.”

Nestmann added that Germany’s existing legislation has barely changed since the sixties, citing a number of laws the firm has been working with authorities to change.

“You have a return-to-garage clause for for-hire vehicles, where after every trip they must return to their place of business before being considered for another trip,” he said. “That, just ecologically, is absurd, and economically for those people it’s absurd…and in times of congestion it doesn’t make sense to mandate more traffic.

“Then there is the city knowledge drivers have to take which is very cumbersome,” added Nestmann. “Of course everybody wants to be driven by someone who knows the city very well, but in times of navigation systems…I think it’s time to either look for a very slimmed-down knowledge test, or to say that navigation systems can do the job. Then there is the fact that in German law there is no place for agents such as Uber.”

Oleg Kamberski, head of passenger transport and taxis at the International Road Transport Union (IRU), claimed that Uber is welcome on the continent “once they are playing by the rules.” But “because of their reputation I would doubt it.

“In the U.S. they started with Uber POP which was forbidden by the courts,” added Kamberski. “Then they stepped up to UberX with insurance, then they moved for approval. So we’ll see what happens.

“Even in the U.S. we have seen how drivers have come back to the taxi system,” he added. “Europe is a different ball game. The quality of service here is quite high. Take Germany: the general level of taxis is very high. And when you see what Uber is doing in competitive markets like the Netherlands, they are one among many.”

Uber has, since its 2009 inception, become one of Silicon Valley’s biggest businesses. It has raised $5.9 billion to date, with a further round to come, and is currently valued at $41 billion. It is now present in 290 cities worldwide, and claims to complete a million trips per day between its 160,000 drivers.

However it has faced stiff competition from European cities and governments, where taxi regulations are tight and services professionalized. For example to become a licensed London ‘black cab’ driver, one must complete ‘The Knowledge’, a gruelling four-year-plus committal of the city’s streets to memory. Last April thousands of black cabs choked London’s main streets, to protest a lack of protection from apps such as Uber.

NSF invests in interstate collaboration in science and engineering research

Press Release 15-085 
NSF invests in interstate collaboration in science and engineering research

Eight awards will fuel the development of research programs in 12 states

Perovskite solar cell

Researchers in Rhode Island and Nebraska will focus on the development of solar cells.
Credit and Larger Version

August 6, 2015

The National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program has made eight awards, totaling $42 million, aimed at fostering research collaborations among investigators and institutions across 12 states.

These eight Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-2 (RII Track-2) awards to consortia of states are expected to build collaborations that improve the research capabilities of EPSCoR jurisdictions, making them competitive at the national and international level.

The RII Track-2 awards provide researchers significant opportunities to pursue national priorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, while also requiring award recipients to develop a STEM workforce--particularly early career faculty--that can sustain research development.

"These awards enhance the ability of EPSCoR jurisdictions to produce discoveries and foster learning for their STEM workforces," said Denise Barnes, head of NSF's EPSCoR program. "Through collaboration, these jurisdictions will enhance their science and engineering capabilities, allowing them to produce groundbreaking research and the means to sustain competitiveness."

The project names, leading institutions, funding totals and jurisdictions included in the consortia that received awards are provided below.

Innovative, Broadly Accessible Tools for Brain Imaging, Decoding, and Modulation

Institution: University of Rhode Island | Budget: $6 million

The project involves three states: Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Kentucky. The participants will form an interdisciplinary consortium to develop innovative and broadly accessible brain imaging and modulation technologies and tools for acquiring fundamental insight into how the nervous system functions in health and disease. The Rhode Island team will focus on hardware development while the Kentucky and Oklahoma teams will develop algorithms and explore applications that could benefit from the integrated systems developed by the project.

Developmental Chronnecto-Genomics (Dev-CoG): A Next Generation Framework for Quantifying Brain Dynamics and Related Genetic Factors in Childhood

Institution: The Mind Research Network | Budget: $5.9 million

The project involves three states: New Mexico (where the MIND Research Network is based), Louisiana and Nebraska. Researchers will use multiple imaging methods to gather data on the development of the human brain and develop novel mathematical algorithms for modeling and data analysis. The overarching goal is to understand the rapid development of human brain connectivity that occurs during late childhood and early adolescence.

Feeding and Powering the World – Capturing Sunlight to Split Water and Generate Fertilizer and Fuels

Institution: University of Mississippi | Budget: $6 million

The project involves three states: Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. It aims to develop low-cost, high-efficient methods and devices that integrate water splitting by sunlight to produce hydrogen and to reduce carbon dioxide and ammonia to generate fuels and fertilizers. The project's research focus is at the nexus of water-energy-food. The research is highly desirable for developing sustainable fuel and synthetic fertilizer technologies.

Unmanned Aircraft System for Atmospheric Physics

Institution: Oklahoma State University | Budget: $6 million

The project involves three states: Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kentucky. The research team will study physics in the Earth's lower atmospheric boundary layer using small, easy-to-deploy unmanned airborne systems (UAS). Research topics include meteorological convection, storm-scale microphysics, airborne sensing of soil hydrology, infrasonic sensing of environmental phenomena, and local-scale temporal and spatial climate variation. The research team will integrate cooperative control of unmanned aircraft, with expected outcomes including complete UAS system packages suitable for measuring wind, atmospheric chemistry, soil moisture, and thermodynamic parameters.

Bridging Cognitive Science and Neuroscience Using Innovative Imaging Technologies

Institution: Medical University of South Carolina | Budget: $4 million

The project involves two states: South Carolina and Alabama. The research will develop new instrumentation for imaging brain activity in living organisms, with the goal of developing precise ways of measuring the relationship between neural events and increased blood flow that improve on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Measuring these brain activities will help determine the extent of neurovascular coupling and provide a description of the micro-circuitry, which represents a critical and necessary step in understanding the full complexity of the brain.

Strengthening the scientific basis for making decisions about dams: Multi-scale, coupled-systems research on ecological, social, and economic trade-offs

Institution: University of New Hampshire | Budget: $6 million

The project involves three states: New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. The research team will develop and test a framework for engaging stakeholders in understanding how the multiple functions of dams are impacted by the outcomes of management decisions. The project will address two overarching and interrelated questions: 1) What are the major trade-offs, thresholds, and feedbacks among ecosystem services for different dam management options? and 2) How does collaborative knowledge production influence scientific understanding about social ecological systems related to dams, and the use of science in dam decision making?

Low-Cost, Efficient Next-Generation Solar Cells for the Coming Clean Energy Revolution

Institution: Brown University | Budget: $4 million

The project involves two states: Rhode Island and Nebraska. Researchers will focus on the development of new kinds of solar cells containing crystalline perovskites grown from solutions. The project includes materials research to understand structural, electrical, and optical properties of perovskites, development of non-toxic perovskite materials for use in solar cells, experimentation to enhance power conversion efficiency, and exploration of scale-up processes for low-cost, high-efficiency perovskite solar cells.

Catalysis for Renewables: Applications, Fundamentals and Technologies (CRAFT)

Institution: University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. | Budget: $4 million

The project involves two states: Kansas and South Carolina. The research aims to develop novel catalysts and technologies for converting biomass into chemical and fuel intermediates. The focus will be on understanding the fundamental catalytic mechanisms underlying the controlled reconstruction of biomass feedstocks to make renewable chemicals and fuels. The collaboration combines expertise in catalyst synthesis with advanced characterization and computational work, using model and real biomass feedstocks, to develop practically viable catalysts for making targeted products.

About EPSCoR

EPSCoR is a program designed to fulfill the foundation's mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. Twenty-five states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are currently eligible to compete for EPSCoR funding. Through this program, NSF establishes regional partnerships with government, higher education, and industry that effect lasting improvements in a state's or territory's research infrastructure and research and development capacity, and hence, its academic competitiveness.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-8070, rmargett@nsf.gov
Kevin Stacey, Brown University, (401) 863-3766,kevin_stacey@brown.edu
Amy Lewis, University of Mississippi, (662) 915-6551,amylewis@olemiss.edu
Todd McLeish, University of Rhode Island, (401) 874-7892,tmcleish@uri.edu
Gary Shutt, Oklahoma State University, (405) 744-4800,gary.shutt@okstate.edu
Evelyn Jones, University of New Hampshire, (603) 862-1804,evelyn.jones@unh.edu
Alicia Manzano, The Mind Research Network, (505) 272-5028,aliciam@strategies360.com
Heather Woolwine, Medical University of South Carolina, (843) 792-7669, woolwinh@musc.edu
Kevin Boatright, University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., (785) 864-7240, kjboat@ku.edu

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, its budget is $7.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 48,000 competitive proposals for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics:http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

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Make Big Data the Lifeblood of Your Enterprise, Ask Bigger Questions.Reveal Insight from All Types of Data,
 from All Types of Systems

What is Hadoop?

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Make Big Data the Lifeblood of Your Enterprise

With data growing so rapidly and the unstructured variety accounting for 90% of it today, the time has come for you to re-evaluate your approach to data storage, management, and analytics.

Legacy systems, while fine for certain workloads, simply were not engineered with the needs of Big Data in mind, and are far too expensive for today's largest data sets. Instead, these systems should now complement the use of Apache Hadoop - letting you optimize data management by putting the right Big Data workloads in the right systems.

In fact, the need for Hadoop is no longer a question -- the only question now is how to take advantage of it best, and the enterprise-proven answer is: "with Cloudera."

Learn why data-driven organizations worldwide are using Cloudera.

Reveal Insight from All Types of Data,

from All Types of Systems

Hadoop can handle all types of data from disparate systems: structured, unstructured, log files, pictures, audio files, text – just about anything you can think of, regardless of its native format. Furthermore, you can put it all in your Hadoop cluster with no prior need for a schema. In other words, you don’t need to know how you intend to query your data before you store it; Hadoop lets you decide that later.

By making all your data useable, not just what’s in your databases, Hadoop lets you uncover hidden relationships and reveals answers that have always been just out of reach. You can start making more decisions based on hard data, instead of hunches, and look at complete data sets, not just samples and summaries.

Download this whitepaper to learn the history of Apache Hadoop.

Redefine the Economics of Data:
Keep Everything, Forever, Online

Hadoop’s cost advantages redefine the economics of data.

Because Hadoop is deployed on industry-standard servers and has virtually unlimited scalability, you can afford to keep data online that you could only archive away before. And we all know that once data is archived to tape, it may as well have been deleted - it's accessible only in extreme circumstances.

Enterprises that build their Big Data around Cloudera can afford to store literally all their data, and keep it all online for real-time interactive querying, business intelligence, analysis, and visualization.

Watch Cloudera and CNBC discuss Big Data and Hadoop.

tablewithpeople.pngTap the Power of Open Source for Business Benefit

Hadoop is open source technology, so it gives you the powerful and time-tested advantages of avoiding vendor lock-in, rapid innovation on a global scale, extended evaluation with no obligation, and collaborative and community-driven development across the ecosystem. Learn more about why open source matters.

The Evolution of the Hadoop Ecosystem

Hadoop Co-founder Doug Cutting explains how the Hadoop ecosystem has expanded beyond batch and evolved into a much larger Big Data platform with Hadoop at its center.
Watch Video
 

Big Data in Public Sector

Webster Mudge, senior director of technology solutions for Cloudera, highlights the current opportunity for big data in the public sector and how big data is poised to be a transformational force.Watch Webinar


Expect More of Your Data

Understand the genesis of Hadoop and how Hadoop is impacting the world around us.Watch Video

Get Started with Hadoop

Understand how Cloudera Enterprise is the easiest way to take advantge of big data.
Watch Video

Three of the top five mobile providers run on Cloudera


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Customer Profile: SFR

SFR is optimizing the customer journey through the use of an integrated Big Data ecosystem that combines a Cloudera-powered enterprise data hub (EDH) with an enterprise data warehouse (EDW).
 

Learn more »
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Customer 360

Continuously enrich data across all platforms and channels for a true 360-degree view of the customer. Enable a higher share of the wallet by delivering a better customer experience and product personalization. Build predictive models that reveal leading indicators of churn, saving billions in lost revenues.

Featured Article:
What Big Data Pros Want from IT
As data-driven decision making becomes more essential to business, the need for big data analytics professionals and IT to play well together becomes even more vital. But, this appears to be a constant challenge. This recent article on Forbes.com provides a good list of what analysts need, and where IT can help.  Read here to get all of the tips.

Read the full blog here.

Featured Event:
Search Technologies to Present at International Conference for Information Professionals 
Search Technologies will be speaking at theInternational Conference for the Scientific Information Community (ICIC) in Nice, France, 19-20 October. Since 1989, this conference has been attracting information professionals from Europe's largest publishing, life sciences and technology companies. We'll be presenting a summary of the current enterprise search market, and highlighting trends to watch out for in 2016. Visit the ICIC website to sign up and join us.
 
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