Thursday, July 30, 2015

FUTURE OF NEWS: Wearable News and Augmented Reality Journalism

By Kwami Ahiabenu, II.

News business started in Ghana, then Gold Coast, when The Gold Coast Gazette and Commercial Intelligencer, was born in1822-25 by Sir Charles MacCarthy, governor of the British Gold Coast settlements. Along came broadcasting on 31st July 1935 when Gold Coast Broadcasting System was commissioned. Over time media in Ghana has bloomed with a plethora of news outlets, booming social media and mobile channels providing countless news opportunities to growing audience base.

According to National Communications Authority (NCA) Ghana, as at 2015 there are 58 registered television stations in Ghana, 390 radio stations are registered and a projected 40 newspapers.

The rapid growth and falling costs of new digital technologies and tools has opened the door for new opportunities in news delivery in particular and journalism as a whole. Formerly, internet access was glued to computers but in present times, we are going through a phase of “internet of things” where multiple devices from tablets to refrigerators are connected to the Internet. This has had a profound implication not only for the way news is produced by also consumed as well.

In order to stimulate debate and map the trajectory of the news of future, Penplusbytes in association with Multimedia Group and Graphic corporation is holding, for the first time in Ghana, a landmark event on the “future of news” in  August 2015. Ahead of this event we present a series of blog posts discussing key issues related to the future of news.  In this first in the series, we take a look at Wearable News and Augmented Reality Journalism.

Wearable news refers to the delivering of news using wearable devices such clothing and accessories which contains computing and advanced electronic technologies including wearable cameras, watches and glasses to name a few. Simply put; instead of sitting at home and watch television, you can now have same content delivered to you via glasses on the go.

According to Gartner Inc. ( “By 2017, mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe.. As a result, they predict that mobile users will provide personalized data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day”. Also, it pointed out that, “Wearable devices will use mobile apps as their conduit for data exchange and user interface because many of them will have few or no user interface capabilities. Offloading that responsibility to the mobile device means the wearable devices will depend on apps for all types of user input or output, configuration, content creation and consumption, and in some cases, basic connectivity.” 

Furthermore Gartner predicts that by 2018, “more than 25 million head-mounted displays (HMDs) will have been sold as immersive devices and virtual worlds will have transitioned from the fringe to the mainstream”.

This mind blowing statistics presents a fertile ground for newsrooms to create content which can be consumed on the go by users of wearable technologies. Producing content for wearable technologies is not business as usual. Journalists must develop new story telling skills which allows them to produce and deliver content to users who are on the move thereby making location very critical in terms what news they consume. A news consumer stuck in a long traffic due to a collapsed bridge on his or her route will be interested to find out news about state of repair etc. of this bridge and news about global food prices may not be top of his agenda.

A related technology is Augmented Reality (AR) which provides us with live news indirect or direct of our physical world environment whose elements are supplemented (augmented) by using new digital technologies and generated sensory input such Geographical Position System (GPS) data, video, graphics or sound. Using a combination of hardware such as processor, display, sensors, input devices, and display units such as head mounted display (HMD), Eyeglasses, Head-up display (HUD) among others. AR is supported by software and algorithms which derive its source from real world images from camera, processed it and deliver it to user.

A related concept to AR is mediated reality, which using new digital technologies, a view of reality is modified by either amplifying or diminishing it. In this direction, mediated reality technologies function by enhancing one’s current perception of reality where virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. For example, using AR technology when one is watching football on TV during a live match, one can be fed with information about the match and more importantly the user can interact and digital change information as well since artificial information about the match is overlaid by the ongoing match.

For newsrooms, this is more than magic, ability to mash up news with more relevant information which information hungry audiences are looking for can ensure they stand relevant and influential in terms of delivering what content their targets need in a more interactive manner.

It is important to point out that, wearable news and augmented reality journalism is now taking baby steps in some newsrooms around the world, so it does not come as a surprise that newsrooms in Ghana are yet to experiment with some of these futuristic news production and delivery formats. A number of reasons account for this situation, there is a dearth of skills when it comes to the deploying of such technologies let alone the skills set needed to tell compelling stories in this emerging formats. Also, some of these tools are very expensive and beyond the reach of not only the journalists but also the consumers who will need these tools in order to consume news in this format. Ghana as a whole is falling behind, not only in the creation of the software but also the hardware needed to drive the growth and development of this type of innovative sorry telling format. Furthermore, revenue models needed to sustain the uptake of these innovations are still work in progress making it somewhat difficult for newsroom editors and owners to justify taking a leap of faith in undertaking this type of projects.

Some have even argued that challenges of newsroom in Ghana are very rudimentary, therefore it will be prudent to solve them first before venturing into this fairly complex means of news production and distribution. But one can counter argue that we could as well leapfrog and make use of some of these technologies to solve these challenges while growing the media sector and even become leaders in this area.


****As part of its Future of News Event in August, Penplusbytes, a leader in new media & innovations; tech & good governance, and mining, oil & Gas, is pleased to release a series of future of news articles. This inaugural article takes a look at “Wearable News and Augmented Reality Journalism.”

Watch out for next article in series: “Death of Newspaper- myth or reality.”
Follow @penplusbytes for updates. #futureofnews

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Future of News: A shifting media character

fon2Few years ago, people outnumbered connected devices by about 10 to 1. Today, there are more mobile phones in use than people for the first time. It is projected that by 2020, there will be roughly 10 connected devices for every human being on earth.
Any keen observer would admit that though technological change is uneven between different parts of the world, different age groups, and different communities, we are yet to quite see the end to it. In fact, there is little doubt that current trends only points toward an acceleration rather than a decline.

There is an ongoing debate on the future of Journalism with news production and dissemination skills and practice as key indicators of the direction of the ever increasing dynamism in the global news media landscape.

When Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian, once said, “It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world everyday always just exactly fits the newspaper,” he must have frozen time or he was just being a comedian because today, it doesn’t fit. In this digital age, the global news industry is almost without an alternative chance of survival beyond a constantly evolving strategy for news creation and sharing with growing information inequality in order to keep people informed.

Internet changed news FOR THE BETTER? 

fon4Infinitely for the better it did. We are living at the most exciting time for journalism since the advent of television clearly with new technologies making it all so possible for anyone interested in finding stories, reporting them, telling stories, sharing stories etc to do so with comparative ease from 10 years ago.

Journalism has a sustained duty to keep everyone informed; enabling its consumers to be better citizens, equipped with what is need to be known. One of the more salient probes has been to ascertain the degree of impact the internet has on this task and how positive or negative the response of news generation has been. But is that really a question to which an answer is hard to find?

The level of appreciation of the changes in the media landscape as new technologies emerge has varied over time and space with some newsrooms reacting to the chain of changes a lot more swiftly than others. Yet, there’s a universal acceptance that tilts toward an overwhelming positive influence on news by the internet and technology advancement within the journalism practice.

Presently, there is, indeed, more information, more readily available in many more diverse places (sources) and formats, on more devices and to many more people than ever before, bearing in mind how the freedom of the press is constantly said to be limited to those who own one. Today, anyone with an internet connection and a Twitter account can make the news.

Future of News? When?

So here is a picture of what pertains in Africa. There is currently a billion citizens and 800 million sim cards in circulation with about 50% of the population connected to the Internet via the mobile network - also used for payments and money transfers - and the prospect of growth of investment in infrastructure that’s about reaching $1.5 billion in 2015.

fon3The Future of News is now. Designing, testing, and making creative tools that help newsrooms move ahead aggressively in a time of rapid change as traditional news models erode is already upon us.

The need for new models and techniques to reach a world hungry for news, but whose reading and viewing habits are increasingly splintered has never been more critical to the sustenance of any modern newsroom. Newsrooms need to create new storytelling techniques, recognizing that the way users consume news continues to change.

These changes in technological trends have altered Readers and viewers expectations of what news is. They want personalized content, deeper context and information that enables them to influence and change their world. At the same time, newsrooms that understand these are seeking new ways to extend their influence, to amplify their message by navigating new paths for readers and viewers, and to find new methods of delivery.

Digital publishing has compressed the timescales for journalists and newspaper production staff and the World Wide Web has also meant increasing competition for newspapers from TV and radio companies that have moved into producing news in the written word format. Further, the emergence of self-publishing platforms has reduced the barrier and cost of publishing to virtually nothing, threatening the very livelihoods of people tied to print and older forms of broadcasting.

The growth of easy digital publishing technology brings with it new dilemmas for journalists. Journalists now need to find ways to become news producing-broadcasting-photographic machines who have the right measure of daring, insight and technological aptitude to deliver news that is relevant.

Obviously the skills and training to find the right balance between citizen journalist, tech geek and professional newsperson will not come to most practitioners overnight- or even, at all. What is required perhaps is to ensure that practitioners are at least aware of, and fully understand the trends, the tools and the technologies that could set them on the path to delivering to the public, what the public wants.

The debate continuous and Penplusbytes is one organisation that would be seeking to establish exactly what kind of journalism and business models are being developed and whether or not technological innovation can raise the general quality of news being provided and contribute significantly to sustainable development in Africa when it rolls out its “Future of News” event slated for August 28th, 2015 in Accra.

Ghana: New law requires data holders to register

Ghana’s Data Protection Act, 2012 (ACT 843), a legislation enacted by the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana to protect the privacy and personal data of individuals was first introduced in Parliament in 2010, before passage in 2012. Eventually receiving Presidential assent on May 10, 2012, the notice of the Act was gazetted on 18 May 2012, and in accordance with Section 99, the Act came into effect on 16 October 2012.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has, at the moment, opened registration with a call on all institutions and individuals that collect, use, hold or process any kind of personal information on persons living in Ghana to register as Data Controllers or Data Processors after which the Commission will publish all such records on its online public register after 31st July 2015.

Need for Data Protection

Today, personal information such as names, telephone numbers, pictures, addresses, birth dates, medical reports, accounts, and credit card information and many others are collected by individuals or organizations and processed for various reasons. The privacy and data protection rights of an individual must therefore be respected by those collecting and processing such information.

Essentially, this ACT regulates the process personal information is acquired, kept, used or disclosed by data controllers and data processors by requiring compliance with certain data protection principles. Noncompliance with provisions of the Act may attract either civil liability, or criminal sanctions, or both, depending on the nature of the infraction.

Who Must Get Registered

Established with a mandate to ensure compliance with its provisions, as well as maintain the Data Protection Register, the DPC is asking all who process personal data i.e. institutions and individuals who in the performance of their function process personal data or information to get duly registered.

Personal data or information simply means data about an individual who can be identified. This, then, includes, Employment Records, Financial Records, Medical/Health Records, Name, Telephone Numbers, and Security Records including images captured on CCTV among others.

With registration window already opened in May 2015, any institution or individual existing prior to the commencement of ACT 843 has 3 months to comply with registration requirements which effectively ends on July 31st, 2015.

How to Register

Registrants must complete process through the Commission’s online portal with applicants required to furnish the Commission with only accurate information to support an application for registration as a data controller. Falsified information is an offence under the ACT.


The Data Protection  Commission and individuals that collect , use or process any kind of personal  information on person living in Ghana to register as Data Controllers or Data Processors.

DPC is an independent statutory body establish under Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act843) is Article 18(2) of the 1992 Constitution that guarantees the right to the privacy of personal communications in Ghana. The Data  Protection Act ,2012 (Act 843)provides for the  methods  or mechanisms to process personal information in order  to maintain  public  trust  and confidence as well as protect  and guarantee the right  to privacy  in the light  of increased processing and dissemination of personal information in the country.

Who is required to register with the Commission?

The Act mandates all who process personal data to register with the Commission whether or not their core function include the processing of personal data. Personal data is any information about an individual or from which an individual can be identified.

Personal  data  includes , names addresses, telephone numbers pictures, images  captured  on cctv, salary slip, medical records etc. just to mention a few. The Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843) defines personal data in SECTION 96 as follows:
“Personal data” means data about an individual who can be identified
(a)    From data, or
(b)   From the data or other information in the possession of, or likely to come into the possession of the data controller:

Processing  of personal  data means  any kind  of activity or process that involves  personal  information and that  may include viewing, recording, using, reviewing, amending  shredding, deleting or erasing  the information, Section  96  defines  processing as follows:
“processing “ means  an operation  or activity  or set of operations by  automatic  or other  means  that  concerns  data or personal  data and includes the
(a)    Collection, organization, adaption or alteration of the information or data.
(b)   Retrieval, consultation or use of the information or data
(c)    Disclosure of the information or data by transmission, dissemination or other means available, or
(d)   Alignment, combination, blocking, erasure or destruction of the information or data:

The Act under Section 27(1) also mandates that:
A data controller is defined under Section 96 as follow:
“data controller” means  a person  who either  alone ,jointly  with other persons  or in  common with  other persons  or as a statutory  duty determines  the purpose  for  and the  manner in which  personal  data  is processed or is to be  processed;

The Commission is therefore calling on institution and individuals who is the performance of their functions process personal information that includes the following to register.

·         Employment records
·         Educational /childcare records
·         Medical/Health Records
·         Records of consultants one
·         Works with from time to time
·         Names, telephone numbers and address of visitors to premises
·         Security records
·         Criminal records
·         Financial records
·         Administrative records
·         Licensing records
·         Pictures, videos and related images
·         Personal information is collected for journalistic purposes
·         Legal records
·         Investigation records

An institution or individual who falls  to register as a data controller but  processes  personal  information  commits  an offence  under the Data Protection  Act ,2012 (Act 843) and will be liable  for prosecution after  the grace period.

How to Register?

An application  for registration as a data  controller shall be completed online  through  the  Commission ‘s Portal  ( and the applicant  shall furnish the Commission with their  particulars . An applicant who knowingly supplies false information in support of an application for registration as a data controller commits an offence.
Examples of Data Controllers
The following are some further examples of institutions that collects, hold, use and process personal information who are mandated to register.

·         All Governmental bodies or institutions (Executive, Parliament, Judiciary) eg. MDAs, MMDAs, Authority, Commissions, Agencies, Judicial Service, Office of Parliament, etc.
·         All nursery, primary and tertiary educational  institutions
·         Accounting firms
·         Auditing firms
·         Law firms
·         Limited  liability  Companies
·         Partnerships
·         Regulatory  Bodies
·         Churches , Mosques and Other Religious
·         Financial  institutions
·         Medical/Health  institutions/centres /clinics
·         Fitness  centres
·         Insurance  Firms
·         Non-Governmental  Bodies
·         Associations

If you are an individual  that collects large  amounts  of personal information and  determine how such  information  must be  used  then  you qualify  as a Data  Controller and must  register. Employees are however exempted from registering as Data Controllers .The following are some examples individual Data Controllers who are mandated by law to register.

·         Actor/Director /Producer
·         Accountant
·         Architect
·         Author
·         Consultant
·         Dentist
·         Dermatologist
·         Designer
·         Doctor /Physician
·         Economist
·         Elected Representative
·         Engineer
·         Entertainer
·         Historian
·         Journalist
·         Lawyer /Barrister/Solicitor
·         Nurses /Midwives
·         Parliamentarian
·         Pathologist
·         Pharmacist
·         Philosopher
·         Pilot
·         Politician
·         Preachers
·         Programmer
·         Psychologist
·         Singer/Songwriter
·         Sportsman/Coach/Manager
·         Statistician
·         Student
·         Surgeon
·         Teacher/lecturer/Professor

Publication of Registered Data Controllers & Processors

The Commission is mandated to make the Register available to members of the public.
The Commission will therefore publish all registered data controllers’ and processors’ on the commission‘s online public register after 31st July 2015.

Anyone  giving  out their  personal  information  can therefore check  the data  protection  status  of the institution  or individual they are  giving  their personal  information  to .All  individuals giving  out  their personal  information  do so  at their  own risk  if the  information  is given  to an institution  or individual that has  not registered with the  Commission in  accordance  with the Act. Visit https.// to search the Register.

Registration of Data Controllers commenced on 1st May 2015. An institution or individual existing prior to commencement of Act 843 has three (3) months to comply with the requirement to register. The three (3) month period expires on 31st July 2015.

To register, kindly visit
For more information please contact the Data Protection Commission at the following:
Data Protection Commission
Room No.51, First Floor
Ministry of Communication Building
Ministerial Enclave
P.O. BOX CT7195, Accra
TEL: +233 (0) 2631 455
FAX +233 (0)30 2631 477

To protect the privacy of the individual and personal data by regulating the processing of personal information