Podcast

Digital Planet

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Episodes

  • A digital tracker that monitors new surveillance

    Mar 24 2020

    Tracking our digital rights From the moment governments around the world realised the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, many have implemented digital tracking, physical surveillance and censorship measures in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. We hear about a digital tracker which will monitor new surveillance and if it is having an effect Working from home when your work is in Space Most people in countries experiencing a Coronavirus lockdown are working remotely, but what h...more

  • Coronovirus tech handbook online

    Mar 17 2020

    In these unprecedented times of a global pandemic many people are working or studying from home, doctors are facing new challenges, so medical equipment is in short supply – how do deal with this? Perhaps check the coronavirus tech as a shared open source online document where anyone can post their experiences or advice. Open source tech for COVID-19 A 3d printed ventilator that could be used for COVID-19 patients could be ready by the end of the week. An open source project has led to a c...more

  • Covid-19 makes tech events go virtual

    Mar 10 2020

    Major events around the world are being cancelled as the COVID-19 virus spreads across the globe. Despite significant falls in new cases in China and South Korea many tech conferences and meetings are being moved to virtual space instead. We hear from the International Communication Association who have cancelled their annual conference in the physical world and are now moving it online. Regulating the internet As Covid-19 spreads so does misinformation about the virus online. Dr.Jennifer Cobbe...more

  • Will digital sobriety help reduce energy use?

    Mar 03 2020

    ITU emissions standard The UN ICT agency, the ITU, wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half in the next decade. It’s the only way that the ICT industry is to stay in line with the Paris Agreement and its target of limiting global warming to one and a half degrees. The new technical standard announced by the ITU says renewable energy and digital sobriety are the best way of achieving these cuts. Domestic violence AI AI could help police forces determine who might be the most at ri...more

  • Ethiopia’s new law banning online hate speech

    Feb 25 2020

    Ethiopia’s online hate speech law Disseminating hate speech online in Ethiopia could now land you with a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of $3000US, but the new law has proved controversial. Julie Owonp, Excutive Director of Internet without borders explains their concerns. Kivuwatt Rwanda has an ambitious plan to go from half of the population having electricity at the moment to everyone within the next four years. Digital Planet has been given access to one project that aims...more

  • Feminist chatbots

    Feb 18 2020

    Why the tone of chatbots matters and how a feminist perspective can help use them to address online problems such as bullying and trolling. We look at some of the methods used to try and scam you, particularly the increasingly sophisticated emails sent to businesses to try and get them to part with their money. We have a drive in a LIDAR enabled electric car, a new development in Autonomous vehicles And the perils of misleading data, why clear and accurate data is so important to a huge var...more

  • Repairing Voyager 2

    Feb 11 2020

    Scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been working flat out over the last week repairing Voyager 2. The spacecraft is about 18 billion kilometres from Earth, so sending a command to it takes 17 hours. Alexa: save my life please Could personal assistants like Alexa and Siri save your life? Research in the journal BMJ innovations has assessed how good the top four voice assistants are at giving sound medical advice – the results were mixed. Drones mesh it up in Vietnam Managing a ...more

  • Drones dealing with locust swarms

    Feb 04 2020

    Trials are taking place to manage the massive locust swarms in the Horn of Africa and the Indian subcontinent with drones. Using them to collect real time data allows scientists to predict where the insects might fly to next. Irish data centre power problem Amazon has just announced plans to build another data centre in Ireland. It’s just one of about 60 data centres that are putting a huge demand on electricity. According to a report by the Irish Academy of Engineering 30% more electricity wi...more

  • Internet partially restored in Kashmir

    Jan 28 2020

    Internet in Kashmir partially back on Following a court ruling in India, the internet has been partially restored in Kashmir. There is still no access to social media but the Indian government was forced to allow some access. Mishi Choudhary, founder of the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi updates us on the situation. Pigeonbot Imagine a robot that’s as graceful as a swooping and gliding bird. It could get into crowded environments where drones currently can’t be used. The latest res...more

  • Internet shutdowns cost $8bn in 2019

    Jan 21 2020

    The cost of the major internet shutdowns in 2019 has been estimated as $8bn according to a report by the Top10VPN website, with WhatsApp being the platform that is blocked most often. Twitter bots and trolls on bush fires Could the latest orchestrated social media disinformation campaign be unfolding in Australia. Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have been analysing thousands of tweets and found some concerning activity. Could paid for trolls be behind tweets suggesting th...more

  • Tech tracking Australian fires

    Jan 14 2020

    An app is helping Australian’s stay safe during the Bush fires. Fires Near Me was created by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and we hear how it works from journalist Corinne Podger. Also the WICEN HAM Radio operators who are providing emergency communications when mobile masts and internet connections are disrupted and measuring air quality using low power networks. Safer motorbike taxis in Rwanda and the DRC How do you ensure that the motorbike taxi you are hailing in Kigali or Kinshasa...more

  • South Africa power cuts

    Jan 07 2020

    South Africa Power Cuts Is South Africa facing a blackout? Power cuts across the country are now happening regularly as the country struggles with demand for electricity. There’s even an app that tells you if your lights are going to stay on today, or tomorrow. Professor Keith Bell from Strathclyde University explains why this is happening. Plasmonics - computing with light Fancy computing with the speed of light? Well for the first time this is possible thanks to research at Oxford Univers...more

  • Why is AI so far from perfect?

    Dec 31 2019

    A special episode looking at AI – why it still is far from perfect? We discuss what would happen if you took a driverless car from the streets of California and put it on roads in a developing country, why deep fakes are so difficult to detect and how the images that are used to teach machines to recognise things are biased against women and ethnic minorities. Picture: Driverless Cars, Getty Images

  • Digital Planet’s 18th Birthday Show

    Dec 24 2019

    A special edition of Digital Planet recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre in London to celebrate the programmes 18th birthday. The team look back on the first show and look forward to the tech that is now also coming of age and what we might be seeing in the future. With 3D holographic phone calls, musical performances where the musicians are hundreds of kilometres apart, and the Gravity Synth detecting gravitational waves and turning them into music. Picture: Digital Planet recording, Credit: BB...more

  • Improving crop yields with mobile phones

    Dec 17 2019

    Mobile phones are improving lives and yields for millions of farmers around the world. Michael Kremer, a 2019 Economics Nobel Prize winner developed Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) to give farmers in developing countries advice on how to improve their yields. He and Owen Barder, CEO of PAD, tell Digital Planet how it works. To reduce failures on surveillance or delivery missions, drones need to be monitored effectively. Karen Willcox at the Oden Institute of the University of Texas...more

  • New Phone in China? Scan your face…

    Dec 10 2019

    Mobile phone users in China will have to submit to 3D face scans to get a sim card. Technology ethicist Dr Stephanie Hare and New York Times Asia correspondent, Paul Mozur, discuss how this will affect citizens’ privacy, and whether China is alone in making this decision. Petr Plecháč from the Institute of Czech Literature uses a piece of software that can identify people by the pattern of their written language. Gareth speaks with him about Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and the likelihood of John ...more

  • Humanitarian drone corridor in Africa

    Dec 03 2019

    Humanitarian drone corridor in Africa Sierra Leone has just launched West Africa’s first drone corridor – it’s a dedicated channel of airspace for medical delivery drones. UNICEF is part of the project and already has three other humanitarian corridors open globally. Wikipedia untagging of women Dr. Jess Wade from Imperial College London is continuing her mission of getting more female scientists onto Wikipedia, however a few days ago many of her entries were marked as not notable enough to be ...more

  • Google bug bounty hunters

    Nov 26 2019

    Google’s offering up to $1.5m to anyone who can identify bugs in its new chip for Android smartphones. This is a especially high reward but Google’s just one of a host of big well-known companies running bug hunting programmes. But is this the best way for big business to protect its new tech? AI in Africa Does Africa need a different approach to AI – yes according to Professor Alan Blackwell of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University in England. He’s just started a sabbatical year acr...more

  • Iran internet shutdown continues

    Nov 19 2019

    Iran internet shutdown Iran is now almost entirely offline as authorities try to stem the spread of protests that started last week. The government increased fuel prices by as much as 300% and since people took to the streets online access has been restricted. We find out the latest from online monitoring group NetBlocks. US Election emails unsafe Agari was the company that uncovered and confirmed that the webserver the email that ‘hacked’ Hilary Clinton’s campaign came from Russia. They have ...more

  • The digital gender divide

    Nov 12 2019

    The UN reports a widening digital gender gap The UN's International Telecommunications Unit has published a report showing that over 4 billion people are now online worldwide. Despite this, the proportion of women using the internet is still much lower than men, especially in the developing world. Susan Teltscher, Head of the Human Capacity Building Division, describes the significance of this growing divide. Mookh opens up e-commerce opportunities in Kenya Mookh is a Nairobi-based company that...more

  • Facebook Live on crime tech

    Nov 05 2019

    Digital Planet looks at crime tech in a special Facebook live edition. Gareth Mitchell and Ghislaine Boddington are joined by facial recognition expert Dr Stephanie Hare and Dr Sarah Morris, the director of the Digital Forensics Unit at Cranfield University in the UK. The unit helped convict a criminal using the data on the motherboard of his washing machine! (Photo: Binary numbers on a finger tip. Credit: Getty Images)

  • BBC News on the ‘dark web’

    Oct 29 2019

    In an attempt to thwart censorship, BBC News is now available through the privacy-focused browser Tor also known as the gateway to the ‘dark web’. Facebook’s ambitions to launch cryptocurrency Last week, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed critical questions about the company’s ambition to launch their own cryptocurrency ‘Libra’. Dr Catherine Mulligan of Imperial College London’s Centre for Cryptocurrency Research explains why some companies are leaving the Libra association....more

  • Health of the Internet report

    Oct 22 2019

    Health of the Internet Solana Larsen, leader of the team at Mozilla that compiled the recent Health of the Internet report talks about the highlights, including openness, privacy and security, digital inclusion, web literacy and centralisation. Multi-purpose drones A drone in Malawi in one flight dropped off medical supplies by parachute, was used by game rangers to monitor animal poaching and created a high resolution 3D mapping of an area. Daniel Ronen, co-founder of UAVAid explains how they...more

  • First all African smartphone factory

    Oct 15 2019

    The first African smartphone factory, where phones are made from scratch, opened this week in Rwanda. The smartphones are designed for the African market, so they are being made as affordable as possible, while being accessible and secure. Tunabot Professor Hilary Bart-Smith at the University of Virginia, USA went back to basics to develop a fast swimming robotic tuna - the tunabot. They took detailed anatomical data from the Yellow-finned tuna and Atlantic mackerel and 3D printed the fast tu...more

  • Iraq shuts down internet

    Oct 08 2019

    In response to anti-government protests the Iraq government shut down the internet six days ago. Coverage returned briefly before the president was due to give a televised address on Sunday allowing social media reports of violence at the demonstrations to be posted. Currently 75% of Iraq is covered by the ban. Kurdistan is unaffected. Mismatch There’s no such thing as normal—so why are we all made to use devices, live in cities or travel in vehicles that are so uniform? Whether it’s a computer...more

  • Mobile data costs falling globally

    Oct 01 2019

    Mobile data costs falling globally New data shows that the cost of mobile data has fallen over the last year and low and middle income countries have generally seen the biggest falls. Research from the Alliance for Affordable Internet shows that despite the drop mobile data is only affordable in 37 out of 100 countries. Blue Broccoli and Nanobots, Qubits and Quiver Trees How do you convince young girls and boys they can have a career in science and technology? In fact the author of a new book...more

  • Investigating marine accidents – sea tech latest

    Sep 24 2019

    Digital Planet visits the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch for learn more about the technology used to investigate incidents at sea. Gareth Mitchell and Dr. Leigh Marsh look at voyage data recorders recovered from ship wrecks, location beacons, CCTV footage through to simulators that can recreate incidents at sea. Picture: Yeoman Bontrup, Credit: Marine Accident Investigation Branch

  • The latest in disability tech

    Sep 17 2019

    From fitting prosthetic limbs in a few hours to teaching blind children to code how technology is making a difference to everyday lives. Technology is changing disabled people’s lives, but is it being used as much as it could be? Gareth Mitchell and Ghislaine Boddington are joined by Dr. Giulia Barbareschi, Ben Mustill-Rose and Professor Tim Adlam on the show. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Photo: Prosthetic technician in Kenya controlling the shape of one of the socket fabricated during the tr...more

  • Brain implant regulation calls

    Sep 10 2019

    iHuman: Blurring lines between mind and machine One of the UK’s top scientific institutions is calling for investigations into brain implants as brain-reading technology advances. Tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have outlined their visions of brain tech, but in reality hundreds of people with neurological conditions are already benefitting from implants positioned in their brains. But how can this be regulated and developed? The UK’s Royal Society has just published the...more

  • Digital Planet’s 18th birthday show

    Sep 03 2019

    An hour long Digital Planet from the BBC Radio Theatre in London to celebrate the programmes 18th birthday. The team look back on the first show and look forward to the tech that is now also coming of age and what we might be seeing in the future. With 3D holographic phone calls, musical performances where the musicians are hundreds of kilometres apart, and the Gravity Synth detecting gravitational waves and turning them into music. (Photo: Binary Gift. Credit: Getty Images) ...more

  • Brazilian fire monitoring in real time

    Aug 27 2019

    Brazilian fires in real time monitored from space The Head of Remote Sensing at the National Institute of Space Research Brazil Dr. Luiz Aragao joins us on the programme. He explains how optical and thermal satellite images are delivering real time data about the Amazon rainforest fires. This means he and his team can calculate not only what is one fire but how much biodiversity has been lost and carbon released into the atmosphere. They are also analysing date from the ISS and the NASA GEDI m...more

  • Harnessing tech during conflict

    Aug 20 2019

    Harnessing tech during conflict Twitter and Facebook have removed accounts that originated in mainland China that it says undermines the “legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement”. Evronia Azer knows all about the double-edged sword when it comes to technology in the midst of conflict. On one side there are tools to mobilise protest, on the other are tools of state control and surveillance. She is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business and Law at Coventry University in...more

  • Millions of Instagram users’ activity tracked

    Aug 13 2019

    Instagram has removed US marketing company Hyp3r from its service after it was accused of grabbing users' data. Hyp3r was scraping profiles, copying photos and siphoning off data supposed to be deleted after 24 hours, according to Business Insider investigation. As Stephanie Hare explains, millions of users have been targeted. Breaking Silences – Rwanda’s first podcast On DP’s recent trip to Rwanda Gareth met two young women who have created the first ever podcast in the country. “Breaking Si...more

  • Jakarta power cut - millions without electricity

    Aug 06 2019

    Jakarta power cut The lights are finally back on for most of Jakarta’s ten million people, who suffered a nine-hour outage over the weekend. Taking into account surrounding regions, the power cut could have affected more than a hundred million people. Just a few weeks ago, there was a power outage on a similar scale across much of Argentina and Uruguay. The lights went out recently across the west of Manhattan too. Professor Keith Bell from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland joins us live...more

  • Chandrayaan-2: India’s moon landing

    Jul 23 2019

    The Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, succeeded this week in getting its latest lunar lander into earth orbit. A new mobile money platform mGurush launches in South Sudan. In London young developers compete for a prestigious award, and in New Zealand a simple app offers security for lonely situations. (Photo: Indian Space Research Organisation orbiter vehicle Chandrayaan-2 launch. Credit: ISRO HANDOUT © European Photopress Agency) Producer:...more

  • Chinese surveillance app analysed by researchers

    Jul 09 2019

    Travellers to China through Kyrgyzstan are being forced to install a surveillance app on their phones. Professor Thorsten Holt is on the programme to explain, with the help of investigative journalists, how he has hacked into and analysed this surveillance app. He says the app compiles a report on your phone contacts, text messages and even your social media accounts, as well as searching for over 73,000 specific files. Atmospheric Memory A breath-taking new art environment where you can see, ...more

  • Tax on connectivity in Africa

    Jun 25 2019

    Tax on Connectivity Taxes on internet and mobile access are on the rise across Africa, according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet. After a daily levy was introduced on social media services in Uganda for example, internet subscriptions fell by 2.5 million. Eleanor Sarpong, Deputy Director at the Alliance for Affordable Internet explains how it’s the poorest and women who are being hardest hit. Kibera Stories Brian Otieno has been using photography to redefine his hometown’s visual narr...more