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Researchers design tool to make airports hassle-free during Covid-19

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With no signs of relief from coronavirus and also to protect India’s economy from taking a tailspin, the government announced Unlock 1.0 and allowed domestic flights to continue operations. Now, the challenge before the airport authorities remains to ensure social distancing and other guidelines to avoid crowds, especially at check-in counters, boarding gates, security check, pickup and drop off points, etc. To provide a solution to this, researchers at The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, have developed a management tool “AeroOpt” to help the aviation industry maintain social distancing for passengers and staff. The management tool will work on optimising the airport infrastructure and staff requirements. It has the potential to improve efficiency of counters, immigration, security and boarding gates without compromising on social distancing norms.

Brainchild of senior professors including Dr Sheetal Khanka, Akhil Damodaran, Dr Tarun Dhingra and aviation veteran Dr Ashwini Khanna (owner of Aerotech Support Service), the tool scientifically calculates the optimum number of resources (staff, passengers, counters, queues, etc) to be allocated to an airline in a given time so that airports follow Covid norms, while knowing that they are utilising their capacity at the level determined.

 Talking about how the idea was conceptualised, Dr Tarun Dhingra said, “Our university has a special programme in which we send our faculty for internship in the industry. Dr Khanka and Mr Damodaran was working in an airport where they saw counters used by airlines. They noticed that counters allotted and utilised by the airlines were much more than required. In airports, a counter is a big asset. So, they came up with an idea to have a scientific basis of counter allocations. Any counter saved with scientific basis is a counter earned. They came to me and I also became a part of it.”

 As the faculty started working on the project, students too helped the team collect real-time data from airports. Prof Damodaran added, “Initially only the faculty was involved but when the project came to us, we required real-time data to work on algorithms and at that time students were involved. Management students from School of Business at UPES collected data from airports which included arrival and departure of flights, footfall of passengers, etc. About 6-10 students were involved in this project”.

Aviation veteran Ashwini Khanna informed that a major challenge before the team was to bring this tool in application at airports. “Most important challenge was applying the tool and finding the results at airports. I am happy to say that when we actually applied the tool, almost 30% of airport assets were found for utilisation. Airports have a tendency that if any infrastructure was occupied, you needed to build more. But here, with this tool, you get to know scientific ways where instead of building, you get a good way of asset utilisation.”

Currently, the standard AerOpt tool is a tailor-made software which can be used according to the need of different areas. The team is also talking to the Airports Authority of India to take this project further. Indian airports are dependent on foreign software for operations but now this tool is seen as a major boost to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.

However, the lockdown has given a huge jolt to Indian job sectors. As industries remain shut, students who will be entering the job market after the lockdown will definitely face hardships. Professors at UPES are also concerned about the situation and talked about the challenges ahead. Dr Khanka said, “This tool gives exposure to students on airport optimisations. Our students are partnering with airport operations and the capacity of research projects like AeroOpt to provide jobs is significant. About 5-8 people will get jobs at every airport with this.”

Educationally Speaking

HIRING ACTIVITY RISES 24% IN SEPT 2020 VERSUS A MONTH BEFORE

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Hiring activity in India rose by 24% in September 2020 as compared to August 2020, as seen in the Naukri JobSpeak Index. At 1755, the job index marked a great improvement of 24% in September as against 1413 in August after the sharp drop in April 2020 due to Covid-19. “The last quarter has seen significant uptick in the hiring activity, growing at 14% compared to 8% decline in AMJ’ 20. While the hiring is yet to touch last year levels and is down by 23% in Sept’20 versus Sept’19 but this is also a marked recovery from a 35%-60% decline that we have witnessed in the last few months,” Pawan Goyal, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com The 24% M-O-M growth is being propelled by industries like Pharma (+44%), FMCG (+43%), Education/Teaching (+41%) and IT (+32%). Further opening up of the economy with unlock measures and increased mobility has led to an improvement in hiring activities in industries like Real Estate (+44%), Auto/Ancillary (+29%) and Hospitality/Travel (+48%) versus August’20.

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Educationally Speaking

‘78% PARENTS NOT WILLING TO SEND KIDS TO SCHOOLS TILL COVID-19 OVER’

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The Unlock 5.0 guidelines allow schools in different states to reopen from 15 October depending on the state government’s decision, but as per a study by SP Robotics Works from last month named ‘Kids under Covid’, 78% parents are ready to skip a school year, but not ready to send their children to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a sudden transition to online learning and prolonged screen time with no outdoor play and limited social interaction, the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown on children’s mental and physical health remains dubious. To arrive at the insights of this survey, SP Robotic Works conducted a survey over the month of July and August among 3600 parents and an equal number of children in the age group of 7-17 years

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ARMY JOBS: 191 SSC OFFICER POSTS VACANT, APPLY NOW

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Indian Army has invited applications for SSC Officer posts. Candidates who are interested can apply at joinindianarmy.nic.in. The number of positions vacant positions is 191 posts. Candidates can apply till November 12, 2020. Unmarried male and unmarried female engineering graduates, final-year engineering students can apply. The course will start in April 2021 at Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Opening date of application is 14 October, 202, while closing date of application is 12 November 2020. Candidates will be put through two-stage selection procedure. Those who clear Stage-1 will go to Stage-2. Those who fail in Stage-1 will be returned on the same day.

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JAMIA HAMDARD ADMISSIONS: REGISTRATION DATE EXTENDED

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Jamia Hamdard has extended the last date to fill and submit the online admission form to 25 October. Earlier, the last date of application form 2020 submission was 20 September. Candidates who wish to take admissions to UG and PG courses offered by the university can fill the Jamia Hamdard application form 2020 till the new extended deadline. Candidates must note that they also have to upload their qualifying examination mark sheet while filling the application form. Students who have passed class 12th exam can apply for its UG courses while those having a bachelor’s degree can apply for its PG courses. Aspirants can apply for admission to the university online at jamiahamdard.edu. This year, the admission process has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The admission form submission deadline was extended as there were many students who were seeking admissions in engineering and diploma courses but were not able to fill out the forms timely

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Educationally Speaking

EDUCATION MINISTER INAUGURATES NEW NIT ROURKELA BUILDING

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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated the newly built Golden Jubilee Building of NIT Rourkela, Odisha, on Tuesday through a virtual platform. Speaking at the occasion he said that NIT Rourkela is a premier institution of our country and has been producing the best brains for the country. The newly constructed NIT Rourkela building is a symbol of the varsity’s prestige. Pokhriyal said that institutions like NIT Rourkela have a very important role to play in the implementation of the New Educational Policies (NEP). The minister also added the building amplifies the glory of Rourkela city as it is one of the tallest buildings around. The magnificent structure is indeed metaphorically and geographically, ‘the heart of NIT Rourkela’, added Pokhriyal. The minister also highlighted that the vision of having this building will fulfill one of the essential mottos of the Institute to enhance efficiency in the administrative functioning and amalgamate technology with this process to make it more people-friendly.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC

Narendra Shyamsukha

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The Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be the most significant disruptive event witnessed by this generation. From mainstreaming remote working, cutting global travel to a comprehensive digital shift, the outbreak has changed the way businesses are executed. This transformational effect is not momentary; it is significant and is here to stay.

One of the most notable elements of this transformation is the way organisations have been forced to embrace digital marketing to be able to survive the crisis. As traditional marketing strategies stand curtailed due to the pandemic, businesses have moved quickly to embrace digital marketing and transform the way they attract and engage customers and clients.

As most people still stay indoors, malls and roads stand deserted, there has been a shift to a space where businesses and customers interact less physically and more through the online route. Digital services providers will tell you how there has been a surge in organisations seeking to create new websites or update existing ones, creating elaborate social media campaigns and launching new e-commerce channels. Intelligent content creation and SEO are other elements that are receiving a fresh focus from companies. Truth be told, organisations that embrace this transformation quickly and more comprehensively are the ones that are more likely to survive as compared to those who are resistant to change.

Here are some more changing phases of entrepreneurship are adjusting the “new normal”:

THE AGE OF WEBINARS

As live conferences and face to face engagement activities take a backset, organizations are working out new ways to engage with customers. Webinars have emerged as a very popular way of achieving digital thought leadership and getting quality leads. At the same time, customer engagement is also taking place with these digital discussions. That’s why there is a sea of webinars everywhere to spread the message. Even when the crisis ebbs, people are likely to continue to conduct a part of their thought-leadership events through webinars as more and more people realize that they serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Webinars that have now filled the gap of traditional conferences are likely to become a mainstream marketing strategy in the new normal.

INCREASED USAGE OF DATA ANALYTICS

In a digital age, data analytics has always been a valuable proposition. However, as organizations increase their digital presence, the importance of creating useful databases has only increased. With more people spending longer time on social media, their chances of seeing ads on such platforms or coming in touch with content marketing blogs are greater. This is why organisations now need to create valuable databases, analyse them and use this information intelligently to reach out to the target audience. Tracking pattern of consumer behavior, tracking online traffic patterns, analysing which content retains the customer, and getting a break up of which products are enticing what type of customers are essential elements of data analytics that organizations need to use more to boost their online sales.

CONTENT IS THE KING

Businesses must focus on expanding social media presence by creating intelligent and attractive content. With the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, it becomes essential to engage consumers in subjects they might find interesting. However, it is important to understand that content distributed on social media should not be totally promotional in nature as it kills consumer interest. Your content must be knowledge and awareness-based. It must engage consumers emotionally through human interest stories rather than blatantly promoting your product.

The writer is founder & chairman, ICA Edu Skills.

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