News In Brief

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Welcome to our ‘News In Brief’ column in which we digest all the news releases for you in no more than five paragraphs. Below are snippets of all the media releases we received from June 5 till the end of the week. This column updates regularly throughout the week.

Sleep Apnea and Cognitive Decline

Adelaide, June 5: Researchers at Flinders University are focusing on finding better solutions for sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that poses various health risks, including cognitive decline. A recent study published in Sleep Health examined the sleep patterns of over 470 men aged 41-87, alongside their cognitive function during the day. The study aimed to investigate whether certain features of brain electrical activity during non-REM sleep, known as “sleep spindles,” could serve as markers of cognitive function.
The study found associations between different aspects of cognitive function the following day and specific sleep spindle metrics during stage 2 and stage 3 of the sleep cycle. The presence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) played a significant role in this relationship. While standard clinical tests for OSA can help diagnose and improve this sleep disorder using interventions like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or dental devices, the condition varies among individuals based on factors such as gender and age.
Based on the findings of the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study, researchers from the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute’s Sleep Health team recommend further long-term investigations into sleep spindle phases and OSA to enhance future treatments. They also aim to determine whether OSA interventions, such as CPAP, effectively improve sleep quality and cognitive function.
Sleep apnea affects over 1 billion people worldwide and, if untreated or severe, can increase the risk of various health issues, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, reduced quality of life, traffic accidents, and all-cause mortality. In Australia alone, poor sleep, including sleep disorders, has been estimated to incur an economic cost of $66 billion per year.
Associate Professor Andrew Vakulin, senior author of the publication and a researcher at Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute’s Sleep Health, emphasizes the need for better treatments and tailored approaches for individual cases, considering co-occurring conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea. The study also establishes a clear link between cognitive function and sleep in adult males, potentially exacerbated by undiagnosed moderate to severe OSA.
The two articles referenced are “The association between sleep spindles and cognitive function in Middle-aged and older men from a community-based cohort Study” by Jesse Parker et al., published in Sleep Health, and “Associations of Baseline Sleep Microarchitecture with Cognitive Function After 8 Years in Middle-Aged and Older Men from a Community-Based Cohort Study” published in Nature and Science of Sleep.

COVID-19 Reshaped Road Safety

Adelaide, June 5: Research led by Dr. Ali Soltani from Flinders University’s Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute examined the impact of COVID-19 on road crashes involving older Australians. The study focused on changes in crash patterns before and after the pandemic. During the 2020 lockdown period, there was a 20 percent reduction in crashes involving older adults, attributed to decreased travel volume. However, crashes in higher-speed zones became slightly more severe.
The study found that the frequency and location of crashes were influenced by temporal and spatial factors. Three prominent characteristics were identified: conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles in mixed land-use areas, proximity to high-risk corridors, and distance from public transit stations in traffic-calming areas. Understanding these patterns can help improve road safety for older people.
Dr. Soltani emphasized the importance of considering the built environment’s impact on crashes in metropolitan areas, particularly the legibility of traffic signs in mixed-use zones. Enhancing visual knowledge and understanding through appropriate signage can help prevent crashes. Furthermore, the reduction in crashes during the pandemic suggests the need for new policies that promote telecommunication and reduce unnecessary commuting, requiring increased digital literacy and access to online services for the elderly population.
The research findings have implications for academics and policymakers in Australia, providing insights into the multidimensional effects of the built environment on the road safety of older adults. The study was published in Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board under the title “Post COVID-19 Transformation in the Frequency and Location of Traffic Crashes Involving Older Adults”

Mental Health Monitoring Mistrust

Adelaide, June 5: A research study conducted by Flinders University’s Digital Health Research Lab in Australia has highlighted the importance of involving individuals with lived experience of mental illness in the design of mental health monitoring technologies. The study found that many people with mental illness felt traumatized and disempowered due to power imbalances and the stigma associated with mental health. The participants identified various issues related to agency, access, interactions with healthcare professionals, medication management, and self-monitoring.
The researchers emphasized the significance of monitoring in mental health care, as early treatment and intervention are critical to prevent relapse. However, the study revealed that consumers who predominantly lead indoor lives tend to overlook prompts emphasizing the benefits of outdoor exercise and may not fully comprehend the support provided by caregivers. Some participants admitted to making their own medication adjustments without a thorough understanding of the potential side effects.
The lack of co-design consultation has contributed to the failure of numerous mental health apps, resulting in low usability, engagement, knowledge, and the need for additional training and support. The findings highlight the need for co-design in mental health monitoring technologies to ensure consumers’ perspectives are respected, empowering them to regain a sense of well-being and focus on recovery. The role of informal caregivers, such as family members, was also acknowledged as essential for consumer recovery.
Several problems were identified, including smartphone ownership being funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), but not the data plans necessary for their use. Priority areas for app design intervention include strengthening social and interpersonal support while ensuring consent procedures and boundaries are respected. The researchers recommend incorporating in-depth knowledge of lived experiences and the broader context of mental health care through consumer and carer co-design.
The study’s findings have implications for healthcare professionals, digital health designers, and policymakers. The research was published in the journal Future Internet under the title “In-Depth Co-Design of Mental Health Monitoring Technologies by People with Lived Experience.”

SaaS FIs Recover Faster

Singapore, June 7: Financial institutions (FIs) using a true SaaS platform recover 2.5 times faster from market disruptions compared to their industry peers, according to Mambu’s research.
The study highlights how SaaS-powered FIs exhibit greater resilience and faster growth during the pandemic.
In 2019, SaaS FIs achieved 47 percent revenue growth, dropping to 14 percent in 2020, still significantly higher than the 1 percent growth of other FIs.
In 2021, SaaS FIs experienced 34 percent growth, while non-SaaS peers only achieved 10 percent. SaaS technology enables adaptability, cost reduction, and improved customer experience.
SaaS-powered FIs in personal and SME lending sectors showed better recovery and growth compared to their traditional counterparts.
The research uses Mambu’s internal data and publicly available financial reports.

Flexible Work Makes Australians Happier

Sydney, June 7: A recent survey by Zoom and Morning Consult challenges the idea that Gen Z employees are leading the charge for work-life balance and flexible options.
The study of Australian knowledge workers reveals that 80 percent of Gen X prioritize flexible hours, compared to 71 percent of Gen Z and younger Millennials. Older generations also ranked flexible locations higher than Gen Z and younger Millennials.
However, all generations agree that flexibility and control over time are important, with 77 percent stating it would impact their job decisions.
Zoom’s collaboration platform allows for flexibility without compromising productivity, leading to happier lives for employees.

Anand Named New Vertiv Americas Head

Anand Sanghi 

Kuala Lumpur, June 7: Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, has announced the appointment of Anand Sanghi as President, of the Americas, effective July 1, 2023. Currently serving as President, of Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and India (ASI), Sanghi will continue in this role until the end of June. In his new position, Sanghi will be responsible for America’s business, leveraging his success in the Asia Pacific region and extensive experience in technology and engineering to enhance Vertiv’s performance in the Americas.
With 29 years of experience across Emerson and Vertiv, Sanghi brings deep industry knowledge and a proven track record of driving growth and expanding manufacturing operations in ASI. Giordano Albertazzi, the current President, of Americas, will step down from his role while remaining the Chief Executive Officer and a director on Vertiv’s Board of Directors.
Sanghi joined Emerson, Vertiv’s predecessor, in 1994 and has held senior leadership positions in the Asia Pacific region since 2017. His appointment to the President, America’s role reflects his experience, business acumen, and focus on operational excellence. Under Sanghi’s leadership, America’s business aims to continue its ongoing transformation, building on a rapid turnaround with over 60 percent organic revenue growth and a more than doubled adjusted operating margin in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year.
Giordano Albertazzi, Vertiv CEO, expressed confidence in Sanghi, emphasizing his experience and dedication to operational excellence. Albertazzi believes Sanghi is the ideal person to drive the Americas’ transformation and further cultivate a high-performance culture within the company.

APAC Cybersecurity: Lumen & KnowBe4

Kuala Lumpur, June 7: Lumen Technologies and KnowBe4 have partnered to strengthen cybersecurity in APAC. Lumen expands its security solutions with managed services for Cybersecurity Security Awareness Training and Phishing Test Campaigns. The collaboration aims to mitigate evolving cyber threats and human errors. Lumen’s Managed Security Awareness Service provides comprehensive training and simulated phishing tests, enhancing security posture through data-led risk assessments. The partnership leverages Lumen’s real-time threat intelligence and KnowBe4’s integrated training platform.
Cheah Wai Kit, Senior Director of APAC Products and Practices at Lumen, emphasizes the importance of educating employees on risk awareness. The partnership reinforces the “human firewall” against phishing, social engineering, and more. Lumen helps customers develop structured cybersecurity awareness programs and compliance standards.
APAC faces increasing cybersecurity incidents, but the partnership aims to boost cybersecurity knowledge and awareness. Research by KnowBe4 shows a significant drop in phishing susceptibility after training. Tony Jennings, EVP of International and Global Channel Sales at KnowBe4, is excited about driving behavior change and enhancing security culture.
Lumen’s Managed Security Awareness Service offers structured training with intelligent tracking.

Global Digital Transformation Partnership

Singapore, June 7: Tech Mahindra and WalkMe have joined forces to accelerate global enterprises’ digital transformation journey.
The partnership will enable efficient adoption of digital technologies, allowing companies to measure and drive the value of their software investments.
Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) play a critical role in overcoming challenges and increasing productivity during software transitions.
With Gartner predicting that 70 percent of organizations will use DAPs by 2025, this collaboration is well-positioned to address the insufficient application user experiences that often hinder digital transformation projects.
The partnership aligns with Tech Mahindra’s commitment to driving ROI for clients and WalkMe’s track record of delivering scalable digital solutions.

Australian Icons Sponsor SXSW

Sydney, June 8: CommBank and Qantas Super Sponsors for SXSW Sydney 2023. CommBank, Australia’s leading technology bank, and Qantas, the innovative airline, join forces for the event.
The conference will showcase the intersection of technology, creativity, and customer service.
SXSW Sydney will take place from October 15 to 22 featuring diverse content pillars and requiring badges for access.

Net Zero Emissions Commitment

Sydney, June 8: Western Digital commits to powering its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The company aims to achieve net zero emissions in its operations (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by 2032.
Western Digital plans to reduce water withdrawals by 20 percent by 2030.
The company aims to divert more than 95 percent of operational waste from landfills by 2030.
These ambitious targets reflect Western Digital’s commitment to sustainability and being an industry leader in environmental stewardship.

Nu Skin Empowers Communities

Kuala Lumpur, June 8: Nu Skin Malaysia celebrates 20 years of giving back through its annual Force For Good Day, engaging in local service projects to benefit at-risk children worldwide.
The company’s mission is to provide children with healthy and fulfilling lives, uniting Nu Skin affiliates, customers, and employees in their dedication to giving back to the community.
As part of the event, Nu Skin Malaysia partnered with Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) Foundation and Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur to provide an educational outing for families from the Southeast Asia Children’s Heart Fund (SEACHF).
The outing included Child Development Screenings and a parenting talk to support children’s growth and development.
Families enjoyed access to the ToyEight Playground, strengthening bonds and creating lasting memories while engaging in interactive and educational play experiences.
Through initiatives like Force For Good Day, Nu Skin continues its commitment to empowering individuals and communities, making a meaningful difference locally and globally.

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