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Indiana, The New Mini Tech Capital of America

In the past, CEO Steve Hershberger hired from big universities near Silicon Valley. Now, he needs coders to work on the connection between beer kegs to his iKeg app, and he is choosing interns from Kenzie because of the quality he sees in the candidates.

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Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of
representational image, pixabay

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA —

Kavitha Kamalbabu needed a break. She had raised her two children and the youngest was now in kindergarten. It was time to turn attention to her career. The 36-year-old wanted to code. The mecca of high tech — Silicon Valley — wasn’t an option because she needed to stay close to home and family in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“I chose Kenzie Academy because of its life project-based learning,” she said.

Kamalbabu is now at the top of her class, getting a two-year degree as a software developer. Kenzie, based in Indianapolis, was established to keep talent in Middle America and to create a mini tech capital.

“Our point is to bring people from Indianapolis to stay in Indianapolis,” said founder Courtney Spence. To do that, they place students in local companies as quickly as possible after their enrollment.

For one class, Kamalbabu, originally from India, found herself asking questions about measuring beer and learning how data increases profit. The class was taking a tour of Steady Serve — a local beer management system that invented a device to measure the content of kegs to reduce waste and fraud.

“It’s on the cusp of what we are seeing as being a tech boom,” Spence said.
Students tour Steady Serve, VOA

In the past, CEO Steve Hershberger hired from big universities near Silicon Valley. Now, he needs coders to work on the connection between beer kegs to his iKeg app, and he is choosing interns from Kenzie because of the quality he sees in the candidates.

“It’s like they folded the country and brought San Jose [the heart of Silicon Valley] into Indianapolis.”

By the numbers

Indianapolis is Middle America. Located in the Corn Belt, Indiana is known for its farms — the state’s model is “The Crossroads of America.” City leaders said that perception is changing. Indianapolis deputy mayor of economic development Angela Smith Jones calls Indianapolis “Western Silicon Valley” with a “great startup culture.”

Last year, technology companies in Indianapolis contributed $7.7 billion into the city’s economy and employed 75,000 people.

Job postings for emerging tech are up 40 percent over last year, and the city’s unemployment rate is currently 3 percent, which is lower than the national average.

The average tech industry wage in Indiana is $76,860.

“It’s on the cusp of what we are seeing as being a tech boom,” Spence said.

Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of "California or New York, not Indianapolis."
Kenzie Student, VOA

Not so fast

But students majoring in tech at Stanford University — a research school located in the heart of Silicon Valley — were unimpressed. Freshman Max Comolli said he wouldn’t be enticed to leave California for Indianapolis because of the opportunities and “such a great tech scene already established.”

Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of “California or New York, not Indianapolis.” But freshman Alexa White from Detroit, Michigan, thinks a tech capital in the Midwest would “benefit the field” and create diversity.

The gender diversity hasn’t reached Kenzie, although school officials said they actively recruit females. The next class of 18 students starting later this year will have three women. Of the current class, only Kamalbabu and an African American are female.

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Statistically, women — and especially women of color — make up a small percentage of the tech field. But 24-year-old Mya Williams called it a “pleasant surprise” when she saw Kamalbabu on the first day of class because she thought she would be the only female. Williams said young girls aren’t encouraged to concentrate in math and science. “They get looked over when it comes to software,” she said.

To Asia and beyond

Kenzie officials plan to duplicate the academy model, starting in Malaysia. Spence goes a step further. “We have a commitment to replicate it around the world,” she said. (VOA)

Next Story

Biggest Facial Recognition System in The World To Arrive in India Next Month

The beneficiaries will be Ministry of Home Affairs, NCRB and state police forces

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Face Recognition
Currently, the leading Facial Recognition software are: Amazon Rekognition; Face Recognition and Face Detection by Lambda Labs, Microsoft Face API; Google Cloud Vision and IBM Watson Visual Recognition, among others. Pixabay

With the tender submission date to procure the National Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) just 20 days away, India is closer to install worlds largest facial recognition system to track and nab criminals.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), under Home Ministry, asked for the bids on July 8 which will be closed on November 8. The winner to provide AFRS will be announced on November 8.

“This is an effort in the direction of modernizing the police force, information gathering, criminal identification, verification and its dissemination among various police organizations and units across the country,” said NCRB in its 172-page document.

The beneficiaries will be Ministry of Home Affairs, NCRB and state police forces.

The benefits will be “a robust system for identifying criminals, missing children /persons, unidentified dead bodies and unknown traced children/persons all over the country; a repository of photographs of criminals in the country; enhanced ability to detect crime patterns and modus operandi across the states and communicate to the state police departments for aiding in crime prevention”.

With the help of the software, the state police personnel can check the suspect with the hotlist of criminals.

Currently, the leading face recognition software are: Amazon Rekognition; Face Recognition and Face Detection by Lambda Labs, Microsoft Face API; Google Cloud Vision and IBM Watson Visual Recognition, among others.

In China, startup Megvii and AI unicorns like SenseTime, CloudWalk and Yitu have made facial recognition commonplace in China.

In April last year, Delhi Police identifed almost 3,000 missing children in just four days during a trial of a facial recognition system.

However, there are concerns that the technology can be misused.

According to Pavan Duggal, one of the nation’s top cyber law experts, the Information Technology Act, 2000 does not specially deal with misuse of this technology.

Facial Recognition
New Facial Recognition System is an effort in the direction of modernizing the police force, information gathering, criminal identification, verification and its dissemination among various police organizations and units across the country. Pixabay

“The first casualty of the absence of regulatory framework for facial recognition technology is people’s right to privacy,” Duggal told IANS recently.

“In India, there is not even any framework to regulate the storage of facial recognition data,” he added.

Some of the major technology giants including Microsoft and Amazon also agree that there is a need for governments to regulate this technology.

Microsoft and its President Brad Smith have urged governments to enact legislation regarding the technology.

The tech industry needs to step up and do more to address challenges related to regulation, said Smith in his new book titled “Tools and Weapons”.

Given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019, Smith said last year.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” warned Smith in a blog post.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” he said in December last year.

Amazon has also defended the face recognition. It offers “Rekognition” — a facial recognition tool that has been used to spot criminals.

Facial Recognition
The use of Facial Recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms. Pixabay

According to NCRB, the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to be implemented that would help in automatic identification and verification of persons from digital images, photos, digital
sketches, video frames and video sources by comparison of selected facial features of the image from an already existing image database.

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“A facial recognition system is a great investigation enhancer for identification of: criminals, missing children/persons, unidentified dead bodies and unknown traced children/persons. It can provide investigating officers of the civil police with the required tools, technology, and information,” said NCRB. (IANS)