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Ecuador Mulls Assange's Sleepover Request

Ecuador Mulls Assange's Sleepover Request

Today in international tech news: Ecuador ponders whether or not to grant Julian Assange asylum. Also: China announces plans to bolster its intelligent transport system; BBC unveils numbers from its unprecedented online Olympics coverage; and IBM continues to grow in Africa, opening a research center in Kenya designed to solve problems unique to the region.

By David Vranicar
08/14/12 8:48 AM PT

Ecuador President Rafael Correa hopes to announce this week whether or not the country will grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to the BBC.

Assange sought refuge at Ecuador's embassy in London in June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on sexual abuse charges.

Assange broke the terms of his bail by entering the embassy and therefore faces arrest if he exits. However, local authorities cannot detain him because they cannot enter the premises.

Ecuador has an interesting history with the 41-year-old Assange. The South American nation offered Assange asylum in November of 2010. In April of 2011, Ecuador expelled the American ambassador after (Wiki)leaked documents revealed U.S. speculation about corruption in Ecuador.

IBM to Open Another African Lab

As part of an ongoing global push, IBM is opening a research center in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, according to The New York Times' Bits Blog.

Along with Ireland, Australia and Brazil, Kenya is the fourth overseas nation in which IBM has opened a research center in the last two years. The research center also marks another step in IBM's investment in Africa: The company now has operations in more than 20 African countries compared to just four in 2006, according to the Bits Blog.

The Nairobi lab will focus on "nurturing homegrown skills," according to the blog, with an emphasis on bringing researchers from around Africa to collaborate -- typically for one year at a time -- with IBM scientists. To that end, the research center will focus on "technology-assisted solutions" to problems facing Africa, such as water management and transportation.

The Nairobi research center will be the company's 12th overall.

BBC and the Mobile Olympics

Mobile devices played a huge role in the BBC's unprecedented traffic numbers for its Olympic coverage, according to a report from BBC.

BBC's Olympic-driven traffic was huge. For instance, during the busiest times of the Olympics, BBC got more traffic than it did during the entire 2010 World Cup.

A big factor in that success, according to the BBC, was mobile devices. One-third of all Web visits came from mobile. That number was lower for video requests -- just 10 percent of video requests came from mobile devices -- but nonetheless was integral in the overall consumption.

PaidContent.org, which has pointed to BBC's Olympics strategy as a watershed in the arena of online sports coverage, highlighted some noteworthy stats from the BBC report, particularly with regard to video and streaming. The 106 million video requests were double the previous highs (32 million for the 2008 Olympics and 38 million for the 2010 World Cup). Also, the majority of video requests, nearly 60 percent, were for live streams.

China Races Ahead on Intelligent Transport

China's Ministry of Transport on Tuesday announced plans to promote the development of the nation's intelligent transport system, according to the state-run China Daily.

The "smart traffic technology" plan is designed to boost efficiency and green transportation, as well as nurture economic growth, according to the article.

To get the initiative off the ground, the government will "encourage" private investment. The Chinese government has in the past been eager to subsidize technologies it wants to flourish.

The China Daily article points out that the number of vehicles in China could exceed 200 million by 2020.

In addition to streamlining traffic and public transportation information, officials also discussed implementing an electronic toll system that would automatically dock people fees via smartphones without cars ever having to actually stop.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com.



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