There’s been a lot of coverage of Apple’s and Google’s joint initiative to develop a contact tracing tool and collaboration on monitoring the pandemic. Such collaboration is rare. The fact that these two companies effectively control between them the whole market for the smartphone operating systems we carry around with us at all times, make this even more unusual.
What is contact tracing and how does it work? Basically, it’s a set of technologies that use the sensors in our terminals and internet infrastructure to identify people who may have come into contact with us, and then collect additional information about their movements. Contact tracing is an effective way to interrupt transmission and reduce the spread of coronavirus, alert our contacts to the possibility of infection and to provide preventive advice or care, as well as diagnosis, advice and treatment to people already infected, or to investigate the epidemiology of a disease in a particular population.
Implementing these types of initiatives is possible without completely compromising the privacy of users, but given the nature of geolocation data, the proposal has generated concern. In practice, a large percentage of the population has already given permission to Apple or Google, and possibly many other companies, regarding their geolocation data in order to use certain applications. But doing so for something as sensitive as health data requires a certain level of trust not only in these companies’ privacy safeguards, but also in the public institutions involved, something that for many is a real leap of faith. There are no easy answers here.Today In: Leadership Strategy
How do such systems work? In a first phase, the idea is to generate a common interface that public health agencies can integrate into their own applications. In the second, the idea is to develop a system-level contact tracking system that will work on both iOS and Android devices, which uses the smartphone to transmit anonymous identification at short ranges via Bluetooth. The device generates a daily tracking key, and transmits its last 14 days of keys on a rotating basis to other devices, which look for a match. This correlation is also capable of determining both the threshold of time spent in proximity, as well as the distance between the two devices. From this data, if a match is found with another user who has notified the system that he or she has tested positive, he or she is notified so that he or she can take action, perform the test and, if necessary, self-quarantine.
All of this raises a number of questions, for example, if our terminals generate a 16-byte identifier each day, which they must transmit together with those corresponding to the previous fourteen days to all the devices they cross, what levels of data transmission are we talking about? Logically, we will have to introduce some cut-off variable that will allow us to restrict transmissions, and the first candidate is the geolocation record. There are also possible problems such as people not registering having tested positive — fearful of the stigma or restrictions on their movement — or the other way around: people reporting positive when they aren’t, issues that could be addressed by attaching some kind of personal data to identifiers that would allow offenders to be located, but which raises civil rights issues.
As Sara Harrison pointed out a few days ago in The Markup, “When is anonymous not really anonymous?”, we know that the anonymization of data is not enough to guarantee privacy, because there are numerous techniques of de-anonymization — and abundant evidence of their use.
One way or the other, we are about to enter a phase in which, using the pandemic as a justification, it will be normal for data as personal as our geolocation, our state of health or proximity to other people to be collected and processed. The risk, as Edward Snowden has warned, is that some governments will develop systems that can continue to be used to surveil us. And not just governments: this kind of data can be used by companies to practice various forms of discrimination.
In addition to risks, there are opportunities, related to the future of health care: what would have happened, in a hypothetical scenario where privacy was taken for granted, if our devices were capable of transmitting our basic health parameters to a central authority? How simple would it have been to have noted the start of the epidemic and treat it properly before it spread? What about detecting the symptoms of other types of health problems which, in many cases, due to their late detection, cause not only more suffering to patients, but also incur costs to the health system?
Spotify finally gets this most-wanted feature – and real music lovers will be relieved
Music lovers rejoice – Spotify has removed the cap on how many songs you can add to your personal libraries, meaning you can save as many tracks and albums as you wish.
Previously, users has to adhere to a 10,000 song limit when saving songs to their ‘Your Music’ collections – a cap that could be quickly reached if you like to collect full albums and compilations.
If you did hit that 10,000 track limit, you would receive a message saying: “Epic collection my friend. There’s no more room in Your Library. To save more, you’ll need to remove some songs or albums”.
According to The Verge, Spotify users have been requesting an end to the cap for years, although the company had argued that “less than 1% of users” reached that cap.
That 1% is clearly important to the streaming platform however, and the ability to save an unlimited number of tracks to their personal library will surely appease Spotify’s most dedicated users.
There are some caveats, though; in its announcement, Spotify points out that you’ll still only be able to download 10,000 songs on five different devices for offline listening, and that playlists are still capped at 10,000 tracks.
You may still find that ‘epic collection’ message pops up for the time being; Spotify says that if this happens, “you’ll get the new experience soon”. Presumably it will take the company a little while to roll this out to its 286 million regular users (as of March 2020).
4 Things to Consider When Choosing Video Conferencing Software
If you run a small business, then you may have already considered getting video conferencing software. For remote workers especially, staying engaged with colleagues and peers is essential to maintaining work relationships and staying productive.
Considering the major changes currently taking place around the world, businesses are looking for convenient ways to connect to their teams and keep operations moving. On a regular basis, 55 percent of organizations allow their staff to work from home. Now more than ever, the demand to connect is at an all-time high.
However, it’s important to know what to look for when searching for video software. Otherwise, you may end up using an application ill-suited for your business and its employees.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the things you need to consider before choosing conferencing tools to guarantee success for your small business. Let’s get started.
Perhaps the most important concern for most businesses is what certain technologies will cost them. Unexpected costs are responsible for 56 percent of all cart abandonment, which makes it a pressing issue for many businesses. Luckily, many video conferencing tools are available for free if your company is small or doesn’t have strict requirements.
Before committing to anything, estimate how much you may need to spend on software so you can budget for it. The worst thing you can do is purchase without planning, which may leave you paying for something you don’t need. Keep in mind that 95 percent of marketers plan to increase their video spending next year, so it may be worth it to pay more for what you need.
Take a look at how many people you expect to attend online meetings and how much space you’ll need. If you run a small-to-medium-sized business, then most video tools will work for you. However, if you need something that will seamlessly host hundreds, or even thousands, of attendees, then you’ll need to do more research.
Consider how big your conference sizes will be. If you think you can get away with hosting smaller sized meetings, try to organize it. If not, there are options available for larger gatherings.Hosting a meeting you aren’t prepared for makes your company look unprofessional. You want to show your team that you’re a competent leader, and choosing the right tools will keep all of them on track.
Do you know what features are non-negotiable for your company? Some can’t do without the ability to chat while others want to record their live sessions for future use. It’s important to identify what features you need and which ones you can do without. That way, when it’s time to make a decision, you’ll make the best one for your company.
Some popular features you may want to consider include:
- Recording: Many companies prefer to record their meetings, especially longer ones, so people can rewatch it and continue to learn from it. It’s also resourceful for those who couldn’t attend certain meetings but want to learn the information.
- Chatting: Speaking up can waste valuable meeting time and steer you away from the main topic, which is why chatting is useful for video conferences. It also reduces interruptions as people can simply type what they’re thinking.
- Screen sharing: Many companies hold internal webinars and quarterly reviews that require them to show attendees their screen. It’s much easier than navigating users through words and instructions alone.
- Background images: Recently, companies like Zoom have implemented the ability to upload custom background images. This makes for a fun environment during meetings.
- Emojis: Some software lets attendees use emojis to express their feelings and avoid interruptions.
If there’s an issue using video for you or your team, you want to make sure you have a backup to find a solution. Most businesses can’t afford to skip conferences where they exchange essential information that keeps their operations afloat.
So, the software you choose must come with excellent customer support. In most cases, you get what you pay for, so if you opt for a free service, you may not receive the help you’re looking for.
Research your software’s ratings and reviews to gauge how well it takes care of its customers. Seeing recurring complaints is a good sign to steer clear and find other options.
Back to You
You want the best for your business and that includes its tools. When it comes to video software, considering things such as cost and customer service ensures that you pick the right fit for your company. How will you decide what elements are most important for your brand?
Wearable device can tell if your cough is the coronavirus
The small, soft patch adheres to a person’s throat and can monitor a person’s cough, breathing patterns, heart rate, and body temperature, among other factors. It transmits the data to what the developers have called a “HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act )-protected cloud” for monitoring.
Researchers said the device could be used to detect COVID-19 symptoms from home, identifying sick patients before they ever step foot in a hospital.
“These sensors have the potential to unlock information that will protect frontline medical workers and patients alike — informing interventions in a timely manner to reduce the risk of transmission and increase the likelihood of better outcomes,” said Arun Jayaraman, the research scientist at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab who led the algorithm development, in a press release.
“This opens up new telemedicine strategies, as we won’t have to bring in patients for monitoring,” Jayaraman said. “Physicians can potentially review the patients’ data for hours, days, or weeks immediately, through a customized graphical user interface to a cloud data management system that is being set up for this purpose, to see an overall image of how the patient is doing.”
Researchers said the device was developed to sit at a place on the body — the dip in a person’s throat called the suprasternal notch — where it can track the maximum number of COVID-19 symptoms at once.
“Nobody has ever collected this type of data before,” said John A. Rogers, a faculty expert at Northwestern University’s Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science who led the technology development, in the press release. “Earlier detection is always better … for patients who have contracted the disease … the data [is] a mechanism to track the progression and/or the effects of treatments.”
Researchers said they are already making dozens of the devices each week at an in-house production facility in Chicago, and are working to expand deployment of the trackers through a company set up by the team.
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