Posted by & filed under COVID-19.

For earthquake scientists, having hundreds of millions of people off the streets and out of the skies is providing a bonanza of data about the planet.

All those planes, trains and automobiles that aren’t running because of stay-home policies meant to fight the spread of COVID-19 have cut noise pollution in some cities by more than half, allowing seismologists to record sounds from inside Earth they never could before.

John Cassidy, an earthquake seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, says holidays like Christmas are the closest we ever get to these low levels of background noise and that’s only for a day at a time.

“It’s really unprecedented to see this level of quiet,” said Cassidy, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: April 14th, 2020

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/noise-earthquakes-1.5531375

Discussion

  1. What other types of research could be done with things so quiet outside?

Posted by & filed under COVID-19, Data Analytics.

Richard Masse, public health strategic adviser, explained Quebec’s COVID-19 pandemic projections on Tuesday. They estimate the province could see between 1,300 and 8,900 deaths due to the disease by the end of the month.

That’s why the COVID-19 modelling the federal government is presenting this morning needs to be read with an understanding of what these models can — and can’t — tell us.

The projections that governments across the country are relying on now are imperfect but still important, because they allow those governments to assess their capacity to handle the spread of the virus, explain the reasons behind restrictive preventative measures and prepare for the future.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: April 10th, 2020

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/grenier-covid19-models-1.5525478

Discussion

  1. ” Ontario and Saskatchewan have projected a best-case scenario death toll of about 3,000 people in their provinces — even though Ontario has 12.5 times the population of Saskatchewan ” How can this be?
  2. ” governments are using them to inform their decisions. The modelling released by British Columbia provides a practical example of this. It was focused not on future cases or fatalities, but rather on how many beds in intensive care units would be needed under various scenarios. That allowed the government to determine the likelihood that its health care system would be overburdened and decide what needs to be done in advance to prevent that from happening. ” What different sorts of information are needed to make estimates like these?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Healthcare, Privacy.

https://healthweather.us/ is a thermometer-based smartphone app that updates in real time. There is a thermometer that plugs into your phone. Kinsa, the company behind the app and service gathers all those thermometer readings to produce a heat map of where people are sick. It’s actually for influenza, but, of course, tracking temperature is part of COVID-19 identification.

Source: www.Healthweather.us

Date: April 6th, 2020

Link: https://healthweather.us/?mode=Atypical

Discussion

  1. Kinsa Insights, the company that sells this plug-into-your-smartphone app-based take-your-temperature app collects all the data and sells it to places like CVS and Walgreens so they can get the right flu meds on the shelves. Is this an invasion of privacy, or a useful service?
  2. How might you use this publicly available data (down to the county level) to sell a service?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, COVID-19, Google, Healthcare.

Google is now using GoogleMaps data from users of the app to show, publicly, people’s mobility changes.
“As global communities respond to COVID-19, we’ve heard from public health officials that the same type of aggregated, anonymized insights we use in products such as Google Maps could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.

These Community Mobility Reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19. The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.”

Source: Google

Date: April 6th, 2020

Link: https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

Discussion

  1. ” These Community Mobility Reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19 ” How could you use these reports in your community?
  2. Not this this is an appropriate use of this information, but what sort of company or service could you set up (after the pandemic) to monetize this sort of information?

Posted by & filed under Healthcare.

“Cell phones are like an organ of your body, an extension of your body,” microbiology specialist Jason Tetro said from Edmonton in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. “So you have to think of it in the same way that you would think of your hands or feet or something along those lines. “You want to keep it as clean as you would normally your hands.”

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: April 2nd, 2020

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/cell-phone-germs-covid-coronavirus-1.5518705

Discussion

  1. In addition to giving good advice here in this article, is there a way to build a sustainable company (as in, one that outlasts the impacts of COVID-19) for what you’ve learnt here?
  2. In what settings going forward might this advice be useful?

Posted by & filed under Robotics.

From taking temperatures remotely to helping with hand washing, robots are helping with healthcare around the world. This video looks at some of the novel ways robots are being used in the battle against coronavirus.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: April 2nd, 2020

Link to 3 minutes 45 second video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-52105478/how-robots-have-joined-the-battle-against-coronavirus

Discussion

  1. How might you start a company using robots in the same ways as in the video?
  2. What are some issues with using robots in this way?

Posted by & filed under Electronic Surveillance, Ethical issues, Privacy.

The coronavirus pandemic may have emerged in China, but the country now has fewer cases than the US, Italy and Spain.

The Chinese government has used tools such as phone tracking to control the outbreak. Other countries are starting to look at similar technological solutions.

But how does China’s controversial surveillance system work and can state intervention on this scale be justified?

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: April 2nd, 2020

Link to video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-52104798/coronavirus-how-china-s-using-surveillance-to-tackle-outbreak

Discussion

  1. In a crisis like this ” can state intervention on this scale be justified? “
  2. At what level could the U.S. and Canadian governments use surveillance before hitting privacy problems?

Posted by & filed under Career, Cyber Security.

Civil defence used to involve air raid wardens, ambulance drivers and rescue teams.

That was at the height of the Cold War, and the hot wars of the 20th century that preceded it. These days, it means taking the fight online — against hackers and cyber criminals looking to take down or ransom critical infrastructure, such as hospitals.

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted Canadian IT professionals to form an all-volunteer cyber defence team to protect Canada’s hospitals, health-care providers, municipalities and critical infrastructure from online attacks during the COVID-19 crisis.

The SecDev Group, which has pioneered advanced analytics and cyber safety, has been spearheading the recruitment effort and has asked information technology professionals to step up and provide preventative measures and remedial services.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: March 26th, 2020

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid19-cyber-companies-1.5508570

Discussion

  1. What skills do you think it takes to be on a Cyber Defense Team?
  2. What are you doing to make sure you have basic cybersecurity skills?

Posted by & filed under eSports, Virtual Reality.

Aston Martin's Red Bull car in virtual race

Formula 1 streamed its first ever Virtual Grand Prix, with full pundit and commentary team. Celebrities including singer Liam Payne and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy played against each other and in teams from their own homes, in isolation.

Television outlets are also getting in on the action. In the US, more than 900,000 viewers tuned in for the inaugural eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Fox Sports. The network has said it will host an entire series of stock-car races, replacing the ones lost due to the pandemic.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: March 26th, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52049893

Discussion

  1. With a move to being virtual, what will the impact be when people can meet in person again?
  2. Can all sports move to virtual? What makes a move to virtual possible?

Posted by & filed under Future of Work, Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

I believe that once Covid-19 is contained, we are about to see a huge acceleration of change around the Future of Work.  Work that is repeatable and requires little human skill is going to get automated away much, much faster than it already was.  Think how useful it would be right now if we had automated pharmacies.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been in stealth mode for the last 5 years, quietly infiltrating companies around the world.  PwC, a global Accounting, Tax and Consulting firm has spent two full days teaching RPA to every single one of it’s 23,000 employees in the U.S. so that they can in turn roll it out in their clients.

RPA performs the routine tasks of a business that require little skill but much repetition.   

I think that we are about to see an explosion of RPA once Covid-19 is contained.  Businesses are realizing that having people perform the many routine tasks of a company puts them at serious risk when those people are not around.  RPA provides a way for a business to keep the cogs of a business turning without having to have people around to do it.  Covid-19 has really highlighted how big an issue this is.

David Moss of Blue Prism RPA said that doing RPA properly requires management to think about what parts of everyday work are “repeatable” and what is “humanistic”.    You assign “repeatable” work to robots, RPA.  You assign “humanistic” activities, such as answering customer’s questions, to humans.  

The Virtual Workforce

If you want to see RPA in action, this video shows RPA software from UIPath processing orders all the way from getting them via email to the accounting general ledger.  It even sends emails if it finds a problem.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp3hG9UFFk4&feature=emb_logoThe leading vendors of RPA are Blue Prism, UIPath and Automation Anywhere.  They are likely to see explosive growth in the next two years. 

Again, I believe Covid-19 is going to provide is an acceleration of what we covered in the Future of Work section right at the start of class.