As healthcare workers are overwhelmed during the COVID-19 crisis, bots are handling some part of their workload.
Google is extending its premium Meet features until the end of September for its G Suite customers.
Faith-based communities can use some digital tools to gather virtually during Easter and Ramadan.
Facebook’s privacy lawsuit revived in the US after three years.
China is using robots to measure temperature and recognise facial features.
Using bots in healthcare to fight COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis is pushing healthcare and emergency services to the brink.
In many countries, the number of healthcare workers needed to provide care is significantly low.
Over 80% of the world’s nurses work in countries that are home to half of the world’s population, according to WHO.
And one in every eight nurse practices in a country other than the one where they were born or trained.
There are just under 28 million nurses worldwide, a report by International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now said.
Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million. This means there is a global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses. And the gap is huge in African and South East Asian countries.
Emergency medical service providers are also short-supplied to meet the number of queries coming into hospitals and healthcare centres during the COVID-19.
To help meet the shortfall in healthcare workers, hospitals are using bots to answer questions related to symptoms, potential exposure, connection with people who have the coronavirus, and information on potential treatment.
In Finland, Helsinki University Hospital has created a Coronabot that answers queries and provides information about COVID-19 in different languages.
The bot gives questionnaire so it can understand the patient’s need, and then, additionally offers mental health support to help address anxiety caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Beyond this point, the patient can call the emergency number, if they want to connect to a human person.
The bots help reduce the burden on healthcare workers as they can now focus on sick patients.
The Coronabot was launched in March 16, and has since logged over 73,000 visitors and 1.5 million messages by early April, according to a Microsoft blog post.
Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot powers the Coronabot. It’s a cloud-based service for healthcare organisations to build and deploy AI-powered virtual health assistants and chatbots.
Since March, health organisations have created 1,230 COVID-19 self-assessment bots based on the Microsoft Healthcare bot service, reaching 18 million individuals and serving more than 160 million messages, it said.
Congregating online to observe faith-based holidays
The COVID-19 crisis has led to all faith communities to stay away from their places of worship.
Some are quickly making the change to online gathering, while others are moving slowly.
The crisis could also be an opportunity to shift traditional ways of organising, both to seek their deities and peacefully observe festivities.
With Passover, Easter and Ramadan coming up during this month, here are some ways you can stay connected using tools from Google.
If you are a faith-based organisation with a database of email addresses of people attending services at your place of worship, you can use the email service to inform them of any change.
You can also use the auto-reply feature to answer any frequently answered questions.
This could be a perfect time to update your email signature, and add any important links that you wish your group to know.
Update your Google Business Profile with any changes in operations or timing, so those searching may find it useful to plan.
Google Maps Posts is another effective tool to communicate information directly on your Business Profile, like updating your group of any shift in virtual gatherings.
Moving on to the visual medium, creating and promoting a YouTube channel could be a great way to communicate with your congregation.
It gives you options to record a service, discussion or worship session. Alternatively, you can even live stream a sermon for people to watch from their homes.
For more smaller group meetings, Hangouts can be a great way to connect with about 25 people at one time.
Many faith organisations receive charitable donations when people meet in-person, but current scenario, other tools can help you continue to raise funds.
Google for Nonprofits supports any federal income tax exempt or equivalent organization to help you reach more donors online.
Google extends access to premium Meet features
Over 120 million students and educators are using G Suite for Education worldwide to create, collaborate and communicate in spite of educational institutions closures.
To support the institutional needs, Google is extending its premium Meet features for free for all G Suite for Education and G Suite Enterprise for Education users until September 30, 2020.
This access will allow students and educators to have meetings for upto 250 participants per call, stream lectures live for up to 100,000 viewers within their educational institution, and records meetings and save them to Google Drive.
Google is also merging its Classroom platform with Meet. This combination will allow educators to create unique Meet link for each class. This link will be visible on the Classroom Stream and Classwork pages, making it act as a dedicated meeting space for each class.
Other new features that will be available in Meet include:
Only meeting creators and calendar owners can mute or remove other participants in a call. This is to ensure instructors can’t be removed or muted by student participants.
Only meeting creators and calendar owners can approve requests to join made by participants outside of the school’s domain. This means that students can’t allow external participants to join via video and that external participants can’t join before the instructor.
To limit the attack surface and eliminate the need to push out frequent security patches, Meet works entirely in your browser. This means there is no need for plugins or software to be installed in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.
On mobile, Google recommends that educators and students use Meet app.
Facebook under renewed scrutiny over privacy lawsuit
A US federal appeals courts in San Francisco said Facebook users could pursue several claims under privacy and wiretapping laws, according to a report by Reuters.
This revives a country-wide lawsuit that accused Facebook of violating users’ privacy rights as the social media giant tracked their internet activity even after they logged out from the network.
The company had quietly stored cookies on users’ browsers that tracked other sites they visited, and later sold personal profile data based on browsing histories to advertisers.
The case was dismissed in 2017 by a US District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California with a note that users didn’t have any legal standing in pursuing economic damages.
Now, a three-judge panel on Thursday said that users had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and that they had sufficiently alleged a “clear invasion” of their right to privacy.
“Facebook’s user profiles would allegedly reveal an individual’s likes, dislikes, interests, and habits over a significant amount of time, without affording users meaningful opportunity to control or prevent the unauthorized exploration of their private lives,” Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote.
A spokeswoman for Facebook said the proposed class action was without merit, and the Menlo Park, California-based company will continue defending itself.
Robots scan humans for fever in China
The Beijing Institute of Technology has deployed robots to monitor its campus, Venture Beat reported.
The robots are car-shaped, and are operated remotely to screen visitors from a distance.
The 5G powered robotic cars are also used to deliver packages.
The image of the robot was shared by the state-run press agency Xinhua. The unmanned vehicles can also recognise facial information of visitors.
Cool High Technology, as part of its KuGaea Kun series, built the robotic car.
It has compartments for packages, telecommunications equipment, and audio-visual gear, according to the report.
While delivering goods, the robot grants access to one of the four locked doors that is mounted on its side.
People can pick their packages when this door is opened.
The robotic vehicle also features a swivelling top-mounted camera to identify passers-by with the help of facial biometrics technology and scan their temperature.
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