University of Melbourne automates emergency coronavirus payments – Finance – Projects – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The University of Melbourne has saved over 4500 hours of work by automating much of its emergency financial aid program introduced to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 4000 students have successfully applied for grants so far, which were introduced when remote work was fast becoming the norm and international travel bans placed sudden and severe limitations on resourcing capacity.
A number of different grants are available under the scheme, including a dedicated fund for students to upgrade their IT equipment if they can prove their current setup isn’t adequate for the sudden shift to online learning.
After a scoping meeting on Zoom, the university’s robotic process automation (RPA) team came with a process for the Scholarships & Bursaries division to release payments to students faster and more frequently.
The RPA team had already automated several routine processes at the university, limiting the risks and errors made in repetitive tasks while freeing up staff to focus on more complicated, higher-value jobs.
It created software bots with Automation Anywhere, taking two days to combine existing tooling with new elements required to complete the bot.
Tools including Microsoft SQL were used to feed information to the different bots and link them together, with the compute workload automatically allocated to different machines based on their capacity and availability.
Coupled with the quick build time and turnaround on application processing, the new bot pays out the emergency grants more regularly – up to three times a week compared to once every fortnight as was the case before COVID-19.
It also automatically validates students’ bank details, notifying them if incorrect details are supplied and releasing the funds when the correct information is confirmed.
“The bot has been a godsend for the scholarships office, drastically reducing our workload and ensuring students get paid their COVID-19 grants in a much quicker time frame then we would otherwise be able to do,” the University said.

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Sunak expands £500m fund for UK startups hit by coronavirus | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

The chancellor is expanding a £500m fund for UK startups hit by the coronavirus crisis, to ensure firms that shifted their headquarters abroad can still access the scheme.
The Future Fund will now benefit companies that are seen as British in all but name, having moved their parent company to tap US investors or take advantage of so-called accelerator programmes. Accelerators like US-based Y Combinator often ask firms to set up a US entity in order to access financing, mentorships and expert networks overseas.
Future Fund applicants will still have to prove that at least half of their staff are based in the UK and that they make at least 50% of their revenues from UK sales, the Treasury said.
“This change means that those startups who have strived to be the very best, and taken opportunities to grow their business, will be able to benefit from our world-leading Future Fund,” chancellor Rishi Sunak said.
The changes come amid a surge in demand for the scheme, which will see the government take stakes in British startups that struggle to repay loans due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Future Fund offers convertible government loans worth between £125,000 and £5m to companies that have previously raised at least £250,000 of equity investments. Those loans are matched pound-for-pound by private investors, but the government debt will convert to equity if the loans are not repaid.
The fund is meant to help startups, in sectors like tech and life sciences, that may have otherwise struggled to survive, let alone grow, throughout the coronavirus crisis.
The government initially committed £250m in loans as part of a £500m fund that was equally shouldered by private investors. However, the government has now approved £320m worth of future fund loans to more than 320 early-stage firms.
The Treasury has not confirmed whether there is a cap for the expanded fund, which originally launched on 20 May.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “As we restart our economy, it is crucial that our innovators and risk-takers get all the support they need to flourish.
“Our decision to relax this rule recognises the importance of many of the UK’s most cutting-edge startups as we bounce back from coronavirus.”

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Coronavirus Antibodies Vanish a Few Months After Patients Recover, New Study Finds | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

According to a study published in the Journal of Nature Medicine, recovered COVID-19 patients may rapidly lose antibodies – the blood proteins necessary to stave off virus infections and the cornerstone of vaccinology.
The finding raises new questions about the idea of immunity passports (a way for people considered immune to the virus to move around freely and not need to wear facemasks) and could be cause for concern about the development of an effective vaccine.
Researchers in the study tested for antibodies in 37 people who had fallen ill and recovered from the virus in the Wanzhou district of China. They also tested 37 others who had tested positive for the virus but never showed symptoms – what is known as asymptomatic cases.
This was in order to address two key questions that will inform how the world responds to the pandemic in the coming months – Do most people develop immunity after infection? And how long does that protection last?

In terms of the participants of the study – antibodies for the coronavirus only seemed to last a few months. About eight weeks after recovery, antibodies dropped to undetectable levels in 40% of the asymptomatic people and in 13% of those who had symptoms.
Asymptomatic participants overall had weaker immune responses, those that showed symptoms were less likely to lose their antibodies. It’s unclear if low levels of antibodies, even undetectable levels, are enough to confer immunity. Further research suggests that even low antibody counts could still be enough to prevent reinfection.
Business Insider writes that this study is amongst some of the first into the immune response among asymptomatic people; previous studies have found that most people who show COVID-19 symptoms develop antibodies.
It is also important to note that the Wanzhou study used a very small sample size. Usually, such studies would utilise very large sample groups to be able to generate an empirical generalisation.
Two types of Antibodies
The Wanzhou researchers tested for two types of antibodies – immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM).
Human bodies make IgM first in response to a viral infection, then IgG develops over a longer period of time. That means IgG is a better indicator for long-term immunity.
“Even though we don’t know what’s going on with this disease yet, if IgG confers immunity, that’s the more important one that has implications for going back to work,” Ania Wajnberg, the director of clinical antibody testing at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York told Business Insider.
In terms of the study, seven participants from the asymptomatic group and six from the symptomatic group did not test positive for IgG (long-term) antibodies three to four weeks after they were exposed to the virus. Even more participants did not have detectable levels of IgM (short-term antibodies).
After eight weeks total, IgG levels had declined in all but three of the people who started out with detectable levels. The drop was steep: a median decrease of 71% for the asymptomatic group and 76% for the symptomatic group. Some participants no longer had detectable IgG at all.
Importantly, antibodies are not the only way the body fights off infection. White blood cells – T cells and B cells kill viruses and produce new antibodies, respectively – were not measured in the new study.
Edited by Luis MonzonFollow Luis Monzon on TwitterFollow Tempemail on Twitter

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Australia’s Covidsafe coronavirus tracing app works as few as one in four times for some devices | Health – Blog – 10 minute

The federal government’s Covidsafe contact tracing app works as few as one in every four times for some devices, documents tabled in the Senate have revealed.
The evidence for the first time shows the true state of the operation of the app, despite continuous claims from the government services minister, Stuart Robert, and the Digital Transformation Agency over the past two months that the app “works”.
Since the launch of the app in late April, developers have highlighted ongoing problems with the contact tracing app being able to exchange Bluetooth handshakes with iPhones if the iPhone screen is locked.
The handshakes are crucial for recording close contacts in the event that one of the users tests positive for coronavirus, so the other user can be contacted and tested for the virus.
It was only when asked during a Senate committee hearing in May that the DTA CEO, Randall Brugeaud, admitted the app worked less effectively when iPhones were locked.
Documents tabled in the Senate in response to questions from the Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick have shown, as Guardian Australia has been reporting, that communication between two locked iPhones – such as when people are walking in the street with the phone in their pocket – was “poor” when the app initially launched, meaning it picked up between 0% and 25% of all Bluetooth pings.
This came despite protestations from the federal government that reporting suggesting the app did not work properly on iPhones was incorrect.
“The app runs either in the foreground or background,” a spokesman for Robert told Guardian Australia on 4 May.
According to the DTA’s own documentation provided to the Senate Covid-19 committee, communication to locked iPhones from both active iPhones and Android devices on that date was “poor”.

Digital Transformation Agency Covidsafe app testing results. Photograph: Digital Transformation Agency
It was only ranked “moderate” (that is between 25% and 50% of pings) or at best “good” (between 50% and 80% of pings for Android devices and iOS devices communicating with locked iPhones) as of the end of May.
Guardian Australia asked the Digital Transformation Agency for more specific data but did not hear back by publication.
As of last week, approximately 6.31 million people in Australia have downloaded the app, and according to the health minister, Greg Hunt, that meets the government’s target of 40% of the population as he defined it – being 40% of the Australian population with smartphones.
Tempemail cabinet on Friday added a requirement to its stage three framework for easing restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings that people download the Covidsafe app.
So far states and territories have not tied app downloads to the easing of restrictions, and the federal legislation for the app makes it a crime to force people to download the app.
As of last week, state health agencies have only downloaded data from the app around 30 times, and in none of those cases did the app find anyone not already discovered through traditional contact tracing methods.
But as the states move to ease restrictions and increase capacities at entertainment venues and sporting matches, the app could prove useful in cases where close contacts aren’t easily identifiable, putting pressure on the government to resolve outstanding issues with the operation of the app.
Push to fix ongoing issues
There remain several critical issues with the operation of the Covidsafe app beyond the iPhone issue.
One recently patched flaw allowed long-term tracing of phones even if the app was uninstalled. Although a patch fixed the issue, Android users may not be getting the most up-to-date app after developers noticed it would not auto-update if it was already running – a requirement for effective operation.
The Australian Tempemail University professor Dr Alwen Tiu told Guardian Australia that he had discovered “a different bug, unrelated to [the previous vulnerability] that has the same effect of extracting a permanent, trackable identity from an Android device”.
He said that this issue has not yet been addressed despite him reporting it to the DTA on the 2 June along with suggested a fix.
Another recently discovered iPhone issue occurred if your phone was locked for an hour, meaning the ID associated with your phone would expire, and it wouldn’t exchange IDs with other devices in the vicinity, rendering the app useless.
Jim Mussared, one of the developers who has been reporting flaws to the Digital Transformation Agency, expressed his dismay at how the DTA had been “not at all communicative” with developers about the issues.
“It takes them a long time to confirm the issues, many remain unfixed. Many of these issues have been one-line fixes. Additionally there’s been a complete lack of transparency around all aspects of the development of the app,” he said.
Mussared said he would like to see the DTA release the source code for the server that accesses the data in the event a person tests positive for the virus.
He also said the DTA should provide more information on the bugs and how they are discovered and resolved, and should release information on the number of users actively using the app every day, not just the number of people who have downloaded the app.
Guardian Australia had a freedom of information request to the DTA refused, in part, because of the lack of resources the agency has to process it, claiming it would have to consult up to 80 businesses and four government agencies for the request, and there was only one part-time FOI officer working for the agency.
Mussared said the best thing the agency could do is implement the Apple-Google developed version of contact tracing into the app. It would resolve many of the ongoing issues, including the iPhone handshake problem, he said.
“They should just move to [it] ASAP. In fact, they should have abandoned any other plans the moment that the API was announced at the start of April. Any issues with reliability and privacy of the app are entirely as a direct result of this decision.”
The DTA did not respond to specific questions about outstanding issues with the app, but said “the Australian community can have confidence the app is working securely and effectively, despite the lack of community transmission of Covid-19”.
“The DTA continues to improve the app and welcome feedback on COVIDSafe from the developer community,” a spokesman said.
The DTA said it was still testing the Apple-Google framework to see if it can be implemented in Covidsafe. Several countries, including Germany, have already moved to implement the framework.
Singapore, which developed the app Covidsafe is based on, this week decided against using it.
The country’s minister in charge of the smart nation program, Vivian Balakrishnan, said because the decentralised model used by Apple and Google doesn’t allow health authorities to identify close contacts it is “less effective”.
Covidsafe and TraceTogether gives a list of contacts to health authorities to call, while the Apple-Google version alerts those close contacts through the app and asks them to contact authorities for testing.
Additional reporting by Henry McGilchrist

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Why are Google and Apple dictating how European democracies fight coronavirus? | Ieva Ilves | Opinion – Blog – 10 minute

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a rush by governments, private companies and digital startups to harness and develop the latest technologies in the fight against the spread of the virus.
To best meet public health needs, digital technology should be able to trace the spread of the virus, identify dangerous Covid-19 clusters and limit further transmission. The essential goal is to register contacts between potential carriers and those who might be infected. This has led to tech solutions using smartphones to perform the otherwise arduous and labour-intensive task of “contact tracing” – determining who has come into contact with a disease carrier and what should be done when a person has had that contact.

Latvia has some of the lowest Covid-19 infection and mortality rates in the EU, thanks to aggressive and intensive manual contact tracing. Latvia ranks high for smartphone use, so it was natural that we would leap at the opportunity to reduce the manual workload with the help of a smartphone app. 
Yet when it came to transferring our successful manual tracing methods to the digital realm, we ran into a brick wall. As a member of the team that built our contact-tracing app, I represent the Latvian government in discussions with Apple and Google, whose technology the app uses. In negotiations I have come to realise that much of the public discussion on contact tracing has been oversimplified, with major implications for our health and for health institutions fighting the virus.
A debate has been raging as to where the data from contacts is stored – either on the user’s phone, presumably guaranteeing privacy, or with the national health authority once a user tests positive for coronavirus and might have exposed others to it. This distinction has been labelled a conflict between centralised versus decentralised storage of contact information.
This is the wrong debate. The misconception comes with the term centralised, as if all interactions and contacts between app users were going to be stored in a government-associated server. This has never been the case. What governments need an app to do is to mirror what public health authorities do anyway in the analogue world: manually trace contacts between infected individuals and people with whom they come into contact.
In the manual version authorities do not reveal the identity of the infected person, be they a bus driver or a secret lover, nor do they explore the nature of the contact. The same approach ensuring privacy and data security can be achieved in the digital world. It does not have to be a binary choice. The data collected and used for a limited time by the national disease-control body in a democratic country does not have to be shared with law enforcement or sold to a third-party advertiser – as is true for all data gathered manually. 

Testers in Riga check Latvia’s Stop Covid app. Photograph: Ints Kalniņš/Reuters
The two real issues with contact-tracing apps are whether a digital app can be used to do what many governments do in the real world and, even more important, who decides what public health experts can do with an app. 
Governments in Europe currently have no say if they wish to access top-notch technology or ensure its best interoperability. Google and Apple, two US companies headquartered 10 miles apart in Silicon Valley have designed a well-intentioned framework – an application programming interface (API). This ensures the exchange of a Bluetooth signal and records the contacts that can later be translated into Covid-19 exposure notifications, should a carrier test positive.
Acknowledging the intrusive power of the tool, and the potential for malicious abuse of it, Apple and Google have set preconditions for accessing its contact-tracing framework. The companies will allow only one app per country, approved by its government or its national health authority, but they will not allow a country’s disease-control authority to connect the dots that are critical for analysing data. Manually Latvia’s disease-control authority will call a coronavirus-positive patient, query their contacts to determine the potential exposure, inform those people of a risk, follow up on further developments and build “the tree” of virus spread. The Google-Apple approach will not allow the sole and official “national app” to establish the connection between contacts and carrier.
Do Google or Apple get to tell a democratically elected government or its public health institutions what they may or may not have on an app? 
This becomes a serious issue in two respects – one epidemiological, the other financial and political. Epidemiologically, without knowing the nature of the contact it is not possible to build a model of contacts, whether they are serious spreaders or those who have tested positive yet are asymptomatic. The absence of transmission data limits the scope of analysis, which might, in the future, give freedom to people who can work, travel and socialise, while more precisely targeting others who risk spreading the virus. 
The economic and political issue has to do with the real situation on the ground when an app notifies the user of a potential contact. Should that person quarantine themselves for two weeks and bear the financial consequences of not going to work? Should someone potentially exposed to the virus be directed to immediate and government paid-for testing or be asked just to monitor symptoms?  Without knowing the nature of the contact, an automatic quarantine becomes an enormous financial burden on social security agencies and ultimately on the government that has approved the app. Had Google and Apple aimed merely to provide an information tool that anyone could develop for their safety, rather then asking governments or health authorities to validate and own one app per country, there would be no expectation about making the tool conform to national health requirements.
From the user perspective there is also the problem of informed consent. Will anyone seriously quarantine themselves for two weeks based on an app notification? Without a firm understanding of the nature of the contact that put them at risk, it is unlikely. According to the experience of Latvia’s disease-control authorities, most people exposed to the virus are willing to cooperate and seek the best solution, but this requires an informed conversation.
The immediate goal for governments and tech companies is to strike the right balance between privacy and the effectiveness of an application to limit the spread of Covid-19. This requires continuous collaboration between the two with the private sector, learning from the experience of national health authorities and adjusting accordingly. Latvia, together with the rest of Europe, stands firm in defending privacy, and is committed to respecting both the individual’s right to privacy and health while applying its own solutions to combat Covid-19.
In the long run, however, this poses a far more fundamental question: how much can the decisions of sovereign democratic countries be overruled by technology companies?
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought this question to the fore for the first time. It will not be the last.
• Ieva Ilves is an adviser to the president of Latvia on information and digital policy

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State of Influencer Marketing Report: Effects of Coronavirus – Blog – 10 minute

Socialbakers’ State of Influencer Marketing Report highlights the effects of COVID-19 on the industry over the past few months. It reveals data that shows how brands have adjusted and adapted to the environment brought on by a worldwide pandemic.
The initial impact of the coronavirus seemed to be an overall tightening of marketing budgets, which was also reflected in a decrease of #ad usage among influencers partnered with brands. However, there were developments after that, including a pivot towards smaller influencers who now may offer more value considering budget limitations.
While influencer interests changed to reflect the cultural moment, the use of influencer marketing didn’t disappear and in fact may be even more prevalent going forward as brands look for ways to connect with their audience.

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Returning to the Office after Coronavirus Pandemic – Blog – 10 minute

For those who have spent the past few months working from home, it’s hard to remember a time when work didn’t coincide with pajamas and a comfy spot on the couch. However, as nations around the globe begin loosening their lockdown measures, it is time for businesses to plan for a return to the office.
In order to implement a smooth transition back into the office, companies must keep in mind that the impact of coronavirus has led to major lifestyle changes that not only apply to our personal lives but to the workplace as well. Say goodbye to small spaces or packed meeting rooms, at least for now, as employers have a newfound responsibility to provide a safe and hygienic working environment.
Additionally, the novel coronavirus has shifted employee sentiment as many people are experiencing heightened anxiety surrounding office safety. While time will likely play a large role in easing public apprehension, there are a number of steps companies can take to make the emotional transition for employees easier.
From short-term fixes to long-term design modifications, companies must find a way to boost worker confidence while keeping hygiene at the heart of workplace policy. Check out these 15 simple steps to achieving a successful office reintegration that maintains safety and rebuilds employee morale: 
1. Have Disinfection Stations Throughout the Office
A crucial first step to keeping the office space hygienic often starts with protecting the surfaces we touch. Having disinfectants readily available throughout the office is a great way to prevent the spread of germs/viruses and limit the exposure of outside contaminants to employees. 
Office spaces should place disinfectants at the entrance and around the building to encourage employees to consistently disinfect their hands throughout the day. While this one may seem like a no brainer, disinfectants are oftentimes one of the first lines of defense against harmful pathogens. 
2. Provide Employees With Masks 
Returning to the office after COVID-19 can be both scary and nerve-wracking. Employees are understandably concerned about their health and safety as, for many, it’s the first time returning to a public space. With that being said, new office policies should recognize these concerns and attempt to ease employee concerns by providing face masks. 
This may be highly useful for those who work near others or feel more comfortable with an extra barrier of protection against pathogens. Providing face masks also displays the company’s commitment to keeping employees safe and healthy upon their return to work. 
3. Don’t Make Going to the Office Mandatory 
Unless you’re a Twitter employee, it’s likely that you’ll have to return to the office eventually. However, it’s not such a great idea to recall the entire office at once as many people are still grappling with the disruptive effects of coronavirus. 
Whether it’s health concerns or family responsibilities, many employees can’t just drop remote work altogether. It’s important that company policies take into consideration the impact coronavirus has had on the community and incorporate a level of flexibility to make things easier for those who are struggling to adjust. A great way to stay connected at a distance is through video conferencing; learn how to improve video call quality with five helpful tips. 
4. Utilize Digital Tools to Enable Smooth Remote Collaboration
Digital transformation has played a critical role in the transformation for all businesses, brands, and enterprises during COVID-19. It’s not only made remote work feasible, but it has also allowed many businesses to thrive during a time of crisis.
Therefore, it’s paramount that office spaces empower the use of digital transformation to continue remote collaboration as various employees remain at home. Hooking up meeting rooms with video conferencing technology and providing all employees with a reliable VPN are just a few ways to enhance remote collaboration. Discover more about how coronavirus has set new waves of digital transformation and how your business can learn from it. 
5. Ensure Desks and Open Areas Have Enough Space
Company offices should consider rearranging open spaces and furniture to enforce the practice of social distancing by employees. While it’s nice to have someone to talk to throughout the day, desks in close proximity can quickly put the entire office in danger of spreading germs to one another. 
A great way to keep employees safe while working starts with rearranging desks to stand at least six feet or 1.8 meters apart. It’s also advisable to reconfigure the floor plan so that employees are not facing one another. This provides each employee with a safe and semi-sheltered working environment while in the office.
6. Limit Number of People Allowed in Meeting Rooms 
As much as we all miss communal meetings, a stuffy conference room can be a breeding ground for viruses. It’s important to determine how many people can safely occupy a meeting room while complying with the appropriate physical distancing measures. Removing extra chairs and placing markers will help enforce the limit.
For meetings that require a large number of attendees, offices should consider equipping each meeting room with conference call technology to keep everyone in the loop while facilitating safe social distancing. 
7. Close Small Meeting Rooms With No Windows
Due to the nature of viruses, it’s crucial that office buildings close off small spaces with poor ventilation before welcoming employees back in. Additionally, it’s essential that all employees understand the new procedures for entering the building and using common spaces.
This issue may be alleviated by opening windows and increasing ventilation throughout the space. If there are areas that employees cannot maintain a safe six feet of distance, it’s the employers job to rope off these problem spots. 
8. Manage Office Capacity
To support a smoother transition for employees who are reintegrating into the workplace, companies should consider providing staggered shifts, such as morning and afternoon, or perhaps divvying it up by the week. This method of dividing up the workforce will keep the office capacity at a minimum while limiting contact with others.
A great way to determine which employees will attend the office is by distributing a signup sheet for available working hours. It’s oftentimes more efficient to ask department managers to distribute the time blocks so that essential teams can work together.
9. Open Windows Frequently  
While most of us don’t prefer the windows open during summertime, it’s a necessary measure company offices should take to improve ventilation. In fact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increasing ventilation in your home or office by opening windows or adjusting the air-conditioning can be an important way to keep inhabitants healthy.
Office spaces should make an effort to enhance building ventilation by keeping windows open throughout the working day. Fresh air is far more likely to disperse the microscopic droplets of saliva from coughing, sneezing, talking, inhaling, and exhaling. Thus protecting the working space and employees in it, from housing harmful viruses.
10. Only Distribute Individually Packaged Food 
Everyone knows that an office break room filled with savory and sweet snacks is the best kind. However, employees should say goodbye to homemade treats and shareables as offices focus on protecting their health and safety.
Food, snacks, or drinks that aren’t individually packaged are vulnerable to hosting and spreading harmful germs. Therefore, even if no one in the office is presenting any symptoms, it’s important to keep food items completely separated. 
11. Use Internal Posters to Remind Employees of the Restrictions
It’s always a good idea to remind employees of new policies and procedures with the help of internal posters. Whether it’s a pun on frequently washing your hands or a warning to avoid cramped spaces, using posters to inform and encourage office safety is a positive method of enforcing new rules.
It’s helpful to use internal posters near communal spaces of the office in order to remind employees to practice social distancing and avoid any close contact. It is also advisable to include them near the entrance of the office in order to prompt workers to disinfect their hands upon arrival.

12. Communicate Changes Frequently Across Internal Channels 
Something we’ve all learned throughout the course of coronavirus is that things can change very suddenly. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that companies preserve a channel of communication to share any changes in office policy or safety guidelines with employees.  
Whether it’s via email or Slack or something else, employees should consistently receive updates on the current health situation of the office. It is critical to ensure that all employees understand important items and that they feel comfortable with the practices and procedures in place. 
13. Allow Flexible Schedules to Encourage Off-Peak Commuting 
Although office spaces have the potential to be made safe, most public transportation options do not. Employers must keep in mind that calling employees back to work will likely require many of them to take the metro, bus, or train which is often packed with other people.
A great way businesses can show their employees some love is by allowing flexible working schedules so that workers can avoid cramped public transportation during rush hour. It’s an extra step that will help protect employees’ health inside and outside of the office. 
14. Disinfect Commonly Used Surfaces and Areas
As previously mentioned, it is important to keep community surfaces clean and disinfected. This includes the kitchen area, restrooms, conference rooms, copiers, scanners, and other public equipment. Offices can provide disinfectant materials or sanitizing wipes nearby to encourage others to disinfect surfaces before and after use.
Additionally, businesses may want to explore ways to reduce or limit access to shared surfaces or equipment, while still providing the needed function. This may be achieved by closing off the kitchen area and limiting use of conference rooms. 
15. Use Floor Markings to Encourage Distancing
Staying six feet away while standing in line for the coffee machine or passing a colleague in the hallway may not be as simple as it sounds. A helpful way offices can both inform and enforce employees to practice social distancing while working starts with placing markers around the workplace.
A great way to accommodate employees who can’t simply eyeball six feet of distance, is by placing tape on the ground that indicates a safe social distance. This may also be achieved via posters on the wall that label every six feet of space in communal areas of the office. 
The Takeaway 
The impact of COVID-19 has transformed countless aspects of business, including how operations will resume in the general office environment. As many of us are itching to get out of the house, companies are grappling with a myriad of tasks to fulfill before the office is back in full swing.
Businesses have a responsibility to create a safe office environment and protect returning employees from catching or spreading viruses while at work. With that being said, here are a few things businesses should keep in mind before inviting workers back to the office:

The workplace environment needs to be physically altered to enforce social distancing, ventilation, and to limit the use of communal surfaces
Office spaces will require a hefty supply of disinfectant and should make disinfecting wipes and sprays readily available throughout the office, with special attention given to the entrance 
A smooth transition requires flexibility, which means companies are encouraged to continue to allow remote work while bringing in a limited number of employees to the office at a time
Businesses should keep the health of employees at the top of their reintegration list; providing facemasks, germicides, and flexible schedules are all great ways to protect office hygiene

As life slowly returns to normal, we find ourselves taking extra precautions to safeguard others and our own health. Although the workplace may never be exactly as it was, it will certainly be safer for future flu seasons.

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Europe pins hopes on smarter coronavirus contact tracing apps – Security – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

European countries cautiously emerging from the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic are looking to a second generation of contact tracing apps to help contain further outbreaks.
The latest apps have big advantages over earlier ones as they work on Apple’s iPhone, one of the most popular smartphones in Europe, and do not rely on centralised databases that could compromise privacy.
Switzerland, Latvia and Italy have opted for Bluetooth short-range radio for their apps, based on technology from Apple and Google that securely logs exchanges on the smartphones of people who have been near each other.
Around 30 percent of smartphones in Europe run on Apple’s iOS operating system, with nearly all of the rest using Google’s Android. Together they host 99 percent of the world’s smartphones.
“The fundamental challenge will be if the second wave comes,” said Ingmars Pukis, a board member at mobile network operator LMT, which is backing the Latvian app.
“We hope we will be ready with sufficient functionality and penetration to manage a future outbreak.”
Dozens of countries have launched or plan contact tracing apps using either Bluetooth or location-tracking technology to notify people quickly of possible coronavirus exposure, with China, South Korea and India using more invasive approaches.
However, developers of the Swiss-Covid app hope to show that it can contribute to Switzerland’s broader “test, trace, isolate and quarantine” strategy, without even knowing where people come into contact.
The Bluetooth-based app is now being trialled after army volunteers tested whether it could work in settings such as a cafeteria lunch, a train journey, a shop queue or a house party.
The Swiss app is intended to complement manual contact tracing, with a phone call from a tracer as well as an app notification providing double confirmation that a person is at risk.
“Hopefully there will be a strong overlap,” said Marcel Salathe, a digital epidemiologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
Several other countries, including Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Portugal, are working on similar decentralized apps.
There are still potential flaws as Bluetooth was not originally designed to accurately measure distance. And while mass public take-up is needed for such apps to work, relatively few elderly people, who are at greatest risk, have smartphones.
Latvia is bolting on extra features, with users getting an exposure notification given the option to share their number and get a call from a contact tracer. In a delicate trade-off between privacy and utility, it will be possible in a planned update to share health symptoms and receive advice.

Super-spreading
The first generation of contact tracing apps rushed out in March and April had little impact and raised privacy alarms, with Australia’s requiring people to register their name and phone number, something Apple refused to support.
Although the Australian app has been downloaded nearly 6 million times, reports and government statements last month said it has only helped trace a single case.
Germany’s Covid-Warn-App, due out in mid-June, seeks to rule out such privacy risks from the outset.
“There is no symptom sharing. No data collection. All data is pseudonymous,” said Harald Lindlar of Deutsche Telekom, which is working with SAP on the app.
Italy has launched a similarly minimalist app, called Immuni, in four regions. France, by contrast, has gone live with a centralized app, despite the lack of Apple support.
Apple and Google said when they released their toolkit for Bluetooth apps last month that authorities in 23 countries had sought access to it. Early adopters Singapore and Australia are considering shifting to their joint standard.
Austria’s Stopp Corona, Europe’s first Bluetooth app which has had 600,000 downloads, is one which upgrading to conform to the Google-Apple framework.
“Things could change quickly in the case of a renewed outbreak that we must at all costs prevent – this is where the app can provide ideal support,” Michael Zettel, Austria chief at consulting group Accenture, told Reuters.
“The app makes a lot of sense – for example in churches, clubs and sports teams. It can help quickly to contain super-spreading events,” Zettel added.

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Coronavirus: Patients refusing treatment because of fake news on social media, NHS staff warn- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Social media companies are putting lives at risk by failing to “detox” their platforms of misinformation about public health issues such as coronavirus, NHS staff have warned.
Some Covid-19 patients have been rushed to intensive care after delaying seeking medical help for symptoms because of fake news about the disease, a doctor told a parliamentary inquiry.
The NHS 111 helpline has been flooded with questions about false rumours callers calls had read on the internet, MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport subcommittee on online harms and disinformation heard.

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The committee also grilled representatives of Twitter, Facebook and Google for the second time on Thursday following criticism by chair Julian Knight about “a lack of clarity” in evidence to an earlier hearing and “failures to provide adequate answers to follow-up correspondence”.
The three executives, as well as a fourth from YouTube, appeared before MPs over video after research showed social media firms were removing less than one in 10 posts spreading “dangerous” coronavirus fake news.

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The Centre for Countering Digital Hate, which published the research, accused the platforms of “shirking their responsibility” to stop the spread of “falsehoods.
Giving evidence to the committee, Dr Megan Emma Smith, a consultant anaesthetist at Royal Free London Hospital, said “doctors across the board” were “deeply concerned” about misinformation.
She said: “What I’ve seen is a lot patients who aren’t presenting to hospital — they’re presenting very, very late on in the illness — because, in some of their cases, they have been afraid to come to hospital or they’ve believed online messaging that the illness isn’t as serious as it really is.
“By the time they come to me… they are unbelievably sick and they have required incubation.”
Thomas Knowles, an advanced paramedic practitioner for NHS 111, said at the height of the coronavirus crisis he dealt with “multiple calls a day” involving misinformation, ranging from the use of certain medications to do-not-resuscitate orders.
He recalled one woman who he believed to be suffering a heart attack who refused medical attention “because she’d read on Facebook that [coronavirus] meant she’d definitely die if she went to hospital”.

No hype, just the advice and analysis you need

He also warned the spread of anti-vaccination conspiracy theories could potentially undermine “one of our ways out of this pandemic”.
Mr Knowles accused social media firms of “profiting off of a system which places everyone at increased risk of harm” and called for regulation to prevent platforms “removing themselves from that social responsibility”.

The committee was also sent submissions from healthcare workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic who signed an open letter urging social media firms to “correct the record” on misinformation by alerting all users who encounter it. One doctor in New York said his neighbours had died “because of a delayed federal government response informed by online conspiracy theories”.

The letter, signed by the medics, called for platforms to “detox the algorithms that decide what people see” to prevent “harmful lies” being amplified.
Questioning Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice-president of government affairs and public policy, the Labour MP Yvette Cooper asked why the video-streaming website had promoted “shocking” anti-vaccination and 5G conspiracy theories on its home page.
“Surely that is utterly irresponsible of YouTube, and I have been raising this issue with you and your colleagues repeatedly,” said Ms Cooper, who as Home Affairs Committee chair had joined the session as a guest.

Ms Miller said YouTube had expanded its policies on harmful and dangerous content to include “content that contradicts medical or scientific facts”, but acknowledged there was “always more to do in this area”. She noted the platform had removed conspiracy theorist David Icke’s channel after it linked coronavirus to 5G and “Jewish cults”.
However, Scottish Tempemail Party MP John Nicolson MP said Icke was still “spreading lies” on monetised videos on other YouTube channels.
“You’re doing nothing about it. You know exactly what you’re doing and I think it’s enormously cynical,” he told Ms Miller. “It suits your purposes to have David Icke on because he’s clickbait.”

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy, said millions of users had viewed official coronavirus health information which the platform been promoting during the pandemic.
But Facebook faced criticism from the committee over its decision not to take action over an inflammatory post in which Donald Trump threatened to shoot “looters” following violent protests over the death of George Floyd.
“It looks to me like something is rotten in the state of Facebook,” Mr Nicholson said.
Company founder Mark Zuckerberg’s defence of the decision not to remove the post this week prompted staff walkouts and resignations, as well as condemnation from civil rights leaders.

Ms Bickert admitted Facebook’s processes for removing content were “not perfect” but said Mr Trump’s post had not violated its policies.
Twitter faced Mr Trump’s wrath after it concealed the same post by the US president and the White House behind a warning about “promoting violence”.
The committee asked Twitter’s director of public policy, Nick Pickles, whether Mr Trump’s account could be suspended if he continued to violate the platform’s rules.
He did not rule it out, replying: “Every Twitter account is subject to the rules.”

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Zoom booms as teleconferencing company profits from coronavirus crisis | Zoom – Blog – 10 minute

The teleconferencing company Zoom has seen a massive increase in profits and has doubled its annual sales forecast, driven by a surge in users as more people work from home and connect with friends online during the coronavirus crisis. 
The once-obscure Zoom Video Communications, which has rapidly emerged as the latest Silicon Valley gold mine, released financial results on Tuesday showing the astronomical growth that has turned it into a stock market star.
Zoom’s boom has come despite privacy problems that enabled outsiders to make uninvited and sometimes crude appearances during other peoples video conferences. 
Zoom’s revenue for its fiscal first-quarter between February and April more than doubled from the same time last year to $328m, turning a profit of $27m compared with $198,000 a year ago.
The numbers exceeded analysts already heightened expectations, providing another lift to a rocketing stock that has more than tripled in price so far this year. After a big run-up leading up to Tuesday’s highly anticipated announcement, Zoom’s stock gained nearly 3% in extended trading to $213.60 – more than five times the company’s initial public offering price of $36 less than 14 months ago. 
The surge has left Zoom with a market value of about $59bn greater than the combined market values of the four largest US airlines, which have seen their businesses hammered by the coronavirus outbreak that has dramatically curtailed travel.
“We were humbled by the accelerated adoption of the Zoom platform around the globe,” said boss Eric Yuan, who co-founded the company nine years ago.
In a sign that its growth is not expected to be short lived, Zoom forecast revenue of roughly $500m for its current quarter ending in July, more than quadrupling from the same time last year. For its full fiscal year, Zoom now expects revenue of about $1.8bn, nearly tripling in a year.
Security issues prompted some schools to stop using Zoom for online classes that have become widespread since February, although the company’s efforts to introduce more security protection has brought some back to the service. More than 100,000 schools worldwide are now using Zoom for online classes, according to the company.
But the once-weak privacy controls also helped make Zoom extremely easy to use, one of the reasons it became such a popular way to hold online classes, business meetings and virtual cocktail hours after most of the US began ordering people to stay at home in effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Zoom also offers a free version of its service, another factor in its popularity at a time when about 40 million people in the US have lost their jobs since mid-March, raising the specter of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The San Jose, California-based company has always made most of its money from companies that subscribe to a more sophisticated version of its service that traditionally has been used for business meetings among employees working in offices far apart from each other.
But the pandemic-driven shutdown turned Zoom into a tool for employees who once worked alongside each other, but have been doing their jobs from home during the past few months.
Zoom ended April with 265,400 corporate customers with at least 10 employees, more than quadrupling from the same time last year.
Although Zoom remains focused on servicing its corporate customers, Yuan is hoping to figure out ways to make money from the all the socialising and education taking place on the service, too. Some analysts have speculated that Zoom may eventually show ads on the free version of Zoom, although the company has not given any indication it will do that. 

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