5 Things to Consider When Planning a Virtual Graduation | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Image sourced from University of Pittsburgh

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly thrust us into the future. Digital technologies have become more entrenched in our daily lives in the past two months than they have over the past two years.
If we want to see our loved ones, we jump onto a Teams or Zoom call, if we want to engage in some retail therapy, we turn to eCommerce companies and outlets. There are very few aspects of our day-to-day lives that have not been altered in some way, shape or form by the coronavirus.
When it comes to schooling, both younger learners and tertiary-level students have had to adapt to a whole new world of remote learning. Digital tools have made this process a bit easier, and have enabled students to stay on top of their game, even while learning from home.
Another way in which we have seen the current situation completely disrupt age-old traditions would be in the rise of the virtual graduation. In South Africa, universities have done their best to try and perfect these virtual graduations in order to replicate the esteemed nature of their traditional counterpart.

However, for many young students, going virtual in this sense can be quite anti-climactic, especially after the countless hours of study and many sleepless nights that they have invested in their academic endeavours.
For this reason, it is crucial that universities and even high schools are as prepared for these virtual graduations as possible, in order to give these young alumni the type of graduation they deserve and will remember.
Here are some useful steps that educational institutions can follow in order to make the virtual graduation day as seamless and enjoyable as possible:
1. Estimate Audience Headcount and Event Duration
The first step is to get an accurate estimate of the size of your audience for your virtual graduation. This includes students, faculty presenters, and event speakers as well as virtual “plus-ones” in the form of parents, relatives and friends.
Depending on the number of viewers, your cost to use video conferencing software might change – though some companies are offering schools the opportunity to host live graduations for up to 100,000 viewers.
Once you have a clearer idea of attendance, it’s time to decide on the duration. Will it last 1 hour? 2 hours or more? It’s important to know how long the virtual graduation will last, as some video conferencing software is time-limited.
Be aware of these limits and determine where your budget lands to find the sweet spot. At the same time, a lengthy virtual graduation might become tedious or lose the interest of students. Keep in mind their attention span.
2. 1-Way/2-Way Communication and Private vs. Public Cloud
First, consider whether to use private or public cloud to host your institution’s virtual graduation. For IT teams that have dedicated software services, data infrastructure and a strong internal network, a private cloud solution might be the right choice to provide enterprise-level security and flexibility.
On the other hand, using a public cloud provider could lower expenses, reduce overhead, and raise reliability at scale by storing data in a provider’s data centre and accessing using a web browser. This comes at the expense of controlling precisely where your data is stored and secured.
Then, determine whether the virtual graduation ceremony will be one-way or two-way. In the first scenario, only a designated set of speakers and presenters have their audio enabled.
In the second scenario, other users can be granted access to speak – such as having a student speaker chime in during the ceremony. This will also determine whether or not students’ webcams will be enabled during the virtual graduation or turned off. Consider what makes the most sense for your circumstances.
3. Decide Video Definition Quality
4K or 480p? Discuss with your internal team how the video for the virtual graduation will be recorded, the format, definition, and number of cameras, if the event is live-streamed. Keep in mind your bandwidth and resources to make video quality as high-definition as is feasible.
4. Do a Dry “Run of Show”
Three to five days before the event, bring together all your speakers and presenters for a practice run through the entire virtual graduation. Have each speaker test their audio and video, try out all the controls to switch between presenters, and go through the event’s flow. You might also want to bring in a video director to recommend certain clothing, lighting, and location choices for all speakers and presenters.
5. Provide Clear Access Instructions
More than just sending out a “link” or access code, provide clear directions on when and how your audience can access their virtual graduation. Over-communicate, if necessary, with multiple emails and even create a list of FAQs to address viewer concerns.
By Ghassan Azzi, Africa Sales Director at Western Digital

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MTN Planning to Launch a 5G Network at the End of June | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from The Techie Guy

MTN has confirmed that it is planning on launching its own 5G network at the end of this month.
The company had initially planned to launch at the start of June, but encountered “delays in bringing some equipment into the country.” Business Insider reports that MTN outed itself in the latest issue of Y’ello magazine. In the magazine, the Pan-African telecom writes that it is running a promotion for 5G connectivity using Huawei’s recently launched line of P40 smartphones.
Along with the LG ThinQ, the P40s are currently the only smartphones in the country capable of using 5G services.
MTN has not indicated how it is planning on offering its 5G services. South Africa’s largest mobile operators have struggled for many years to get certain permissions to use parts of the radio spectrum best suited for 5G technologies.

The government is due to auction off blocks of the spectrum later this year.
Before now, only two networks – Vodacom and Rain – have been able to offer 5G services, and both have achieved this by working around government regulations.
Vodacom recently announced a deal with Liquid Telecom to use their 5G network. Liquid owns the parts of the spectrum that formerly belonged to Neotel.
In the case of Rain, they’re repurposing the parts of the spectrum formerly used by iBurst after they bought parent company WBS.
Vodacom is also using the emergency spectrum allocated by the government to provide 5G services. In April, the government allowed access to some of the radio frequency spectrum best suited to 5G on an emergency basis to provide to aid during the national hard lockdown.
The allocation is to help the operators cope with demand. The catch is that operators only get access until November, or until the end of the state of emergency.
Edited by Luis MonzonFollow Luis Monzon on TwitterFollow Tempemail on Twitter

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Financial planning software star Enzumo sold for just $1.5m – Finance – Cloud – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Australian financial services platform and broker Centrepoint Alliance has flashed the cash to walk away with well-regarded specialist software house Enzumo, picking up the planning programmers for a neat $1.5 million – a bargain basement price.
The deal, revealed to the ASX on Monday morning, will accelerate Centrepoint Alliance’s  “development of a scalable, recurring fee-based revenue model” according to the buyer.
While it’s a sure sign that end users are increasingly prepared to buy software suppliers outright if they see an upside, its also a testament to the fact that bolt-on tech acquisitions are not as easy as they look on paper.
Founded in Brisbane in 2004 and with offices on Australia’s east coast, Enzumo has over the last 15 years carved out a solid niche making systems for financial planners and wealth managers that plug into the local investment industry’s stalwart platform XPLAN, created by Australia’s original hardcore markets fintech Iress.
Centrepoint Alliance described Enzumo as “Australia’s leading Xplan customisation group” saying it had “developed an industry-leading reputation and capability in consulting and customisation of Xplan.”
Enzumo had been owned by fellow ASX-listed research and data provider Chant West, a fit that was arguably not ideal given the cultural and operational differences between the superannuation and financial planning industries.
“Centrepoint Alliance is a natural owner of the Enzumo business, and this transaction represents the best outcome for all stakeholders,” said  Chant West Holdings chief executive, Brendan Burwood.
“Enzumo and Centrepoint Alliance share a culture that is focused on providing the services and support that financial advice firms need to provide great advice to their clients”.

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Share content collections with selected users. Leave notes to streamline content planning. – Blog – 10 minute

Share Content Collections With Selected Users and Leave Asset-Level Notes
79% of marketers believe that content-led marketing campaigns will continue to grow over the next two years (World Media Group Research, 2019). Socialbakers’ Content Hub helps brands take data-driven content planning to a whole new level. It’s a central place for organized and integrated campaign planning. And with Content Collections, all stakeholders can easily save, share, and discuss inspiring pieces of content.
Share Content Collections With Specific Users
Brands publishing a lot of content eventually face the same challenge: how to share content with the right people at the right time? To support smaller group work and to reduce the clutter when creating content with specific teams, external agencies, or regional markets and franchises, you can now share Collections with selected users. 
Sharing a Collection with specific users is straightforward: choose a Collection, select → Share, and click on Specific Users. You can then search for and give selected users access to this Collection. Once invited, users are notified straight in the platform or via Tempemail, depending on their notification settings. In case you need to check who is part of a Collection, hover over the images to see the names of all users that can access this Collection. And the best: Content Collections support flexible ways of working! That means you can change back and forth between private, global, and specific user access, and users can leave Collections from their side at any time.

Leave Notes on Asset Level to Streamline Content Planning Across Teams
Also, it’s now possible to leave notes for specific assets! Adding notes can be convenient for brands working with larger teams or agencies: you can write asset descriptions, specify instructions for teams that reuse the assets in Publisher, or add any other relevant information about the content assets. 

Notes can be up to 1,000 characters long and can be added in three ways:

When saving a content piece from Content Hub, type the note to the Add a Note field.
When uploading assets from a local drive or cloud-shared assets, a pop-up window prompts you to leave a note for all uploaded assets.
Notes for existing assets can be viewed, added, and edited by clicking into an asset, and entering a text into the Notes field.

With streamlined communication, it’s easy for brands to break through the content bottleneck, scale content creation, and stay on top of the process at all times.
Engagement Rate in Flexible Widgets – Track What Resonates With the Community
Brands today are swimming in a sea of social media data. While vanity metrics such as shares, page views, and retweets are easily measured, they can be misleading. Actionable metrics, on the other hand, help to go beyond the surface level and analyze the bottom-line business impact of your actions. 
One of the most popular ways to get actionable performance insights is to measure engagement metrics. Measuring engagement helps track how audiences are interacting with your content. While engagement is an umbrella term for various different metrics, looking at just one might not provide all the information needed to make a strategic decision. Instead, you might want to look at a combination of metrics. That’s why we’ve now added one additional engagement metrics to the existing Interactions and Interactions per 1K Follower metrics: Engagement Rate!
Engagement Rate is available as a Flexible Widget that visualizes the number of Interactions of a post per Fan. Like with other Flexible Widgets, you can easily filter by what matters to you, and break the analysis down by various options. Add Engagement Rate to Dashboard now and understand which content truly resonates with your audience, what’s just “meh”, and what’s ripe for improvement! 

Learn more about how Engagement Rate is measured in Socialbakers.

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New nuclear technologies to be examined in planning Australia’s energy mix | Australia news – Blog – 10 minute

The Morrison government has flagged examining “emerging nuclear technologies” as part of Australia’s energy mix in the future in a new discussion paper kicking off the process of developing its much-vaunted technology investment roadmap.
Facing sustained pressure to adopt a 2050 target of net zero emissions, pressure it is continuing to resist, the government plans instead to develop the roadmap as the cornerstone of the Coalition’s mid-century emissions reduction strategy.
The new framework will identify the government’s investment priorities in emissions-reducing technologies for 2022, 2030 and 2050, although the paper makes clear the government will only countenance “incentivising voluntary emissions reductions on a broad scale” – not schemes that penalise polluters.

The discussion paper to be released on Thursday floats a range of potential technologies for future deployment, including small modular nuclear reactors. It says emerging nuclear technologies “have potential but require R&D and identified deployment pathways”.
While clearly flagging that prospect, the paper also notes that engineering, cost and environmental challenges, “alongside social acceptability of nuclear power in Australia, will be key determinants of any future deployment”.
As well as championing the prospects for hydrogen, the paper also flags the importance of negative emission technologies, including carbon capture and storage, as well as soil carbon and tree planting.
This week the government has signalled its intention to use the existing $2.5bn emissions reduction fund to support CCS projects – a move championed by Australia’s oil and gas industries. The new paper says the geo-sequestration of carbon dioxide “represents a significant opportunity for abatement in export gas” – nominating the Gorgon project as a case in point. Growth in emissions in Australia is largely driven by fugitive emissions from the booming LNG export sector.
The paper is also upbeat about the long-term prospects for gas, both in exports and domestic use, even though gas, unlike renewables, drives growth in emissions. It references a statement from the International Energy Agency that switching from coal to gas can provide “quick wins” for global emissions reductions and has the potential to reduce electricity-sector emissions by 10%.
LNG exports are characterised in the paper as “an important low emissions export opportunity” and “domestically gas will play an important role in balancing renewable energy, ramping up and down to match supply and demand”.
The paper does acknowledge that solar and wind – renewable technologies – are now “projected to be cheaper than new thermal generation over all time horizons to 2050”. But it adds a caveat, contending that “the cost of firming is still a major issue, and will require much more work”.
“For instance, renewables are not yet broadly deployed as a power generation source for large, always-on industrial loads that demand stable power supply”. The paper says storage, which could be a large-scale battery, a dam or “a coal stockpile” or a “gas pipeline” will be critical to maintaining affordability and reliability in any electricity grid.
The paper also points to a “forthcoming” national electric vehicle strategy, which it says will support “consumer choice as new technologies come to market”.
While previous government modelling has assumed electric vehicles will make up between 25% and 50% of new car sales by 2030, the paper contends that “pre-2030 abatement potential is limited by the [slow] turnover of Australia’s light vehicle fleet” and the readiness of technology to support emissions reduction in the heavy vehicle fleet.

The paper identifies short-, medium- and long-term objectives. In the short term, the paper says the government will support investment in the new generation, storage and transmission needed to “balance” record investments in renewables.
The medium-term objective is “building storage and transmission infrastructure and the electrification of industry while scaling our domestic hydrogen industry”, and the long-term goal is building “new export-facing industries in the global low emissions economy including those leveraging hydrogen and carbon capture and storage”.
The paper notes that private capital will drive the transformation but it advocates for governments to play a “supporting” role. It says governments can take on greater risk than private investors, “and can place direct value on these benefits, including for disadvantaged Australians and those in regional areas”.
“Government support for innovation in the energy sector means the public can benefit from this innovation sooner, through reduced energy costs, a more secure and reliable energy system, faster emissions reduction or new sources of jobs and growth”.
In a statement, the energy minister, Angus Taylor, said the roadmap was about more than reducing emissions. “This is about developing technologies that will support jobs growth,” he said.
“This is about backing new industries that will help our regional communities and local economies to prosper. The alternative is to sign up to long term targets without a clear plan. This approach will penalise energy-intensive industries and reduce economic activity”.

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Amazon planning to reopen its French warehouses from May 19 – Benchmarking Change- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Amazon said on Friday it aims to gradually reopen its French warehouses from May 19 as it finalises an agreement with unions and work councils to end a dispute over coronavirus protection steps that closed the sites for more than one month.
The US e-commerce giant’s six French warehouses, which employ about 10,000 people on permanent and interim contracts, have been closed since April 16 following court rulings that ordered it to restrict deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic or face hefty fines.
“We are currently finalizing a process with French unions and works councils, and we are hopeful that we will be able to re-open our French fulfillment centres in the coming days,” Amazon said.
The legal stand-off followed a complaint filed by hardline union SUD, which said Amazon did not do enough to protect employees from COVID-19 contagion.
The company has said the latest French court ruling, which restricts deliveries to IT products, health items, food and pet food, could lead to multimillion-dollar fines if it unintentionally ships items that are not included on the list.

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Opera’s OPay Still Planning African Expansion via Nigerian “Super App” | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from TechCrunch.

Opera’s African fintech startup OPay remains committed to building a multi-service super app in Nigeria as the foundation to expand on the continent.
OPay will also continue to operate ORide for limited passenger service — though the company is shifting the motorcycle ride-hail operation toward logistics businesses.
These updates were offered by Opera’s VP of Investor Relations and advisor to Opay, Derrick Nueman speaking to TechCrunch. Opera’s plans are coming to fruition in the context of fierce competition among fintech and mobility companies in the West African country. Nigeria is home to the continent’s largest economy, biggest population and is the top destination for VC to African startups, as of 2019.
In 2018, Opera launched the Opay mobile money platform in Lagos, riding on the heels of the popularity of its internet search engine in Africa. A year later, the Norway-based, Chinese-owned company sent jitters through Nigeria’s startup world when it rallied investors to back OPay with $170-million in venture capital.

Opera tapped this capital to build a large suite of internet-based commercial products in Nigeria, using Opay as the financial utility. In a 2019 prospectus, Opera referred to this multi-product strategy as creating “Africa’s super app.”
With the pursuit of this platform, OPay was put in direct competition with dozens of local startups — such as payment firm Paga and logistics venture Max.ng. However, Opera remains committed to the super app strategy, according to Nueman. He referred to OPay as “the glue that holds it all together and within there you can offer all sorts of products.”
Nueman compared the approach to other multi-service internet services models such as Grab or Gojek.
“It’s taking what has worked in Asia and ascribing it to Africa and that to my knowledge is still the plan,” he says.
Opay isn’t the only service Opera has tested in the African market. Indeed, the company has tested a large list of services verticals in Nigeria, its difficult to keep track. These include:

OMall, a B2C e-commerce app
OTrade, a B2B e-commerce platform
OExpress, a logistics delivery service
OFood, for restaurant delivery
ORide, a motorcycle ride-hail service

OPay — whose Nigerian country manager is Iniabasi Akpan — is also moving into device sales with Olla, a mobile phone line pre-loaded with its apps.
In terms of ORide in particular, there has been some speculation whether or not the motorcycle ride-hail service will continue, particularly after Nigeria’s Lagos State severely restricted two-wheeled, on-demand passenger services early this year.
According to Nueman, ORide is still offering limited ride-hail taxi services. “On the passenger side, it continues to operate where it can.” Many of motorcycles are being transitioned to other functions within OPay.
“What they’ve done is redirected a bunch of their drivers to do things like delivery and logistics,” says Nueman.
Several of ORide’s competitors have also shifted away from passenger transit and toward delivery logistics in response to regulatory restrictions on motorcycle taxis.
Despite all of this, Opera is still planning to take its super app model across Africa. “OPay continues to look into other markets. The idea is to take what’s worked in Nigeria and export it,” the VP says.
Opera has named Ghana, South Africa and Kenya as potential growth markets. But these expansions have since been put into questions with the world-changing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Nueman is saying the expansion all depends on obtaining the proper licenses and then, gauging shifting variables related to COVID-19 in Africa.
On OPay’s plans to weather a stormy economic environment in its primary market, Opera’s Nueman points to the company’s VC coffers.
“At a high level, if you don’t need capital, or your well funded, you’re ahead of the game,” he says.
Nueman also highlights the growth of OPay’s payment volume. “Between January and April…the offline and online transaction volume increased by 44%. So even in the lockdown, it’s doing really well.”
Still, recession and restricted movement could make business as difficult for OPay in Nigeria as its competitors. Opay hopes its higher capital and the ability to endure a higher burn-rate will allow Opay to gain more of an advantage in the current market over its competitors. But it will take more time to determine if OPay can align its super app products to local consumer preferences as well (or better) than offerings by local tech companies.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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Odisha fights Covid-19 with advance tech tools, planning and effective execution- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Odisha has had a history of facing natural disasters and hence the administration is well-equipped to handle such disasters through SOPs. Covid-19, however, is a unique challenge – it affects human beings only, leaving all physical infrastructure untouched. “This is a first for the state and the world in general. We are evolving our response as we learn more about ways to tackle the pandemic,” says Asit Kumar Tripathy, Chief Secretary, Odisha.
The government has been driving the ‘Mo Sarkar’ and ‘5T’ projects for the past one-and-a-half years, which is all about changing the business process of the government and helping it to become transparent and efficient through technology. EC spoke with Manoj Kumar Mishra, Secretary, Electronics and Information Technology, Odisha, who shared how the state is using technology to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Edited Excerpts:
Manoj Kumar Mishra, Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of Odisha
Please brief us on the preparedness of the Odisha government to the battle against the pandemic. Odisha government’s incentive scheme for the people coming from abroad has been much talked about. How did it help to make sure people complete their quarantine period?
We had time to witness and learn from the experience of the coronavirus-affected countries. The government was quick to realise and recognise that the coronavirus would only come to Odisha via external sources i.e. through travellers coming back from foreign countries. The first statewide information, education and communication (IEC) outreach about the coronavirus in Odisha was conducted on March 8, the same day when the first international passenger was screened in the state. Two days later, the state government declared Covid-19 to be a ‘state disaster’. The state also empowered public officials to combat the spread under the Disaster Management Act 2005 and imposed the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 where necessary.
Even before the entire country bore the Covid-19 brunt; Odisha became the first state to enforce lockdown and incentivise self-declaration. Odisha incentivised the quarantine scheme and offered INR 15,000 to people coming from abroad and who declared their travel history on the portal. The government received an overwhelming response from the travellers largely because of the incentive. A total of 4,600 people were registered on the portal till March 26, before the international flights operations were suspended in the country.
We deployed all our resources to ensure travellers complete the quarantine period. The call centre team called them up thrice a day for thorough monitoring of their quarantine. Incentivisation literally helped us to keep travellers inside quarantine centres. We quickly set up testing protocols in place and started Covid-19 tests and the percentage of positive cases in Odisha turned out to be miniscule. By the end of it, we saw that some of the states had become hotspots of the coronavirus. From March 10, we started screening passengers coming to Odisha from states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi through trains. We sent them text messages and got 40,000 of them registered on the portal.
Odisha has always been a pioneer in managing disasters through cutting edge technology. What kind of innovative tech measures were taken by the IT department to handle the coronavirus pandemic?
When some of the Nizamuddin returnees arrived in Odisha, it prompted the government to clamp down curfew in three districts to restrict people inside their homes and the situation was fairly under control at that time. Meanwhile, the IT department deployed an Artificial Intelligence-based questionnaire, which was part of the CoViD 360 solution of the consortium of Deloitte, SalesForce and Diagnostic Robotics.
It was widely used in Odisha and follow up calls were made to the people to assess their condition. We also created a WhatsApp chatbot to disseminate information to people to combat any kind of fake information, and it was received well by everyone. Odisha’s State Covid-19 dashboard is one of the best across the country.
The IT department deployed high-end analytic tools with the help of SAS and it came out with predictive scenario. The government has also roped in engineering institutes’ professors and students to get their expertise to handle the pandemic. We expected a large influx of migrants workers as we are a labour exporting state after lifting of the lockdown on May 3, we launched a portal for registration of names to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The migrant workers will have to register their name and address in the portal covid19.odisha.gov.in. Anyone who wants to return to Odisha after lockdown via any means (air/train/road) is required to register by filling up the form online and offline. It is now managed by the home department. Based on assessment through call centres and registration, the government created more than 8000 temporary medical facilities across each Gram Panchayat and urban body to help people get quarantined after their arrival.
Besides, we have also pitched in hotels to accommodate travellers who wish to pay and stay in such facilities for quarantine. It is because of the preparedness of readying quarantine centres, Odisha is well managing the migrant labour issue. Odisha is also a labour exporting state like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and now labourersare getting back to the state. The government is keeping a close eye on the development.
Furthermore, in partnership with UNICEF India, we have unveiled a unique website “https://covidsangramee.odisha.gov.in” to invite volunteers to strengthen our state’s fight against the Covid-19.
We have also setup a dedicated telemedicine helpline facility which is an IVR system based module that enables the dial pad for identification, segmentation and routing of callers to the appropriate person. Anyone who is suffering from cough, fever, tiredness, and respiratory problems can dial the telemedicine helpline (14410) to seek medical advices from the qualified doctors, who have registered themselves to provide medical access to the suspected Covid-19 cases. Over 300 doctors have so far registered themselves to provide voluntary services to people with Covid-19 symptoms.
We also recently launched ePass for people who are stranded in Odisha and need to travel to other states. The can log into http://covid19.odisha.gov.in and apply and after online approval, ePass with passenger and vehicle details will be sent to the applicant though SMS and email.
Please shed some light on the coronavirus tests being done in the state. 
The state crossed the mark of 50,000 testings on May 7. While, the national average of coronavirus testing stands at 983 tests per million, it is 1150 in Odisha’s case. We had only one testing centre at RMRC, Bhubaneswar, which is the only agency having wherewithal to do the Covid-19 tests. Currently, we have developed adequate testing facilities. Odisha is one of the first states to have procured sufficient numbers of PPEs, ventilators, masks, sanitisers and other key equipment to battle against the Covid-19. We are doing around 5,000 tests per day. Efforts are continuous for increasing testing infrastructure. Even an advance state like Kerala registers one positive case per 75 tests, while Odisha registers a positive case per 230 tests. So testing per positive case is extremely high in the state.
What are the key focus areas to contain the Covid-19 in the state?
Apart from what I mentioned in my previous answer i.e. ramping up testing, tracing and isolating, the purpose of lockdown can be defined into three categories—to flatten the curve by making people understand the value of social distancing, strengthen the healthcare infrastructure and communicate with the citizens through digital means. IT department’s role was to take this communication to the people. We have been working with the state I&PR department and are able to substantially take this message to the last mile citizen. The government is trying to decrease the possibility of community transmission. Creation of hotspot zones, hassle free home delivery of services, encouraging people to wear mask in public areas are some of the priority areas of the government.
How did the IT department ensure the government functions smoothly in the lockdown? Can you brief us about tech tools that the department has been using amidst the pandemic?
It was a great challenge to ensure the government functions uninterrupted after the nationwide lockdown was imposed. We operated in the large part of the lockdown for the past one-and-a-half months with an average of 20 per cent of the workforce at the Odisha secretariat. VPN (virtual private network) access was given to around 2,000 officials of 46 departments of the state government to enable them do work from home. All the government files have become online and this is not new for us. We have been doing this for the past nine years so working online was never a herculean task. For collaborative working, the government tied up with Cisco for video conferencing and Microsoft, and both of them helped immensely to the Odisha government by offering extremely good services and given free licenses for the operations. At a time when the railways, airlines and roadways have stopped, internet is the only thing which kept us together in the lockdown.
The government has been driving the ‘Mo Sarkar’ and ‘5T’ projects for the past one-and-a-half years which is all about changing business process of the government and help it to become transparent and efficient through technology. Almost every major department has become online and dispensing their services online. It has become the new normal. We have prepared a digital infrastructure where citizens need not to visit the government establishments rather the latter would approach the citizens to resolve their issues.
We have also unveiled e-pass service for those who want to go outside Odisha and the powers to issue these passes have been given to Sub Collectors and Tehsildars. We have done end-to-end e-pass facility and people apply and receive these passes online if they fulfil the terms and conditions.
The state has further designated ‘Covid Hospitals’ across Odisha, with 34 functional in every district. The state has adopted GIS mapping to have all Covid infrastructure properly geo mapped for use of people as well as the administration. With GIS mapping visualisation of assets, granulated to GO levels, it gives single frame snapshots on adequacy of the infrastructures. Overlapping these maps with testing population and affected population gives the administration insights into planning for infra on short and medium terms.
How did the department manage to give key directives to the staff in the remote parts where poor connectivity has always been a challenge amidst the pandemic?
We have partially fibered the state through Bharatnet phase one and phase two is under implementation. All blocks in the state are connected with the optical fiber. The government aims to reach to the Gram Panchayat level and half of the state is already connected and the remaining work would soon resume as the norms have been relaxed in the lockdown. In another three months, we will be able to cover all the Gram Panchayats. The government is trying to provide similar digital facilities to the villages at par with the state capital.

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Sephora A/NZ to transform workforce planning for up to 650 staff – Cloud- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sephora is set to switch on a new cloud-based payroll and workforce management system for its Australian and New Zealand retail operations from June.
Director of stores and client experience for A/NZ Stacy Paoa told Ceridian’s HCM executive summit that the beauty retailer would follow its US operations in deploying Ceridian’s Dayforce platform.
Sephora has 650 employees in its A/NZ operations. 
Though its retail stores are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still operating online, and Paoa is hopeful of reopening at least the Australian stores in mid-May.
Regardless, the retailer has set June 1 as the go-live data for payroll and workforce management via Dayforce, and Paoa said that would not change.
“We’re going to have everything ready to go regardless and we’re not flexing on that go-live date,” she said.
Despite Sephora’s global presence – with 2600 stores across 34 countries – Paoa said technology decisions were left to the markets and regions, resulting in variations across geographies.
“You’re probably thinking as a global company [that we] probably have a global solution for workforce planning. And the answer is, we didn’t,” Paoa said.
“We all operate very independent of one another so we have a global proposition in terms of our values, but the tech is very much based on the market specifically. 
“Our company is part of Southeast Asia, which is part of Asia, and even then we don’t have a consistent workforce management tool.”
Paoa said there was an existing tool that was largely ignored both by head office and retail staff.
“It didn’t talk to our payroll system, it was really clunky, and the user experience wasn’t great,” she said.
Though Paoa has been in her role in A/NZ for a year and a half, she has been with Sephora for 17 years, working her way up from the shop floor. 
Back in 2011, she was part of a pilot group when Dayforce was launched in the retailer’s Las Vegas market.
“I was able to really see that being built from the ground up and also saw the success that it drove for the overall business after we integrated that into our systems,” she said.
However, the US experience alone wasn’t enough to get Dayforce over the line in A/NZ, with offerings from five vendors ultimately evaluated.
“I not only had to get Southeast Asia sign off, I had to get Asia sign off, and we’re the only country within Southeast Asia and Asia to go live with a workforce management tool,” Paoa said.
“We’re the first, but it’s something that every country is excited to see the success here so that we can roll out in the rest of our countries [in the region].”
Paoa said it made sense to run Sephora A/NZ’s payroll and workforce management out of a single system.
“It would’ve been quite easy for us to keep the same payroll system but having something that was all-in-one, where there wasn’t data files being shared across two different systems, [was] a ‘no brainer’ for me to pitch to HR because they ran into so many challenges with having one system run by one company and then the payroll system in another company,” she said.
More broadly, Dayforce integrates with My Sephora Career, a global human resources system the company uses that is built on SAP’s SuccessFactors.
Paoa expects Dayforce will play a crucial role in the back half of 2020 and beyond as the company – like others – attempts to trade its way out of the COVID-19 crisis.
The platform includes – among other things – predictive capabilities that helps companies determine how to roster staff to meet demand and operational targets.
“The system uses your data to give you the best outcome and it also helps to have you identify – without you having to manually identify – where are your opportunities, where are your deficits, and then putting more stuff or putting more whatever it is, shifting your current headcount into the places that you have a need,” Paoa said.
“We know that this will help us be more proactive, more productive and more predictive of what the future holds.
“It just really helps us to protect the profitability piece. We’re looking at any way to be more predictive of what the rest of the year will hold. 
“We need to really control the costs the best that we can.”
Sephora’s retail staff are also expected to benefit from the new system, which distributes rosters and allows roster changes to be made via an app.
“The fact that they can access an app that gives them their roster on-demand and they can switch a shift is a huge win for them,” she said.

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Covid 19: Tech preparedness and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) for data centers- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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By Amit Gupta, Head-Technology Services, Sun Life Asia Service Centre (ASC) India
For more than the last 6 weeks, business and industry around the world has been facing a challenging situation, which is not only sudden but also unique. These are not “normal” BCP situations of civil unrest, earthquake etc. where the full impact is understood quickly and then you can plan for it.
The full impact of the COVID-19 situation is unfolding gradually every day. Given its uniqueness, many businesses were not fully prepared to handle the situation. While we all are in it together, the onus lies with technology leaders to ferry the organization to come out of this crisis by using technology.
We at Sun life Asia Service Centre, India managed the situation in a manner, which was decisive, fast and secure. Within 3 weeks, we were able to scale our work- from- home posture from below 55% to 100%.
Our technology teams in collaboration with enablement and business teams were able to put a plan solution where the cornerstones were – Decisiveness, Agility, Engineering, Collaboration & passion, Client centricity and Digital thinking.
Decisiveness – Our BCP team was keeping track of the situation since early February 2020. Our technology teams were always prepared to go in a mode of work-from-home on a short notice to push social distancing. We decided for our technology teams to start work from home from 6th March onwards. We fast tracked procurement of essential items – laptops, network accessories etc.
Agility – The situation was unique and hence there was no handbook or a 100% ready plan to deal with it. However, we as a team started putting our plan and goals for each day in an agile manner. We took help from our scrum masters to break the outcomes into small goals and an agile plan.
Engineering – Our network & server engineering teams worked to optimize the network links to reduce traffic on internet due to work-from-home posture by splitting the on premise and cloud tool traffic. VPN (virtual private network) infrastructure was re-configured to increase stability and its capacity was increased. Imaging & Configuration management server were optimized to ensure preparation of more than 100 laptops or desktops per day. The desktops were enabled with encryption and virtual machine connectivity software to ensure similar data security as we get in office premise by using Thin WYSE client.
Collaboration and passion – A single person or a team cannot handle situations like these. We created a cross -functional team with Human resources professional, Infrastructure engineers, process experts, business operations users, risk & information security specialist, collaboration tool expert and communication specialist. This team worked as a well-oiled machinery with a purpose of making the business tide over the situation.
Client centricity – We keep clients at the center of everything we do. As an organization, we were always working on solutions where our clients were provided all possible support to deal with the situation. Our application support teams worked with our business partners to extend system availability to enable keying in transactions and requests for extended period. Communication is key during these times. Our Marcom team were working round the clock to reach clients and employee by all modes.
Digital thinking – Out of the box and innovative solutions are always essential in such situations. For any employee technical query support we leveraged the collaboration tool by making the helpdesk available in virtual chat rooms. This ensured quick problem resolution. For some repetitive work and standard process, short videos were created and pushed to our internal social platform. For reimbursement, we launched the digital and paperless solution.
As a result, in a short span of 2-3 weeks we not only were able to enable 95% of the teams work-from- home but also ensured same productivity by introducing smart engineered solution, quick servicing and introducing digital solutions.
While the situation is still evolving and has already taught us a few lessons, I feel there are numerous opportunities. The digital mindset can no longer be a strategy, it needs to be pushed with more force for implementation to prepare us better for these situations. We need to put more focus on organization culture because people are integral to any solution to get out of any such crisis.

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