Medicare to reuse Centrelink’s new payments calculator – Strategy – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The payments calculation engine currently being developed by Infosys to work out the eligibility of Centrelink recipients looks set to replace the country’s legacy Medicare payments system.
Government Services Minister Stuart Robert revealed the new entitlements calculation engine (ECE) would be reused across Services Australia during a Tempemail Press Club address on Tuesday.
It ends two years of uncertainty over the future of the legacy Medicare payments processing system that began when the government dumped its procurement of a cloud-based replacement.
The ageing platform – also known as the health and aged care payments system – is currently used to deliver Medicare, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, veterans and aged care payments.
It comprises 200 separate applications and 90 different databases, making changes to its underlying code base difficult and resource intensive, especially when events like COVID-19 arise.
More than 600 million payments worth in excess of $50 billion each year are delivered through the system each year.
Since dumping the procurement, the government has been bleeding money trying to keep the existing system online. Back in 2016, the system’s predicted end-of-life was 2020.
The latest funding injection was last December, when the government allocated $37 million to Services Australia to perform “essential” maintenance on the system.
But the government appears to have now found a replacement for calculation component of the system, with Robert confirming that Centrelink’s ECE will also serve Medicare.
The ECE, which Infosys won the contract for last year, is used for the complex task of deciding how much to pay to welfare recipients through the country’s Centrelink payments platform.
While still in the final stages of testing, Services Australia has already confirmed the Centrelink payment’s platform will be used to support Medicare and Child Support payments. 
Robert said the ECE, which is being built on a Pegasystems platform, was an example of where government could “buy, build or develop once and use many times”.
“Given the tried and tested scalability of the platform, the government will also be able to re-use the platform in other areas that require similar functionality,” he said.
Robert said this would start with calculating aged care payments, before “expanding to other initiatives such as veterans income support and the modernisation of our health systems”.
“This is saving taxpayers’ enormous amounts of money, increasingly the speed of implementation and removing friction for customers across government,” he said.
It comes as the government continues to map its current IT capabilities to identify and invest in “the strategic platforms and technologies” necessary for a whole-of-government architecture.
“We are methodically and purposefully building the architectural blocks that will sustain the future of delivering services to all Australians,” Robert said.
“Leveraging our investment in major transformation programs is delivering reusable technology components to reduce cost and complexity while speeding up delivering.”
One of these will be a new “whole-of-government permissions and permits platform”, which effectively replaces the government’s failed visa processing platform outsourcing project.
Robert said the platform will “deliver a modern visas and permits processing capability as a priority”, building on previous work undertaken by the Department of Home Affairs.
“This project, run by the Digital Transformation Agency and reporting to me, is a government priority,” he said.
Other common platforms identified under the architecture include the government’s new Facebook-inspired digital service platform, dubbed the government digital experience platform (GOVDXP).
GOVDXP, which has a current build price of $23 million, is tipped to eventually replace myGov with a single, tailored view of a citizen’s interactions with the government.
The platform reached beta last month, though it is yet to become the “one front door for government” that the government promises it to be.
The government is similarly continuing to develop a common set of API standards.
By adopting common platforms, the government will be able to make better use of the “significant amount of money spent across all tiers of government on technology”, Robert said.
At the federal level, this is approximately $10 billion each year, while Australia’s most populous states are now spending more than $3 billion on government technology each year.
“We currently have to seek hardware and software providers, system integrators, consultants and advisers in separate approaches to market in order to get the end-to-end capabilities we need to deliver a platform,” Robert said.
“It takes a lot of time, money and effort on all sides to do this.
“Going forward, I want to see these providers come together and work collaboratively. I want to see effective solutions that ensure better collaboration, clear accountability for delivery and better value for money.
“If we are to spend hundreds of millions on certain platforms or technologies, these platforms should be scalable or repeatable across government so we can achieve that vision of simple helpful government services.
“The Commonwealth is ready to play a leadership role in this, initiating procurement reforms that will enable the private sector to work collaboratively to delivery whole-of-government and potentially whole-of-nation platforms.”

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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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ME, Heritage Bank switch on Apple Pay – Finance – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

ME Bank and Heritage Bank both became the latest financial institutions to offer Apple Pay to customers on Tuesday.
ME Bank said in a statement that it had introduced the option “during a period when contactless payments continue to soar.”
“We’re pleased to announce that all new and existing ME cardholders can now use Apple Pay,” ME group executive for customer banking Craig Ralston said.
“Customers have been asking for it, and we’re happy to be introducing it during a time when people are looking for an alternative to cash,”
Heritage Bank similarly touted the availability of Apple Pay as “a safer, more secure and private way to pay that helps customers avoid handing their payment card to someone else, touching physical buttons or exchanging cash.”
“The arrival of Apple Pay comes at an important time, with Heritage Bank seeing an uplift in the use of contactless and digital payment solutions in the wake of COVID-19,” CEO Peter Lock said.
“With the impacts of COVID-19 changing everyday life, it’s more important than ever we support our customers to make contactless digital payments simply and safely.
“We are continuing to listen, learn and innovate and are absolutely thrilled to build on our goal of supporting our customers with great payment experiences through Apple Pay.”
The importance of contactless transactions has risen greatly in the COVID era, as people avoid touching payment terminal keypads and handling cash to lessen the potential spread of the virus.
“Many merchants made it clear through signage that they preferred contactless card payment, even for low-value payments,” RBA assistant governor for the financial system Michele Bullock said last month.
“Some even went as far as to indicate that they would not accept cash. Maybe partly in response to this, and their own concerns about hygiene, many people reduced their use of cash in stores. 
“In addition, there was a significant shift to online shopping, where cash is simply not a payment option. 
“As a result of these changes, ATM withdrawals in April were down 30 percent from the month before and over 40 percent lower than 12 months earlier.”
Westpac was the last of the big four banks to turn on Apple Pay in late April this year.

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Uber scoops up Postmates for $3.8 billion – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Uber Technologies acquire Postmates for US$2.65 billion (A$3.8 billion) to expand its food delivery market share and significantly increase the business of supplying everyday goods at a time when the coronavirus has pummeled its core ride-hailing service.
The all-stock deal, still subject to regulatory approval, would give Uber a roughly 30 percent share of the US food delivery market, trailing only rival DoorDash, which commands some 45 percent, according to analytics firm Second Measure.
Uber said both companies’ boards have approved the deal, for which Uber currently expects to issue some 84 million shares of common stock.
Uber offered a premium of about 10 percent on Postmates’ last valuation of US$2.4 billion. Its shares were up 5 percent at US$32.24.
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told analysts the tie-up would allow Uber Eats to distinguish itself by delivering not only restaurant food, but everything from groceries to personal care and fashion items.
Uber has launched an option to send packages via its US ride-hail drivers during the pandemic and teamed up with grocery stores in several countries.
The acquisition allows it to expand into Postmates’ existing network in 4200 US cities.
“The vision for us is to become an everyday service,” the Uber CEO said.
Khosrowshahi said he expects the deal to create profitability for the Uber’s Eats unit, as well as some US$200 million in cost saving synergies in about two years and additional efficiency gains through Uber’s smarter routing technology.
The tie-up comes after a month of frenzied merger talks in the industry as millions of Americans were marooned at home by the coronavirus crisis.
Companies have traditionally tried to gain market share with costly promotions and driver incentives.
Uber’s original plan to acquire US food delivery rival GrubHub , which commands a 23 percent market share, faltered over regulatory and other concerns.
GrubHub was snatched up by Takeaway.com on June 11.
When Uber presented its offer in June, Postmates was gearing up for an initial public offering for July.
Postmates board, however, was concerned that being a smaller player in food delivery and the economic recession could cast a shadow over the new stock’s long-term performance, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The board instead decided to opt for certainty by agreeing to a tie-up with the well-capitalised Uber.
Even with a pandemic-induced increase in demand, Uber Eats recorded a US$313 million adjusted EBITDA loss in the first quarter.
Uber on Monday said Eats bookings have more than doubled in the second quarter, but the company declined to provide additional financial details, including on Postmates.
Khosrowshahi said some 30 percent of Postmates’ orders come from subscribers, a reliable customer segment Uber aims to expand with its own subscription service.

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Liverpool City Council taps edge analytics for people and traffic movement – Strategy – Projects – Hardware – Networking – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Source: Liverpool City Council

Liverpool City Council in Sydney’s west is analysing CCTV imagery with deep learning algorithms and edge computing in a bid to understand pedestrian and traffic movements.
The city in Sydney’s southwest has partnered with the Digital Living Lab (DLL) – part of the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility  – to deploy the lab’s Versatile Intelligent Video Analytics (VIVA) platform.
VIVA’s deep learning algorithms were developed by DLL using transfer learning – a form of machine learning that takes lessons from one subject matter and applies it to a related but separate field.
It was built on NVIDIA’s Metropolis platform for artificial intelligence and internet of things (IoT) sensors, along with NVIDIA’s TensorRT software on the company’s Jetson edge AI computers.
Johan Barthelemy, a lecturer at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, said the use of edge computing was designed to reduce bandwidth by crunching the data at its source.
“We designed VIVA to process video feeds as close as possible to the source, which is the camera,” he said.
“Once a frame has been analysed using a deep neural network, the outcome is transmitted and the current frame is discarded.”
The solution has the added benefit of complying with privacy regulations which had previously limited the way CCTV could be used – typically as an after-the-fact record of incidents rather than something that was proactively monitored.
Insights from the partnership are set to be used in a number of projects, such as understanding pedestrians’ preferred routes to ease congestion and to inform direct maintenance and lighting investments.
Similar work is being done for cyclists and motorists to understand the traffic and parking patterns of the 30,000 people who journey to Liverpool’s central business district each business day.
Barthelemy said that to monitor and analyse these disparate forms of mobility without VIVA would have required a fleet of specialised and costly fixed sensors.
But, using computer vision at the edge of the network allows VIVA to count the different types of traffic, capturing their trajectory and speed using infrastructure that was largely in place already.
Patterns of movements and points of congestion are identified and predicted to help improve street and footpath layout and connectivity, traffic management and guided pathways, all in real-time.
Experimenting with synthetic data
Using transfer learning and open databases such as OpenImage, COCO and Pascal VOC, DLL was able to use an in-house app to create synthetic data to allow the VIVA platform to learn from a number of scenarios that might not otherwise be present at any given time, such a rainstorm or influx of cyclists.
“This synthetic data generation allowed us to generate 35,000-plus images per scenario of interest under different weather, time of day and lighting conditions,” Barthelemy said.
“The synthetic data generation uses ray tracing to improve the realism of the generated images.”
Inferencing of the data is done with NVIDIA Jetson Nano, NVIDIA Jetson TX2 and NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX, depending on the use case and processing required.
Being able to effectively simulate novel scenarios is increasingly valuable to Liverpool Council as western Sydney experiences prolonged growth and development.
The city is already experiencing the knock-on effects of a new university campus nearby, and expects the completion of the Western Sydney Airport to further contribute to growth in the region.

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Google-backed groups criticise Apple’s new warnings on user tracking – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A group of European digital advertising associations have criticised Apple’s plans to require apps to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites.
Apple last week disclosed features in its forthcoming operating system for iPhones and iPads that will require apps to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalized ads.
Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook and Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules.
Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.
Facebook and Google are the largest among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads.
Apple said the new feature was aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used.
In training sessions at a developer conference last week, Apple showed that developers can present any number of additional screens beforehand to explain why permission is needed before triggering its pop-up.
The pop-up says an app “would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies” and gives the app developer several lines below the main text to explain why the permission is sought.
It is not required until an app seeks access to a numeric identifier that can be used for tracking, and apps only need to secure permission once.
The group of European marketing firms said the pop-up warning and the limited ability to customize it still carries “a high risk of user refusal.”
Apple engineers also said last week the company will bolster a free Apple-made tool that uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure whether advertising campaigns are working and that will not trigger the pop-up.
“Because it’s engineered to not track users, there’s no need to request permission to track,” Brandon Van Ryswyk, an Apple privacy engineer, said in a video session explaining the measurement tool to developers.

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The transport dashboard helping keep Sydney moving during COVID – Strategy – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

As thousands of workers start returning to offices in Sydney’s once-bustling city centre, a new dashboard is helping Transport for NSW keep a watchful eye on the public transport network in near real-time.
Introduced at the height of the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, the dashboard brings together multiple datasets across the department to help ensure strict physical distancing measures can be maintained.
It has been built by the developer behind real-time traffic monitoring website AnyTrip to give decisionmakers a complete view of all modes of transport in Sydney and the surrounding regions, as well as a number of data points visible only to TfNSW.
The dashboard, which builds on a proof-of-concept first designed for New Years Eve, offers TfNSW a single customer-centric view of the transport network to make operational decisions on-the-fly and inform planning.
“The use of real-time data to plan for and implement changes on the public transport and road networks is enabling TfNSW to make smarter and faster decisions to ensure the best outcomes for customers,” customer strategy & technology deputy secretary Joost De Kock told iTnews.
Other areas across the NSW government also have access to the dashboard during the pandemic including the Data Analytics Centre within the Department of Customer Services and the State Emergency Operation Centre.
The initial dashboard was rapidly developed over a two-week period after an initial call to arms in March, though it has been iterated since to incorporate additional datasets.
Like AnyTrip’s publicly-accessible tracking map, the dashboard shows the real-time location of public transport services, including trains, buses and the light rail, and their occupancy where that data is available.
On Sydney Trains’ fleet of Waratah trains, which is currently the only rolling stock able to collect occupancy data, patronage is calculated by carriage weight data using in-built sensors under each axle on a carriage.
That data – shown as green, amber and red bars for trains – is also shown on station indicator boards, allowing passengers to pre-empt possible crowding once a service arrives at the platform.
Buses, on the other hand, use data from NSW’s Opal electronic ticketing system to show crowding, which is represented through third-party apps such as TripView, NextThere and AnyTrip using a ‘jelly baby’ system.
In response to the pandemic, data thresholds have been altered to reflect public health guidelines and allow commuters to practice physical distancing on carriages.
Changes to capacity introduced this week have seen these modified to allow for more passengers.
But TfNSW’s iteration of the dashboard goes further, using traffic volume data collected from the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS), which uses sensors at traffic signals to detect congestion.
It also shows the near real-time location of the 860 cleaners that have been deployed across the public transport network in response to the pandemic using GPS data sourced from their TfNSW-provided devices.
The cleaning crews, as well as the recently introduced social distancing squad and hand sanitiser unit, can also be directed to the busiest locations using real-time data from the dashboard.
The dashboard similarly displays near real-time availability data from parking stations, traffic cameras feeds, special event zones to assist with marshalling and COVID-19 hotspots (if any exist). 
Another view, using information that flows into TfNSW’s new publicly-accessible travel insights tool, allows the agency to understand historical patronage data and see year-on-year reductions caused by COVID-19.
This view also predicts patronage for the rest of the day based on last week’s Opal and contactless payments tap-on and tap-off activity, as well as normal (pre-COVID) patterns, which allows citizens to plan their travel outside of the peak.
“By using the travel Insights tool, customers can view data by public transport mode, day or by key commercial centres in greater Sydney and regional NSW to help them plan ahead and understand the latest travel trends,” De Kock said.
He said the travel insights tool, as well as the COVID-19 dashboard, have been made possible thanks to the “groundbreaking” improvements to TfNSW’s technology ecosystem, including using cloud technology to revolutionise how data is collected.
The department has used its Amazon Web Services environment for high frequency data transfer, which has allowed it to reduce lag and access previously unavailable datasets such as from contactless payment tap-ons in real-time.

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Govt funding starts flowing to agencies in real-time – Strategy – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Federal government agencies can now access urgent funding during business hours or on the weekend through the New Payments Platform (NPP), ending a decades-old reliance on manual cash management processes.
After a two-year project to bring real-time settlement to the government, the Department of Finance commenced using the NPP – which has been available to financial institutions since 2018 – in March.
The department has been working to modernise cash management processes by linking up the to the platform since receiving funding in the 2018 budget to drive productivity improvement across the public service.
Using the NPP allows Finance – as financial manager of the Commonwealth’s cash management system – to better manage the billions of dollars of public funds that flow in and out of government each year.
It does this through the government’s central budget management system (CBMS) – the platform used by Finance and other agencies to put together the Commonwealth budget and track spending against throughout the year.
Until March this year, federal funding – more than $500 billion in and $500 billion out each year – was moved manually, which involved agencies having multiple dealings with Finance and the Reserve Bank of Australia. 
But this caused problems for the government when trying to move money over a weekend, during a shutdown period or even during a national emergency, Finance’s then governance and APS transformation deputy secretary Stein Helgeby told senate estimates in May 2018.
In a statement on Friday, NPP Australia said the implementation of ‘Project NeRF’ had allowed Finance to start using the NPP, in partnership with the RBA and other authorised deposit-taking institutions. 
It said access to the platform would allow agencies, including those responsible for delivering policies and programs as part of the government’s pandemic response like Services Australia, to better respond to emergencies.
Services Australia has also been leveraging the NPP to deliver emergency welfare and disaster payments to Australians in recent years, including during the Townsville floods in 2019 and catastrophic Black Summer bushfires over December and January.
The RBA’s banking department deputy head Stepanie Connors the availability of the NPP meant an end to constraints in legacy payment infrastructure that stopped government agencies from accessing funds in real-time.
“If a government agency required funding in order to make payments, they would need to request a drawdown of funds by 2pm on the business day before payments were due to ensure the money was in their bank account at 9am on the payment date,” she said.
She said that, whereas urgent funding requests had previously only been available once per day through the RBA’s real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), agencies could now access funding on-demand.
“Now funding can be approved and paid immediately on any day of the week, which means government agencies can better respond to emergencies, such as the need to pay for medical supplies,” she said.
The RBA is also using its new 24/7 core banking system, which is used to process payments for government clients like Services Australia, and a API gateway solution to integrate with government back office systems.
“These capabilities, together with the development of the NPP, means we are able to fully integrate with government back office systems to enable initiation of real-time payments,” Connors said.
“We involved our government customers early in the NPP journey to ensure they were thinking about how the government could leverage the many benefits NPP offers.
“This enabled them to include NPP payments as part of their systems development roadmaps.”

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Social media giants to face same EU hateful content rules as broadcasters – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Facebook, Alphabet-owned YouTube, Twitter and other social media will for the first time be subject to EU broadcasting rules on hate speech and harmful content under European Commission guidelines announced on Thursday.
The amendments to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive adopted in 2018 came in part from lobbying by broadcasters who wanted online platforms to have the same obligations as traditional media companies.
“Online players will have to ensure, in a similar way to traditional media players, that users are protected against hate speech and that minors are protected from harmful content,” the Commission said.
“Online platforms must take action against flagged content, which incites violence, hatred and terrorism, and ensure appropriate advertising and product placement in children’s programmes,” it said.
The non-binding guidelines apply to social platforms where audiovisual content is seen as an essential but not principal part of their business. EU countries, which have until September 19 to implement the rules, will have the final say on the list of companies.
The Commission also said video on-demand services would be required to devote at least 30 percent of their catalogues to European content, a move targeting Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Media service providers located in one EU country but with customers in other EU countries will also have to help fund the production of European works in line with its goal of promoting European films and TV shows.
“The guidelines apply, limited yet welcome, new responsibilities to online platforms,” the Association of Commercial Television in Europe said.
It said however some changes also burdened traditional media players with administrative work, more quotas and a levy system that leave less financial room for investment and the emergence of new services.

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Australian Catholic Uni turns analytics onto student wellbeing – Projects – Cloud – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) has turned its newly united data environment into a data lake to provide a single view of student development.
The data lake uses Microsoft’s Power BI and Azure data platform to support students who may need extra help or who are at risk of dropping out from the university entirely.
ACU found these insights by combining data streams from a number of sources including student management systems and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, the university’s chief information officer and IT director Niranjan Prabhu told iTnews.
ACU was one of five universities to pilot data lake development for a “360 degree view of students” with the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT), Prabhu said.
He added that the university was keen to bring together different environments from across its nine campuses in Australia and Italy to cater to its growing cohort of over 35,000 students.
“We’re generating and capturing more data than ever before, on an increasingly varied set of data sources, providing us with the opportunity to understand [and] support student success through the student lifecycle,” Prabhu said.
“Effectively managing that lifecycle is the key to excellent learning outcomes and student success.”
Common risk factors include slipping grades, financial stress, and social or environmental factors.
ACU can now identify these patterns in the data along with engagement, participation and attendance data as early warning signs where extra support is needed, whether that be in the form of financial assistance, tutoring or pastoral support.
However, it’s a delicate balance to get that right while respecting students’ privacy, Prabhu said.
“We definitely need to strike a respectful and conscientious balance while achieving the best outcomes for both the student and the university.”
A new assistant
Part of the support plan involves the development of AVA – the ACU Virtual Assistant.
AVA is designed as a “level one service desk one-stop shop” to help the IT support team cope with a large volume of routine enquiries.
The chatbot is powered by Microsoft Azure and uses natural language processing capabilities and integrations with ServiceNow, Microsoft Learning Pathways, Who-bot (a prebuilt Teams bot), and ACU’s COVID-19 FAQ to provide instant answers any time of the night or day.
It came in handy as the university transitioned to remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“[The IT team] weren’t flooded with calls about COVID because of the bot,” Prabhu said, with no calls left waiting for extended periods thanks to AVA’s rapid responses.
“Furthermore, when interacting with our chatbot, if the staff member requires further assistance, there is the option to seek help via handover to a live chat or log a service ticket through ServiceNow.
“This means staff are fully supported no matter their issue.”
Additional capabilities such as voice activation are planned for the future to improve the user experience, especially for members of the ACU community living with a disability.
Importantly, the effort expended to develop a robust and unified data environment and remote operations during the pandemic will speed up work on future projects.
“The foundations are there to build on all the new digital footprints when initiating new projects, meaning faster turnaround [times] and more productive work,” Prabhu said.

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