At Transforming Transportation, an international forum at the World Bank headquarters in January 2018, participants took a close look at the potentially enormous impact and opportunities offered by the digital era. From making transit safer for all, to decreasing congestion, to making it greener, the digital revolution is bringing great changes to the way people and things move around the world.
- Big data in Haiti can track where poor people live and where they need to go, giving planners key information for future development.
- In Belarus, drivers can access apps that tell them how bumpy the roads are.
- In India and Nepal, electronic scanning and clearances are speeding up trade and saving time and money at border crossings.
In the Philippines, the cost of daily traffic jams is estimated at about $60 million U.S. dollars a day. Here, too, digital tools are making a difference. Laura Tuck, the World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development, says that by using intelligent transportation systems, “where you’re collecting data from the cars that are going, you can share this with users– where you have accidents, where you have a lot of congestion, you can help users avoid them, and you can help authorities start to plan their traffic management better.”
Safer, greener, accessible for all
Members of the Digital Development Partnership, a cross-cutting team in the Digital Development unit at the World Bank, were instrumental in planning a session on the digital tools helping build this sustainable mobility. Those tools include data collection so cities can build safer roads, reporting and protections for women using public transportation, and integrated fare systems that make paying for transit faster and easier. The digital revolution’s impact on transportation “extends beyond new business models like car sharing and bike sharing,” said Doyle Gallegos, the World Bank’s Global Lead for Broadband Access for All. ““As companies, NGOs, governments and others increasingly use digital tools to enhance their capacity to target action in pursuit of more sustainable, equitable and safer transportation networks.”
Safety is the focus at Brisk Synergies, which uses street cameras, data analysis and AI to evaluate accidents and near misses. Using video footage, Brisk calculates the minute difference in time between two things colliding, cars and pedestrians for example, to measure risk. “With this kind of analysis, we can identify high-risk locations, we can help monitor road user behavior patterns, and we can help measure the improvements to any kind of intervention that a city might deploy,” said Alyssa Fischer, Policy Program Manager at Brisk, who presented at the session.
Other groups are using open source data to map movement and provide instant information to drivers, and others, in real time. Mike Davis, of TransitScreen, says his company aims to become the “Switzerland of transportation data,” by providing up-to-date information on all forms of transport on a single screen or app. Instead of looking at a bus schedule, to the exclusion of other forms of transport, users can look at one site and see how the bus links to the ferry or to a bike share.
From Bike Shares to the Cloud
Bayo Oresegun, of IBM, is using big data and the cloud to speed communication. “Globally, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day,” he said. Mining that data and getting it to users means that Alitalia, for example, can rely on real-time weather updates to direct its planes to avoid turbulent skies, and so save on jet fuel. Beijing is using predictive models to alert residents to high levels of pollution, while taking steps to mitigate it.
Proper government policies and regulations are fundamental to ensure that new technologies are accessible to everyone. Sometimes, new technology – from drones to digital identification – evolves so quickly that governments can be slow to keep up. Communication is the key, said Michael Geertsen, the director of Government Solutions for Microsoft, in a session on Harnessing Disruptive Mobility through Policy and Regulation. “One approach would be formal collaboration networks. That might vary from city to city, but think of them as design-think workshops and ways that could, in a non-threatening way, begin to realize some of these questions.”
Tools to Protect the Vulnerable
New digital tools are also changing travel for women. In Mexico City, 65 percent of women reported being harassed on public transportation. Data analysis showed that men and women have different travel patterns. So, as one option, the city introduced segregated subway cars and women-only pink buses. And it began targeting indifference. Analysis found that women reported that no one came to their aid when they were being harassed in public. So the city began training bus drivers in non-confrontational intervention. It built a communication campaign to encourage observers to speak up and stop the harassment as it happened, and it created apps to ease reporting.
Complaints have since dropped, according to Karla Dominguez Gonzalez, a gender specialist at the World Bank. But she adds, “technology should be part of a more holistic, comprehensive package that can help us to start changing social norms.” New tools and digital solutions are only part of the answer; real change comes from how humans use them.
Is your security compromised due to “Spy software” know how
Spy software is often referred to as spyware is a set of programs that gives access to user/ administrators to track or monitor anyone’s smart devices (such as desktop, laptop, or smart phone) from anywhere across the globe.
Spyware is a threat, not only to businesses but individual users as well, since it can steal sensitive information and harm anyone’s network. It is controversial due to its frequent violation to end user’s privacy. It can attack user’s device, steal sensitive data (such as bank account or credit card information, or personal identity) or web data and share it with data firms, advertisers, or external users.
There are numerous online spyware designed for almost no cost, whose ultimate goal is to track and sell users data. Some spy software can install additional software and change the settings on user’s device, which could be difficult to identify.
Below are four main types of spyware, each has its unique features to track and record users activity:
Tracking cookies: These are the most common type of trackers, these monitor the user’s internet usage activities, such as searches, downloads, and history, for advertising and selling purposes.
System monitors: These spy software records everything on your device from emails, keystrokes, visited websites, chat-room dialogues, and much more.
Adware: This spyware is used for marketing purpose, it tracks users downloads and browser history, and suggests or displays the same or related products, this can often lead to slow device.
Trojan: This spyware is the most malicious software. It can be used to track sensitive information such as bank information or identification numbers.
Spyware can attack any operating system such as windows, android, or Apple. Windows operating systems are more prone to attack, but in past few years Apple’s operating systems are also becoming vulnerable to attacks.
According to a recent investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organizations, found that there is a widespread and continuous abuse of NSO’s hacking spyware Pegasus, on Government officials, human rights activists, lawyers and journalists worldwide which was only intended to use against terrorists and criminals.
The research, conducted by the Pegasus technical partner Amnesty’s Security Lab, found traces of the Pegasus activity on 37 out of the 67 examined phones. Out of 37 phones, 34 were iPhones, and 23 showed signs of a Pegasus infection, while remaining 11 showed signs of attempted infection. However, only three out of 15 Android phones were infected by Pegasus software.
Attacks like the Pegasus might have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals. But evidences from past have proved that attackers target large group of people and are often successful.
Below are the most common ways devices can become infected with spyware:
- Downloading software or apps from unreliable sources or unofficial app publishers
- Accepting cookies or pop-up without reading
- Downloading or watching online pirated media content
- Opening attachments from unfamiliar senders
Spyware can be extremely unsafe if you have been infected. Its damage can range from short term device issue (such as slow system, system crashing, or overheating device) to long-term financial threat.
Here’s what you can do protect your devices from spyware:
Reliable antivirus software: Firstly look for security solutions available on internet (some are available for free) and enable the antivirus software. If your system or device is already infected with virus, check out for security providers offering spyware identification and removal.
-For instance, you can install a toolkit (the Mobile Verification Tool or the MVT) provided by Amnesty International. This toolkit will alert you with presence of the Pegasus Spyware on your device.
-The toolkit scans the backup file of your device for any evidence of infection. It works on both Apple and Android operating systems, but is more accurate for Apple operating system.
-You can also download and run Norton Power Eraser a free virus removal tool.
Update your system regularly: Set up an update which runs automatically. Such automatic updates can not only block hackers from viewing your web or device activity, but can also eliminate software errors.
Be vigilant of cookies compliance: Cookies that records/ tracks users browsing habits and personally identifiable information (PII) are commonly known as adware spyware. Accept cookies only from reliable sites or download a cookie blocker.
Strong authentication passwords: Try to enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) wherever possible, or if not possible create different password for all accounts. Change your password for each account after a certain period of time.
-Password breaches can still occur with these precautions. In such case change your password immediately.
Be cautious of free software: Read the terms and conditions on software licenses, before accepting. Free software might be unlimited but, your data could be recorded with those free software’s.
Do not open any files from unknown or suspicious account: Do not open any email attachments or text on mobile from a suspicious, unknown, or untrustworthy source/number.
Spyware could be extremely dangerous, however it can be prevented and removed by being precautious and using a trustworthy antivirus tool. Next gen technologies can also help in checking and removing malicious content. For instance, Artificial intelligence could aid the organizations identify malicious software, and frequently update its algorithms of patterns similar to predict future malware attacks.
Implementation of virtual reality and the effects in cognitive warfare
With the increasing use of new technologies in warfare situations, virtual reality presents an opportunity for the domain of cognitive warfare. Nowadays, cognitive skills are treated equally as their physical counterparts, seeking to standardize new innovative techniques. Virtual reality (VR) can be used as a tool that can increase the cognitive capabilities of soldiers. As it is understandable in today’s terms, VR impacts the brain directly. That means that our visual organs (eyes) see one object or one surrounding area, but brain cells perceive and react to that differently. VR has been used extensively in new teaching methods because of the increased probability of improving the memory and learning capabilities of students.
Besides its theoretical teaching approach and improvement of learning, VR can be used systematically towards more practical skills. In medicine for example students can have a full medicine lesson on a virtual human being seeing the body projected in 3D, revolutionizing the whole field of medicine. If that can be used in the medical field, theoretically it will be possible to be used in combat situations, projecting a specific battlefield in VR, increasing the chances of successful engagement, and reducing the chance of casualties. Knowing your terrain is equally important as knowing your adversary.
The use of VR will also allow us to experience new domains relating to the physical health of a person. It is argued that VR might provide us with the ability to effectively control pain management. Since VR can stimulate visual senses, then it would be safe to say that this approach can have higher effectiveness in treating chronic pain, depression, or even PTSD. The idea behind this usage is that the brain itself is already powerful enough, yet sometimes when pain overwhelms us we tend to lose effectiveness on some of our senses, such as the visual sense. An agonizing pain can blurry our vision, something that we cannot control; unless of course theoretically, we use VR. The process can consist of different sounds and visual aids that can trick the mind into thinking that it is somewhere that might be the polar opposite of where it is. Technically speaking, the mind would be able to do that simply because it works as a powerful computer, where our pain receptors can override and actually make us think that we are not in such terrible pain.
Although the benefits of VR could be useful for our health we would still need to deal with problems that concern our health when we use a VR set. It is possible that the brain can get overloaded with new information and the new virtual environments. VR poses some problems to some people, regarding the loss of the real environment and creating feelings of nausea or extreme headaches. As a result, new techniques from cognitive psychologists have emerged to provide a solution to the problem. New technologies have appeared that can desaturate colors towards the edge of the headset in order to limit the probability of visual confusion. Besides that, research shows that even the implementation of a virtual nose when someone wears a VR headset can prevent motion sickness, something that our brain does already in reality.
However, when it comes to combatants and the implementation of VR in soldiers, one must think of maybe more effective and fast solutions to eliminate the problems that concern the confusion of the brain. Usage of specific pharmaceuticals might be the key. One example could be Modafinil which has been prescribed in the U.S. since 1998 to treat sleep-related conditions. Researchers believe it can produce the same effects as caffeine. With that being said, the University of Oxford analyzed 24 studies, where participants were asked to complete complex assignments after taking Modafinil and found out that those who took the drug were more accurate, which suggests that it may affect higher cognitive functions.
Although some of its long-term effects are yet to be studied, Modafinil is by far the safest drug that can be used in cognitive situations. Theoretically speaking, if a long exposure to VR can cause headaches and an inability to concentrate, then an appropriate dose of Modafinil can counter the effects of VR. It can be more suitable and useful to use on soldiers, whose cognitive skills are better than civilians, to test the full effect of a mix of virtual technology and pharmaceuticals. VR can be a significant military component and a simulation training program. It can provide new cognitive experiences based on foreign and unknown terrains that might be difficult to be approached in real life. New opportunities arise every day with the technologies, and if anyone wanted to take a significant advantage over adversaries in the cognitive warfare field, then VR would provide a useful tool for military decision-making.
Vaccine Equity and Beyond: Intellectual Property Rights Face a Crucial Test
The debate over intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly patents, and access to medicine is not new. IPRs are considered to drive innovation by protecting the results of investment-intensive R&D, yet arguably also foster inequitable access to affordable medicines.
In a global public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, where countries face acute shortages of life-saving vaccines, should public health be prioritized over economic gain and the international trade rules designed to protect IPRs?
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), to which all 164 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are a party, establish minimum standards for protecting different forms of IPRs.
In October 2020, India and South Africa – countries with strong generic drug manufacturing infrastructure – invoked WTO rules to seek a temporary waiver of IPRs (patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and industrial designs) on equipment, drugs, and vaccines related to the “prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.” A waiver would mean that countries could locally produce equipment and vaccines without permission from holders of IPRs. This step would serve to eliminate the monopolistic nature of IPRs that give exclusive rights to the holder of IPRs and enable them to impose procedural licensing constraints.
Brazil, Japan, the European Union (EU), and the United States (US) initially rejected the waiver proposal. That stance changed with the rise of new COVID-19 mutations and the associated increase in deaths, with several countries facing a public health crisis due to vaccine supply shortages. The position of many states began shifting in favor of the India-South Africa proposal, which now has the backing of 62 WTO members, with the US declaring support for the intent of the temporary waiver to secure “better access, more manufacturing capability, more shots in arms.” Several international bodies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have voiced support.
Some countries disagree about the specific IPRs to be waived or the mechanisms by which IPRs should be made available. The EU submitted a proposal to use TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licensing, while others advocate for voluntary licensing. The TRIPS Council is conducting meetings to prepare an amended proposal to the General Council (the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva) by the end of July 2021.
The crisis in India illustrates the urgency of the situation. India produces and supplies Covishield, licensed by AstraZeneca; and Covaxin, which is yet to be included on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL). Due to the devastating public health crisis, India halted its export of vaccines and caused a disruption in the global vaccine supply, even to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program. In the meantime, the world’s poorest nations lack sufficient, critical vaccine supplies.
International law recognizes some flexibility in public health emergencies. An example would be the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health in 2001, which, while maintaining the commitments, stresses the need for TRIPS to be part of the wider national and international action to address public health problems. Consistent with that, the body of international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), protects the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
But as we race against time, the current IPR framework may not allow for the swift response required. It is the rigorous requirements before a vaccine is considered safe to use under Emergency Use Authorizations and procedural delays which illuminate why IPR waivers on already approved vaccines are needed. Capitalizing on the EUL’s approved vaccines that have proven efficacy to date and easing IPR restrictions will aid in the timely supply and access of vaccines.
A TRIPS waiver may not solve the global vaccine shortage. In fact, some argue that the shortages are not an inherent flaw in the IP regime, considering other supply chain disruptions that persist, such as the ones disrupting microchips, pipette tips, and furniture. However, given that patent licensing gives a company a monopoly on vaccine commercialization, other companies with manufacturing capacity cannot produce the vaccine to scale up production and meet supply demands.
Neither does a temporary waiver mean that pharmaceutical companies cannot monetize their work. States should work with pharmaceuticals in setting up compensation and insurance schemes to ensure adequate remuneration.
At the College of Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, our aim is to address today’s legal challenges with a future-oriented view. We see COVID-19 as a case study in how we respond to imminent and existential threats. As global warming alters the balance of our ecosystem, threats will cascade in a way that is hard to predict. When unpredictable health emergencies emerge, it will be human ingenuity that helps us overcome them. Even the global IP regime, as a legal system that regulates ideas, is being tested, and should be agile enough to respond in time, like the scientists who sprang into action and worked tirelessly to develop the vaccines that will soon bring back a semblance of normal life as we know it.
Upholding Dharma by Mob lynching?
Label any Muslim a cow smuggler, accuse him of carrying beef and then lynch in the name of protecting religion....
New Skills Development Key to Further Improving Students’ Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes in Russia would benefit significantly from a focus on teaching new skills that are tailored to the modern...
Belt & Road ABCs: Analysis of “One Belt – One Road” initiative
Understanding the foreign policy and geo-economic strategies of countries, especially in such a difficult time when national borders are closed...
The Politico-Economic Crisis of Lebanon
Dubbed as a failed state. The Middle Eastern country, also known as the ‘Lebanese Republic’, is already leading towards a...
Behind the Rise of China is the Centenary Aspiration of the CPC for a Great China
On July 1st, China celebrated the Communist Party’s centenary with a grand ceremony in Beijing where Chinese President Xi Jinping...
Why Strategies of Stakeholders in Afghanistan Failing Against Taliban?
Taliban is increasingly gaining ground in Afghanistan, on daily basis, for considerable period. US may have declared ending its military...
COVID-19: Education replaced by shuttered schools, violence, teenage pregnancy
A culture of “safety, friends and food” at school has been replaced by “anxiety, violence, and teenage pregnancy”, with remote...
International Law3 days ago
International Criminal Court and thousands of ignored complaints
News3 days ago
DNA to rediscover a forgotten immigration
Russia2 days ago
The other side of the Olympics
South Asia2 days ago
Pakistani PM’s Interview with PBS News Hours on Afghanistan Issues
Middle East2 days ago
Tunisia between Islamism and the ‘Delta variant’
Defense1 day ago
The Future of The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the QUAD) Grouping Explained
Science & Technology2 days ago
Is your security compromised due to “Spy software” know how
Americas2 days ago
Hardened US and Iranian positions question efficacy of parties’ negotiating tactics