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Cutting-edge technologies against floods, fires and extreme weather events

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Big Data to process information in real-time during disasters, Artificial Intelligence applied to language filtering and a mobile app to alert citizens are some of the technologies presented. On 9- 10 May 2019, experts in floods, fires and extreme weather management from around Europe will meet in Venice to introduce and employ the tools developed by the H2020 project “I-REACT”. The solutions developed in 3-year of intensive work and their core technology will be released as a free, open-source software for a larger adoption and use.

A new cross-platform mobile application to improve the monitoring and the real-time reporting. Wearables that locate and monitor the status of first responders. Updated and actionable satellite information to better assess how a fire, a flood or heavy rains may evolve. Accurate forecasts to predict the onset of weather extremes.

These are some of technologies that emergency responders will now be able to use, thanks to the Big Data platform developed by I-REACT.

The results of this project, funded by the European Union, will be shared in a workshop that will take place on 9-10 May, at the premises of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe in Venice.

Among the attendees of the workshop will be representatives of Specialised Programme of the United Nations, European Commission and Civil Protection agencies and emergency management experts from around Europe.

The I-REACT solutions will be tested first-hand, through an in-field simulation – including flood and wildfire scenarios – thanks to the cooperation with the staff of the Civil Protection Department of Venice and its professional volunteers. They will be managed through the main technology of the project: a centralized, modular and interoperable Big Data platform. It combines data from multiple information sources such as weather prediction at different scales, models for climate projections and early warning forecasts for flood, fires and extreme weather events. The platform also incorporates a social media engine that uses natural language processing and machine learning to filter information from Twitter, providing real-time insights of the situation.

“Big Data and Artificial Intelligence are the main strengths of the project, as they allow us to transform raw data into useful information”, explains Fabrizio Dominici, head of the Mobile Solution research area at the LINKS Foundation of Turin and coordinator of the I-REACT project. “This is extremely helpful nowadays, since Social Media has turned each citizen into a source of information. In addition, the project also features a mobile app that enables citizens to share geolocalised photos and information on disasters. ”

“UNESCO contributes to Disaster Risk Reduction and technological solutions for improving prediction and management of disasters.”, explains Ana Luiza Massot Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe. “The I-REACT project is an important component of our Regional Bureau’s efforts in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 that stresses the importance of using appropriate communications, geospatial and space-based technologies to support our member states in coping with climate change risks.”

This event represents an excellent opportunity to show the results of more than 3 years of hard work and close collaboration among 20 European partners. All the technologies are now available for Civil Protection Agencies, emergency managers and insurance companies. Our tools are modular, easily integrated with the existing services, and enable a multi-agency, cross-border disaster management.

The 2-day workshop will be a turning point, marking the end of the implementation of the research and innovation activities of the EU-funded I-REACT project and inaugurating the breakthrough of its resulting cutting-edge technologies.

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The beginner’s guide to backup program files like an expert

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The invention of the internet was a revolution for the computer industry. It caused an exponential increase in the sales of desktops and laptops. With technological advancements, the laptops are being upgraded within two to three years as well. Thus, there will be a time when you will have to upgrade your laptop. Backing up your important files and documents will be needed for a smooth transition from one PC to another. Moreover, there are other risks like hardware failure, hacks, etc. due to which you can lose your precious data also. So, if you are not taking backup periodically, there is a high risk of data loss.

The data backup process takes some effort. But thanks to new software and hardware services, it has become easier than ever. In this article, we will take you through the details of the data backup process.

Types of PC Backup

Backing up of data can be as simple as creating duplicates of your important files or creating a full disk image. There are a lot of tools available at your disposal that you can choose from either of these methods for backing up your files. The factors that you must consider while picking up a data backup option are redundancy, security, and accessibility. Thus, review these parameters before zeroing-in on a specific backup method. Let’s have a look at all the options available to you:

Backing Up data on an external storage device

One of the simplest ways backing up data is by copying it to an external storage device. Devices like USB, an SD card, or an external hard disk can be used for this activity. If your device has USB 3.0, then the file transfer will be faster. Ensure that you have enough space to transfer all the relevant files on the external device that you have chosen. Once you have the device with you, connect it with your PC, and copy all the relevant files.

The data transfer by this process can be time-consuming. Moreover, you will have to manually select all the files and documents that you want to backup. Thus, there are chances of data loss if you aren’t cautious while selecting the files. Files like emails, system settings, program settings, etc. cannot be copied in this process. Thus, this process of data backup isn’t recommended.

Cloning a full disc image

Your entire PC’s data can be backed up by creating a full disc image. You would need a secondary storage device like a USB drive, memory card, an external hard disk, or a cloud-based service. Taking backup on your device’s hard disc is not recommended because if it fails, the entire data is lost. Follow the below steps for backing up the image:

  1. In the ‘Start Menu’ on your device click on ‘Settings’.
  2. Click on the ‘Update & Security’ button.
  3. You will see a ‘Backup’ option which will let you create a full system image to back up your entire system files.
  4. Pick the location where you want to back up the data and hit the ‘Go’ icon.

The data backup process is automatic and will take around an hour to complete.

System backup with software

Using data backup software is a great way to automate the data backup process. Software like Zinstall Backup helps you in backing up all your files, programs, and software without any data loss. Follow the below steps for backing up data:

  1. Connect your system to an external USB device or an external hard disk or a cloud storage service.
  2. Download and install Zinstall Backup software.
  3. Run the software once installed. It will automatically detect available backup locations.
  4. Click the “Settings” button to select the backup location you want to store your data in.
  5. Click the on button on the left, and Zinstall Backup will start working.

All the files, programs, and software will be backed up to your storage device within an hour. The process is executed automatically and there are no chances of data loss. You can also set a periodic backup option. In this case, only the changed files and documents are backed up which reduces the number of reads and writes the data backup requires.

System failure or hacking attacks can happen anytime. Thus, it is important to keep a backup of your important files and documents. We hope the above article can get you started with the data backup process.

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Modernizing data collection enhances resilience of statistical offices in times of crisis

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A virtual UNECE workshop concludes today in which experts on surveys, censuses and alternative data collection methods have revealed their brand-new learning about the best ways to maintain core data collection, and collect newly-demanded data, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The need for statistics isn’t put on hold during a national or international crisis—in fact demand increases, as decision-makers rely on numbers to guide their next moves. National statistical offices (NSOs) are experienced in maintaining business continuity in the face of adversity, be it hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest or political upheaval. But never before have so many NSOs had to deal with a situation that has placed such enormous and wide-ranging restrictions on their ability to collect data. The businesses that provide economic and labour force data have been closed; the staff that conduct surveys and analyze data have been locked-down in their homes, with new staff hired and trained online; survey-takers and respondents have had to observe new and changing health protection rules such as social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment; and supply chains have been disrupted for the basic items needed to gather data, such as paper for printed questionnaires or tablets for electronic data gathering.

Maintaining essential data collection

From the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the official statistics community has recognized how crucial it is to maintain data collection. Users of official statistics, from banks to businesses and from politicians to school pupils, still expect to be able to look up basic figures such as GDP, population, migration, unemployment. They expect these figures to be reliable and comparable with those they used before the pandemic. And they expect them to reflect the new realities of the current situation, such as current unemployment and earnings figures.

Presenters in this week’s UNECE workshop outlined the lengths they have gone to to keep gathering data. In Mexico, the pandemic struck as the country’s census was underway. New social distancing rules meant some census enumerators had to call out questions to respondents through their windows. In the Netherlands, an online portal was developed and tested at speed to gather data from businesses without traditional surveys. Ireland, Italy and Poland have employed a variety of techniques to communicate with respondents to secure their vital responses to surveys, from sending postcards and handwritten notes to increased use of telephone calls. Discussions revealed that the more advanced an NSO was before the pandemic in their move towards modern modes of data collection (electronic devices, Internet responses, video interviewing and so on), the easier it was for them to make the changes required by the Covid restrictions.

Collecting new data to measure new phenomena

The world has changed in countless ways since the onset of the pandemic. Responding to these changes requires information about things that previously were not measured—or at least not by national statistical offices. NSOs have found themselves at the centre of nationwide efforts to collect, coordinate and disseminate statistics on the virus itself—cases, tests, hospital admissions, mortality rates. And new survey questions or whole new surveys have sprung up across UNECE countries to gather data about the impacts of working from home and school closures on mental health, gender-based violence and unpaid care work; the economic fallout of business closures and furloughs; and the envionmental impacts of reduced mobility and industrial activity.

Examples showcased in this week’s event included new questions on covid impacts in Finland’s Consumer Confidence Survey; and new modules in a plethora of surveys in Poland on science, technology, culture, tourism and civil society. In the United Kingdom, a Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey was developed and conducted every two weeks starting in early March.  

Long-term impacts on data collection

The UNECE programme on modernizing official statistics has for close to a decade supported countries in making a transition to using new modes of data collection, new data sources and new methods for integrating data from multiple sources. For many NSOs the pandemic has accelerated this transition, forcing the hands of cautious offices where the alternative may have been to stop collecting data altogether. The pace of change has been rapid, with one participant stating “we have had a greater impact in six months than in our whole careers so far”. While the panoply of new tools, techniques and statistical products may in time settle as the pandemic runs its course, the steps taken across the UNECE region in the direction of statistical modernization are undoubtedly permanent.

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World Bank Supports Digital Connectivity in Haiti to Build Resilience

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$60 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Haiti Digital Acceleration Project. This financing aims to increase access to broadband services in Haiti and establish the foundations of digital resilience to respond to health, climate and economic shocks.

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the essential role that digital technologies play both during and after crisis. More widespread and affordable internet access could make Haiti more resilient to future shocks,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti. “The World Bank is supporting Haiti to increase access and affordability of digital services, while building the necessary skills for digital literacy. Increased broadband connectivity can help drive innovations and new industries that create jobs.”

The lack of affordable and reliable internet connectivity is a key constraint to inclusive growth in Haiti, as only 35 percent of the population has access to broadband internet. The Haiti Digital Acceleration Project will address key bottlenecks to digital development, and help develop the digital economy as a driver of growth, a stronger recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and the ability to more effectively respond to future shocks. Given the potential for the project to enable better connectivity and digital services, it is expected to benefit the entire population of Haiti.

One of the key project activities will include technical assistance to help develop strategies and regulatory tools to promote competition in the digital infrastructure and services market. The project will also better prepare individuals and businesses for the jobs and economy of the future through the development of their digital skills. This includes opportunities particularly for women, girls, at-risk youth, and the rural population to access skills training. The project will also provide equipment, broadband, and software for the public administration to improve the efficiency of service delivery and the modernization of the Haitian Government.

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