As the Coronavirus continues to take thousands of lives around the world, many wonder exactly how the pandemic began. It’s well-documented that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, likely from infected bats that made contact with humans in the region. From there, the virus began spreading from person to person, eventually leaving China’s borders and affecting nearly every nation in the world. However, there are still a lot of question marks surrounding one of the worst pandemics to hit the planet since the Bubonic Plague.
Since the outbreak, both foreign governments and media outlets have been skeptical about the information coming out of China. Many experts question the number of active cases, the number of deaths, and other information that the Chinese government has promoted as factual. The ruling party in China says that they have been truthful from the start, but it’s hard to believe it when the information doesn’t align with the experiences of most other countries.
In any case, for those living and working in China, it’s even harder to access factual information about the Coronavirus. In order to get relevant, unsuppressed information, Chinese citizens and ex-pats living in the country will need a VPN to enable access to restricted siteswhich willalter a user’s location, giving them unfiltered access to trustworthy Coronavirus resources.
How Is China Suppressing Coronavirus Research?
Unfortunately, the fact is that China has not been forthcoming with Coronavirus information. Studies have already been conducted into the novel Coronavirus, but so far, much of the research has not seen the light of day. In many cases, the Chinese government refused to allow the academic research to be published at all. In others, the government limited public access to the study results. Without this research, scientists around the world can’t effectively study the origins of the virus.
How It Could Affect the Planet
In many ways, the Chinese government’s disinformation campaign has already severely impacted millions (if not billions) of people. The greatest disservice is to people living in Wuhan and the surrounding region. The Chinese government is notorious for withholding information and limiting access to online resources within its borders. Now more than ever, people living in China need access to accurate and trustworthy information about the novel Coronavirus.
Outside of China’s borders, the lack of trustworthy information makes it difficult for foreign governments to effectively contain the novel Coronavirus. Experts rely on active cases and death counts to track the spread of the virus. Since the Coronavirus began in China, it stands to offer some of the most useful information, making the Chinese government’s actions even more egregious.
Not only does this raise questions about China’s transparency, but it also hinders potential efforts to create a vaccine. Information about the precise origins of the virus could help scientists understand how the Coronavirus first jumped from animals to humans and how it mutated from its original form. Without the information about its origins, those racing to create a vaccine are left in the dark.
Trustworthy Resources for Coronavirus Information
Whether you’re trying to access reliable Coronavirus information inside or outside of China’s borders, you’ll need to know who to trust. Thankfully, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are both authoritative resources. Additionally, MedlinePlus, the Associated Press, and BBC News all provide accurate, up-to-date information on the following topics:
- Active Case Counts – This tells you roughly how many people in your city or region have contracted Coronavirus. It may be stressful, but learning the risk level for your area can help you to know if you can safely go to the grocery store, pick up medication from the pharmacy, or run other important errands.
- Symptoms – This will help you to know if you or one of your loved ones may have Coronavirus. So far, Coronavirus patients exhibit symptoms similar to the common flu. In some people, the symptoms are more severe (and dangerous), while in others, the symptoms are non-existent.
- Health and Government Advisories – Knowing how to respond to the Coronavirus is the most important information for individuals around the world. In some areas, you may be required to wear a mask, while in others, you may not even be able to leave your home. Keeping track of the latest advisories will help you understand what kind of behavior to adopt and avoid.
Access What Is Happening in Real-Time
In these trying times, information is a very powerful tool. Unfortunately, China has been suspected of suppressing information from its citizens. By using a VPN from within China, one can break through what’s known as “The Great Firewall”. It might come with some risk, but there are people trying to ascertain the truth from all corners of the world.
Earth Observation Data Could Represent A Billion-Dollar Opportunity For Africa
Earth observation [EO] data provides a billion-dollar opportunity for economies on the African continent, one that could create jobs and build new resilience after COVID-19.
The newly released report Unlocking the Potential of Earth Observation to address Africa’s critical challenges lays out the multiple economic benefits from EO data. The report was written in collaboration with Digital Earth Africa, an initiative that is a world first in providing freely accessible data that maps the entire African continent.
This report marks the first known time the potential impact of EO for Africa has been quantified. According to estimates, EO could be worth up to $2 billion a year thanks to:
1. A strengthened EO industry. Improved use of EO data could lead to an extra $500 million in yearly EO sales along with new job opportunities and increased fiscal revenues.
2. Boosted agricultural productivity. Better data could potentially be worth an extra $900 million a year, thanks to water savings and productivity gains for farmers, not to mention reduced pesticide usage.
3. Better regulation of gold mining activity. Data allows countries to crack down on illegal mining, providing a potential savings of at least $900 million from reduced environmental damage and fiscal evasion.
The report shows the opportunity available in EO data to strengthen economies and reach sustainability goals. EO data can help governments make more informed decisions regarding water, agriculture, food security and urbanization. Advancing new collaborations between public and private efforts can incentivize data sharing to develop EO industries on the continent even further.
Dr Adam Lewis, Managing Director of the Digital Earth Program welcomes the findings of the report as the first of its kind to quantify the potential benefits of the program. “Through collaboration with key partners both within Africa and across the globe, we have made significant progress in turning this potential into a reality. Over the last 12 months the program has met a number of milestones in improving access to data and services within Africa. Working with Amazon Web Services as well as international space agencies and the private sector, we have been able to provide access to locally stored analysis-ready satellite data within Africa.” Adam said.
“We are proud to support Digital Earth Africa’s efforts to make Earth observation data more easily accessible to African nations,” said Ana Pinheiro Privette, Lead for Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative. “Through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, Amazon is making available petabytes of Earth observation data, which provide valuable insights for communities to manage climate impacts including increased floods and droughts.”
Valuing the impact of EO is an emerging practice globally, with recent reports covering the Asia Pacific, Australia, the European Union and the UK, but this is the first such report for Africa. The report was developed following examination of the readiness of African countries to effectively and efficiently grow their geospatial capabilities, integrated with study of the potential economic benefit of EO data adoption on specific sustainable development focus areas.
Data-Driven Operations Are Key to Future of Manufacturing
In the near future, manufacturing companies will collaborate in hyperconnected value networks in which data-and-analytics applications drive productivity, new customer experiences and societal and environmental impact. A new white paper, Data Excellence: Transforming Manufacturing and Supply Systems, released today presents the challenges for manufacturers and provides the steps to overcome them.
According to the report, nearly three-quarters of 1,300 surveyed manufacturing executives consider advanced analytics to be critical for success and more important today than three years ago. However, only a few companies capture the full value that data and analytics can unlock to address manufacturers’ most pressing challenges. Less than 20% of surveyed participants prioritize advanced analytics to promote either short-term cost reductions or longer-term structural cost improvements. Only 39% have managed to scale data-driven use cases beyond the production process of a single product and thus achieve a clearly positive business case.
Surveyed manufacturers cited various challenges that impeded their efforts to further scale and implement data-and-analytics solutions within their plants and across networks:
- They struggle to prioritize the right value-adding use cases from a broad range of applications
- They have not put in place technological enablers, such as data security or advanced algorithms
- They lack critical organizational enablers, such as skills and capabilities and effective internal governance
This study by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), features insights from a unique community of 40+ manufacturing organizations and leading academics and public sector representatives, identifying six priorities to capture value from data and analytics in manufacturing:
- Define a data-to-value strategy and roadmap
- Incentivize internal and external ecosystem partners
- Build capabilities to capture and use data
- Implement an open platform to unlock data silos
- Enable connectivity for low-latency, high-bandwidth data flows
- Ensure data security and privacy
“These findings will help accelerate our journey to support companies in devising a path forward to reach the next level of data-based manufacturing excellence, build trust among manufacturing, suppliers and customers, and unlock new value through the development of new data-driven ecosystems,” said Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum.
“Manufacturing is on the verge of a data‑driven revolution,” said Daniel Küpper, Managing Director and Partner of BCG and a report co-author. “But many companies have become disillusioned because they lack the technological backbone required to effectively scale data-and-analytics applications. Establishing these prerequisites will be critical to success in the post-pandemic world.”
As a next step, the community is co-developing a Manufacturing Data Excellence Framework, which comprises value-adding applications as well as technological and organizational success factors. Companies will be able to leverage this framework to accelerate the development of globally connected manufacturing data ecosystems.
World Bank Group and CES Announce Global Tech Challenge Winners
World Bank Group and CES announced the winners of the Global Tech Challenge at CES®2021.
The result of a partnership between the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the World Bank Group, the Global Tech Challenge was launched at CES 2020 to reward scalable and innovative technological solutions in three main areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world. Technology solutions that helped communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic were also prioritized.
Selected among over 1,000 applications, three winners were selected for gender equality, 10 for resilience and 17 for digital health. More details about the selected innovations can be accessed here for health, resilience and gender equality.
Global Tech Challenge winners will have the opportunity to access financial and/or technical assistance to pilot and scale their solutions on the ground with private sector companies, governments and within development projects financed by the World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries.
“From closing the digital divide to building resilience in the face of natural disasters or pandemics, innovation can solve some of the most pressing development challenges. The World Bank Group is pleased to support impactful programs focused on bringing equal access to connectivity to women in developing countries and to recognize cutting-edge solutions such as AI-enabled robots to rebuild homes in post-disaster areas. Now is the time to scale up solutions that have proven effective, so that no one is left behind in the new digital era,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure.
“Disruptive technologies are a fundamental driver of economic growth and job creation—and key to solving development challenges around the world. At IFC, we are proud to support the private sector in bringing these technologies to emerging markets, with innovations that range from portable ultrasound devices that can detect COVID-19 to medical tools that provide real-time cardiac diagnoses even in remote areas,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer at IFC.
“We are thrilled to be continuing our work with the World Bank so the world’s best and brightest innovators at CES can collaborate with the World Bank Group to enter new markets, provide solutions and aid in development,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2021 will be an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. CES 2021 will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world. For over 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation, and CES 2021 will provide an engaging platform for companies large and small to launch products, build brands and form partnerships.
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