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Covid-19 tracing apps: ensuring privacy and data protection

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Dedicated mobile apps could play a key role in the fight against Covid-19 and the EU has been working with member states to develop effective solutions. As apps could expose sensitive user data, Parliament has underlined the need to ensure they are designed carefully.

The European Commission has recommended a common EU approach towards contact-tracing apps, designed to warn people if they have been in contact with an infected person.

In a resolution adopted on 17 April, Parliament stressed that any digital measures against the pandemic must be in full compliance with data protection and privacy legislation. It said the use of apps should not be obligatory and that they should include sunset clauses so that they are no longer used once the pandemic is over.

MEPs stressed the need for anonymised data and said that to limit the potential risk of abuse, the generated data should not be stored in centralised databases.

In addition, MEPs said It should be made clear how the apps are expected to help minimise infection, how they are working and what commercial interests the developers have.

Tracing apps in the EU

The EU and many member states have been putting forward various digital tracking measures aimed at mapping, monitoring, and mitigating the pandemic.

Contact tracing apps that alert people who have been in proximity to an infected person for a certain time have emerged as the most promising from a public health perspective. The added value of these apps is that they can record contacts that a person may not notice or remember, thus enabling more accuracy and limiting further spread of the disease.

Apps could also provide accurate information to individuals on the pandemic, provide questionnaires for self-assessment and guidance, or provide a communication forum between patients and doctors.

Apps might prove effective, but could also expose sensitive user data, such as health and location.

The guidelines and toolbox for developing any Covid-19 related apps, prepared by the Commission in cooperation with member states, European Data Protection Supervisor, and European Data Protection Board aim at guaranteeing sufficient protection of data and limiting intrusiveness.

Guidance on data protection is an essential part of the Commission guidelines, stressing that the apps must fully comply with EU data protection rules, most notably the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive.

The Parliament will keep monitoring

Juan Fernando López Aguilar, chair of Parliament’s civil liberties committee, noted the important role apps could play in mitigating the crisis and welcomed the introduction of the toolbox, but stressed that fundamental rights and data protection must be maintained.

“We´ll keep a close eye that EU law principles and rules are respected throughout the fight against Covid-19. That includes apps and technologies to control the spread patterns of the pandemics.”

In the civil liberties committee meeting held on 7 May, members will exchange views with the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Data Protection Board on the use of personal data in the fight against Covid-19. MEPs will also discuss the use of contact tracing apps in the fight against the coronavirus during the plenary session on 13-16 May.

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A ‘digital canyon’: 1.3 billion school-aged children can’t log on to internet at home

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An eight-year-old child studies at home in Ahavaz, Iran, as schools are closed due to COVID-19. Many pupils in disadvantaged areas of the city do not have electronic devices and cannot access virtual lessons. Photo: UNICEF

A staggering two-thirds of world’s school-aged children – 1.3 billion children aged 3-17 – do not have internet connection in their homes, preventing them from learning vital skills needed to compete in the modern economy, a new UN report has revealed. 

The UNICEFITU report How Many Children and Youth Have Internet Access at Home? also found a similar lack of access for young people aged 15-24, with 759 million or 63 per cent unconnected at home. 

The massive number “is more than a digital gap – it is a digital canyon”, said Henrietta Fore, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director. 

The lack of connectivity, she continued, doesn’t just limit children and young people’s ability to connect online, it isolates them from the work and prevents them from competing in the modern economy. 

“And in the event of school closures, such as those currently experienced by millions due to COVID-19, it causes them to lose out on education. Put bluntly: Lack of internet access is costing the next generation their futures,” Ms. Fore added. 

‘Education out of reach’ 

According to UNICEF, a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19-related school closures, forcing hundreds of millions of students to rely on virtual learning.  

For those with no internet access, education can be out of reach. Even before the pandemic, a growing cohort of young people needed to learn foundational, transferable, digital, job-specific and entrepreneurial skills to compete in the 21st century economy. 

‘A formidable challenge’ 

Houlin Zhao, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General, outlined that connecting rural populations remains a formidable challenge. 

“Large parts of rural areas are not covered with a mobile-broadband network, and fewer rural households have access to the internet. The gap in mobile broadband adoption and internet use between developed and developing countries is especially wide,” he said. 

Perpetuating inequalities 

The report also revealed that the digital divide is perpetuating inequalities between countries and communities. According to the report, globally, 58 per cent school-age children from richest households have internet connection at home, compared with only 16 per cent from the poorest households. 

The situation is similar between urban and rural populations and between high-income and low-income countries: around 60 per cent of school-aged children in urban areas do not have internet access at home, compared with around 75 per cent in rural households. School-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most affected, with around 9 in 10 children not connected. 

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Top 3 Effective Strategies for Using Push Notifications

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A lot of businesses are actively using push marketing to raise their sales, attract more customers, and build a strong brand. Although some marketers achieve their goals, there are many who cannot make push marketing work for them. So, what are the secrets of successful push notifications? What key aspect of push marketing should you be aware of? In this post, we have prepared the top-3 most effective strategies that will make your business fly.

1. A/B Testing

Before sending a notification to a large audience, test its effectiveness with a small group of people. This will help you determine which parts of the notification are working and which should be reconsidered. Start by testing elements and factors such as:

  • Post content – You can measure how well users are responding to your posts by tracking your open or click rate. Your job is to find out what factors lead to an increase in your targets. Test how effective simple URLs, short sentences in a message are, etc. Refer to evadav.com/faq-publisher information for more details.
  • Frequency/timing – To find out how often to send push notifications, try different frequency options (for example, weekly and daily) and choose the one that will result in fewer unsubscriptions. You can also use metrics such as open rate and CTR to find out what time of day or night users are most likely to respond to your posts.
  • Message delivery method – Open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate – all of these metrics indicate whether your push notifications are successfully engaging users. Use these data to determine which delivery method is most positively treated by your audience.

A/B testing will only be beneficial if you have quality tools at your disposal to measure success. You may not be able to get it right the first time around, but don’t be discouraged. Just keep testing!

2. Personalize Your Messages

To achieve the same level of personalization that messages from friends, family, and colleagues have, you should take into account all the details about the user’s identity. Event settings, language, and lifecycle – considering all these characteristics will help you make your message as personal and targeted as possible. You can go even further and segment users based on their activity on your website or landing page. It’s only when you start sending them notifications that are relevant to their interests, users will feel like you’re really trying to provide them with some value.

3. Avoid Complex Wording: Write Clearer

Interactive notifications will mean little if the content you communicate is of no value to the user. Most companies continue to use notifications as some kind of bait – as a piece of obscure, cryptic content, whose task is to lure the user back into the application. But notifications work more efficiently when they have some other meaning, a message.

A push notification can be considered successful if it:

  • Is written in a laconic form;
  • Conveys something interesting and intriguing to the user;
  • Justifies the user’s choice to perform a target action.

Companies that have worked hard on their push notifications engagement strategy end up gaining user loyalty and engagement, increased traffic, and more page views – metrics that impact readiness for conversion. And all this for a lot less than what you could invest in retargeting tools.

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The Effectiveness of Ultraviolet Sterilization

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Among the various purification methods, the use of ultraviolet cabinet sterilizer offers a lot of prospects for personal, industrial, and medical uses. It deactivates pathogenic microorganisms with ease. In this comprehensive article, you will understand what it is, how it works, and where to use it.

What is Ultraviolet Sterilization?

Ultraviolet (UV) Sterilization refers to a specific spectrum of light beyond the human eye’s visibility. It lies between visible lightwaves and X-rays. These UV rays come from the sun. However, some gadgets can produce light in this range. Thanks to increasing research, you can use UV light anywhere you choose. For instance, it kills viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other classes of pathogens. It is especially effective against Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

How does Ultraviolet Cabinet Sterilizer work?

An ultraviolet cabinet sterilizer alters the genetic composition of microbes. As a result, it inhibits reproduction and growth. The intensity of the sterilizing gadget and exposure time affects the purification process. When the intensity falls below the germicidal level, it can prove ineffective against germs. Most lamp sterilizers fall between the 30,000 and 50,000 microwatt-seconds per square centimeter rating. Moreover, the brightness decreases with time. Besides, it does not affect the properties of water. The taste, color, turbidity, and odor of water remains the same. You also need to consider the quality and source of water.

Functions of an Ultraviolet Cabinet Sterilizer

There are various uses for UV sterilizers across multiple industries.

  •  Food and Beverage Industry: This industry ranks high in demand for quality water. Since human beings ingest their products, they have zero tolerance for microbes.
  •  Pharmacy and Medicine: As caregivers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical institutions utilize pollutant-free water. This is vital since some patients might be allergic to chlorine and ozone.
  •  Face Beautification and Cosmetic Industry: There is an increasing demand for body care products with longer shelf lives. As such, they rely on UV-sterilized water for homogeneity and consistency.
  •  Water-Recycling Companies: Several countries are looking for sophisticated means of recycling used water. Ultraviolet sterilization will deactivate waterborne germs.
  •  Mining and Marine Water Purification: UV sterilization will assist miners and Marine companies to desalinate water without any hassle.

Maintenance of an Ultraviolet Cabinet Sterilizer

The surface of the sterilizer must be clean at all times. To be effective, you must remove every film and dirt before and after every use. Besides, you can buy a wiper to simplify this process. Chemicals like sodium hydrosulfite can be useful, too. Also, you need to ensure the plumbing system stays in the best condition.

Pros

  •  It requires no chemical purchase.
  •  The working mechanism is simple and hassle-free.
  •  It does not leave any chemical remainder inside the purification unit.
  •  It works effectively against all germs and classes of microbes.

Cons

  •  Direct exposure to UV rays can be extremely dangerous to humans.
  •  It is susceptible to obstructions and light blockades.

Conclusion

As useful as ultraviolet sterilization is, it can pose serious health hazards when used incorrectly. Remember to follow the instructions properly.

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