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Airports to Implement Thermal Cameras That Screen for COVID-19

Mounir Jamil

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Airports to Implement Thermal Cameras That Screen for COVID-19

Airports around the world are being equipped with several devices such as full-body scanners, metal detectors, face-recognition technology and thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, all in an effort to identify travelers that might be infected with the virus.

Airports overseas and in the US are testing thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, along with sanitation booths and a plethora of other technologies in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus and reducing the exposure of airport screeners to the disease.

Richard Salisbury, Managing Director and Founder of Thermoteknix Systems, a British company that has developed thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19 commented that these new machines are going to become part of our normal travel system, highlighting that they will be incorporated into our travel patterns.

The current pandemic has caused air travel to decrease by a whopping 95% in the US and airport operators are hoping new screening technologies will boost passenger confidence to fly again.

Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer for Los Angeles World Airports, recently announced the creation of a special coronavirus task force that has started evaluating the use of thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, touch-less kiosks and other technologies that help in screening passengers for the virus.

Becca Doten, Managing Director of Media Relations for Los Angeles World Airports, mentioned that they have had several vendors reach out to them regarding specific technologies that may be beneficial for the task force.

Thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, were used to rigorously screen passengers back in 2003 during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis, and during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

However, the use of thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19, is expected to be much more intense and widespread than other previous outbreaks.

Last month, Hong Kong International Airport began testing booths about the size of an outhouse that use thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19 before the individual is allowed to enter the sealed enclosure.

Inside the outhouse, ultraviolet light and ‘nano needles’ (technology) pierce the cell membrane of bacteria and virus, disinfecting the people who enter, they are also doused with sanitation spray. The process takes approximately 40 seconds and is currently being tested on airport staff.

Hong Kong airport is also deploying autonomous cleaning robots that are equipped with virus-killing ultraviolet light, and apply antimicrobial coatings to surfaces that have been frequently touched, as well as the use of air sanitizers to disinfect passenger areas and toilets.

The advantage of thermal cameras that screen for COVID-19 is that those responsible for screening do not have to stand near or touch passengers. Instead, the camera can be used from a distance. The screen will show thermal images of passengers and their temperatures.

Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

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Philippines: NOW telecom will run as the fourth mobile operator

Ranine Awwad

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Philippines NOW telecom will run as the fourth mobile operator

On September 14, 2020, The National Telecommunications Commission NTC issued a provisional authority allowing NOW Telecom Company Inc. to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system, according to Manila Bulletin.

NOW will run as the fourth mobile operator in the Philippines, offering mobile data, text messages, and voice calls to customers across the country. However, the telco is obliged to accelerate the installation of broadband data services in the suburban and rural areas. Moreover, each phase of project implementation will directly comply with the 70:30 ratio of urban to suburban and rural network rollout coverage, said Now Telecom in a statement.

The telecommunications company has already announced its plan to spend $713 million for its five-year wireless expansion in Metro Manila, according to Inquirer.Net. On the other hand, it will be moving forward to secure high-speed internet for its customers. “As the country’s fourth telco, NOW Telecom, an affiliate of publicly listed telecommunications, media, and technology firm NOW Corp, is currently setting the stage for its public listing as well as its 5G or fifth-generation network rollout”, said the Company.

NOW Group of Companies founder and Chief Executive Mel Velarde, said, “We are moving forward with the corporate restructuring of NOW Telecom to take it to the next level. NOW Corp. and NOW Telecom were the first to introduce 5G broadband speed of up to 2 Gbps [gigabits per second] direct to our existing enterprise clients”, according to Manila Bulletin.

NOW Telecom initially secured a franchise in 1992. Back then, the company was called InfoCom Communications Network, Inc., according to CNN Philippines. However, on February 22, 2018, the 17th Congress renewed the franchise for another 25 years through Act No. 10972.

NOW isn’t allowed to share or co-use its frequencies with other players, according to Telecompaper. The National Telecommunications Commission requires NOW to reach a total capital of PHP 15.9 billion for the first five years. Moreover, the company should invest at least 30% of its total Capex requirement for the first two years or PH 1.89 billion.

For the last two decades, the Philippines telecom market has been dominated by the PLDT-Globe duopoly. In 2018, DITO- the third telecom operator – received its franchise. However, in late August, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s House of Representatives approved the renewal of its franchise for the next 25 years in a vote of 240 to seven with no abstentions, according to Developing Telecom. The introduction of Now Telecom into the Philippines’ market will allow competition among telecom operators and will enhance service developments in the country.

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Indian Innovation Chingari gains 30 million downloads

Karim Hussami

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Indian Innovation Chingari gains 30 million downloads

The government’s decision to ban an estimated 200 Chinese apps in India, including popular ones such as TikTok, Helo and WeChat, has presented opportunities for local talent. While many Indian startups received attention for their ingenuity in the recent few years, there was less room to dominate a market already saturated with bigger industry players. As such, changing circumstances may have prompted a wave of tech innovation that will foster growth in the local digital market.

The made-in-India short-video sharing platform, Chingari announced that it has reached more than 30 million organic users in just three months, with the highest percentage of users aged between 18 and 35.

India has emerged as the third largest start-up base behind US and UK, and such ventures are poised to grow 2.2 times to reach 10,500 by end of 2020 employing over 210,000 people, according to the “Indian Startup Ecosystem Maturing” report by Nasscom-Zinnov.

“The startup landscape in the country is becoming the epitome of innovation, with companies bringing out solutions that are aimed at solving locally relevant issues. Nasscom believes that the contribution by startups have been growing at a rapid rate,” said Nasscom Chairman C.P Gurnani.

Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder and CEO of Chingari App said that “The rise of Chingari App has a direct correlation with the advanced tools that we offer and the seamless creation experience that Chingari App provides. We provide excellent video and audio editing tools to our content creators and empower them with the best-Indianised filters for visual effects.”

What did Chingari do to attract more users? It has added AR (augmented reality) filters on its platform to give content creators more advanced front and rear camera tools to work with, according to the app.

“Chingari is all set to ablaze the market with new and unique AR filters and more interesting video-editing features that people will love,” Ghosh said.

In addition to English and Spanish, the Chingari content is available in Hindi, Bangla, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, Odia, and Telugu, the app notes. “Apart from India, the app is steadily increasing its user base in the UAE, the United States, Kuwait, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.”

The homegrown platform last week signed a music licensing agreement with T-Series. As a result of the partnership, all Chingari users in India, other Saarc nations, and the Middle East will get access to the music collection of T-Series.

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Ed technology developments in South Korea amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Ranine Awwad

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Ed technology developments in South Korea amid the Covid-19 pandemic

On September 21, 2020, Korean top mobile operator SK Telecom Co. has announced its partnership with the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education aiming to offer a remote education service for students stuck at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the operator, the service will be used by around 20,000 students at 312 schools in the city located 300 kilometers south of the capital. Based on the mobile carrier’s existing MeetUs Video conference platform, the service will make use of 5G and Artificial Intelligence technology to ensure high-quality video conferences and offer other educational features such as surveys and tests, according to The Korea Bizwire. MeetUs was launched in August and can be used to offer presentations and share content with around 100 people.

The company’s move comes after an introduction of mix and in-person classes in South Korea to curb the spread of the virus. At the end of August 2020, South Korea ordered the closure of all schools and kindergartens in the greater Seoul area, according to BBC.

SK Telecom is not the only Korean mobile carrier that introduced the remote education scheme. In fact, LG Uplus, considered the third-largest mobile carrier in Korea, has introduced a mobile app service for elementary school students. Moreover, KT Corp. has collaborated with Signong Group aiming to create educational content using Artificial Intelligence technology.

Online learning has become part of the educational process since the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Choi Won-hwi, who works in the South Korean education ministry division overseeing teacher instruction said, “We prepared for remote learning because of the Covid crisis, but now it will be a permanent part of the educational process”, according to The Wall Street Journal. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education has allocated more than $110 million for developing online learning tools such as textbooks. Moreover, the government has requested the telecom carriers to give free online access to educational websites for Korean students.

On September 11, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced its plan to transition to e-textbooks for third and fourth-grade students in 2022. Higher grades would be covered starting 2023, according to The Korea Herald.

Global education market intelligence firm, HolonIQ, states that the expenditure on education technology is expected to reach $341 billion by 2025.

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