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Facebook launches vaccine finder tool, other features for vaccine awareness

TK Maloy

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vaccine finder tool

Facebook announced Monday plans to assist in informing the public about COVID-19 vaccine options, vaccinations sites, and related information, using a vaccine finder tool and other features.

“We’re launching a global campaign to help bring 50 million people a step closer to getting COVID-19 vaccines,” said Mark Zuckerberg, company founder and CEO, in a press statement, adding that “data shows the vaccines are safe and they work. They’re our best hope for getting past this virus and heading back to normal life.”

The company said it would be bringing millions “one step closer” to getting vaccinated, as the social media giant pushes a plethora of new features regarding COVID-19 vaccines on their various subsidiaries – Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger.

Among them is the development of a new tool that connects people to information regarding where and when they could be eligible for vaccination by expanding Facebook COVID-19 Information Center to Instagram.

In parallel, it would also expand WhatsApp’s chatbots responding to inquiries about the virus by getting more people registered to take the jab with the relevant health authorities, while adding labels on vaccine-oriented posts, showing information from the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The tech company has also partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to power the vaccine finder tool to aid people in identifying nearby vaccination centers for respective American citizens, with location information being processed by VaccineFinder.org which would include hours of operation, contact info, as well as the ability to book appointments online.

Facebook users can access the tool within the COVID-19 Information Center, with social media platform noting that it will be supported in 71 different languages, with plans “to expand into other countries as vaccines become available more widely.”

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Facebook to build tools that aim to support consumers in their search for COVID-19 vaccines. Improving vaccine access and equity across the country will be a critical step in achieving herd immunity and bringing this pandemic to a close,” John Brownstein, CIO of Boston Children’s Hospital said in a separate statement.  

Connecting People to Resources on Instagram

Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center expansion into Instagram, which was first launched back in March of last year, will aid people to discover the latest information about the virus from local health ministries and the WHO.

Not only that, but the social media titan announced that they would support the United Nations’ “Only Together” campaign, which calls for the fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations around the world.

“In the coming days, we will be launching in-feed informational messages to promote content posted by health organizations who are participating in the UN’s campaign,” Zuckerberg noted.

Launching CrowdTangle COVID Vaccine Live Displays

Facebook is also making it easy to track how COVID-19 vaccine information is being spread on social media through CrowdTangle’s COVID-19 Live Displays. Publishers, global aid organizations, journalists, and others can access real-time, global streams of vaccine-related posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit in 34 languages.

CrowdTangle also offers Live Displays for 104 countries and all 50 states in the U.S. to help aid organizations and journalists track posts and trends at a regional level as well.

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Editor-in-Chief of Inside Telecom. TK Maloy has been in the journalism/media profession for over 30 years, with a writing portfolio that includes coverage of Capitol Hill, Wall Street, Main Street, and the world, doing business, economic, political, and feature reporting, with specializations including corporate and high-tech topics.

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The latest: vaccines to be made available at Alaska airports

Associated Press

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Alaska airports

JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy says COVID-19 vaccines would be made available at key airports in the state starting June 1.

He made the announcement Friday, as he unveiled plans aimed at bolstering Alaska’s pandemic-battered tourist industry.

Dunleavy, a Republican, outlined plans for a national marketing campaign aimed at luring tourists and said the vaccine offering is “probably another good reason to come to the state of Alaska in the summer.”

Dunleavy and other state leaders have been pushing to allow large cruise ships to return to Alaska after COVID-19 restrictions kept them away last year.

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2.7 million products on display at China’s digital Canton Trade Fair

Inside Telecom Staff

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Digital Canton Trade Fair

The China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) opened its 129th session on Wednesday, and what is its third digital exhibition. 260 thousand exhibitors present a record-breaking 2.7 million products across 16 categories, 82 thousand of which will be new products.

Exhibitors will showcase their products through cutting-edge digital presentations such as pictures, videos, 3D and livestreams, including 2,600 virtual reality showrooms and 137 online new product launches.

Xu Bing, spokesperson of the Canton Fair, noted that the 129th Canton Fair, built on the previous two digital sessions successfully held in 2020, has further optimized its digital platform to facilitate accessible and convenient business communication between suppliers and buyers.

“The Canton Fair has been promoting trade exchanges and stabilizing the global industrial supply chain over the years, and we hope the 129th session can contribute to China’s new development pattern where domestic and foreign markets can boost each other,” Xu said.

Canton, now known as Guangzhou, is the capital and most populous city in the province of Guangdong, which popularly called “the factory of the world.”

Located on the Pearl River about 120 km north-northwest of Hong Kong, Canton (Guangzhou) has a trade history of over 2,200 years and was historically the major trading terminus for the ancient, globalized Silk Road which traveled from China to the Mediterranean and southern Europe.

The metropolis continues in the modern era as a major port and transportation hub and is one of China’s three largest cities. 

This year’s Canton Fair brings functional improvements to enable efficient business matching, including leveraging resources in livestreams, allowing easy access to the Help Center, offering an upgraded Exhibitor Centre management tool, and providing an intelligent customer service system with multiple language support.

Aiming to provide buyers with an optimal experience throughout the grand online international trade event, the Fair is also embracing an inclusive participation with targeted market segment incentives and activities.

Focusing on China’s global “Belt and Road Initiative” and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries, the Canton Fair has been working closely with international business associations.

Forty-four exhibition virtual events hosted in 32 countries with topics covering promotion, matchmaking, and cooperation agreement signing, along with over 300 trainings for overseas buyers, email direct marketing and global partnership programs, will help global buyers understand their targeted industries and the product categories of interest which are showcased at the Canton Fair.

To allow buyers to do barrier-free business across borders, the Canton Fair is introducing a wide range of supporting services, such as professional settlements, financing to insurance, logistic support for transportation, inspection to quality certification, as well as online customs support and policy interpretation.

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Google Earth adds time lapse video to depict climate change

Associated Press

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Google Earth adds time lapse video to depict climate change

The Google Earth app is adding a new video feature that draws upon nearly four decades of satellite imagery to vividly illustrate how climate change has affected glaciers, beaches, forests and other places around the world.

The tool unveiled Thursday is rolling out in what is being billed as the biggest update to Google Earth in five years. Google says it undertook the complex project in partnership with several government agencies, including NASA in the U.S. and its European counterpart, in hopes that it will help a mass audience grasp the sometimes abstract concept of climate change in more tangible terms through its free Earth app.

Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald believes that mission may be accomplished.

“This is amazing,” she told The Associated Press after watching a preview of the new feature. “Trying to get people to understand the scope of the climate change and the land use problem is so difficult because of the long time and spatial scales. I would not be surprised if this one bit of software changes many people’s minds about the scale of the impact of humans on the environment.”

This isn’t the first time time-lapse satellite imagery has been used to demonstrate show how parts of the world are changing before our eyes due to a changing climate. Most scientists agree that climate change is being driven by pollution primarily produced by humans.

But earlier images have mostly focused on melting glaciers and haven’t been widely available on an already popular app like Google Earth, which can be downloaded on most of the more than 3 billion smartphones now in use around the world

Google is promising that people will be able to see a time lapse presentation of just about anywhere they want to search. The feature also includes a storytelling mode highlighting 800 different places on the planet in both 2D and 3D formats. Those videos also will be available on Google’s YouTube video site, a service more widely used than the Earth app.

The feature was created from 24 million satellite images taken every year from 1984 to 2020 and provided by NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey and the European Union, according to Google. The time lapse technology was created with the help of Carnegie Mellon University.

Google plans to update the time lapse imagery at least once a year.


SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — By MICHAEL LIEDTKE AP Technology Writer

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this story from Washington.

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