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COVID-19 impacts on the environment – not all positive

Mounir Jamil

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The impact of COVID-19 on the environment - not all positive

As the number of COVID-19 cases increased in Europe and North America during March, restrictive public health measures to avoid a worse pandemic were put in place. Measures included stay-at-home-orders, which were quickly adopted all across the world. As entire populations were ordered to quarantine and self-isolate, COVID-19 influences on environment were very noticeable at first, as road traffic reduced and airlines decreased scheduled flights by 60% to 95%.

While these developments have caused substantial economic and social shocks, the impact of COVID-19 on environment was noticed as production, consumption, and employment rates also decreased – associated with significant reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, air quality levels in the world’s major cities improved dramatically during the months of March and April.

During the same period global air traffic decreased by 60%. These emission reductions have led to a temporary dip in CO2 emissions from pre-crisis levels.

So long as economic activity remains slow, emissions will remain low. However, emissions will rise to previous levels (if not higher) when economic activity resumes.

Not all COVID-19 effects on environment are positive. The volume of unrecyclable waste has increased, there has been severe cuts in agricultural and fishery export levels that have led to the production of large quantities of organic waste, monitoring and maintenance of natural ecosystems has been halted. In addition, local waste problems have emerged as several municipalities have halted recycling activities over fears of the virus propagating in recycling centers. Furthermore, due to stay-at-home policies, several consumers have increased their consumption of takeaway food with single-use packaging.

With the emergence of import restrictions in export markets and the sharp decline in the availability of cargo services, the crisis has caused increased volumes of un-shippable agricultural and fishery commodities. Several export-oriented producers produce large volumes that are far too large for output to be absorbed in local markets, therefore organic waste levels have mounted substantially.

In addition, several natural ecosystems and protected species are at extreme risk during the crisis. Environmental protection workers at national parks and marine conservation zones are required to stay at home during lockdown, leaving these areas unmonitored and the animals unattended to. This absence has caused a rise in illegal deforestation, fishing and wildlife hunting. Many of the environmental challenges caused by the crisis will gradually resolve on their own as the crisis comes to an end and normal economic activity resumes. Also, the benefits of the air pollution reductions will be erased after the crisis ends. So overall, the coronavirus crisis will not have any permanent positive effects on the environment. However, what we have learned about environmental benefits/risks and the shift in global economic activity, will help us better understand the mechanics of environmental sustainability and will reveal more information on how we can reduce environmental damage in the future.

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

MedTech

The multi-cloud adoption boom

Mounir Jamil

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multi-cloud adoption

As the rapid advancements in tech continue – fueled by the current pandemic – we find ourselves stretching our limits and breaking boundaries. An important area that has gained significant traction this year is cloud computing, and more specifically, multi-cloud adoption.

What is multi-cloud? 

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, a multi-cloud environment Is when an enterprise utilizes more than one cloud platform and delivers a specific function, application, or service. Multi-clouds can be made up of private, public, and edge clouds to achieve a datacenter’s end goals and objectives. 

Multi-cloud adoption garnered a significant increase to 70 percent year-over-year in 2020, outpacing the previous year by a whopping 20 percent. 

Current State of multi-cloud

The Continuous Intelligence Report The State of Modern applications, DevSecOps and the Impact of COVID-19 from Sumo Logic revealed that customers adopted 3 main vendors to meet their cloud needs; CloudTrail (60 percent), VPC Flow Logs (34 percent) and GuardDuty (22 percent) respectively. 

The report is developed from data that is aggregated from more than 2100 Sumo Logic customers that run applications over several major cloud platforms as well as on-premises environments. The report highlighted the importance of securing cloud workloads via the adoption of both cloud-native security technologies and available cloud data sources. 

Furthermore, the pandemic has highlighted how important remote work is – and that is where cloud-computing shines bright. The rise in multi-cloud adoption led enterprises to modern cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

It is noteworthy to mention that AWS regional centers in the EU and US were among the top targets for hackers, according to the Sumo Logic’s global intelligence. 

What are the benefits of multi-cloud adoption? 

  • Flexibility: No single cloud can perform most business functions, or at least no single cloud can do everything well. Integrating multi-cloud can allocate the right cloud platform to the right business function 
  • Proximity: By hosting some workloads through regional cloud providers that operate closer to where the user is, the enterprise would be greatly enhancing a user’s experience
  • Failover: As a failover solution, multi-cloud adoption can protect an enterprise from outages by providing readily available and highly scalable backup for data and workflows for systems 
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MedTech

Why GovTech adoption during COVID-19 is a must

Adnan Kayyali

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Govtech

GovTech is a new term that refers to the modernization and/or digitization of government services for better accessibility and efficiency of public services. A mouth full, but this suggests a need for governments to do what the private sector has been doing from the start: embrace and incorporate industry 4.0 technology. However, to do so on a governmental level is complex.

The tech revolution occurring around the world, accelerated by the pandemic will not wait for governments to search their paper file cabinet for a solution. Citizens’ expectations of speed and efficiency are set higher by the private sector.

Too many authorities in developing nations, and many government-managed institutions in developed nations, are woefully behind on tech adoption within their systems.

According to the World Bank’s definition as stated in their brief, GovTech is essentially about putting people first.

“GovTech is a whole-of-government approach to public sector modernization that promotes simple, accessible, and efficient government”.

Governments who had already begun improving their digital infrastructure before the pandemic, had a better chance of curbing outbreaks after the initial wave with known exceptions. Namely the US and UK. 

Examples of GovTech used well during the pandemic can be found more to the east, in Singapore and South Korea among others, where data-gathering and citizen compliance with safety measures worked well to begin with.

Still, in the United states we see examples of GovTech being implemented even before the pandemic.

In areas of infrastructure, 120 Water Audit was recently launched, a cloud-based water management software, that a government on any level and size can use to minimize water waste.

During the pandemic, we have seen companies like BlueDot develop early warning systems to predict outbreaks, allowing governments to react preemptively. These systems used data gathered from numerous data sets from news, medical records and airlines to detect certain trends using their algorithm.

In the future, we should expect better GovTech adoption in public health services. Governments must work with the private sector to secure the right systems and consolidate their systems for better data collection. Undoubtedly, this is a long-term process.

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MedTech

Vaccine warriors: University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine update

Mounir Jamil

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University of Oxford

As the race for a new COVID-19 vaccine continues, the University of Oxford vaccine is effective at stopping people from developing COVID-19 symptoms. Overall, results indicated 70 percent protection rate, however, researchers claim that figures can increase to 90% if the dose is modified. 

Study lead, Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, has vast experience in clinical trials of new and improved vaccines for children and adults. 

In comparison to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the University of Oxford vaccine is far cheaper, easier to store and can be transported to every country around the world. It shows highly promising use in tackling the current pandemic, if it gets the approval from regulators, who will assess the vaccine based on safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards. This process is set to take place in the coming weeks.  

While typical vaccines usually take around a decade to be developed, the University of Oxford vaccine was developed in about 10 months. Initial trials involved a sample size of 20,000 individuals: 10,000 participants in the UK and 10,000 participants in Brazil. From the study, there were 30 Coronavirus cases from those who received two doses of the vaccine and 101 cases in people receiving placebo treatment.

The researchers say it works out at 70 percent protection however, it increased to 90 percent when people were given a “low” dose followed by a high one. It remains unclear why there is a difference. 

Although nothing will happen until the University of Oxford vaccine receives full approval, the UK is preparing for an unprecedented immunization campaign. Care home residents and staff will be the first in line while healthcare workers and citizens 80 years and above, will be the next priority. The plan is to steadily work down the age groups. 

After Pfizer and Moderna introduced their vaccine candidates with a protection rate of 95 and 90 percent respectively, a figure of 70 percent might be perceived by some as disappointing. However, in reality, anything above 50 percent is considered promising. 

AstraZeneca, Oxford University’s manufacturing partner is prepping to make three billion doses of the vaccine to be made available worldwide.

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