Daily Tech Observations 4

COVID-19 Apps

In the German Google Playstore we find one new app, the Corona-Datenspende. Released by the Robert-Koch-Institute the app uses data from smartwatches and fiteness tracker devices. It claims to be 100% anonymous, voluntary and compliant with GDPR regulations. According to their website 50.000 users already downloaded the app that correlate a potential infection with certain activity, heartrate and other values received from these devices. They still struggle with the support of the wide range of devices in the market but plan to support more manufacturers and devices asap. A good approach, we should use any opportunity to fight the spread.

COVID-19 Apps in Singapore

While we have to comply with GDPR in the EU and have to count on the participation and voluntary contribution of its citizen to use the app, Singapore released an app, Homer, that infected patients have to use when ordered to home-quarantine. You have to virtually report your home presence every few hours to the authorities. A strict move, but 100% in line with the local legislation in a highly populated country where the spread must stay under control. The third app, SwiftMed, is a contact tracing app for frontline officers.

#WirVsVirus Hackathon Results

I highlighted the hackathon organized by the government in one of my previous posts. You can see short pitches for each idea that made it to the finals in this YouTube playlist plus the other apps that didnt make into the finals (all in German language, use english subtitles if you need to). Good for some inspiration, it shows what different kind of ideas people can come up with in short time.

Other useful links

The website Visualcapitalist list a number of interesting visualizations around the COVID-19 topic. Highly recommended.

Most of the infection spread and distribution data is available at a couple of websites:

Stay safe and tuned..

Crisis-Driven-Innovation

I am not attempting to write yet another blog entry about the virus and comment on actions, non-actions, wrong or late actions by countries, governments, organizations or individuals in the current situation that we face as human mankind. This massive challenge will bring out the best and the worst in people. I believe that we will overcome this with many bruises, but hopefully we are smart enough to learn from it. Only collaboration and solitarity across nations and organizations will help us.

Technology is absolutely part of this, both to taggle the current situation (eg. by finding vaccine or trace infections) and support us in future to handle, maybe predict and avoid similar scenarios. Now is time to support existing efforts and start thinking about innovative and smart solution for future re-occurences. We shall not focus on the monetary aspects in the first place, but emphasize on the social and environmental impact. Not to say there are no commcercial ways to fund and run a solution, at a reasonable price that can propell the innovation forward and not targeting a big pile of cash at the end.

One way to support is the participation in the Folding@Home project, a distributed research computing project that run simulations with proteins to develop therapeutics. Volunteers can provide computer resources at home to run small pieces of the massive simulations. Drop by the Folding@Home website and read more. I recommend to use personal computers, not your companies equipment, except it is officially supported.

Folding@Home Control Panel

I let it run while I am in my office. Be aware, depending on the settings, it consumes generously your ressources. My NVIDIA GTX 1060 runs at 4.4 TFLOPS but it certainly consumes some energy. I will try to run it on the Jetson Nano, which usually wont surpass 10W.

It reminds me of the old Seti@Home (Berkeley Research) project started in 1999, when your screensaver could help to analyze radio signals from space. It was hibernated recently.

Another way to do something is to join the Kaggle Platform and do some hands-on research with 2GB worth of data in the COVID-19 Challenge.

More options coming your way, the EU is funding start-ups with the EIC Accelerator (European Innovation Council) program.

My closing comment for this post: No, setting up an e-commerce website and taking 40 Euros from people for package of toilet paper is NOT innovative, is pure avarice.

A related Forbes article for further reading.

Are you ready to innovate ? Lets get started !

Stay tuned and good luck !